spring

GoodGod!

December, 2018

Meet the Gods: Mithras, the Pagan Christ Child

 

(This figure of the Persian god Mithras is at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.)

 

Merry meet.

Mithras, god of the sun in ancient Rome, was born around the winter solstice and experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox. The ancient Persian-Roman religion called Mithraism thrived before Christianity, dating back some 4,000 years. It gains attention because the similarities between his story and that of Jesus are numerous.

He was born of the virgin Anahita on December 25. He was, according to an article on truthbeknown. com by Acharya S. and D.M. Murdock, “wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.”

He traveled far and wide as a teacher and a master who performed miracles and had 12 companions. He was omniscient. Both the lion and the lamb were his symbols. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the Lord’s Day, or Sunday, was said to be Mithras’ sacred day. Baptisms were important, midnight services were held and he was often said to carry a lamb on his shoulders. Mithraism’s scared rock was Petra.

As the ‘great bull of the Sun,’ Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace. He ascended into heaven. Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the ‘Way, the Truth and the Light,’ the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah,” according to the article.

Mithra was worshiped as Mitra or Itu in the Indian Vedic religion. It is believed he was born in a cave on December 25 and was the mediator between man and god.

 

(In this relief from the 2nd century AD, Mithras kills the sacred bull and from its blood and semen arise the plants and animals. Source: Neues Museum, Berlin)

 

His cult spread from India west to Germany, Spain and England, and was supported by soldiers of the Roman Empire, becoming the primary rival to the newly developing religion of Christianity. In 307, Diocletian consecrated a temple on the Danube River to Mithra, “Protector of the Empire,” as stated in britannica.com.

According to myth, Mithra was born, bearing a torch and armed with a knife, beside a sacred stream and under a sacred tree, a child of the earth itself. He soon rode, and later killed, the life-giving cosmic bull, whose blood fertilizes all vegetation. Mithra’s slaying of the bull was a popular subject of Hellenic art and became the prototype for a bull-slaying ritual of fertility in the Mithraic cult,” according to the entry written by the editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Mithra, also spelled Mithras, was the god of light in ancient Indo-Iranian mythology.

The Persian version of Mithra was a benevolent solar deity bestowing wealth and health.

He was mighty, strong, unconquered and king of the gods, and was often portrayed as a sun disc in a chariot drawn by white horses.

Winter festivals, common in cultures around the world, were intended to strengthen the fire of the sun so that it would return. They were celebrated in the name of Mithras, who can be called as a god to your circle this Yule.

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

May, 2018

May 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Here in Central Ohio, the Cailleach continues to rule, reminding Brigid she is still queen for now. Many of my non-Pagan friends are complaining up and down, saying winter needs to go. I say give the Cailleach her time, we will all be whining we are too hot soon enough!

Soon, Beltaine will be upon us. If you have read my past articles, you know I love to plan a gathering for Beltaine. It’s been a year, or has it been two, or has it been three???? Since I have hosted a Beltaine gathering?

I will be honest. Sabbats, for me, just are not that special when I’m alone for them.

It’s all about the fellowship, and doing ritual for me.

 

The folk- the Wicca, or Soul Kin

A simple internet search for “The need for religious kin” turned up nothing. I read a few articles about mankind’s need to have companionship, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals because we feel most understood and validated by them than the people less like us.

I did not find the references to share to support the point I want to make, so I’m just going to make it myself.

Many of us find we feel the presence of whoever we worship best in the presence of other worshipers. A Xtian I once knew referred to it as “sanctification within the community.” As we become the hands, voices, and deeds of our gods, we feel their physical presence through circling with others.

In magical traditions, group magic raises more energy than magic worked alone.

I got so used to doing everything with a group, when I stopped doing so, I felt completely alone. My health and mobility dictated I had to do so, and not only did I stop hosting, or going to other people’s rituals, but I also stopped working. Then I stopped driving. Then, I went some months without leaving the house many days.

If you want to find out which of the friends and friendly acquaintances feel you are important to their lives, drop off the map, and you will find most all of them forget all about you. They easily replace you with other people who are conveniently wherever they are, and you may as well have never met them.

So, for those of us who have fallen off the map from the Pagan community, a Sabbat, which used to be the highlight of our lives, is just another day.

 

Embracing Aloneness

From my Catholic days, I remember something Mother Theresa said :

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Now, I have already said I experience my gods through others. Examples of that are when somebody is acting as an oracle, and guidance from the goddess comes. Another example is when we are doing a fund raiser together for a good cause. This is the gods using us to help one another. Yet another example is when you need emotional support, and another human being embodies the compassion of the goddess.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working with others, that we have little to no time on our own. This was true for me for many years.

I heard the voices of my gods spoken without human tongues. They visited me in dreams, in waking, in nature, and in the gut instincts I got.

Whenever I asked for communication, they answered. It’s not like I had NEVER spoken with them on my own. It just became habit that I spoke with them in the presence of others.

I spent so many Sabbats and gatherings in the company of others, I began to hear only that particular method of communication from them.

However, I’ve been like this for a while now, and I have made some realizations. My gods have not fallen silent. I just had to listen differently, and I made some realizations about how solitude can bring communication with them.

 

In the Silence of the Heart

I have learned something I never could have before when I was always busy, always surrounded with people, always planning, organizing, working, and always moving.

How to truly be still. How to be truly silent. How to be truly alone.

And how to be comfortable with that.

Most within our circles take time to do the form of meditation where you sit, do nothing, try not to move at all, and try to make your mind blank.

That is not what I am talking about.

Can you be completely alone for many hours or days at a time, go no place, see nobody, and do very little besides the necessary?

Can you endure tedium? Being unnecessary to everybody? No contact from large amounts of people for long periods of days, weeks, or months?

Can you live for a time, basically being as a hermit? Away from the hustle and bustle of life, the influence of society, and the expectations of others?

I am not saying I think everybody should just hole up and do so forever.

Let’s explore first, what a hermit is…

 

The Hermit

We have all seen the Hermit Card in Tarot decks. He turns up quite a lot for us. He represents going into ourselves, to search our souls, or retreating into solitude for a time. Depending on who you speak to, reversed can represent isolation and loneliness, or it can represent coming out of solitude.

Historically, some of the most famous hermits have been very religious. Christians still cloister some of their orders of nuns and priests, away from society. It is believed this withdrawal from society cultivates a closer relationship with the divine by some.

In the middle ages, it was not uncommon for hermits to build huts into the side of the church, and be ceremoniously bricked up permanently. They relied on the charity of people going to church to bring them food and necessities, and they enjoyed a window into the church where they could hear liturgy. These people were called anchorites, and people visited them for advice, as they were believed to have dedicated their lives to communing with their god and the angels full-time, and were considered very wise.

