traditional

Book Review – Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

February, 2019

Book Review

Besom, Stang & Sword

A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape

by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

*A Special Opportunity:

Christopher and Tara will be teaching at Delmarva Pagan Pride Day on April 28th.

Location: The Green in front of Legislative hall in Dover Delaware

Info: FB page- https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelmarvaPaganPrideFestival/

There is a stirring within the community of those who identify as witches as what was old has been lovingly and carefully made new again by those who stand at the gates of modern witchcraft. Besom, Stang and Sword is a guide of practice that evolved from the reweaving of Traditional Witchcraft and adding just enough of the evolved form of that practice to create something unique, new and highly relevant to our times.

The authors have done due diligence in both the scholarly rationale and the grassroots approach to the practice of witchcraft and its newer derivative form of Wicca. What emerged was the creation of their own path called the Blacktree Tradition….. a modern, nonreligious form of traditional witchcraft that is rooted in each witch’s specific region. Instead of deities, it deals with the spirits of the land and the ancestors-no gods, many spirits…

Chapter 1jumps right into the discussion of what Traditional Witchcraft is at its roots. As the authors state there are many types of practice that have presented themselves forged from the essential of a practice that is steeped in cultural practices such as Shamanism, Seidr and Hoodoo and magickal traditions, such as Victor and Cora Anderson Feri and Cultus Sabbati. All of the usual topics related to a pagan path and in particular, that of witchcraft are given attention and perspective that pulls together some of the more disjointed pieces of a puzzle that is complex, rich and deep. The Devil and the negative connotation that has come to be associated with those practitioners of the craft is addressed and the reality of this beings energy as being neither good nor evil, but a necessary component in the natural order of a practice rooted in the land. Blacktree calls to the Devil as the Witch Lord, the Lord of the Paths and is considered the embodiment of nature itself. This is a perspective that takes us beyond the semantics and associations accumulated around these that prevent us from seeing beyond and more broadly as to the deeper meanings.

You will find within each chapter the basics of teachings that form a solid foundation for stepping onto the path of the witch. Spell work, Diviniation, the Sabbats, Lunations, Hedgewitchery and more complete this instruction. Each chapter rich with theory and magickal technique. For those who are familiar with a Wiccan or other path that is similar to the principals of witchcraft, you will see the variances in application and tools that are of prominence in traditional witchcraft that have often take a side place of importance more recently.

The title of the book, Besom, Stang and Sword give reference to these three tools being those closely related to the natural world. This is further evidenced in the premise of Traditional Witchcraft and its roots being tied to the earth and at a time when many of the manufactured ritual items that adorn our altars and work were not available. Use of the Besom and Stang takes us back to those cultural roots of witchcraft and making use of and empowering all that we were given from the land itself. We are also introduced to some lesser-known tools, their purpose and how they may be used or created.

The author’s statement in the introduction nicely sums up the treasures and value of this book..

..Our perspective anchors itself with one foot firmly planted in the lessons of the past and the other stepping into the boldest future, while staying focused on the natural evolution of the craft…

I would highly recommend this book as a required read for those new to the craft and more importantly those who consider themselves seasoned and working witches. My gratitude to Christopher and Tara for being able to in such an articulate and grounded way call forth the best of what was and the vision of a practice that evolves and grows in an organic and natural way that we have long forgotten the simplicity, complexity and beauty of.

For More Information about Blacktree Coven:https://www.infinite-beyond.com/blacktree-coven/

Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape on Amazon

***

About the Author:

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

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

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

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

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Go a Wassailing

December, 2018

Go a Wassailing

The ancient tradition of wassailing has pagan origins intended to bless the coming year’s orchards’ crops and protect them from evil spirits. Later, wassailers went from door to door, singing and drinking to the health of their neighbors. Wassail was the alcoholic beverage of choice.

There are many traditional carols that are clearly for Christians, but there are a growing number of songs appropriate for pagans celebrating Yule. Some are original songs by pagan and wiccan musicians honoring the winter solstice; others are new lyrics set to old standards.

Here is a sampling that you might enjoy this winter.

