traditions

3 Pagans and a Cat Monthly Feature

December, 2018

 

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

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

 

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

 

November 2018 Podcasts

Episode 24: Embracing Dissonance: Car, Gwyn, and Ode discuss the damage they’re still trying to cast off from Christianity, some basic criteria for exploring your pagan options, and how to do the research that brings it all together.

 

 

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

Episode 5: Building Your Book – Overview: Car, Gwyn, and Ode launch the Building Your Book series by talking about some historical grimoires, discussing their own magical books, and covering the general principles and contents of a Book of Shadows.

 

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Remember …

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

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About the Author:

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

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times

December, 2018

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times for December 2018

Bright Blessings!

Some of us count the start of Winter with Samhain, and we were lucky that we had a warm beginning of Winter here in Central Ohio. One night in Early November though, surrounded by the glory of fall colors in the leaves of the many trees I live amongst, I was out walking the dog, and I felt a chill, and the silence that had fallen upon the body of Mother Earth told me the Cailleach was here.

My husband swears up and down Winter is not here until Solstice time, but I feel her moving across the land, and in my bones and joints. She’s here!

Soon, Yule will be upon us, or Winter Solstice, whichever you celebrate.

For many years, I have completely removed myself from the traditional American holiday processions. I simply don’t have the time, money, or patience for the craziness. Aside from a meal, a ritual, and a gift for my husband, I don’t do a thing anymore because I am so exhausted from doing Christmas professionally for over a decade. I also have a lot of friends, and cannot afford to buy for all of them, so I don’t buy for anybody. I have not sent holiday cards in close to fifteen years.

For some odd reason, this year, I bought a box of cards to send. I might not send many, and might just send them to my husband’s immediate family. The whole thing made me think, and wonder about how our tradition of gifts got started? I know it originated in Pagan times, but I wanted to look further into the practice.

Speaking of things that can be given as gifts, first, I’d like to review a new product I think many of you would love.

 

Megge on Audio

I had the privilege of reviewing Megge of Burydown, and interviewing author Rebecca Kightlinger earlier this year. The link to the article and review of the book can be found here:

http://paganpages.org/content/2018/04/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-38/

Luckily, Kightlinger contacted me last month and offered the opportunity to review her book, Megge of Burydown on Audible, a product found through Amazon.

I have never been one for books on tape because I am hard of hearing, but I figured I would give this a go because I like Kightlinger and I love doing reviews.

I, of course, rely very heavily on reading lips in conversations, and use closed captioning/subtitles when watching films, but the speech was clear. My husband, who has normal hearing, said the sound was crisp and perfect. The narration was very good, and I can see why people love these products.

This is the perfect gift because you can have the link for this sent to an ipad or cell phone, and take it anywhere you go. This is perfect for road trips, the commute to and from work, and even in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school. It is also perfect because you can plug your headphones in, and listen on walks places, lunch breaks, while shopping, or anywhere you want to go.

This is the perfect product to give as a gift for the holidays to yourself or anybody on your gift list!

Here is the link so you may purchase Kightlinger’s book on Audible.

https://www.audible.com/search?keywords=megge+of+burydown&ref=a_hp_t1_header_search

 

Presents were Wrapped by the Chimney

So why DO we do gifts during holiday time? I have always questioned it. Especially with the mainstream faiths. It is supposed to be a religious holiday, and for many people, it is all about buying things and attending parties, it seems.

Well, surprisingly, there are different reasons given.

Some Xtians say they give gifts in remembrance of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh given by the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Some say it is in honor of St. Nicholas, who they believe was morphed into Santa Claus.

Gift giving this time of year predates that. Think back to old Roman times

 

IO- Saturnalia!

 

 

Saturnalia ran from December 17-December 23, and honored the Roman god Saturn. He was the god of agriculture and time, and the event had originally begun as a single day, and they decided to expand on a good thing, and keep the fun going.

Saturn was the god of many things, including agriculture, and Saturnalia was considered both a time to give thanks for harvest and sowing, and a time to reflect on what was considered a golden era- when Saturn ruled. He was overthrown, and kept bound as he was seen as having capacity to be very cruel. During the festival, his bounds were taken off, freeing him for the celebrations.

Ironically, our gift giving might stem from gifts given during Saturnalia, but our style of doing so in no way resembles Saturnalian gifts.

The gifts given by them were sometimes gag gifts, and sometimes candles known as cerei, to signify the strengthening sun. They also gave something referred to as Sigillaria- which was wax or terracotta figurines. Mentioned by Macrobious in the fifth century in his publication Saturnalia, one speaker in the book says sigillaria are substitutes for human sacrifice victims, and another speaker states they are playthings for kids. It is speculated there was a time human sacrifices were made, and that practice was replaced by animal sacrifice, and the figurines.

The word Sigillaria refers to the last day of Saturnalia, the gifts given, and the word sigillarius referred to the crafts persons/ vendors who made and sold the Sigillaria. The vendors set up temporary tables and vendors booths and sold their wares for four days. This sounds just like the crafts fairs and street fairs we have today!

Money was also given to servants by their employers, and this was sometimes used to buy offerings to give at the Temple of Saturn. Today, we have holiday bonuses, and can thank the Ancient Romans for starting that practice.

The employers would also reverse roles, and host dinners for their employees.

Notice I am not referring to them as masters and slaves, as many are overly fond of when referring to ancient Pagans. I have been wondering just WHO cooked the foods, and catered the parties that could become lavish? I highly doubt the employers who had chefs year round became overnight chefs themselves.

I picture people running around for days before the dinners, getting things done in advance, and then paying people to cater those parties for them. Furthermore, recall, at one time, the festival was for a day, then it was extended to three days, and finally five days. Can you imagine people who never cooked or cleaned or did a thing for themselves all year would magically become Betty Crocker for five days? They had some form of help somehow, I am thinking.

Today, we have something similar. While schools and places of business are closed for the day of the holiday, food service staff still work the day of all around the world.

Times may have changed, but how much have humans changed?

So, I write that employers hosted for employees.

Gift giving was a big part of the holiday, and although we do our gift giving differently, we can thank the Ancient Romans for this tradition for the winter holidays.

 

Today

Today, many feel stress and strain to give gifts, some statistics state some people spend around $1,000 for all the gifts they give. Economically, retail establishments market and sell things for Xmas as early as Samhain, or even beforehand, and the day after Thanksgiving begins a mad dash of insanity while people fight, scream, and plow their way through the holiday.

Actually…some shops start their Black Friday sales the day OF Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving this year, before our guests arrived, just for the heck of it, we went to Wal Mart at about 3:45 P.M. There were not a ton of shoppers, but there was a ton of staff. They had set up massive amounts of displays of things they had covered with plastic. I asked if they were getting set up for tomorrow. They said no, that the sale started at 6 P.M. TODAY. I jokingly told them to try not to get trampled, and they did not laugh. My husband said “Let’s get out of here!”

We joked about it at dinner later, and friends informed me that Black Friday sales are basically a conspiracy. I was told they set out things they had in the back they had not been able to sell. They said prices had been marked up right before Black Friday, and dropped to the original price that had not been inflated. They also told me they set out older merch they want to clear out so they can bring in new items. I was told you do not save money at Black Friday sales, and you are not getting anything worth fighting the crowds for.

I did a bit of reading. Stores also create an illusion of scarcity, which makes people FIGHT each other for an item. A store might be out of an item, but it is because they deliberately understock of something they believe a LOT of people want, and this is so they can spike the price, based on supply and demand. One of my favorite holiday films is based on this. Jingle All the Way with Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger is about two dads in a battle to get the last of a certain toy for their kids, and the ridiculous, hilarious messes they get themselves into- all because they both failed to plan ahead to buy their kids gift in advance.

If you wait until AFTER Christmas, you will get a better price because they slash the inflated prices. You might save yourself the trouble of lines at stores, and just nab gift cards for everybody.