One of the magickal workings to discover one’s True Self, and the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema entails months of a hermit like existence, and devotion to prayer and magical operations. The solitude allows for removal from distractions and interference of others.

In the quest for enlightenment, the Buddha became an aesthetic, withdrawing to be a hermit for a time.

Monasteries in many different religions have a structured life of prayer, ascribed exercise, a specific diet, a uniform, or habit, and life away from he mainstream society in general. Devotees may be called to take vows of silence, or chastity as well. I refer to this as cloistering, and cloistered life away from society supposedly gets you more in touch with who you are, and what is important.

It’s not for everybody.

My life has been semi cloistered for over three years now, and there are times I wonder how I lived a lifestyle of constant noise and crowds. I have learned a different side of reality.

  1. I realized I did too much- Society pushes us so hard, demanding we do MORE, buy MORE, ARE MORE. We are never enough, and we constantly have to prove we are worthy of simply existing. I found out that is wrong. Our worth as living creatures can certainly be diminished if we are terrible people who do terrible things, but our worth is not proven by our worldly accomplishments, and I discovered that because I just could not accomplish the volume of things I once did anymore. By nature, humanity is quite competitive, but that can become toxic and unconstructive. Sometimes, we struggle to do SO much, the quality of our work suffers. Quality trumps quantity, I found.
  2. What I do does not create who I am- I was told this by a very talented psychic long ago. The things we do change every so often, and often, we suffer identity crisis as the tasks and jobs we complete transition. We are not our jobs or our accomplishments. We are people, not actions, or things.
  3. In stillness comes peace- I had initially misinterpreted it as boredom. The silence was deafening. Now, TOO much noise overwhelms me, be it sound noise, or visual noise.
  4. I leaned to slow down- Not only do I no longer focus on quantity over quality, but I realize speed does not make things any better. Oh, there are going to be times tight deadlines loom, but times when they don’t, slow down, and enjoy the process.
  5. In the quest to do more, faster, we forget one another- We leave behind our loved ones, and neglect the time we should be spending with them. I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with who get to middle age and beyond, and state they regret NOT spending more time with loved ones than they have. If the focus is on DOING things, instead of moments with loved ones? That is all our life becomes.
  6. I have time for things I said I wanted to do for years- Since leaving the house and working was not on the front burner anymore, I found time to pick up art again. I stepped away from it when I graduated college, and both painting and writing was literally abandoned, as I focused my time on career. I did study music for some years, but I never excelled in music. The written word, and art were my first loves, and I do both again now.
  7. I learned things about myself- I used to be high energy, high accomplishment rate, and never sat still. That did not provide the opportunity for me to pay attention to myself. I discovered I work best with no noise, visual, or otherwise. Before, I was in jobs where I had zero privacy to work, and my productivity drops in that setting. I think most people’s does. I discovered I don’t give myself credit, and people had been urging me to do so for years. I discovered I prefer a small, intimate friend group, rather than moving from group to group. I also discovered I’m not materialistic, which surprised me as much as I love “things.”
  8. I do not miss the loud, busyness- At all.
  9. A lot of people envy me- I have had so many say they wish they “did not have to” leave the house. On one hand, I point out it can be horribly isolating sometimes, and I tell them to be careful what they wish for. I am a very productive, self-starter, and a lot of people NEED a schedule to leave the house, or they just sit and rot. I always find things to stay busy, and a lot of people cannot endure boredom, solitude, or lack of excitement. A lot of people who envy me could not endure this.
  10. I am online more- Lots more. I do communicate with people all day long through social media and texting. I read and research more as well.

I am not saying everybody should cloister, or semi cloister. I am saying, the Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others are onto something in their assertion solitude can bring you closer to the divine, because it changes the way you think about yourself, the world, and life in general.

Personally, my concentration is better. I focus on the important things now. I read and study more. I have slowed down, which makes it easier for me to notice things. I pay attention to people and experiences more now as opposed to things, and tasks. I do not compare myself to others as much, being as competitive as I used to be.

All of these things create more connection with the self, and it is within us our connection with the divine lives.

Solitude can be used as torture. Prisoners in solitary confinement don’t benefit from it. The sick who are shut-ins or whose impairments keep them from communicating certainly don’t benefit either.

It seems religious hermits live as such only temporarily, or in such a way they are still able to connect with others. Monks have a community away from society, but they do so in groups, and they have each other. The public comes to them for religious guidance as well. I have already mentioned the medieval Xtian hermits whose huts were bricked into the church, and they saw and visited with people often. They just never left. The Buddha was a hermit for a time, but not for very long.

Human beings need one another, for certain, but sometimes, we need time alone, to retreat into ourselves to find the aspect of the divine we cannot experience with other people. This alone time has to be balanced with time with other people, or else it is not good for us.

Each person has their own level of time they need alone, and with others. Too much, and it’s bad, not enough, and it’s just as bad.

For Beltaine Working, I’d like to recommend how to find ways to have more alone time for scared workings.

I know it can be difficult. My friends who are parents and or have careers can attest to this. There have been times in my own life when I worked, sometimes two jobs, that the only time I had to myself was when I fell asleep, or was getting ready to leave for the day, or just getting in! I probably sound like somebody who has no place dictating to busy people how to carve out quiet, alone time!

I don’t assume everybody can find that alone time daily. As I said, I’ve been there! So what I am going to do is offer suggestions for sneaking in a few minutes here and there. This can be time to do ritual, devotions, or just sit quietly for a few minutes on a break from work or classes. It does not have to be large blocks of time set aside, but I will share some ways you can include quiet, alone time in even the busiest schedule for a LITTLE bit of that peace if that is all you can get

 