Santa Claus is Pagan Too” by Emerald Rose

“Wiccan Wonderland” by Karina Skye

“Jingle Bells, Cast Your Spells” by Karina Skye

 

 

Cast that Spell” by Kyrja

On Midwinter’s Day” by Damh The Bard

Hail the Holly King” by Inkubus Sukkubus

Silent Night, Solstice Night” by Karina Skye

Whisper in the Darkness” by Adala

Solstice Evergreen” by Spiral Dance

The Longest Night of the Year” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Solstice Carole” by Wyrd Sisters

 

 

Solstice Song” by Backwater

We Three Witches” by Karina Skye

And, of course, “Here We Go a’wassaling.” This is one of many versions. Some change the lyrics to be more pagan, such as changing god to gods,

https://tinyurl.com/y942kkkg

I hope you’ll share your favorite solstice songs.

 

***

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.

Tarot Talk

November, 2018

Four of Coins

(The Four of Coins card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Pentacles, and remind ourselves of what happens when we have begun to find success within the physical world.

The Four of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Pentacles. As we have already discovered, these two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. We have other useful things to consider, too, such as symbolism, astrology, and more.

The traditional image of the Four of Pentacles is of a well-dressed person wearing a crown and sitting on a throne, with a pentacle under each foot, a pentacle above the crown, and a pentacle held firmly with both arms. Behind the seated person is the skyline of what appears to be a well-organized and prosperous city; above is a blue and cloud-free sky. Most versions of the Four of Pentacles are similar: four Pentacles being guarded, although there is no indication exactly what they are being guarded from.

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Four of Pentacles.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, or suspicious of or averse to change.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience abundance, good luck and comfort (the Ace of Pentacles), the power to deal with change in a balanced and beneficial manner (the Two of Pentacles), and the ability to practice our skills with talent, dedication and a focus on details (the Three of Pentacles). The Four of Pentacles offers a glimpse of the success that comes with a long-term application of luck, skill and dedication, and an awareness of just how much we have to lose once that success begins to manifest.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Pentacles offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign of Capricorn.

In astrology, The Sun corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve. The sun provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which is particularly applicable with our Four of Pentacles and the astrological sign of Capricorn (an Earth sign). The sun is thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality, the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

If the Sun is about the Self, and Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn, is about resources and reality, then when our Sun is in Capricorn, there can be a strong focus to deal with and master the more tangible aspects of life and living. We are talking about ambition here, but also responsibility. These energies are not about going forth into the unknown, but rather they are about working hard and making the most out of the resources at hand, solving challenges through focus and endurance. The Sun in Capricorn is about being admired for accomplishments, as well as dependability, creativity, discipline and a sense of humor.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

In The Naked Tarot (the awesome book I reviewed this month; check it out!), the Four of Coins is described as someone who is poor-minded rather than someone who is actually deprived, a perfect description of the personality of this card. Janet Boyer’s description of the Four of Coins as actually about withholding and stockpiling to the point of being paralyzed by what we have accumulated, is spot-on. The personifications of King Midas and Ebenezer Scrooge fit well with the message of the Four of Coins, as does the health issue of constipation.

The Wild Unknown Four of Pentacles shows four Pentacles, each connected to the others by belts or straps. We can almost hear the hum of those belts as they turn, creating lots of energy but only allowing each Pentacle to turn in one direction, in only certain ways. The image shows the benefits of the energy of this card, as well as the restrictive nature of the devices which not allow things to grow or evolve in new ways. This card is about valuing the things we have right now and protecting them to the point that they are stifled. Keeping things as they are, holding tightly to those possessions we value, prevents us from using them to create new things. But the support offered by structure and a strong foundation can just as easily grow into a prison.

The image on the Thoth Tarot Four of Disks, called “Power,” looks like a fortress with four square watchtowers, surrounded by a moat that can only be crossed at one place. The Four of Disks represents assured material gain in the form of dominion, rank, and earthly power that have been obtained but are leading to no further growth. After all, a fortress offers useful protection but if our enemies surround us with strength and focus of their own, a siege becomes a long and painful process.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Pentacles shows the traditional image for this card, and tells of a need to focus on growth opportunities closer to home, and of acquiring new possessions and guarding them, maybe to the point of over identifying with them. The card hints at a tendency to parade our wealth in front of others and warns of the danger of ostentation.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Coins shows a man dressed in a manner that indicates material wealth and success achieved through effort. Despite his outward appearance of power and security, the man grasps four golden coins to his chest in a very insecure way, and looks at us out of the side of his eyes as if saying “these are not the Coins you are looking for; move on!” Saving for a rainy day is a prudent thing to do, however the fear of losing our physical possessions can easily overcome our ability to enjoy them.