A lot of people refuse to give money or gift cards at holiday time, and I have literally been told this- because they take pride in filling up the underside of the tree with gifts, and they enjoy watching their loved ones rip open presents, and exclaim how much they love what has been bought for them. Parents often use it as a sign of wealth and to give themselves a pat on the back for what great providers they are. This is no longer about taking care of your family, but it is a way of making yourself feel good. It’s also a way to compare yourself with others and measure whether you feel you are coming out ahead of everybody else.

Need I remind people just how very much waste we have in our landfills right now, and how polluted we have made Mother Earth? Even just not using all that packaging waste from one time uses at holiday time would drastically reduce waste.

I cannot tell you how many children cry because mom and dad did not buy them what they wanted for the holiday, and how many people save money year-round to buy things they feel will make their loved ones pleased. My Granny, for example gathered gifts all year, and stashed them in a box in her closet. She kept Christmas wrap on hand, and would wrap the gifts and label them the minute she got them home. It would be 99 degrees and Summertime outside, and Granny was nabbing and wrapping Christmas gifts.

All of these things have created an unhealthy expectation and a sense of entitlement for us culturally. Due to this, and various other reasons, some people do not give gifts for the winter holiday.

For example, some Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some Pentecostals do not give or receive Christmas gifts. I have been told Jehovah’s Witnesses also do not celebrate Halloween, and this is due to their understanding it is a Pagan holiday. I had thought perhaps the Amish do not give gifts, but indeed they do! I read that they tend to give more simple gifts, however, and the practice of children setting out a special plate for their parents to fill with nuts and goodies observed. The article I read said parents will give toys their kids want, but it’s not like the toys we have for non-Amish mainstream American kids in stores. They do the handmade toys, and games.

 

Alternative Giving Solutions

I know this is easy for me to say – because I don’t have children. However, ask anybody who knows me, and they will tell you that I can be a cold-hearted bitch, and I don’t bend to peer pressure. I realize those of you who have kids and families who place demands on you will suffer immensely if you rock the boat, and don’t buy them what they expect you to.

Again, I say, yes, it is easy for me to say, but it wasn’t always so. I slowly distanced myself from the holiday expectations, and you can too, if you decide to. Instead of a ritual, I will include some alternative gift giving suggestions, and talk about my very special, late great Aunt Wanda!

 

Aunt Wanda’s Way

My Aunt Wanda was a strong, and shining influence on me, and the older I get, the more I realize just how much she shaped me.

A member of her local Eagles club, and onetime President of that chapter, she worked her tail off gathering and distributing food around Thanksgiving and Christmas to needy families. She would load her cars trunk up, and she and her best friend Ruthie would do drop offs at residences together.

One year, when mom and I were struggling financially, they showed up with a whole trunk full of food just for us. I have never forgotten this.

If you want to get into the spirit of giving during the holidays, instead of dropping hundreds or thousands on spoiling kids, friends, or family members who already have all they need, why not contribute to some cause that reaches out to those who need help? Here are a few suggestions.

 

Saoirse’s Simple Holiday Gift-Giving Suggestions

  1. Contribute money, items, or your time to a local community organization that gives to those in need. Food, clothing, and home goods are accepted year-round at many sites, and your local city offices can be reached for information if you have no idea who to contact. Gently used items can be donated as well. It’s never a bad time to go through your things and purge every last thing you cannot use that is in decent condition, and donate it someplace. Your house will be cleaner, and somebody else will benefit from what you are no longer using.
  2. Volunteer to work the holiday if your work site allows it. It will give the day off to somebody else who wants the day with family. This is an added bonus if your family annoys the tar out of you, AND you often get time-and-a-half pay! Volunteer to do so early, so you can get out of a family gathering without getting yelled at if needs be! You’re welcome.
  3. Have a White Elephant Gift Exchange. A hilarious article about the rules is provided at this link. You don’t have to do White Elephant’s only at holiday time, and I have done this at “Unbirthday” parties, and everybody has a ball. A spending limit is often set, and sometimes, people have a gag gift be the theme.

https://www.whiteelephantrules.com/

  1. For those who do not have family to gather with – or simply do not want to gather with family – have a friend gathering. I always say friends are the family we choose.
  2. Some people I know adopt a family for holiday time and give things to them. You can also sponsor an animal at an animal shelter, or a zoo for an annual fee.
  3. You can anonymously pay towards somebody’s debt. You can pay off the balance on a child’s overdue lunch account. You can offer money towards somebody’s doctor bill without knowing whose bill it is. You can prepay at a restaurant towards whoever the staff feels is needy. I know how some feel about mainstream churches, but truthfully, many of them do amazing community work. You could always call them and ask what debts some of their members need help with.
  4. OR, you could contact your local Pagan, New Age, or Metaphysical shop, and ask if they accept cash donations.
  5. Leave food outdoors for wildlife. Not all birds migrate to warmer places, and not all animals hibernate. Suet, birdseed, corn on the cob, a salt lick, or even water you ensure does not freeze will be a huge help for the animals during the meager winter months.
  6. On a more self-nurturing note – take the money you would have spent on presents for people who do not need them, and apply towards a bill or debt of your own. If you have neither that need paying down, put the money in a savings account, your 401K, or to buy some investment that will multiply!
  7. Pick one person who you know that gets very little company, and spend time with them. Make it a point to do this regularly instead of just doing a holiday visit

The biggest issue with the “giving season” is it lasts for under two months, and people tend to forget to keep the spirit of giving alive the other ten months of the year!

 

Blessings for your Winter Solstice time holiday, however you celebrate. May the spirit of giving be with you year-round, and the light of the love of your family and friends always warm your heart and days.

Blessed Solstice.

Blessed Be!

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About the Author:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft by Storm Faerywolf

December, 2018

Book Review

Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft

by Storm Faerywolf

 

 

Author, Storm Faerywolf’s book provides the reader with an inside look at the workings and traditions that evolved from Victor and Cora Anderson’s Feri Tradition and are known as Faery Witchcraft.

I am always skeptical of books that infer that the teachings within are those which are not freely shared. It gives a certain layer of mystery and feeling that the reader is privy to practices that are only shared with the most trusted. I am not saying this as judgment as to whether that word “forbidden” or “hidden” should be in the title of any book, just simply making a statement relevant to my experience in that what is truly only for those with the appropriate training is never shared fully in a book. I believe that by having that bit of information, the reader can then make use of the material presented to the best of their means. And, so on that note, Storm has treated his readers to “just enough” information to whet the appetite to learn more of the BlueRose lineage of Faery.

I am familiar with his work, having read Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft and having had the privilege of attending ritual and class with him at the Temple of Witchcraft “Templefest” event year before last.

I loved that he dedicated the book to Victor and Cora Anderson and acknowledged that all great works set upon the path are the result of collaboration and the impact of many teachers, students and others who support and encourage the individual’s practice. That was also true of my impression of him in first meeting, that this was a genuinely very nice guy who was passionate and dedicated to both sharing and evolving his teachings to be inclusive.

Unlike Storm’s first book, Forbidden Mysteries is a bit darker in its magick; really getting to the heart of practice, ritual and exploring those aspects of witchcraft that require courage and boldness. The appendices provide the basics of Faery practice, some beautifully written poetry and invocations for use and the role of the Divine Twins in the lore of the Faery. Additionally, there is a glossary, which is a wonderful addition, again, making the material much more accessible to those who do not follow this path of witchcraft and would be otherwise unfamiliar in understanding some of the concepts.

This book is chock-full of exercises of preparation, Rituals, spellwork and Chapter Five’s exercises move through the alchemical elements finding common ground within all practices of witchcraft, but most decidedly with Fae influence.

So, to begin with, the spelling of Faery in this title is explained in this way…

…. While there are many different legitimate spellings for our particular tradition in use (most notable “Feri”, though Faerie, F(a)eri(e), and even rarely Fairy sometimes appear) I tend to use the archaic “Faery” as it was the spelling used at the time of my introduction to the tradition, and I also feel it better poetically evokes the relationship between the practitioner and the fae; a detail of mytho-poetic practice that some lines of our tradition do not follow but is central to my own practice and my lineage of BlueRose…. (excerpted from the Introduction).

This simple statement clears up much misconception about identification of the Fae and the Traditions that honor them.