Saoirse’s Suggestions for Quiet Sacred Time

  1. When everybody else is asleep- Some of my friends who have kids swear this is the only time they get to themselves. That time is often filled with chores, paying bills, and or showering. It also, sometimes eats into their sleep time. Any spare second of time you get when it is crazy busy that NOBODY else is in the room with you can be gold! If all you get a chance to do is light a small candle or stick of incense, so be it, but it is your time.
  2. Short Mantras- Everybody loves time to relax, unwind, and sit in silence to meditate, but not everybody has the time. Even if you have time, there are days when everything is just so crazy and hectic, you simply cannot focus enough to truly meditate. Some people can do so no matter what! But for those who lack the time or ability to focus, short mantras, or sayings that are meaningful can help. One for me is the reminder “I create all that I am , and all that I will be.” Each of us needs little reminders for support all the time, and when we cannot read or meditate to reset our minds, personal sayings can supply some relief.
  3. A Weekly Hour- Is there a day of the week you can get a solid hour with very little deviation? Say you do two classes per week and have an hour and a half between them all. Can you head to a quiet spot during that break, and have your “Quiet Hour”? I have even known some people to utilize the time they commute to and from work as their quiet time with books on tape of sacred readings, or even spiritual music. Go to your car for lunch if the breakroom is busy and noisy. It might not last an hour, but a few quiet moments count.
  4. Lighting the Candles before bed- This is one thing my mother did. We had a low table in the hallway, and on it, she put a white tablecloth, and a single red taper candle. We would kneel before it to say our prayers together at night right before bed. I was small, and she was a single working mom, so I can’t imagine this nightly ritual lasted for more than a few minutes. We prayed, she blew out the candle, and we headed to bed!
  5. Go outside, touch the earth- This is a big one for me. I have always felt best with outdoor time as often as possible. Now that I have a dog, of course, that is multiple times per day! Most especially for those who follow an earth-based path, time touching the earth, or just breathing in the sweet perfumes of her air are crucial to us. Some suggest walking barefoot on the earth spiritually grounds one. I have never found that true for myself, as my feet hurt, but some people swear by it.
  6. Have a pouch, pile, stash, or stack of whatever helps- I used to keep a small bowl of crystals by my desk at a very stressful job. I would hold the crystals to help calm myself. Carry these things in your car, in your bag, wallet, or even on your person as jewelry. I have known some people to have things tattooed onto themselves that serve this purpose.
  7. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Foods and drinks nourish the body, which has been called the temple of the spirit. If you are not properly hydrated or your nutrients are off, you are going to feel awful. Good tasting things, also, help make you feel happy. Joy is not THE goal for spirituality, but it can help keep you going.
  8. Maintain Self-Care- Do things for yourself. I am not talking about a bite of chocolate or a bubble bath. Do that anyhow. I am talking about respecting your body’s limitations, and not jeopardizing your health. Maybe that means shutting the TV off early and hitting the sack, or being absent from a social gathering because you are just spent. Things like this can give much provided time without stimulation the body and mind needs so we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  9. Learn to say no- This is very difficult for some of us. Ate your kids screaming to hit ONE more store, and you feel guilty, but your sugars are low, and you have to go in to work early? Tell them no, and they better stop that screaming, too! Does your circle want more of your time than you can offer, and they just can’t find anybody else but you who qualifies to write a newsletter? Well, if nobody can write except you, then they sure can’t read either, can they? So, they sure don’t NEED that newsletter. Cutting down on unnecessary activities people guilt us into provides opportunity for more you time, and thus more time for your personal spirituality.
  10. Turn it off- I discovered in a strange way, that electrical currents do not always promote rest and calm. I slept in a cave with no electric on one night, and I have got to say, it was the most peaceful night of sleep I have ever gotten. It is the only time in my life when complete darkness and silence surrounded me. I was there with three other people, and one of the men was so overwhelmed, he had to leave. It was such a foreign feeling, and not for everybody. Not everybody can have that opportunity, but you can emulate this is small ways. Turn off the radio, and open the window to listen to the birds sing. Put down your cell phone, and watch the sunset.

 

Of course, each of us has our own personal ways of adding some quiet, alone time to our days that goes beyond anything I can suggest.

I wish you a Blessed Beltaine, Blessed “Me Time”, and 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

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

May, 2018

 

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Beltane

 

I love Beltane. The flowers are just blooming. The green is just covering the hedgerows. It also happens to be my wedding anniversary!

There are huge celebrations all over the place, though not nearby it’s just that this year I am craving something quieter. Something a bit more romantic and I can’t quite put my finger on it. One of the best things we ever did was to do the Hastings East hill drumming and dancing in the dawn. On a hill in the ruins of a castle overlooking the sea we watched the light, a sliver of silver light creep, and turn red, then gold.

I’ve never done anything like that before or since. We were all done and dusted by 5.30 a.m. It was magickal. There were Morris dancers dressed in white. Pagan folks in regalia. Folks walking their dogs and people to watching the people.

After some food and a really good nap it was time for the huge parade. More Morris dancers and figures dressed as green men and women and Horned Gods drummed and danced through the streets. Dabbing people with green sponges. It really felt timeless. It felt like the whole town was magickally awake. The whole county!

A lot of pagans I know do camps from about this time of year. Where I had been busy, camping is not an option for me right now. Yet the pull of the wild still draws me. There is something utterly pagan about my island this time of year. Just under the skin of it.

Formal Beltane rituals can seem a bit hetro-centric but at its core Beltane is about the warmth of attraction. About reception and giving of energy. It is, at its core a ritual about balancing energy and understanding; within and in the world around us. It is the internal anima and animus finding momentum to create. It is about harnessing rather than repressing our wildness and turning it into something alive, be it art or science or poetry or an offspring. It is about the power of being alive and being grateful. Grateful for another year, another sunrise, a new day. It is a celebration of life.

It is not about what is in your pants, or whom you want to have sex with (if you want to have sex). That is a very limited view of self, sex, gender and identity. It is about the ritual. The receiving of energy, the channelling of energy, the using of energy to create something new. Ritual is a dream language, a psychological and social tool for healing and re-balancing a group and the self. When we exclude ourselves from the group or ritual we lose out on much of its power and deeper understandings.

As with all things this is a celebration of life has a touch of death with it too. Within Beltane’s warmth is the chill tingle of Samhain’s death. Acknowledging life means accepting death too. This roots you into and puts you out of time. You can see and feel the echo of your actions. Of course the bonfire was made of bone as well as wood. The death in the life as well as the life in the death.

For the May-pole and ribbons are only half of Beltane. The other part is about cleansing, warding off disease and illness through the power of death and fire. Cattle were driven through the ashes of bonfires, or between two large fires to do just that. People would dance around the fires and even jump over them. It was about dousing the hearth fires and re-lighting them from a group, a community fire. It was about re-igniting the heart within the home and community. Within the home. Within the self. It is to be in the dark, to be outside the usual bounds of social norms and to return changed for the better.

I recommend, if you are lucky and privileged enough to have folks nearby, to have get some folks together dance naked around a bonfire with at dawn. If that is not your bag, go and find a high spot. Climb a hill or go to a bridge or ancient ruined castle in the dark. Stand and wait in the darkness facing the east. Drum if you can. Or just be in the silence. Light a candle, or a fire if you can too. Watch the sunrise. Dance if you can. Or just stretch. Be at the mercy of the weather. No-one is outside the circle of life and death. After all it is the impulses and desire and joys that make us fully human.

 

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

 

 

 

Ostara Correspondences

March, 2018

(Ostara Book of Shadow Pages, 5 Digital, Downloadable Grimoire Pages by Rowan Morgana of Morgana Magick Spell on Etsy.)

 

Ostara (Oh-star-ah) – Lesser Sabbat – Spring/Vernal Equinox, March 20-21st – when the Sun enters Ares

Other Names: Ostre, Oestre, Eostre, Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Lady Day, First Day of Spring, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Alban Eiler, Bacchanalia, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Caisg, Pess

Date: Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere) or when the Sun is 1 degree Aries.