The message here is pretty clear: yes, managing our resources in order to make certain that our physical-world needs are seen to is smart. The ability to provide for oneself takes training, effort and perseverance, but constantly questioning ourselves as to whether or not we have enough ends up blinding us to the true pleasure of personal satisfaction and comfort, and the joy of sharing our own bounty with our loved-ones. These kinds of connections are valuable too, and they are also necessary for our sense of worth and our joy of living.

This process of holding tightly is well and good for a little bit; it allows us to gather ourselves in order to take the next leap. However, realizing that eventually the process of holding tightly will begin to prevent the very leap for which we are preparing is a necessary realization for that leap to actually happen.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

The Gilded Tarot Deck on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Spellcrafting: Spells & Rituals

October, 2018

Charge of the Dark Goddess

(Ceerridwen from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky)

Merry meet!

Most pagans are familiar with the Charge of the Goddess – a traditional one by Doreen Valiente as adapted by Starhawk, “Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called emis, Astarte, Dione …” There are other versions as well.

I was almost a decade into my practice before I came across the Charge of the Dark Goddess. I was intrigued. I had never seen it used in ritual or mentioned in the books I read. Several Internet searches yielded numerous versions on numerous websites. As we move deeper into the dark half of the year, it seems like a natural time to share them with you … perhaps inspiring you to write your own. There are five below, copied without editing them.

The Dark Goddess is the Crone, the wise woman and the warrior, the protector and the destroyer, stern yet compassionate. She is the time before birth and the time after death. She is the dark moon and the patroness of witches.

According to the hecatescauldron.com, Her animal totems are those which live below the earth such as snakes, serpents, dragons; bird of the night which are the owls; ravens, crows and horses.”

Some pagans may be apprehensive about working with the energy that comes from the dark, but to be whole, we need to embrace the power of the Dark Mother who rules the night and the deep mysteries it holds. May these charges lead you to her.

 

 

(Hecate from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky)

Version I

Author unknown

Listen to the words of the Dark Mother, who of old was called Hecate, Nuit, Morrigan, Banba, Erda, Macha, Mother Night, Sekhmet, and many other names:

Whenever you seek wisdom, at the time of the Darkening Moon, come together in love and trust and learn of Me, who am the Wisest of Crones.

Ye who search the mysteries of the Earth, the secrets of Air and Darkness, of Blood and Fire, the silence of the uttermost stars, come unto Me, and I shall whisper to you in the depths of midnight.

Ye shall approach Me in silence, and as a sign that ye are free from fear, your breast you shall bare to my blade, for fear has no place in my mysteries, and that which you seek of Me will destroy you if you fear it.

For I am the dolmen arch beyond which stretch the mysteries of infinity. I am the silence before birth and after death. I am the clouded mirror in which you scry your own soul. I am mist in the twilight, the vast and starry sky of midnight, shadows on the Moon.

All things come to Me in the end, and yet I am the beginning of all. I meet you at the crossroads, I lead you through the darkness, my hand you grasp in the passage between the worlds. To those that toy with Me am I an instrument of self-destruction, yet to the true seeker do I bring knowledge beyond mortal comprehension.

Of you shall I demand the utter truth of all that you are, and in return shall I give you all that you may be, all that I am. For my wisdom is beyond the Ages, and knowledge of my Secrets is power over self, over fear, over death. Nor do I demand aught of you which you cannot give. For I am the Mother of Mysteries, and as you know Me, so shall you learn to know yourself.

 

 

Version II

Shayla is credited with writing this according to one website

The Dark Goddess speaks to us,

through the mouths of Lilith, Kali, Tiamet, Hekate, Nix,

the Black Madonna, Nemesis and Morgaine.

I am the Darkness behind and beneath the shadows.

I am the absence of air that awaits

at the bottom of every breath.

I am the Ending before Life begins again,

the Decay that fertilizes the Living.

I am the Bottomless Pit,

the never-ending struggle to reclaim that which is denied.

I am the Key that unlocks every Door.

I am the Glory of Discovery,

for I am that which is hidden, secluded and forbidden

Come to me at the Dark Moon

and see that which can not be seen,

face the terror that is yours alone.

Swim to me through the blackest oceans

to the center of your greatest fears

the Dark God and I will keep you safe.