The book is separated into four parts, taking the reader through many topics that are the staple of any practice of witchcraft and carefully aligning them with communion and understanding of the world of the Faery. We are given fair warning about the true nature of witchcraft and the dangers that lay in interactions with any who walk those realms, but as the author states, not for the reasons stereotypically associated with the practice. The danger lay in what is revealed of ourselves in the process and whether we have the courage to embrace all parts of our being and the places that those aspects inhabit and interact with those who are of the greater Earth or even more distant realms of existence. These pitfalls are exemplified in the telling of stories of the descent into madness by those who wandered into the realms of the Dark Faery and were not prepared for the price to be paid. The truth of the witch’s path is one of facing the shadow of their being as well as the light and in so doing being able to reach into the darker abyss where those greatest allies and teachers of the Fae reside.

We learn that the Faery are not the whimsical winged beings that tales have provided, but are often in folklore associated with the darker nature of things, not much different than the many layers and types of humans we encounter. Each has a dark nature and depending on the situation shows it in its ferocity or lessens the sting in resonance to the finely tuned calibration of the human encountered.

Each chapter and section following gives the information necessary for those who wish to cultivate an understanding and relationship of sorts with those beings of the Faery. I found these offerings to provide a perspective of work and a tradition that encompasses nature in her wholeness. We are reminded of the darker aspects of all of our spiritual work and that greater knowledge of what we consider to be demons and goddess of primal origins are part of the entirety of our world and all others.

I could dissect each chapter and point you in the direction of specific rites or exercises, but to a large degree that would spoil the unveiling of what should be an experiential journey of your own devising. Storm provides you with the tools and what you make of them and how you arrive at your own conclusions about the Fae is yours, and yours alone, culled from your courage and your boldness. This book is definitely one to be added to any library of a practitioner of witchcraft. Not simply in adopting its tradition as your own, which may well be the case after reading and exploring further, but in keeping with the true definition of a witch-one who seeks knowledge of the natural world-and I would add… and in so doing, gains the greatest gift of all, knowledge of themselves in all of their parts.

Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft on Amazon

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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.

Celebrating Samhain with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

October, 2018

 

Family/Ancestor Memorial

 

Celebrating the Life and Death of deceased love ones with a new tradition.
The Moment your Love one has their Final breath you will miss them, then grief will set in its common to have 7 stages of grieving. Some deaths are quick and sudden, other’s, a long slow process. Death has been with us since the beginning of time. We’re born, we grow, maybe have a family of our own, then reach old age. We pass on to the next journey in life.  

The spirits of other worlds can come and go anytime with enough energy. Others wait till the veil between both worlds are thin then they can burst through. Around Mabon/Autumn equinox & Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve. There are other times spirits can move freely during the year like Beltane and Midsummer eve.

I grew up a weird combination of Irish/Scottish and Salvadoran. My father was white Irish/Scottish and mother was from El Salvador.  Growing up my dad was older he was a quiet man, didn’t speak much. But he was always into the paranormal. My mother was open with Spanish Catholic traditions. She was gifted. She told me of spirits appearing in her life and how they affect things and those around. My father adopted her 6 children from there and brought them to the USA. Life in El Salvador, deep down there, was beautiful jungle and countryside, coffee, plantains and other types of farm land. Where she was from you could see more primal life force spirit still worshiped with New Christian Gods. The Native Indians of her lands had traditions handed down.


This opened a door for many of my mother family and relatives to come here to the USA. For a new way of life to support those down in El Salvador or those here. I know my parents home was a portal, so many have come and gone they felt safe and loved mostly. Here I can’t count the times my mother would get anxious feelings and would call late to El Salvador. We would find out a relative was very sick or passed away. My mom would send money, light a candle, pray to certain saints and the virgin de Guadalupe for support. She used herbs for relatives in need here within our home to help heal them. There were many stories of my mom helping others.

Other times in my parents home spirit might make it self known banging on window, cold breezes moving things, or they would just appear sitting on the couch in the living room. When a relative passed away, she would use the bedroom or kitchen corner by the sink and light 7 day candle, put a photo, glass of water and maybe sometimes she would put some sweet bread.  She said the spirit will need a place to come replenish their energy, to feed from so they could continue their journey to pass messages, or visit living relatives.

For me being Wiccan, being Celtic, I remembered reading about dumbsuppers, to open your door to spirits and ancestors of your family. Share your meal with them. My mother did similar traditions from her home. They would celebrate Dia de Finados, dearly departed. They would make flower arrangements or wreaths to go in the cemetery (tombs above ground). They cleaned tombs, decorated them with flowers and spent the day there. Growing up after my dad died in 1992 we would go to the cemetery and put flowers on my dad’s grave, some on grandparents graves and we’d bring big colorful blankets, food and since we could park 12 feet away, we’d have music playing. Then say prayers for them to bless them. Then talk about the moments we shared with the deceased. Which we continue to do now that my mom has passed on.

With Samhain approaching I wanted to share my story and maybe some ideas to consider. When working with spirits of loved ones, you want them to find their place of rest be it heaven, Summerland, over rainbow bridge, or an other eternal resting place. Look to other articles and books about other resting places. I’ll mentioned a few later to consider. Combine, adapt, create your own unique way to honor departed loved ones or ancestors. Share photos, meals, memories they loved. Write them down in your journal everything you can remember. Don’t be surprised if a spirit makes itself known in your presence.

Do a divination with tarot cards, pendulum, or my favorite crystal scrying to gain wisdom or guidance at this moment in life or the beginning of the new year.

I find a cheap battery candle from the dollar store to light on the altar with the photos of love ones who passed on. I use the battery activated candles to be safe in case my active toddler tries to climb up on my altar or one of my cats get too curious.


Decorate your altar with mementos, flowers, incense, favorite gemstones, even some sweet treat to enjoy, and maybe a glass of their favorite drink. Ask your Patron Goddess or God to bless them in time of rest.

After Samhain if you still sense the presence of departed loved ones, here is a Goddess that lent me help move them to their more appropriate  place: I asked Hekate to help me move my older, playful, black Dog Cholee to her resting  place. She would not leave. She’d been lingering  around our home and back yard for over a week. When working with any Goddess or God Be Respectful,  Give an Offering for their help.

 

Finally I wanted to share a few boxes from my boutique, these boxes are a Memorial for your Dearly Departed Love Ones and Pet/Familiar. We provide Spirit Votives, 4 Gemstones for Crystal Healing – Grieving, and 1 twin soul crystal point, and ideas to celebrate their life in remembrance. We will be adding more items for  Samhain Inspired Memorial Gifts. Blessings of love and light – Norma

Psycho Pomps – Those whom guide the dead to the afterlife:


Valkyries – Norse

Banshees

Hounds of Annwn – Celtic

Hekate

Persephone

Hades

Hermes

Iris

Charon

Charos – Greek

Agwe

Sirene

the Barons -Voodu

For information on celebrating Samhain with the dearly departed and other customs look to the following books:


The pagan book of Halloween -Gerina Dunwich
Halloween -Silver Ravenwolf
Llewellyn Sabbats Alamanc -(Any Year will do)

For More spirit ,Goddess, Gods to help with the deceased, a good book is:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses -Judika Illes

***

About the Author:


Norma Clark I’m Wiccan, My style follows my spiritual path, and what comes to mind.. I live in a small rural town, Paris, Idaho. I share my life With my
Wiccan husband, 2 hyper Children, and gang of critters. I love to create new designs by looking at nature, cultural ideas for my Jewelry and create unique Metaphysical items. COME Sit For A  Spell or Two , And See the Magick of Forevrgoddessboutique

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast Monthly Feature

August, 2018

 

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

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

Each month we will share an episode with you from their back catalog of impressive podcasts & keep you up to date with their up coming month’s featured highlights. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

 

 

This Month’s Podcast from their Backlog

Episode 2: Neo-Paganism and Sexual Abuse

Car, Gwynn, and Ode discuss recent accusations of sexual abuse by ADF founder Isaac Bonewits, as well as dealing with sexual misconduct in the pagan community generally. This episode contains upsetting, potentially triggering content, and listener discretion is advised.