Symbolism: The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility

Goddesses: all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses; Anna Perenna (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite, Persia, GrecoRoman), Athena (Greek), Cybele (Greco-Roman), Blodeuwedd, Eostre (Saxon Goddess of Fertility), Flidais (Irish), Gaia (Greek), Hera, Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Isis (Egyptian), Libera (Roman), Minerva (Roman), The Muses (Greek), Persephone (Greek), Renpet (Egyptian), Venus (Roman), Ostara (the German Goddess of Fertility), Kore, Maiden, Isis, Youthful Goddesses. Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake(Welsh-Cornish), the Green Goddess

Gods: all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods; Adonis (Greek), Attis (Greco-Roman), Cernunnos (Celtic), The Great Horned God (European), Liber (Roman), Mars (Roman), Mithras (Persian), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Thoth, Pan (Greek), the Green Man, Hare, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Taliesin, Lord of the Greenwood (English), Dagda(Irish),Adonis (Greek)

Symbols: Eggs, rabbits, similar to easter symbols.

Purpose: Plant and animal fertility, sowing

Meaning: The God comes of age, sexual union of the Lord & Lady, sprouting, greening, balance of light and dark

Essence: Strength, birthing, completion, power, love, sexuality, embodiment of spirit, fertility, opening, beginning

Customs: Wearing green, new clothes, celtic bird festival, egg baskets coloring eggs, collecting birds eggs, bird watching, egg hunts, starting new projects, spring planting

Foods: Hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, fresh seasonal fruits, milk punch, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, maple sugar candies, hot cross buns, sweet breads, milk, punch, egg drinks

Plants & Herbs: Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, Irish Moss, ginger, hyssop, linden, strawberry, gorse, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, rose, tansy, violets, woodruff and all spring flowers

Incense and oils: African violet, jasmine, rose, strawberry, lotus, magnolia, ginger, sage lavender, narcissus, broom

Colors: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, gold, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow.

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals and Mythical Beasts: Rabbits/Easter bunny, snakes, pegasus, unicorns, chicks, swallows, merpeople

Decorations: Daffodils, tulips, violet, iris, narcissus, any spring flowers, eggs, butterflies, cocoons

Spell/Ritual Work: Garden/plant blessings, seed blessing, spellcrafting, balance, growth, communication, invention, new growth, new projects

Planetary Ruler: Mars

Element: Air

Gender: Male

Threshold: Dawn

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

March, 2016

Spring Equinox 2016 Part II

My last article focused on cleaning toxic people out of your life. I believe that is a good first step. I have a lot of experience with toxic people! I am an adult child of a toxic parent, and said parent has also crossed the veil. I know that although that toxic relationship is over, the hurt and heartache is not. Some people think you can just “get over it” and “move on with your life” as if nothing happened. While I realize things that happened to us are in the past, and thus will never happen again- I also realize that not everybody can forget these things.

Aside from hurting over past memories, and having flashbacks or PTSD, many adult children who survived a parent who was mentally ill suffer from fears they will become just like those parents. This can affect all of your relationships. You can either find yourself unable to maintain relationships, or find yourself maintaining unhealthy ones. Some people decide not to have kids of their own, out of fear they will be the same sort of parent that their own parent was. Some fear genetically passing mental illness on to a child, as well. Substance abuse is higher for adults who had mentally ill parents, and overthinking “all the bad things that could happen” happens more often when you had a traumatic or abusive childhood.

No matter how many therapy sessions or tranquilizers you take, these things can haunt you for your entire life. I could certainly provide spellwork to ease these sorrows, but I prefer to address what mundane things you can do for yourself as an adult once you have endured this sort of childhood, and what we can do to be supportive of the children or adult children of mentally ill parents. Also, mental illness is not a choice, and our loved ones struggling with mental illness need our support too!

The best man for the job

It is often assumed the most highly trained professionals or social workers our tax dollars pay for are the best people to be supportive of kids dealing with their parents mental illness. While I agree these people are absolutely crucial, most especially in cases of child endangerment, oftentimes, they rely on professional experience and education to guide them. But they have absolutely no idea whatsoever HOW it feels to be the victim.

If you, yourself have been a victim, then empathizing with other victims is second nature for you. You instinctually can tell if something is not right, and you can remember how you felt when you were a child. It can be healing to be a victim’s advocate. To be somebody who reaches out and makes a difference for people who cannot do for themselves. You could not prevent what happened to you, but helping to ensure somebody else’s suffering is eased- or even if somebody is rescued from a situation you could not escape from can do wonders for your own peace of mind. Your participation in somebody else’s rescue or healing cannot change your past, but it might help you to at least feel better that you were able to spot somebody else going through it, and intervene in a positive way.

Those old meanies!!!!!

I have, in my mom’s side of the family, in my work in long term care, and in my religious community, met a lot of people diagnosed with a mental illness who really are mean, hurtful people who do bad things to other people and have absolutely no remorse. Hell, some of them LIKE inflicting suffering! They blame everybody else for their actions. I also know some people diagnosed with a mental illness would NEVER EVER deliberately hurt anybody to save their own life, and who are kind people well-known for all the awesome things they do to make the world a better place. I am also aware that very often, mental illness takes over, and the people suffering from the disease unintentionally cause harm. They really cannot choose to do any different.

Children raised in this environment are often taught that their needs come last. Many children of mentally ill parents become their full time caretakers by their teenaged years, and sometimes find themselves in dangerous situations their parents inability to make good decisions puts them in.

Most people I have encountered who suffer from mental illness really do love and care about their family, and friends, and children, and want to make everybody happy. Their illness just prevents them from making good decisions about what is best sometimes.

Luckily, we are living in a day and age where scientific breakthrough has shown ways to help sufferers of mental illness. I know some people who medication is a godsend for, and others who are helped by counseling. Much attention is paid to doing the things necessary to help people suffering from mental illness live healthy, happy lives. However, sometimes, little attention is paid to the children of mentally ill parents unless their lives are at stake.

It is assumed it is best for mentally ill people to have normal family lives- which translates as keeping children at home with mentally ill parents. This often makes the parents happiest. Unfortunately, this is not always best for the children. I know each case is different. Some people I know were rescued and did not live with their parent’s illness for one day! Others narrowly escaped with their lives!

My story

While times are better than say, fifty years ago, I know from experience that the goal of “keeping a child with the parent” is not always a good one. Fortunately, my brother’s grandparents were granted custody of him when he was in high school. I was not so lucky.

Mom’s family tried to intervene when I was in high school- and of course the State decided it was best for mom to keep me with her! I survived, but my emotional wellbeing did not. By the time I was in my early 20’s, I was a very angry young woman.