Scream to us in terror,

and yours will be the Power to Forbear.

Think of me when you feel pleasure,

and I will intensify it,

until the time when I may have the greatest pleasure

of meeting you at the Crossroads Between the Worlds.

 

 

(Black Goddess By Marcy LaBella)

Version III

One source credited this as written by Tiger Eye

Wisdom and empowerment are the gifts

of the Dark Goddess of Transformation.

She is known to us as Kali, Hecate, Cerridwen,

Lilith, Persephone, Fata, Morgana, Ereshkigal,

Arianhrod, Durga, Inanna, Tiamat,

and by a million, million other names.

Hear me child, and know Me for who I am.

I have been with you since you were born, and I will

stay with you until you return to Me at the final dusk.

I am the passionate and seductive lover

who inspires the poet to dream.

I am the One who calls to you at the end of your journey.

After the day is done, My children find

their blessed rest in my embrace.

I am the womb from which all things are born.

I am the shadowy, still tomb; all things must come to

and bare their breasts to die and be reborn to the Whole.

I am the Sorceress that will not be ruled,

the Weaver of Time, the Teacher of Mysteries.

I snip the threads that bring my children home to me.

I slit the throats of the cruel and drink the blood

of the heartless. Swallow your fear and come to me,

and you will discover true beauty, strength, and courage.

I am the fury which rips the flesh from injustice.

I am the glowing forge that transforms your inner demons

into tools of power. Open yourself to my embrace and overcome.

I am the glinting sword that protects you from harm.

I am the crucible in which all the aspects of yourself

merge together in a rainbow of union.

I am the velvet depths of the night sky,

the swirling mists of midnight, shrouded in mystery.

I am the chrysalis in which you will face that which terrifies you

and from which you will blossom forth, vibrant and renewed.

Seek me at the crossroads, and you shall be transformed,

for once you look upon my face, there is no return.

I am the fire that kisses the shackles away.

I am the cauldron in which all opposites grow

to know each other in Truth.

I am the web which connects all things.

I am the Healer of all wounds,

the Warrior who rights all wrongs in their Time.

I make the weak strong.

I make the arrogant humble.

I raise up the oppressed and empower the disenfranchised.

I am Justice tempered with Mercy.

Most importantly, child, I am you. I am part of you,

and I am within you.

Seek me within and without, and you will be strong.

Know me.

Venture into the dark so that you may awaken

to Balance, Illumination, and Wholeness.

Take my Love with you everywhere and

find the Power within to be who you wish.

 

 

(Dark Goddess by Lynn Richardson)

Version IV

Author unknown

I who am the Mother darksome and divine,

Queen of the Underworld,

Rider of the midnight sky,

Keeper of the secrets of darkness,

I call upon your soul to descend and come unto me.

Come into my warm womb of darkness,

where I will hold you tight

as you grow and become filled

with the very essence of life,

and the knowledge of my love.

For in my love I would torment your dreams,

I’d send demons to drive you mad,

if you hold not within yourself the strength

and the courage to stand before me.

To face me with all fetters gone

and allow yourself to fall,

into the dark abyss.

The abyss that holds your deepest fears,

that goes over the thinnest edge,

down into the arms of possible insanity.

For the abyss is but a mirror.

Face the mirror,

face me,

and all the power of creation is yours,

the keys to your wildest dreams,

tickets to the stars and beyond!

Anything you can imagine.

It’s all yours,

if you’ll but fall.

I am the Goddess of the three faces

standing at the crossroads seeing past, present and future,

seeing lightness,

darkness and balance

All of this do I see,

All of this do I hold for thee.

 

 


(Samhain Dark Goddess By Mary Alice)

Version V

Author unknown

I who am the Mother darksome and divine,

Queen of the Underworld,

Rider of the midnight sky,

Keeper of the secrets of darkness,

I call upon your soul to descend and come unto me.

Come into my warm womb of darkness,

where I will hold you tight

as you grow and become filled

with the very essence of life,

and the knowledge of my love.

For in my love I would torment your dreams,

I’d send demons to drive you mad,

if you hold not within yourself the strength

and the courage to stand before me.

To face me with all fetters gone

and allow yourself to fall,

into the dark abyss.

The abyss that holds your deepest fears,

that goes over the thinnest edge,

down into the arms of possible insanity.

For the abyss is but a mirror.