 

August’s Upcoming Podcast Topic Calendar

For August’s list of happenings Click Here.

 

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Finding Your Own Way

July, 2018

Chapter 4

Western Meditation Techniques

There are thousands of books on eastern meditation, but I wish to concentrate on the western traditions as they are less well documented and require much less time to master. These traditions have been hidden for hundreds of years until the early nineteenth century. Some were the sole province of the religious orders and others were carried on in secret, by various groups and individuals. Although the reasoning behind the various systems may seem flawed to the modern mind, I can assure the reader that these exercises work. My own belief is that these were discovered by trial and error and whichever techniques worked were passed down to others, enmeshed in whatever ideology suited the teacher. Also, I have found, through personal experience, that there is a huge fund of knowledge within the collective unconscious mind (Carl Jung) that we can tap into during dreams and meditations.

The Treeing Exercise

This is a well-known meditation and it covers an important area of western tradition.

It helps us increase our feeling of ‘connectedness’ with the earth and gives us greater control over our altered states of mind as we journey. It is always a good idea to begin any meditations with the treeing exercise. As the name suggests, it helps us anchor ourselves emotionally before exploring our inner worlds. It also gives a great feeling of calm energy and optimism. This can be used anywhere, either sitting, standing or lying down. Sitting against a large mature tree during this meditation will certainly add to its effects.

Close your eyes and breathe as slowly, and as deeply as is comfortable.

Imagine that you are a tree.

Visualise the sun above you are pouring light and warmth onto your crown and branches.

Feel the warmth flowing through you and down into your legs and feet.

Picture your body filling with bright light.

Imagine your feet are rooted to the ground.

In your mind see the light form tendrils which push deep into the earth, like the roots of a tree.

Push the tendrils deep into the earth as the energy of the sun pours through your body.

See the tendrils spread out into tiny roots and anchor firmly into the soil.

Now, as you breathe in, draw the light of the sun down your spine and deep into the earth.

As you breathe out, draw the energies of the earth up through your roots, along your spine, and through the top of our head… sending their vibration through your body and out to the universe.

As you breathe in, feel the light flowing down into the ground and clearing and tension and pain from your body and into the earth to be transformed and healed.

When you feel totally relaxed and energised, then you may continue to another meditation, or slowly open your eyes when you feel ready to do so.

Seeking Peace in a Garden of Roses

Morning sunlight sparkling on a single drop of dew,

Light cascades like a rainbow on a rose.

Toes curling on the cool, wet grass.

The world is still asleep.

You walk in solitary silence, but you are not alone.

You share your thoughts and cares with One who truly Knows.

The One whose Spirit warms your blood and fills your heart.

The One who pours Their love into your very bones.

And you are blessed.

Memories come back to you unbidden,

Happy times that filled your heart with joy.

The chattering of your brain is stilled,

The worries and the sorrows drift away.

Then slowly, gently you become aware of now,

You face the world without the needless furrows on your brow.

And you are blessed.

Touch the rose with tenderness,

Kiss it gently as you taste the dew upon your lips.

Breathe in deeply as you fill your lungs with beauty.

Taste the fragrance of the morning garden,

Heady with the scent of earth and grass and summer flowers.

Stretch and raise your hands up to the sky,

and know that you are blessed.



 

This is an ideal meditation to follow the ‘treeing’ exercise. It can bring a feeling of relaxation, expansiveness, and connection to nature. It will increase our feelings of calm and inner peace.

Sometimes we are not ready to face our feelings head-on. Perhaps we have been under a lot of strain and feel tired and depleted. Too many demands from life may have left us feeling drained and ’empty’. Issues with friends and family that we have avoided dealing with may have exhausted our energy, – leaving us in no fit state to deal with them. Be gentle with yourself. We all hide away from things that are too painful to deal with. Simply take the time to heal and regroup your energies before tackling difficult issues.

We sometimes need to take the time to rest and nurture ourselves. Sadly, it is not always possible to take the time needed to do this. Use this meditation to take your own personal “mini-break” when you get a few spare minutes.

Breathe deeply and relax as you exhale a few times. Then take a few minutes to absorb the poem and gaze at the picture. Then use the relaxation exercise or one of the other meditations in the book and allow your mind to take you to a pleasant safe place where you will find inner healing and often, wisdom and guidance.

***

About the Author:

Patrick W Kavanagh, Featuring the inspirational art of Bill Oliver

Writer, poet, Patrick W Kavanagh was born in Dublin and now lives and works in Lincolnshire in a small rural town. Patrick became fascinated by the strange abilities of the human mind from watching his mother give psychic readings using tea-leaves and playing cards. With a lifelong interest in metaphysics and parapsychology, he has given tarot and spirit readings for over 40 years. He travels to many events with his wife Tina, exploring the power of shamanic drumming to heal, and induce therapeutic trance states. They also hold a regular drumming circle in the picturesque Lincolnshire Wolds.

By Patrick W Kavanagh available at most retailers:

Finding Your Own Way: Personal Meditations for Mastery and Self-knowledge

 

Kiara

Distant Shores

From the Muse

Gael Song

April, 2018

Healing the Pagan-Christian Divide

An ongoing sadness of my life has been the great divide between Celtic Pagan practices and Christian ones. Folks I’ve met are nearly always vehemently for one and against the other. But I love both traditions (though each has some pretty hefty distortions that need to be healed!). My own inner feminine has been a Pagan Priestess over many lives, my masculine, a Christian Minister several times over. It isn’t always easy for them to get along, either. So, during this Christian Holy week, just past the celebration of Alban Eiler, I think it’s a good time to ponder the intermingling of the two and, hopefully, soften the miasma between more recent and older spirit ways.

As I moved up through planes of light on my own path of transformation over the past 22 years, I was led into understandings about the Ogham letters and their meanings. And one of the hidden Celtic streams associated with those symbols, I discovered with great surprise, was identical to the Christian calendar. So, let’s go through it, shall we? Over those 22 years of daily healing meditations, I moved up through seven heavens in the inner planes: sensate, soul, spirit, logos, cherub, centerpoint, and diamond core realms.

If you look closely at the structure of the human energy field, you can also see seven concentric rings of light or sheaths, matching those seven heavens. Folks move from outside to core in an ascension process during their personal transformation as the spirit initiations are completed: first earth, then water, air, fire, cherub, centerpoint, and finally diamond initiations.

In the seventh heaven, the highest one, the Diamond Core, there are also 15 cosmic light structures that regulate many, many cycles of life on earth and across the universe. See my first article for a fuller description of those, if you like. This time, we’ll focus only on the lowest of these light structures, the cosmic first chakra, the White Pentagram. It’s the light structure of the Goddess, the White Tara, and it overlights the birth of everyone’s inner divine child during each solar year, a bit of every individual’s divinity reawakened, always carrying one spark of the cosmic God/Goddess to be revealed on earth. But this cycle actually is the progress of the yearly growth impulse through those seven sheaths of light within. This time, the impulse moves from inner light sheath to outer, a descent process though the heavens, as some new part of the self is manifested into our physical world. And there are Ogham letters which signify the birth-pushing forces through these inner sheaths of light. But more to the point, these phases of the year and of this hidden druid cycle precisely match the Christian calendar! I found all this quite fascinating. Maybe the two aren’t so different after all!

The seeds of light for the year ahead, which include one major growth vector for every individual, are implanted into each person’s womb of light (both genders have inner male and female aspects of the spirit) on Midwinter dawn, Alban uran. Then these seeds of light steep in everyone’s pelvic bowl, the unconscious, for three days, while the Goddess chooses the exact timing and form the new growth impulse will take over the year ahead. So, after three days, the first seeds lift up and out of Her cosmic ocean, the very first inkling of what is to come. This is Christmas morning!