Just before I moved, I was old enough to understand certain things were not okay, and I had started putting my foot down. By this time, mom’s self-medicating of her mental illness drove her into dangerous parts of town, with a gun in the car, so she could buy narcotics. We could have been killed one night. I moved out that very night after attempts to reason with her resulted in her threatening to “bash my mouth in” . I told her if she hit me, she would never see me again. As I packed my things, she exclaimed, “But I didn’t hit you!” She could never understand that her behavior was not okay.

Immediately, she faked a suicide attempt, having all her sisters who lived in town, her mom, AND our Catholic Priest run to the hospital at 2 A.M. because they were so scared they would lose her.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I had no idea who to talk with, and our Priest was not trained in mental health counseling. I was, thankfully in college and loved to read. I sought out self-help books, and spoke with a counselor.

I got absolutely no support from mom’s family when I needed it most. Some of mom’s family made a choice to chew me out, feeling it defended mom- who they KNEW was severely abusive- because they were parents themselves, and were terrified at the thought of their own children turning against them. “You will understand someday when you are a mother”, I was told. They believed a child should honor their parents- and take care of their parents- even while the parent was jeopardizing their child’s life.

I had no personal rights to be a basket case in some family member’s opinions. I was failing to forgive, and how would I feel if god did not forgive me? I was cussed out and yelled at, and if I saw a family member in public, there was never a “How are you”, there was only a “ Have you gone to see your mother?” I was chastized by church members who recited scripture verses-because they believed mom when she cried and told them I had abandoned her because I did not want to take care of her.

What they did not know is that nobody could take care of my mother until control of the pills was handed to the professionals!

It felt like nobody could accept that my own sanity depended on being away from my perpetrator. They could not accept that my healing was more important than giving mom what she wanted. This response from blood relatives and church members compounded the pain and hurt I felt. I found out that family members were aware of almost everything that had gone on, and they did not care. They expected me to take it regardless. I finally cut off all communication with all of mom’s relatives and did not go back for years.

Luckily, I did meet plenty of other survivors of similar situations. I discovered that while I had previously thought my story was rare- it was not unusual in the least.

The Ugly Facts

According to The National Children’s Alliance, 47 States reported that 3.1 million children received services from some Children’s Services agency in just 2013. It was reported that not quite 80% of the fatalities of children caused by abuse or neglect was perpetrated by the kid’s parent or parents. More can be read at this link.

http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse

This just shows that child abuse is very widespread!

Right now, I am learning about schizophrenia- as I have a family member who suffers from it. A book I recommend was written for adult kids of sufferers. Not only is information about the book here, but an interview with the author is included that you can read as well at this link.

http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/005387.html

Also, I found a really good article about psychosocial outcomes for adult children of mentally ill adults.

https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/782/docs/psychosocial_outcomes_for_adult_children.pdf

I am not saying that all mentally ill parents abuse their kids. Plenty don’t. I am saying that some do, and their kids need support the same way the parents need healing.

Instead of a ritual or spellwork, I will include some suggestions for how to be supportive of children of mentally ill parents- both non-abusive parents as well as abusive ones. Also included is how to be supportive of your ill loved one, and some things to keep in mind. You can always do protective magic or light a candle or pray for people suffering. I don’t think that ever hurts.

Prayer and spellwork creates change- but it is not enough sometimes. In all circumstances, the more you can do physically, the more successful your endeavor to create change will be!