Face the mirror,

face me,

and all the power of creation is yours,

the keys to your wildest dreams,

tickets to the stars and beyond!

Anything you can imagine.

It’s all yours,

if you’ll but fall.

I am the Goddess of the three faces

standing at the crossroads seeing past, present and future,

seeing lightness,

darkness and balance

All of this do I see,

All of this do I hold for thee.

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.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

September, 2018

The Bad Witch’s Guide Autumn Equinox

I have always enjoyed the light around this time of year. The beginning of mists at sunset and dawn. The first tinges of frost and the spider webs like diamond nets over the leaves that were beginning to turn. The dead summer grass rattling in a wind with a distinctly crisp edge.

The light and dark are in perfect balance. The Veil between this world and others is thin

Mabon has his name attached to this festival and I like that. I like Mabon in general. I like a seeker. I also like balance so equinoxes feel really good for me. It is neither thing, light and dark, hopeful and guarded, plenty and want. Perhaps that is why Pryderi, Rhiannon’s sacred son is often associated with Mabon for this reason.

Pryderi (or Prederin) is born of a Goddess (like Mabon). He enters the forest, the world between. His manners are rough and he insults a great King, Arawn. King Arawn switches places with him and during his quest into Awen learns to “dwell with desire” but to not act on it. He learns great self-control and in so doing wins a great battle. In learning mercy and abstinence (not sleeping with another’s wife) becomes a Great Leader. It is a great lesson. To not give into lust or vengeance, even you can “get away with it”.

Of course I love the food and while apples and pork are more Samhain for me, Mabon is full of cobnuts (fresh hazelnut), damsons, wild game like pheasant and venison and this year’s lamb tend to be fresh seasonal and excellent. In fact Mabon is the peak of vegetable harvest, from the last of the fresh garden herbs to runner beans and early potatoes. The sea also is full of wonders, oysters and mackerel, sardines and sea bass are plump and delicious.

It is pickling season. From Yule onions (the ones you break out with your cold cuts) to some kimchi because the cabbages are amazing this year, preserving your own food is fun and relatively simple. Part of me wonders if Mabon isn’t a pickling party that got out of hand so marvellously they did it every year! That is the light in the dark; planning the plenty in a time of ice and snow. It is in the wine and vinegar, the syrups and treats, the medicine and the merriment.

The dark is something else. The dark is in the journey work, the intoxication*, the self-exploration and releasing of our leaves to feed our next year’s growth. This is not ancestor work or work with the dead. This is honouring our deaths. All of the people we have been that are no longer. It is letting go of all we have been carrying, good and bad, at least for a while.

Many traditional wiccan rites around this time of year feel like hollow reflections of Lughnasadh or Samhain. Yet this is as powerful as midsummer or Yule to me. A time of beginnings and endings, of big and small changes. It is the bloom of mushrooms, the food of the Gods after all. *While I don’t condone their use it is an ancient part of ritual practice. It is a time of sacrifice and plenty.

Ritual

What you will need:

A fire (or safe heat source)

A large pan or cauldron.

A sterilised bottle or jar

Elderberries

Caraway seeds (a pinch)

White rose petals (13)

Elder leaves (13)

Water

Sugar (to make a syrup)

A sieve or strainer

If you are using freshly picked seasonal berries you will need to double what you would be using for dried and make sure they are well washed and dried.

Heat your water and add your sugar. When up to a simmer, bless your pot or cauldron with a seven pointed star. Make sure your sugar is dissolved.

Add your leaves one at a time with the following charm.

Dark mother, Matrona,

Modron

Sweet Moon:

I call you

I evoke

For your healing and protection,

The Birch, the Rowan, the Ash, the Alder, the Willow, the Hawthorn, the Oak, the Holly, the Hazel, the Vine, the Ivy, the Reed, and the Elder Moons.”

Add the elderberries and stir it gently in a figure of eight pattern.

Add your caraway seeds and then a rose petal at a time saying the following

Light mother, Matrona,

Modron

Bitter Goddess:

I call you

I evoke your healing and protection.

By blood and thorn, by your magick and power

The charm is made by seed and flower.”

Remove the cauldron from the heat and let it sit for about five minutes before you carefully strain it, mashing the berries a little to get as much juice as you can and bottle it and seal it.

This syrup is good for flus, and colds it can also be used as a blood substitute or made into a tea to replace wine in most other rituals.