And the growth impulse enters the very inmost sheath of light, matching the diamond core, the seventh heaven. Always, the feminine lights up during the first half of these growth phases, the masculine during the second half. In the spirit world, I’ve noticed, it is ever ladies first! The inner divine child spark also grows from an infant form to an elder during the yearly cycle, so this first sheath contains infants of light, baby girl and boy. The Ogham letter A for Ailm, Elm, signifies the yearly growth through the core sheath then, when fears and blocks from the seventh heaven are brought forward into each person’s life to be faced and healed. Then the new aspect of self is fully released into the core sheath on Candlemas eve, the first birth. So, this long A sound means having the faith of a child and the fortitude to move through our deepest fears to birth new life. (The Ogham symbols for each letter are given below each paragraph.)

Then the growth impulse enters the centerpoint sheath, the next one out, on Candlemas day, Feb. 2nd, the date Mary brought Jesus to the temple for sanctification after his birth. Quite appropriate to this inner cycle! This second growth phase brings forward fears from the centerpoint realms, the sixth heaven, usually hurrying or overwork challenges (the sixth heaven holds the abyss, where intense fears were built into each one of us during our long-ago fall to earth), and the inner divine child looks like a toddler this time. The centerpoint phase ends on the eve of Lent. And then the divine child or yearly growth impulse enters the cherub sheath, the next one out, and the fears of that heaven come into each person’s life during the Lenten season. These fears relate to dark mother memories, ancient sacrifice or cruelty that once caused the closing down of each individual’s inner divine child.

On Easter dawn then, the three core fears of winter (that opened in early November, on the cross-quarter day, Samhein), heavy bands over the heart, are removed, and the divine child within is also born out of the cherub sheath. It’s the long O sound, Onn (ohn) or Gorse, the struggle and sweetness of growth, succeeding through both centerpoint an’ cherub challenges. So, it’s a VERY sweet morning, Easter, named after the Celtic goddess who overlights the inner climb through these two heavens, Eostre (or Ostara). On Easter dawn, I always go to a sacred place in nature to really FEEL and enjoy those dark bands coming off and my own birth out of the centerpoint/cherub difficulties!

Then there’s a period of rest and integration for a quarter moon, after which the logos sheath lights up. The inner divine child has become an adolescent now. Then, the inner feminine is fully built into this logos sheath by Pentecost, fifty days past Easter. The virgin goddess’s element is fire, too, so this passage can bring great passion into play. At Pentecost then, the virgin masculine half o’ the logos sheath within lights up until late June, as the old logos fears are faced (often male domination or brute force impulses). By John the Baptist Day, (June 24th), the masculine of the logos sheath is fully formed, and this new logos-self is birthed into the spirit sheath. This logos birth-pushing force is the long U sound, Ur or Heather, signifying the wild passion, backbone strength, freshness, and heart love of the inner virgins. And on this day as well, all fear debris of the first half of the yearly cycle is washed away within. It’s inner baptism, the halfway point of this hidden divine child stream for the year. No wonder it’s named for John the Baptist.

Then again, there’s a short period of rest. But usually, some project will surface that grounds the growth of the first half of the year into action. Then, the spirit sheath opens, the feminine, on July 22nd, Mary Magdalen day. That’s the time the Goddess sends some personal message to everyone, a hint of what the fears of the coming winter will be like. And the feminine climb, now in a mother form, lasts until August 15th, Ascension day, when Mary of the Christian tradition was said to rise up to heaven. The challenges of this level usually involve exhaustion, the inner mother giving so much to others that her own needs don’t always get met. And then, the masculine half of the spirit sheath opens with some strong action-oriented drive that’s needed to bring in the harvest for the year. This divine child, who looks like a father now, opens new intellectual interests for the coming year at this time, too. The divine child of the spirit sheath is fully formed by Sept. 9th.

But then, there come extra difficulties or delays that must be faced, heavy darkness as the dark child of the year or major fear impulse falls away on October 6th, one full gestation cycle after Midwinter. And the new child of light finally emerges two mornings after, on October 8th, both feminine an’ masculine fully formed in the spirit sheath. This is a momentous shift, for descent into the lower worlds is the major birth for the skyturn, when the most significant gains are achieved. This very long birth-pushing force is signified by the letter E, the long sound, Edad, Aspen, meaning significant victory over fear, with only a short way to go to completion.

October 8th is when the autumn celebrations begin, a moon of rest after the long trials of birth. And toward the end of this moon, some recognition of the newly born divine child will be given by the tribe. But within each individual, there can be lingering uncertainty about the new aspect being observed, for the deep fears that kept this part of the self hidden for so long are not yet forgotten. But it’s a joyous fulfilling time as well.

Then, on Halloween, the soul sheath lights up. Often costumes worn that night foretell the fears of the soul or second heaven that will be brought up during the next moon. But this shift is really on All Saint’s Day because in Celtic life, days were counted beginning at sunset. Soul fears can be quite dark and slippery, and nearly always involve letting something cherished go. But the healing of them brings the divine child through the soul sheath climb, though this inner child is in a grandparent form now!

The breakdown process greatly intensifies during the five intercessory days of the Celtic calendar, too, Nov. 24rd-28th, the old gratefulness celebration to the Goddess for the living of the year. And double II is the letter for this Goddess time, when the White Tara washes off all inner debris in the sheaths that have been lit up since John the Baptist Day; logos, spirit, and soul, all except the sensate that remains to be faced. This letter signifies the washing down of the inner self, cleansing and letting go, to make way for the new light seeds soon to come.

And finally, one moon before Midwinter, the sensate sheath opens, this phase identical to Advent. Often this moon entails facing strong challenges, too, for sensate is the densest level. But it’s the final climb of the passing skyturn. The darkest impulse of the sensate phase, the minotaur, opens on Midwinter Eve. And it’s the girl within who goes to meet it with that circle of light round her head to pave the way for the new implantation in the morn. At midnight then, both feminine and masculine divine children of the passing skyturn are fully born, the androgyne for the year, all the way through the sensate sheath! And the spirit world celebrates around them, for it’s the goal of all life on earth, the building of divine Ogham/Tara children into our sensate realms. And the birth-pushing force through the soul and sensate sheaths is the long I sound, Ioho, Yew, signifying some new aspect of the divine or forever self fully individuated into this world.

Then, the yearly cycle begins again on Midwinter dawn with the implantation of new divine child seeds for the year ahead. That’s the Ogham letter J, mistletoe, Iulioc, with no Ogham symbol for it, though. (There are short vowel streams of light, too, small a, o, u, e, and i sounds, which relate to the ethers within each sheath of light; mind, emotion, and action ones. But it all gets too complicated for a single article.)

And lastly, I’d just like to add that one morning several years ago, in the midst of a healing meditation, the similarities between Pagan and Christian traditions came into me with the most startling intensity. Usually, I invoke the White Tara and Oghama to overlight me in my healing times, the Celtic high Goddess and God. But for some reason that day, I called in the Magdalen and Christ, instead, for old time’s sake, I guess. And feeling those spirit Presences surround me, I suddenly realized They were IDENTICAL to the Celtic Ones! And I was utterly stunned, opening my eyes and literally shouting out, “WHAT have we been fighting for all these centuries then?” And I heard just one quiet word in my mind, “illusions,” Oghama/Christ’s voice. And a bright wave of joy washed through me as my inner feminine (Pagan to the core!) and my inner masculine (a very upright Christian that she persuades to dance skyclad in the moonlight now and then!) merged together in spirit in the deepest way possible. Ahhh! Thank Goddess for healing! I hope your day is just as glowing as that one! Blessed be.

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She is hoping to found an intentional community in southern Scotland in the near future. For information, please see www.thehomestarcommunity.org

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornVolume One Revised, and Volumes Two and Three.

Click on Images for Amazon Information

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

August, 2017

Bright Blessings!

 

August already!

 

(pinterest.com)

 

Depending on your tradition, you will likely celebrate either Lammas, or Lughnassadh, and while I’ve written about Lughnassadh, I’ve delved into little about Lammas.

 

(drieddecor.com)

 

The difference lies in what is being harvested. Lughnassadh is about corn harvest, and Lammas is about wheat harvest.