April’s Suggestions

  1. Accept what is happening and that it is not okay- Sticking up for victims who cannot protect themselves can be scary. The abuser might be your sibling, parent, best friend, or even YOUR child abusing their kids. Taking their side based on concern it would strain relations for YOU if you tell them they are wrong makes you just as guilty of abuse as the abuser. Not only are you encouraging them to continue, but you might even be helping abuse the victim more. Telling the victim to get over it, that things are really not that bad, or the like means you are not only enabling the abuser, but you become an abuser as well. No matter how much you may like or love an abuser, that does not make it okay for them to be abusive.
  2. Get involved- I will never forget the scene in The Divine Secrets of The Yaya Sisterhood where one of the ladies said “It was the belief that you didn’t interfere with other people’s kids”. Then there is the quote- “It takes a village to raise a child. “ It really does. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Refusal to get treatment absolutely is. Sometimes, people are trying to recover, but they are struggling to afford medications or counseling, or they relapse, it is time to “butt in” and get involved. It is not butting in or interfering at all when you are stepping in to help where help is needed.
  3. Don’t be afraid- Do not be afraid of upsetting your mentally ill loved one by preventing them from causing harm. If your ill loved one is insulted or indignant that you would “come between” them and their kids, and they do not feel what they are doing is wrong- when clearly, everybody can see it is- oftentimes, all hell breaks loose and you are in for World War III. That’s okay. Be assured the more they rage and attack, the more material the law has against them if it comes down to it.
  4. Be ready to take action- You might have to physically remove animals or another human being from their home. You may have to file police charges against them. You may have to testify in a court of law against your loved one. They may hate you forever for this- and other loved ones may take sides against you. I promise that is every bit worth it to be a victim’s advocate, and to stop the pain.
  5. Stick to your guns- Retaliation is not uncommon when you have been the one to stop an abuser. Do not allow whatever they threaten you with or do against you to get you to relent. Can you imagine how much worse it is for the victim than it is for you to be trapped by this person?
  6. Listen and validate- The #1 misconception is that you must CONDEMN your loved one for whatever hardship they have created. You absolutely do not have to. But you can admit it was hurtful to the people who suffered. Validation is the #1 thing some victims need most. That what happened to them was not okay and they are right to hurt. You may be the one hurting. Listen to yourself. Be considerate of your needs. If you need to skip a visit when your ill loved one is being especially excruciating- skip the visit, and tell them you will absolutely come when the behavior stops.
  7. Accept that intentions and results may be entirely different- Another famous quote from The Divine Secrets of The Yaya Sisterhood is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Accept that maybe the mentally ill loved one did not mean any harm- but somehow harm was still done. Some things are not okay, even if the person cannot help it. But if they cannot help it, expecting them to choose differently makes no sense. They may mean well, but their actions don’t cause things to go well. Even though you might not hold it against them, it is still okay to keep your loved one from causing harm.
  8. Explain without attacking – Obviously, the goal is to maintain happy relationships- not to assign guilt. Compassionately explaining to the mentally ill loved one how a certain behavior causes pain, and what could be done instead might help foster positive change. Yelling and scolding will make them feel misunderstoo. They will shut down and be defensive. However, there comes a time when it really does not matter if the loved one gets defensive if you point out what needs to change- most especially if their behavior is causing bad problems, and they are capable of choosing different. Yup, it’s their fault! In this event, attacking still does not help. Still explain your point calmly.
  9. Accept when you can’t help- Some people literally refuse to be helped. I am reminded of another quote, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Adults, most especially don’t like being told what to do. Your hands might be tied because of some circumstance. I mean, you cannot hold a gun to somebody’s head and force them to stop a behavior. You may have to wait until your loved one hits rock bottom before you can step in. Sometimes, we are not qualified to help a loved one and a professional is. The turning point in my relationship with my mom was the day I called a crisis hotline, absolutely hysterical. I felt so guilty and ashamed for failing to take good care of my mother, I told the operator! The operator listened compassionately, and then told me I was not the one to take care of my mother. She told me mom needed professional caretaking 24/7 and trying to do so by myself was preventing mom from getting the help she really needed. Now, of course, when I took the operators advice, that caused issues as well- but it was every bit worth it. Without me, mom’s family had to step in. They told her she HAD to get either in-home care or go to a facility. She verbally attacked some of them, saying they owed it to her to take care of her- and they simply said they could not do it. Mom was then forced to get proper in-home care until she could no longer stay home, and was transferred- against her will, of course- to a very good assisted living facility. Despite her years of fighting it, she absolutely loved the place, and so did we!
  10. Accept that maybe you can’t be around your loved one for a time- And that perhaps other people can’t either. Our loved ones endure the things we endure right along with us. There are times when we are each other’s strength, and times when we are broken by our loved ones and have to step away. We are only able to endure what we are capable of. Do not shame somebody for being unable to endure a loved one’s mental illness.
  11. Do not allow your mentally ill loved one access to certain things- If your mentally ill loved one steals money, don’t let them have access to your money. They can’t steal it if it is inaccessible to them. If your mentally ill loved one is legally allowed to drive, but their road rage terrifies you- do not get in the car with them when they are driving and do not allow them to drive your car. You might not be able to prevent them from causing a wreck, but that does not mean you have to be involved.
  12. Reach out- I know from experience how isolating it can feel to have a mentally ill family member. I looked around at my peers and saw the stability in their homes, and it seemed like I was the only one with a sick parent. I was wrong. Reaching out, reading, and talking with other people who were either mentally ill and doing all they could to live good lives, or survive the mental illness of a loved one helped me to understand that mom and I were not abnormal. We were not wrong. We were okay. Reaching out is the #1 thing that saved me.
  13. Mental illness is not shameful, and not a choice- I always say nobody ever wakes up one day and says to themselves, “You know, I have a good life. I am in good health. I love my job, and my loved ones. But you know what? I think I want to give all that up and be miserable. Yeah, I want to see what that is like! “ Mental illness is just like any other form of illness. It happens. Sometimes, we can fix it, and sometimes, we can’t. There is nasty discrimination against mentally ill people. I have never understood that. It’s not like we get mad and shame people who have asthma or a broken bone. So why shame people struggling with another disease they did not choose?
  14. Learn- If you , or if somebody you love struggles with mental illness- lifelong education is best. New advances in medicine and counseling are announced all the time. There is always a chance something can make life better and easier.
  15. Forgiveness of other people is not crucial-forgiveness of yourself is mandatory- The worst thing you can do is tell somebody who was a victim of abuse is to hurry up and forgive their perpetrator already. Many religious people believe a god/ess forgives, so people have to as well. BUT- those adherents conveniently forget the myths point that gods only forgive if the person is sorry, and the behavior has stopped. Few gods/esses will put up with bullshit! And even if in a religious story a god or goddess forgave somebody who was not sorry, I still don’t expect anybody else to. So why use religion as a basis to say human beings should? And I have to say, even if somebody is sorry and has changed, you still don’t have to forgive them if you don’t feel ready to. And you NEVER have to. You are not holding yourself back from some enlightenment or a place in paradise if you don’t forgive. Also, even if you DO forgive and move on from events- that does not mean that you have to welcome the person who hurt you back into your life. Ever. There will be a lot of people trying to push you into forgiveness and forgetting- and they won’t care if your perpetrator starts hurting you again. Do what is best for you, no matter what others say. For those who are aware of what their illness causes them to do- I really don’t have sympathy for abusers- so if you really are an abuser- piss off if you haven’t already been repelled by this article- but if you are a non-abusive person trying your best- you have to forgive yourself. If you don’t, you will not consider yourself worthy of getting better. Then you cannot treat your loved ones better. Forgiving the fact you are imperfect and make mistakes i9s not optional- it is mandatory.
  16. Know that we are all in this together- If you have been abused- you don’t have to be stuck with your abuser forever. But if you are ill, your loved ones depend on you to do all you can to feel good and be well. They WANT you around. They stay with you in bad times, and look forward to the good times.
  17. Giving up is not an option- If you suffer from mental illness- guess what? You are one of millions who does. The human body is so complex, that unlimited things can go wrong! Sometimes, your mental illness lies to you and convinces you that all hope is gone. But there are so many others struggling with the same things you are. Each sufferer is different, but so many suffer with the very things you do. Help and understanding is out there.
  18. Resources are out there- Your hometown has specific resources. Two I am listing here are Nationwide, and you can contact them.
  1. Mental Health America

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

This site has searches for affiliates by zip code and or City and State. Your local health department or area of family Services can point you where you need to go. Also, a quick non emergency call to your local police to request for the number for your crisis center will hook you up with the type operator who got the ball rolling for help for my mother. Police are getting a bad rap right now- because the bad job the lousy ones do makes all of them look bad. Truthfully, police work does not pay THAT well, and many of the folks in the force are just decent people.

  1. For the loved ones of mentally ill people- your local hospital or mental health facility often has free support groups. You can make a few calls and see what your hometown has to offer.

Also, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has support. Here is their link.

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers

Now, if you LIKE NAMI on Facebook, a slew of other pages appears that you can follow. The Facebook link is provided on their Internet Page.

There is a plethora of resources out there because mental health is so important. Together, we can make a difference!

  1. May you be healed- May your gods and guides reach into you and pull out all your sorrows. If you need medical care, may you be brought to the best care there is and may you be able to afford it. If no cure exists, may it come about very soon. May you be surrounded by family and friends who are part of your healing, and when the time comes, may you be part of theirs! So mote it be!

Blessed Be!

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2015

goddess

Ostara/Eostre

Ostara is the Goddess of Spring and of the Dawn. Her name, which in German, means “movement toward the rising sun”, is also used by some for the Spring Equinox.

Legend has it that Ostara found an injured bird. In order to save its’ life, she transformed it into a rabbit. The transformation was successful in that the rabbit survived, but it was not quite complete, as this rabbit could lay eggs as if it were still a bird. In gratitude, the rabbit would decorate its’ eggs and leave them for the Goddess.

goddess2

In Anglo-Saxon, her name is Eostre or Eastre. Her name has lived on in the holiday of Easter, another Spring holiday, which is also about resurrection and rebirth, if not of the Earth, but of hope and renewal. In this way, the Goddess Ostara is celebrated from the Spring Equinox until Easter.

