yule

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.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

December, 2018

Yule Ritual

 

Merry meet.

Below is a Yule ritual written for a group, which can easily be modified to be done as a solitary. Read through, making note of what to gather and how to set it up.

The altar can be a candle on the floor, or raised up in the center on a small table.

Traditional colors for altar cloths are gold, silver, red, green and white.

SET UP:

Set up your altar with seasonal botanicals, directional candles.

Designate a place for guests to put coats and, if desired, shoes

Arrange so that before people enter the ritual space they can place their cares and woes in a burden basket or other receptacle (a lidded casserole dish or cookie jar, a purse that snaps shut, a box) and then step forward and be cleansed with smoke. (A cauldron can be placed where guests can waft the smoke themselves, or a person can be designated to smudge others after being smudged themselves)

Find a seat and listen to soft music

High Priestess:

We gather tonight in perfect love and perfect trust to celebrate the winter solstice. On this longest night of the year, let us accept Yule’s gifts of quiet and dark. For a long moment, everything pauses. There is a stillness that settles over the land. A stillness for which there are no words. Darkness rules. Tonight we will sit in this darkness that precedes the light’s rebirth.

Take a moment to get here, to feel the surroundings and the welcome with which this place greets you.

I’m going to ring chimes three times. As we all align ourselves with its vibrations, we will meld as a group.

Ring three times, letting each ring fade to silence before doing the next. High Priestess says:

Be here now.

As we cast our circle, see it as an equator, then see the ring flip up and over to become a sphere, pushing the energy to the exterior of this building.

With thumbs facing left, begin by using your left hand to take the right hand of the person to your left and say:

Hand to hand, I cast this circle

Each person does the same. When the circle is complete, the High Priestess says:

See our arms making a circle. With each breath, strengthen the circle. Now, imagine it to be like an equator, and spin the circle up, over and down so that it creates a sphere. Now push that sphere out to encompass this room. Keep breathing, and enlarge the sphere so that it fills this whole unit and extend outside the walls, and into the basement below. Now, see the outer skin of this sphere become soft and foggy, smoky, like a mist rising from a lake in the early morning. When we leave, we will walk though that foggy edge as we reenter the mundane world.

Take another three breaths … and know we are between the worlds. May all we do tonight be for the highest good and greatest joy of all.

Sing “There Is No Time” by Kellianna” three times.

There is no time but now, there is no place but here,
In the sacred we do stand, in a circle hand in hand.

High Priestess:

Let us summon the spirits of the four quarters. We’ll start facing north because winter begins with the quarter of the wheel associated with earth.

Person calling North:

Mother Earth, barren trees now decorate the land that has sustained us. In this restful moment, let us find safety and stability. Hail and welcome.

Place greens such as mistletoe, holly and pine boughs on the altar, on the north side of the candle.

Person calling East:

Brother Air, I listen for the cold winds from your winter wings, but tonight all is still. In this quiet darkness, help us find inspiration. Hail and welcome.

Light incense, or place a feather, bells or other representation of East on the altar.

Person calling South:

Father Sun, source of fire, here in the night, awaiting your
return, we ask that the memory of your warmth temper our spirit. Hail and welcome.

Place pieces of lava or other symbol of fire such as chili peppers or coffee beans on the south side of the altar.

Person calling West:

Sister Water, your snow and ice have covered our world.
Beneath this blanket, let our emotions find healing and renewal. Hail and welcome.

Place a container of water from melted snow, a Yule rain or other source, or a representation of water on the west side of the altar.

Person calling center:

We stand in the center, spirit in body and know we are divine. Spirit is a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, between body and soul. Guide us as we walk in both worlds. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of spirit, perhaps a crystal or a butterfly in the center.

Person calling the crones:

Queen of Winter Cailleach Bheur (kall yeck burr), Dark Mother Demeter (da meet her), Keeper of the Cauldron Cerridwen, Kali, Mother Holle (hell her), Nicneven (nick na vin), The Morrigan (more’ a gain) – we welcome you crones and ask you to help us transition as you transform to the maiden giving birth to the sun. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of crone – a bone, a cauldron, a crescent moon, owl, wolf, crow or raven. – in the center.

Person calling the sun:

Father Sun, Winter King, the Sage, Apollo, Ra, Horus, Ravi, Shamash – we welcome you to our circle. You are reborn tonight, bringing light, bringing life. You demonstrate the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of the sun god – gold, a representation of the sun, a baby Oak King – in the center.

High Priestess, in her customary way, invites people to put their names in the circle. If desired, she allows people to put other names in the circle for blessings and energy.

There is a magic in all the seasons. Winter’s magic is the most concise, most dense. It is diamond magic, cold and brilliant, focused and precise.

Each season also has its own wisdom, but winter’s wisdom includes them all. Everything is clear. What is invisible in growing times becomes plain in the starkness of winter. From winter, you can remember spring, summer and fall by the patterns they’ve left behind.

There is not yet a call to begin again. Beginnings will come soon enough. This is the fallow time. This is the time of rest. The waiting brings both strength and vulnerability.

When winter comes, we withdraw into the deepest spaces of our inner selves. As the world sleeps, its energy, like yours, turns within. Your inner sight expands. There is much to see beyond appearances. It is bone time. Nothing is hidden. With your winter eyes, let yourself see everything.

This is a time of reflection, insight, visions and wisdom. In the velvet dark are the secrets we keep from ourselves … one of those secrets is who we really are. Find that you hidden in the darkness.

It may appear we are resting, but in winter we are creating a new universe within ourselves, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, secretly feeding that which needs to thrive. With calm deliberateness, we know what to save and bring into the next season.