 

The underlying principle is the same. Both wheat and corn were very meaningful to the people who grew them, and both crops can be used in multiple ways. Meal is ground from corn, while wheat makes flour, and both can be used to bake spectacular things tons of different ways. Both also store well, and were important food for our ancestors. While many shun both corn and wheat these days for reasons ranging from wanting to avoid carbs to stay thin, to gluten intolerance, ancient people relied heavily on these foods. They celebrated the success of the harvest of these important foods, and thanks was given to the gods.

 

Many modern Pagans don’t grow wheat or corn, let alone rely on those foods like our ancestors did. However, Pagans still celebrate harvests. For those like me who are gardeners, carrying in the first fruits and vegetables to feed your family with makes you prouder than most anything else. Imagine how much more proud the people were of a successful harvest whose livelihood depended on the work they did on those foods in the fields.

 

For most of us, this is the first of three harvest celebrations, the next being Mabon, and the final Samhain. We typically celebrate symbolically, and ascribe the term harvest to things we have accomplished in our lives. Maybe there was a pay raise, or a new baby is on the way. Maybe a new furbaby joined the family! Maybe you were able to get into grad school, or earned good grades for the year in your classes. Maybe a loved one got over an illness, or maybe there was reconciliation in a relationship that was thought beyond saving. We all have our own personal harvests to celebrate, no matter how great or small they happen to be.

 

Unexpected Harvests

 

What about the things we feel like we failed to do? The goals we have been unable to reach? What about when we had big goals we planned well for, worked towards, and we watched them crumble before our eyes?

 

What do we celebrate during the times we feel like he failed ourselves, and feel we have nothing to be proud of, or thankful for?

 

I hate to say it, but if you live long enough, you might feel this way about yourself.

 

Fortunately for us, the ambitious species we are, we are also an intellectual species, and we can shift our perception.

 

The trick is going to be to focus in the unexpected things you DID accomplish, no matter how small they were, as opposed to grieving the things you were unable to do.

 

Sometimes, we pick the wrong goals, and our attention, and time are better spent on things we are able to do. You would never expect a blind person to pilot an airplane, would you? No, because that would not be fair. It’s equally unfair to expect yourself to do things you are not meant to do.

 

Then again, there are times when you just need to dig your heels in, and keep trying!

 

It’s difficult to know which is the case when it seems you are failing. Nobody but you can decide whether to keep trying, or to go try something else.

 

When I think of all the things I have tried to excel at in my 41 years, it makes me chuckle. Hell, at least I tried, but you never know whether you are gifted with something UNLESS YOU TRY IT FIRST.

 

I’m not sure what is on your list of things you tried, and moved on from, but mine include music, math, dancing, being skinny, trying to make my first marriage work, trying to get pregnant, trying to be tan (I burn), trying to be “normal” , being politically correct, keeping mosquitos from eating me ( OMGS, they LOVE me!!!!) and much more!

 

Every last time I do not excel or accomplish something, I beat myself up over it, and take it as a personal failure, and I get all upset for days on end.

 

Eventually, I have to stop boo hooing, pick my ass up, and start doing something else, instead of feeling bad.

 

I don’t know what the list of things you are a success in are. Mine are being a good cook, and mastering new foods regularly, learning to crochet, being a good customer service professional, graduating college, and then getting a professional certification beyond that, moving cross country and traveling all I wanted to- much of which was done on my own, btw, gardening, raising furbabies, a happy second marriage, reading tarot professionally, and much more, including writing for this amazing ezine!

 

If I only focused on what I could NOT accomplish, I would never have achieved any of the wonderful things I have in life.

 

None of us would. These things are our unexpected harvests. The things we accomplished and are thankful for that were not our number one plans! These are the things we were meant to do while we were making plans to do other things! These Unexpected Harvests are sometimes the most abundant, and joyous things in our lives.

 

Keeping this in mind, I will share a very simple personal working you can do for Lammas to celebrate these Unexpected Harvests.

 

Saoirse’s Unexpected Harvests Working

 

This is a very personal working, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to.

 

There are two ways to do this.

 

First, you can do this alone, with nobody else knowing about it, or two, you can do this with a group.

 

For the group working, do circle, or open circle as you prefer, and for the working part, pass out pencils and paper to participants.

Have everybody write ten things they accomplished or “harvested” since Midsummer- or if you want to, a longer timeframe, even for the whole year.

 

Then, have each person read their list out loud, and give a gift to thank their person gods for their help in accomplishing these things. Feast and do fellowship as you prefer! People can keep the lists, or discard them as they prefer. Another good thing to add to this working is a gift exchange. That way each person gets a little gift, or treat for their good work towards their harvest. You can have everybody wrap the gifts, and put them all on a table together. People can draw numbers, and choose their gift in the order of number they drew.

 

If you are doing this alone, I suggest a longer list of twenty or more things. You can sit down all at once and do it, or you can work on your list for a week or more. When you have finished, give thanks and gifts to your gods who helped you, and reward yourself with a little something. Hey, after all, you put work in to do the harvest, didn’t you? Yes, you did, and you deserve a little gift!

 

You can cast circle, light candles, or not. Be as simple or as detailed as you would like to be about this.

 

You can seal your list up to read at a later time if you like, or you can discard it as you see fit.

 

I personally, like to burn my papers, and release the ashes to the wind. However, saving your list to read another time is always beneficial to show you how far you have come. You can even make three lists. One Lammas, one Mabon, and a final one at Samhain.

 

May you have a Blessed Lammas.

 

Blessed Be!

 

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Time

July, 2015

Lughnassadh 2015 

The warm season is going by fast, isn’t it? Can you believe Lughnasadh, the beginning of harvest is nearly upon us?

This year’s harvest will not be so great for some of us.

El Nino began messing things up for some of us in March. Drought in California, flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, and the first four months of this year were the highest on record, according to NASA.

Some would say this is global warming and that we should recycle and ride our bicycles more.

Regardless of what is causing this, harvests will be drastically affected. Even in my own garden in Ohio, I lost almost all my sunflowers, all my sun loving wildflower seedlings, nearly every nasturtium, and I also lost my temper! We had heat come on suddenly, and it withered every last sprout that in years prior would have done marvelously well. I have never done pest control on my plants either, but with the dryness and heat, thirsty bugs are munching on my cool, green leaves for subsistence. Hello spray on pesticide!

First world problems!” you might joke. Wilted flower seedlings and pests on my flowers will not kill me.

But were it not for modernization, a weather event like this one might just wipe out food and destroy everything.

This is what I have been meditating on while I have been scrambling to try and save plants that I could not.

There is something you might not have figured out about me. I am a bit of a control freak. Having a rose to prune is the ideal activity for me. I tend my plants daily. I bless the water I use the first time I water them. I talk to the plants. I fertilize. I soak seeds prior to planting. I research all winter long. I buy seeds before the season and plan what goes where. I discuss things with neighbors. I am in a gardening group with friends. If I find cat doots and dog doots in garden patches, I respond by spreading cayenne pepper and bamboo skewers around plants.

I am pretty obsessive about gardening! I never had an unsuccessful growing season. Being unable to save the seedlings from the overnight heat snap was unbearable for me. I am an action based individual. I experience existence by doing. When I am helpless and can do nothing to create the change I want, it really bothers me.

I am more than certain that weather events like this have happened in my lifetime before. I was just unaware before because I was not connected to the earth. Any gardener experiences what the earth experiences.

Because we have our grocery stores, we simply do not get the sense of reliance on the earth the people who grow all their own foods do. We ARE reliant on the earth. It’s just that because of our culture, we don’t all know it.

I told my husband that generations ago, the weather this year would wipe a lot of people out. He kind of ignored what I said , but he IS worried about his elm tree. He planted it a few summers ago and said there are no new leaves developing right now due to heat he calls drought. But the thing grew so much! It has to be 30 feet tall at this point, and it was only about five feet tall when we got it!

As far as it being a drought, I do not know that Ohio has a drought at this point, especially since we are now having some rains and flooding that is wiping out some of the gardens the heat did not. But, it is hotter out than it was a couple of weeks ago, and we had no rain for as many days last month as my husband thinks we should have. So he insists Ohio is in a drought. I don’t know about that, but my dead seedlings agree with my husband.