This Goddess is about the returning light and warmth; and the Earths abundance as it is reawakened and reborn. Eggs, rabbits, flowers – all symbols of fertility – all first signs of spring – are sacred to Her.

Ostara’s symbols also became the symbols of Easter, which came much later.

Rituals to Ostara would include seeds, what you wish to grow and sow; planting a garden; coloring eggs and leaving them outside for the animals who are coming out of hibernation; taking a mindful walk, noticing the Earth as she begins to come out of her slumber, breathing in the freshness of the air, listening to the songs of the birds and the buzz of insects, feeling the sunshine.

May you all be blessed by Ostara this Spring!

goddess3

Hedgewitch Days!

February, 2015

AS ABOVE, DEFINITELY MORE BELOW!!!

 

Pull up a chair and grab a cuppa and a blanket my lovelies, let’s have a natter about Imbolc…I know, the tree has barely gone back into the loft and the weather is anything but spring like and enchanting, just walking out into the garden brings on hyperthermia and chattering teeth. Surely it’s not time for another festival?

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have a secret to share with you all, shhh, don’t tell everyone!

I’m not all that keen on Imbolc, there I said it, and it’s out there now, never to be taken back. It’s not that I don’t actually like it, more like I struggle to see the point of it. There is no harvest to celebrate, no sun to dance in and everything is hidden away under the ground. I appreciate the unseen, after all I work with magic, and all those promising shoots are wonderful and hopeful, but when it comes to Mother Nature I like things loud and proud, kind of in your face screaming look at me!

I find it hard to relate to the symbols of the plough and Brighid dolls, candles are something I use every day not just for Imbolc, milk is something I don’t drink much of (unless it’s chocolate of course) and bulbs are beautiful when you can venture out to gaze at them blooming but most of the time they hide away from sight.

I find the festival of Imbolc such a hard one to celebrate, and yet I so want to honour the tradition of our ancestors. I want to do something that will be the start of a modern day tradition that I can carry down to the generations to in order to celebrate all the promise of Imbolc…the hopeful festival.

After a bit of meditating and a lot of coffee and cake, which goes without saying really, I decided I needed something at Imbolc to represent hope, something to share and something to enjoy doing, after all what’s the point of anything if you don’t enjoy it? Then it came to me, albeit slowly (yep, my dodgy brain again), that the festival of Imbolc is all about what’s happening below rather than all the stuff we can see up above, so why not go with the flow and work with what comes naturally at this time on the wheel of the year?!

So here it is…my new, pass down to the grandbabies and all of you tradition for celebrating Imbolc…

 

Spring seed offerings!

hedgewitch

You will need;

Any white paper approx. 1 sheet per offering A4 size

(Recycled is great / junk mail etc…) Newspaper will work but give you a grey colour so try and use something with a white base if you are giving these as a gift.

Bowls and Bucket

Warm water

Native flower/herb seeds (approx. 10g to make 25 offerings)

Dried flower petals/ herbs. Coloured paper, food colouring, edible glitter etc…

Muslin square or a thin tea towel

Ice cube trays or silicone moulds

Cooling rack

Method;

hedgewitch2

 

Shred the paper and place in a bowl or bucket and cover with warm water. Leave to soak for a few hours, or overnight if you can.

Once soaked, take out the soaked paper, place in another bowl, cover with warm water and use a hand blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. You can use an electric blender or liquidizer if you have one.

Once blended add your seeds and any petals/herbs, glitter or food colouring and mix really well.

As you mix say;

 

‘Goddess above and Goddess below

 Let us reap what we do so.’

 

Draw the shape of an Imbolc symbol in your mixture with your finger, a candle, pentagram or a flame would all be good!

Pour the paper seed mixture into a tea towel or muslin cloth over a bowl and strain off the water (you can reuse this to water your plants, no need to waste it!)

Squeeze and squash until you are left with a dry looking pulp.

Press pieces of the pulp really firmly into the moulds or shape into small balls squeezing with your hands.

Carefully pop out the compressed offerings from the moulds and place on a baking rack to air dry.

Allow to dry thoroughly for around 24 hrs and store in an airtight container or jar.

When you are ready to use, simply take outside, dig a small hole in the earth and pop in the offering just under the surface of the soil.

Say this blessing;

 

‘I give this gift with blessings bright

In the name of the Goddess, with love and light!’  

 

Cover the offering with a thin layer of soil saying,

 

‘So mote it be!

 

Top tips!

Use up all your junk mail for your paper base, a great way to recycle!

If you add glitter or food colouring use biodegradable and natural products.

Select seeds that are native to your country…Wildflowers, herbs or grasses that would normally grow in your climate will all germinate well.

Make sure your offerings are thoroughly dry before storage to prevent sprouting.

Use dried herbs or finely chopped fresh hardy herbs like Rosemary and Sage to add another layer of magic to your offering.

Water your offering after planting if the weather is dry.

If you have any, plant a couple of bulbs at the same time!

Enjoy reaping what you have sown! Once your offering has flowered collect the seeds and make some more…keep the cycle going!

hedgewitch3

This mixture of paper and seed all bundled up into a pretty shape or balls makes a beautiful gift for anyone too, just pop two or three into a bag and attach a label explaining what they are and how to use them…spread the Imbolc love!

Ahhh, at last, something to actually DO at this time of year, these little shapes full of hope and seed will become my yearly Imbolc ritual. They will drag me off the sofa and out from under my blanket, push me outside to touch base with the Earth once again.  Representing all that’s going on below the surface that we can’t yet see and all the promise of things to come as the wheel turns through the year is quite an amazing feat for some recycled paper and seeds… In fact they may even be the answer to the ‘I don’t like Imbolc feeling’ lol, who knows!

I know I have rambled on again and not even offered you another drink! Have you finished your cuppa? Perhaps I can offer you something else my lovelies?  Chocolate milk?

Sorry I am all out of milk…

I know, forget the milk and just let me get that chocolate!!!

Big hugs and bright blessings guys, Oh and Happy Imbolc!

The Witch’s Cupboard

April, 2014

Merry Spring!

 

 

I thought for this month it might be nice to use traditional correspondences of Ostara and incorporate them into the entire month.  