One of my favorite depictions of drought was the Mesopotamian demon, Pazuzu. He is the son of a god, and is specifically in charge of the southwestern wind which brings locusts during storms and famines during drought. Ironically, this guy who brings things that have the capacity to starve everybody to death was also called upon to protect against other things deemed threatening. Most especially a goddess named Lamashtu, who could harm a mother in childbirth.

Maybe I was a Catholic for too long, but I don’t understand how one demons presence with their respective life threatening bad things is any better than other things with their respective life threatening bad things, but I guess I don’t have to.

When I looked at my garden this week, I kind of felt like Pazuzu, or something similar had been at work! Rationally, I know better, it’s El Ninos effect, and other places have it a lot worse, but the little kid in me that pitches a tantrum every time I am out of chocolate wants something to blame!!!!!!!

I had planned a specific garden harvest in my head and started damn hard work for it clear back at Imbolc. Now it is mid June ( and this article will go in mid July) and some of those plans are wrecked and it is too late to start again. I have to plan for next year and start next February.

This is actually a perfect analogy to what happens in our lives if you think about it.

I have no clue who said “Life happens when we are making plans” but it is one of the wisest things I have ever heard. I remind myself of it all the time. Control Freaks like me plan carefully and try very hard to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Just like in the garden. Some of us want to control everything. We are the pruners and the ones who thin out the weakest seedlings. We choose which seeds we plant. Carefully.

I admit, I eyed the wildflower mixes greedily for years, refusing to buy them because I was worried I might not like what grew unless I handpicked the plants. This year, I found some for eleven cents a bag. I nabbed ten bags of them and threw them into the ground in a space nobody ever used for planting and none of us expected anything out of it. Imagine my surprise when those cheap seeds thrived in the weather my husband called a drought and the seeds I carefully chose outright died on me!

I took equal care of both, but I expected more from the seeds I chose than the seeds that were random. So when those survived, it was a special joy. Isn’t it funny that what we harvest in life is just the same as what I am harvesting in my garden this year sometimes?

What does it mean to harvest?

For many of us in modern cities, we are not going to harvest a farm or an orchard, or even herbs or a flower garden. But we harvest spiritual things.

We work hard all the days of our lives for something or another. Babies work hard to crawl and eventually walk…and their parents work hard to keep up with them! Kids work hard at school, even if it is to get out of school to reap the benefits of having the summer off! Teens work hard at those summer jobs to earn spending money so they can enjoy good times with their friends. Adults work hard to make a living and live a comfortable life. Everybody is always busy working on something.

We also work on things beyond our mundane survival. We have our personal goals. Maybe there is someplace we want to go or something we would like to experience and everything we put towards that plants and cultivates the seeds that go towards that harvest.

Like my garden this year, life develops its own way regardless of our efforts. I always say our results are partly our efforts and partly what is meant to be. While we have to be proactive in our own lives and move things forward in our own progress, we have to also understand that the universe has its own plans for us sometimes. It is at those times we are called to graciously accept the harvest we are blessed with even if it was not everything we had planned for and expected.

The Lughnasadh working I will include here will focus on opening ourselves to just that. The harvest we are meant to have, not necessarily the one we THINK we are going to get. But first, let’s discuss historic Lughnasadh.

What is Lughnasadh?

Back in pre Christian days, the folk had harvest celebrations and games and traveled to healing wells. Like all of the Sabbats, historically, many different people did many different things at different time periods and different locations. The specific thing I want to discuss is what we believe are the true origins of Lughnasadh, and the beautiful tribute the god Lugh paid to his foster mother for clearing the land so the folk could plant.

It all started in Ireland.

Tailtiu was the foster mother of the god Lugh, and she died of exhaustion, after clearing space for planting crops. Lugh established what is known as an Aonach, or an honorary mourning festival in her name. It is now named Lughnassadh, after him. The festival entails not only funerary processions, but also, athletic competitions, lawmaking and handfastings, first fruit and animal sacrifice, merchants, and pilgrimages to holy wells.

On a sidenote- this all reminds me of the Highland Games they have these days with music and athletic competitions, food, and vendors. If you have never attended a Highland Games, which I realize is not specifically Irish…but still is very very fun and very Celtic, look online at The Association of Scottish Games and Festivals online at www.asgf.org. You can also do an internet search for your individual state, like typing in “Ohio Scottish Games”, for example. The Ohio Scottish Games will be June 27, in Lorraine , Ohio. Before this article is published! There is always next year. But remember the Dublin Irish Festival will be in Dublin, Ohio right smack dab in Lughnasadh time. July 31, August 1 and 2, and the Druids in Columbus , Ohio will do public ritual Sunday morning yet again. Information to attend this can be found at www.dublinirishfestival.org. I hope to see you there!

Back to the origins of this wonderful Sabbat!

Lugh established the festivities at County Meath. It was called the Tailteann Games and a complex of earthworks dating back to the Iron Age has been found there. Lugh buried his foster mother in a mound onsite, and the games were at the end of July or the beginning of August. Games were held there until the Norman Invasion and some events in Medieval times took place. A closer look at all the wonderful things that took place!

Funerary processions, lawmaking, and handfastings

The whole reason Lughnasadh started in the first place was to honor the dead! The specific kind of mourning festival this was is called an Aonach. Tailtiu was not the only one honored with these. This was a specific kind of funeral.

First, the funeral took place, which included chanting and a funeral pyre, which is interesting because it is said Lugh BURIED Tailtiu in a mound as opposed to cremating her. Many, however, did the cremations, and had other bonfires aside from the funeral pyres.

As for lawmaking, tribal people passed clan authority on when somebody died. It makes perfect sense to get the transfer of power and establishment of authority out of the way before brawling can begin. What better place than at the funeral where everybody is already gathered?

One way to make a political alliance was through marriage. Couples could be temporarily joined for as long as a year and a day to see if their union worked out. If it did not, they would part with no consequences. Rather than a cord to ritually bind as is oft used in modern handfastings, they grasped hands through a hole in a door. The couple could break up or make the bond permanent at any time during that year and a day.

One thing Neo Pagans will not like about these ancient handfastings is that sometimes, they were arranged. I cannot imagine any of you reading this would consent to such a pairing. Some of the couples were introduced to one another for the first time this way and may have seen one another only after joining hands through the door hole. Depending on who their parents were, they may not have been allowed to break off their bond. It was acceptable in tribal societies to carefully arrange marriages for political alliances. Contrary to popular belief, this had roots in Paganism, not Christianity.

One thing to keep in mind is Lughnasadh has been celebrated for generations, and many many people were handfasted for many different reasons there. Each couple had their own story and while it was not always for political gain, it was likewise not always like moving in with each other in modern times. This would be a fascinating research topic in and of itself, for sure!

Athletics

Interestingly enough, attempts to revive the Lughnasadh athletics in the 1920’s and 1930’s occurred, and part of the games included climbing, which persists to this day. It is unsurprising that some of the climbing today is now done in the name of Christian pilgrimages. Reek Sunday pilgrimage is held the last Sunday in July every year in Ireland. Barefooted climbers climb Croagh Patrick in honor of the Saint it was named for, and it is said this climb has been observed for 1,500 years. Up to 30,000 people do this climb annually. It only takes about an hour and a half to do the climb if the weather is decent, that is. It is also said site was used for Pagan pilgrimages since 3,000 BCE at Summer Solstice. This is yet another reason we can thank the Christians of Ireland for helping to keep Pagan practice alive and well.

All the athletic events you can imagine have been held Lughnasadh. Running, feats of strength, horseracing, fights, swimming, swordfighting, jumping, throwing various objects. It has been referred to as an Olympic gathering of sorts. In the 1920’s, motorized vehicle races were thrown in! Shooting was included as well as boating competitions and even chess matches! People from other parts of the British Isles and the Americas were welcomed to participate in the 20th century games as well!