 

Here are some correspondences:

 

Symbolism / Ritual Work: new beginnings, new life, rebirth, fertility, balance, communication, growth, agriculture, planting, love, sex

 

Decorations / Symbols: Eggs, new moons, butterflies, bees, cocoons, rabbits, baskets, sprouting plants, wildflowers, lambs, robins, chicks

 

Stones: Aquamarine, amethyst, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

 

Plants: Blessed thistle, crocus, daffodil, jasmine, Irish moss, oak, snowdrop, ginger

 

Incense / Oils: Lotus, magnolia, ginger, jasmine, rose, sage, lavender, narcissus

 

Foods: Seasonal foods, seeds, edible flowers, eggs, fish, hot crossed buns, sweet breads, chocolate, honey cakes, fresh fruit, milk, dairy foods, nuts, sprouts, asparagus

 

Drinks: Lemonade, mead, egg nog

 

Colors: pastels, grass green, robin’s egg blue, red

 

Butterflies for instance:  Citizen scientists track the monarch butterfly migration each fall and spring as the monarchs travel to and from Mexico. Report your own observations of migrating butterflies to real-time migration maps. Share data to help scientists understand how monarchs respond to climate and changing seasons. Explore monarch butterfly life cycle, ecology, habitat and conservation needs.

 

Find out what you can do to help the honey bee crisis:  Honey bees work hard to pollinate hundreds of crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

 

Yet over the last five years, we’ve lost over one-third of our honey bee colonies nationwide, due to factors such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an alarming phenomenon that occurs when honey bees mysteriously desert their hive and die.

 

Researchers do not know exactly what causes CCD, but they believe there may be many contributing factors, including viruses, mites, chemical exposure, and poor nutrition.

 

Try a Spring Morning Blessing:

 

My body reaches to the spring sun, (stretch arms up)

My mind is clear and fresh (hands on the head)

I bless the day’s beauty (stretch hands out in front of you and around in a sweeping gesture) and hold it in my heart (hands move to rest over the heart center)

 

For Health and Spring Spirituality try eating Spiritual Foods!

 

For health, eggs, especially yolks. Eggs are both highly nutritious and an ancient symbol of new life and possibility.

Other symbols of fertility and life include seeds, sprouts, and breads baked in rounded fertility goddess shapes.

 

Plant Something, Anything!  Get the Kids Involved!   

 

A good choice would be something that attracts the honey bee.  Plants include; mints, basil, sage, thyme, borage, oregano, lavender, chives, buckwheat, berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, tomato, winter squash, pumpkins, melons, watermelons, flowering broccoli, crocus, snowdrops, jonquils, tulips, sunflowers, asters, dandelions, clovers, lilacs, wisteria, cosmos, black-eyed susans, gaillardia, cup plants, goldenrod, loosestrife, bachelor’s buttons, bee balm, sedum, peony and honeysuckle. This is just the tip of the iceberg!  

 

Burn this combination of oils at full moon in April:

 

1 Part Sage, 1 Part Jasmine and 1 part Lotus and add to almond, grapeseed or olive oil.  

Try some Oomancy

Oomancy (sometimes termed ovomancy or ooscopy) refers to divination by eggs. An example would be the oracular reading (i.e., scrying) of the shapes a raw egg white forms when dropped in a glass of water.  In another method, the separated white of a raw egg is dropped into hot water and the shapes in the rapidly cooked egg material are interpreted by the diviner.

Tree of Life

April, 2014

Spring

 

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” –  Helen Hayes

 

As spring gets into full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, it is a great time to get back in touch with the Earth. Winter’s short days and inclement weather can limit our contact with the natural world. How tempting it is to stay indoors where it’s warm and dry rather than wrap up and brave the elements. Yet now, as the days lengthen and the sun reappears from behind the clouds we are seized by the urge to get outside and feel the wind in our hair, the grass beneath our feet and the sun on our face.

 

This makes spring an excellent time to renew and deepen our connection with nature. Here are a few exercises that may help with that.

 

Barefoot Grounding

You are probably familiar with the standard ‘Tree of Life’ grounding, where you visualise yourself sending roots down into the ground and growing branches from your head that reach up into the stars. But have you ever done it barefoot on grass? This takes it to a whole new level of connection with the earth. You can also try lying face down on the grass and feeling the connection between your belly and the earth beneath you. And as you go about your daily business, try  to be aware of your feet and their connection with the Earth. Does it feel any different in the spring? Can you feel the pulse of spring energy in the awakening soil?

 

It is good to practice all of these exercises if grounding is something you need to work on.

 

Talk to The Trees

Spring is a great time to initiate contact with the spirit of a tree. Winter is a period of withdrawal and rest for most tree species, and it can be hard to ‘talk’ to them then. But in spring, as their sap begins to rise and they come back into leaf they can be surprisingly receptive to contact.

 

Firstly, choose your tree. It is probably easiest to sit with your back to the tree’s trunk. Take a few moments to breathe, relax and open your senses. Then reach out with your mind, ‘asking’ if the tree is willing to make contact with you. If you feel that the tree is willing, you may begin. If the tree is unwilling to communicate, thank it and move on. Try another tree – just like humans they have different ‘personalities’ and not all of them are very sociable. But with a little persistence, you should be able to find one that is receptive. Then it is up to you – and the tree – what you ‘talk’ about, but remember to be polite and respectful. Listen carefully for any messages the tree may have for you, ask if there is anything the tree would like from you.

 

Consider leaving an offering when you have finished. Make sure it is something appropriate – biodegradable and beneficial to trees is best! Suitable offerings are a lock of your hair, some water from your home (tap-water, rainwater, pond water…) or a handful of compost. And remember that we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, while trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, so even if you haven’t brought an offering with you, you could consciously exchange breaths with the tree.

Walking Observation

Spring is a great time to begin a regular study of nature in your immediate neighbourhood. Often we think of nature as being exclusively a phenomenon of wilderness areas, but nature is all around us, wherever we are. Even in the heart of a city there are birds, insects, weeds peeping up from the cracks. It is wonderful to contact nature in the wild places, but it is just as important to find Her where we are in our every day lives. Try to take a regular walk through your neighbourhood, daily, weekly or at least fortnightly. Make notes of what you see as you walk. What new plants have pushed up through the earth, grown in size, flowered, produced seed or fruit, withered away? What birds or animals do you see, or hear, or notice signs of? Which trees grow in your neighbourhood? How do they change from week to week? When does the sun set in spring, summer, autumn, winter? Which insects are buzzing around or visiting plants? Which direction does the wind normally come from? When does the first blossom appear on the trees? How do the shadows change during the day, during the seasons? When do the rains come?

You may wish to write down your observations in a note book. It will be interesting to compare from year to year when the first leaves appear, when the migratory birds arrive and depart, where the useful herbs are to be found. You could also take weekly, fortnightly, or monthly photos of the same place so that you can clearly see how it changes through the seasons.

 

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These are just a few ideas to bring you closer to nature, to help you feel the turn of the seasons and the heartbeat of the Earth. Spring is a great time to start, but I hope you will continue all year round, to feel, to paraphrase Helen Hayes, the energy of the soft earthand your own spirit soaring.

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