Bull sacrifice and Harvest sacrifice

I apologize in advance for what I am about to write. I am sure all my articles say this exact same thing about this… BUT…

Animal sacrifice was done to prepare fresh meat to be eaten out of necessity. These were the days before refrigeration and meat went bad faster. Blood was given to the gods, and people ate the meat. The people feasted with the gods in a sacred meal. A lot of people today look back on this practice as barbaric as they open up their store bought steak and slap it on the barbeque grill. This always amuses me.

Bulls were sacred as they were seen as great wealth to the people of Ireland. You gave the best tribute you had to the gods in thankfulness and rejoicing.

The first corn and the first bilberries were offered to the gods as well. These foods were part of the feast as well. Bilberries are closely related to blueberries and huckleberries. This makes it convenient for those of us in the USA who want similar foods for Lughnassadh as are traditional in Ireland. We can have corn on the cob with steak and blueberry pie! These first fruits of the earth go directly to the gods in thanks, and the people partake of the feats as well.

Merchants

What festival would be complete without good things to eat or buy to take home? Human beings have always looked forward to festivals for this. In times past, if money was not used, things could be traded. Back before industrialization, there was still specialization. A good time to trade for what you needed or liked would be at festivals. Remember that people traveled by wagons, horseback, and by foot, not by jumping in the car and speeding off to a store conveniently nearby. Whatever they could not make, they might not be able to get for many months, and these festivals provided valuable commercial opportunities sometimes.

    • Crafts

  • persons and metalworkers would offer their wares as well as weavers, and you know very well that aside from the main ritual foods, there were people serving up delectable yummies! Baked goods would be sold and traded, and farmers would offer their fruits and veggies to hungry customers. Just like we do today!

    Puck Fair is said to be a survival of the early Lughnasadh fairs. A climb up a mountain to catch a “king goat” keeps with the tradition of climbing, and while there is a horse fair, the importance of cattle is not lost to the Irish, as a cattle fair is held. The fair can only be inconclusively traced back to the 1600’s, but many say it does go back to the original Lughnasadh fairs.

    Holy Wells and Healing

    The Irish have always visited holy wells for healing. The very wells the Pagans visited are now venerated by Christians. Holy healing is holy healing, period. Visits to wells to cast in coins and tie strips of cloth or rags to trees and ask for healing are made. This is practiced in Scotland as well. The cloth is called a cloot or clootie in Scottish. A hawthorn tree in county Meath, the same county where the original Lughnasadh was held, is on the site of megalithic monuments, and is used to tie clooties to. These ancient sacred places are still used by the descendants of the people of these early gods. The deities might have changed for many of the celebrants, but the meaning behind the practices has not.

    Reaping your own Harvest

    Maybe you will go to a public event with friends or host a Sabbat yourself for Lughnasadh. I humbly suggest a working to open yourself to acceptance of the things you are given , as opposed to just what you were expecting. And I include a pilgrimage in it. It seems as if the original gathering was a bit of a trip for many attendees. A lot of planning and travel went into it and to this day, some of the remaining festivities include tens of thousands of people. This first harvest is just the beginning harvest in the wheel of the year for us, and to prepare for each blessing you will harvest, here is my suggested working.

    Lughnasadh 2015 First Harvest Celebration

    Singly or with your group, go on a pilgrimage. This may be a walk at a local park, or even a trip out of town to get a fresh perspective.

    Before you embark on your journey, you will need to give sacrifice. You will be giving away an offering of the fruits of your labor for your gods and guides. But this will not simply be something sat on an altar to be discarded or burned at a later time. This will be something given away to somebody else in a way that pleases your gods.

    For gardeners, that is easy. Whatever is growing in the garden, give some of it to somebody who will enjoy it. For you, if you grew nothing, it might be something you bought as an offering that symbolizes your efforts. If you cook, then create something delicious to give to somebody to eat. If you are a musician, perform a song for somebody. If you are an artist, donate a piece of art to a library or homeless shelter or to a friend who likes your art but cannot afford a piece. It could even be a cash donation to a charity in the name of an ancestor you would like to honor. Surprise a stranger and pay for their lunch. Be extra nice to a grumpy, difficult customer. (Yes, that is a HUGE sacrifice, and it counts.) If you genuinely cannot think of what to give at this time, offer a future good deed! The gods will guide you, I promise.

    Then, before the journey is about to begin, say this short prayer, “ Mother, Father, first harvest is at hand. Look upon all I have done this growing season and all the things I have worked for. I accept that I am limited by my own perceptions and cannot fully understand which blessings are mine and which are not mine to want as they unfold. I diligently continue to be proactive in my own growth and industrious in fulfilling my responsibilities. In gratitude, I accept all that is mine, and relinquish my grip on that which I cannot control. Accept my gift of my labors in thanks and enlighten me to that which you want me to know on my journey.”

    Then, begin your pilgrimage. It can be a daytrip or something as simple as a walk on a nature trail.

    Keep in mind that enlightenment and guidance comes when your gods and guides will it. It might happen the minute you open yourself, even before you utter the prayer. It may happen ten years after the pilgrimage. But it will happen. May you have a Blessed Lughnasadh.

    Blessed Be.

    Red Pixie’s Elements of a Magickal Life

    October, 2011

    Samhain Traditions & Folklore.

    Its almost here, the best holiday of them all, in my opinion at least, I love Samhain (pron Sow in – for those unsure) I remember even as a small child Samhain was a celebration for me of people who has passed over, I am still unsure to this day where I gained that knowledge from considering my own parents are far from Pagan and really never spoken about religion or the history of the holiday, to me at least.

    I have, to this day, certain traditions that I will always carry out and pass down to my own children, should they wish to follow them of course.  I think for me ‘Halloween’ is much more commercialised than I’d like it to be, more about ‘the kids’ or ‘candy’ or in some cases ‘money’ can you belive it!  But I am not going to focus upon the negative aspects that I can pin point instead I’m going to focus on the joy and happiness that fills Samhain.

    One of the traditions I have been doing over the past couple of years, is an age old folk tale of ‘feeding the dead’ I take an apple, no particular type just an apple, I take mine from the apple tree in my garden but you can use one from your fruit bowl, and under the moon, bury the apple in the ground, it is said to nurish the souls of the dead that roam the earth at this time.  Another popular folklore tale is that if you bury thirteen leaves from a harvested apple tree on Halloween you would be guareteed a bumper crop the following year.  How fantastic is that. Another one I follow is to eat a full apple on halloween night before you go to bed as it is said that you will not suffer any illness within the next twelve months, and eating a slice from three apples on halloween night also ensures a year filled with good luck.  These are all folk tales but seriously why would you not try them out, thinking back to last year I did all of these and the results are very good indeed.

    Another tradition we have is pumpkin carving, it’s great to do as a family and the pumkin can be then used for soup or pie so there’s no waste and if you dry the seeds out you can plant them next year and grow your own pumpkins.  Even better, free pumpkins for next year and just think of all that lovely soup you can make and freeze for throughout the year (pumpkin soup has been my favourite since I made my first batch about four years ago).

    I heard about some ‘Moon Omens’ that I want to share with you  – If the Moon is New on Halloween  it indicates that the coming year will be firtile ground for new beginnings to take place such as a new project, career or a new way of thinking.  If the moon is Waxing on Halloween it means good luck throughout the coming year it also indicates growth and an increase of all things that are of a positive nature.  A Full Moon on Halloween could mean a wish made at midnight will be realised within the coming year, it also insures that the powers of all forms of magic and divination practised will be at their greatest.  A Halloween Waning Moon this can be an indication of an omen of good or bad consequences.  If the moon is in its ‘Dark Phase’ on Halloween its believed to be a very negative omen, advise for extreme caustion in all your endevors over the coming twelve months and it wouldn’t hurt to protect yourself by carrying a talisman designed to ward off bad luck and misfortune.

    I love the folklore that surrounds Samhain, I can just imagine sat around the fire in a field surrounded by good friends  toasting marshmellows and telling folktales, what a perfect Samhain that would be.

    Do you guys have any traditions that you follow?  Maybe trick or treating with you children or something else, I ould love to hear from you and what your traditions are.   Whatever you do celebrate this festival with love in your hearts and smiles on your faces but above all be safe and look after eachother.

    Brightest Blessings

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