When we blow out these candles, feel yourself in this deep, dark space, the place from which all is born. Feel the warmth and safety of this womb on this cold night. This place of darkness is the source of life. Feel that energy waiting, still, quiet, for life to begin. That is the energy of the dark. This is the time of before.

That energy is within you. Sit with it. Be the dark from which all things will come. Be the dark that holds the coiled sleeping snake, the crocus bulb frozen in the ground. All life has moved to the center, hidden in the darkness. In this space, feel the energy of all that is yet to be.

Winter is not all about death, it’s also about reflection and insight, and reconnecting to the source deep within the dark. One day in the not too distant future, the dance will begin again. Let that knowledge be a comfort to you, but do not call for it. For now is not its time.

We need the dark to balance the light. Honor its presence.
Offer gratitude for the power it gives us to dream our deep sleep awake.

I will signal when there are 5 minutes left in the meditation

Extinguish candle

Start timer

Give 5-minute notice with rattle, bell or drum

High Priestess:

Welcome back. Take a moment to get here.

We’re going to pass the talking stick so that all who wish may share their thoughts or experiences in sacred space.

High Priestess:

Grounding eliminates the excess energy you may have accumulated during a ritual or other working. Take time now to breath three slow, deep breaths as you imagine the energy you do not need draining out of your body, out of your fingers and your feet. Offer it to the earth below.

Food also helps us ground.

Present cakes and ale, speaking only to say

May you never hunger / Nor you

May you never thirst / Nor you

 

High Priestess:

We are drawing to the end. As we prepare to release the elements, I will light this candle from the spirit candle. We will pass out candles and a drip guard. You’ll take them both home with you.

I thank each of you for bringing the gift of yourself to this circle, for adding your energy to the magic of tonight. Let us bring a piece of this quiet calm with us as we return to our mundane lives that we may walk in peace.

After we light the candles, we’ll sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night” twice. Then, I ask that you to gather your things, attend to your needs and leave … all in silence … as we return to the mundane world.

Releasing the Crones

Crones we thank you for showing us how to die and be reborn. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Releasing the Sun

Father Sun, on this deepest dark night, we welcome back your light. Blessed Be.

Releasing Water

Sister Water, thank you for your presence, love and healing. Blessed Be.

Releasing Fire

Father Sun, source of fire, thank you for your warmth and passion. Blessed Be.

Releasing Air

Brother Air, thank you for your presence and your inspiration.
Blessed Be.

Releasing Earth

Mother Earth, thank you for your presence as we leave grounded and renewed. Blessed Be.

High Priestess: Begin by lighting the candle of the person to your left, saying:

May you embrace the return of the light.

Sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night”

And merry part. And merry meet again.

NOTE: This ritual draws heavily on the poem “The Winter Woman” from “Seasons of the Witch: poetry & Songs to the Goddess” by Patricia Monaghan and Arctic Siren Singers

***

About the Author:

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

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times

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!

***

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MagickalArts

December, 2018

Excerpted from:

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness

Day Three

The Light Within the Shadow of the Winter Solstice



For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice (Yule) is one of welcoming the return of the Light of

renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter (Northern Hemisphere) will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.

Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening, I think of this as the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.

In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept. The language may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.

This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self) . There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to quicken and prime in alignment with the increasing state of light?

The time of the Solstices allows for a deeper awareness and exploration of what impact we have in this world and how we may use the information we learn about ourselves to move in appropriate and fulfilling ways. It is the time of disequilibrium to bring about the eventual balance that is actualized at the Equinoxes. Neither of these energies are about everything being measured and being exactly the same amount of something on each pan of the scale. Rather, they are the states of balance that are dynamic in nature, moving and flowing one to the other and arriving at an informed state of equilibrium at some point of the process. It is again about the process of polarities and the allowance of a void or lesser amount of one thing, so that it may be filled and quickened by its opposite. There is also the component of sacrifice within these thoughts in that we must willingly acknowledge that something must be given up to make room for that which would be drawn in.

This is the battle of the Holly and the Oak Kings, as each gives way to the other and also resists the relinquishing to the other of its power. One holds the promise of the growing Light and the other the refuge of the increasing Darkness. And, although they are one in the same, in order that the cycles may continue and a newly formed energy can be birthed into being, one must relinquish a parcel of its power to be subsumed into the other; temporary imbalance as brothers become enemies and in the final act, become allies in the process of transformation. The Light of the Oak King birthed from the darkening and lessening of the Holly King.

We call forth to the return of the Light-filled Oak King and celebrate the waxing of the Light half of the year. But, in order for that light to shine in its fullest way, we must also embrace and celebrate the remaining vestiges of the darkness of the Holly King. The darkness of the months that persist of winter’s cold. The darkness that becomes the expanding shadow as the sun shines increasingly longer and brighter around us. And, the darkness that we can retreat into to find those hidden sparks that yearn to be nurtured and brought to the full light of day.

As the weather remains or becomes even colder, the natural inclination is to seek out the warmth and coziness of home. And, so I retreat into the welcoming warmth of my home and settle in ready to study, meditate and reveal more of myself to myself. I embrace the early evening darkness as a cloak that I step into so I can more fully appreciate the sun’s light of day. I move within both physically, settling into home and family and spiritually as I dig deeper into the recesses of my own nature. I seek out and call to the inner spark within and stand ready to embrace also the Shadow of my nature as it rises to the surface, revealed by that light.

In meditation, I allow my breath to slow and deepen into the darkness and move along the paths of my own creation that I have tended to in the previous months in preparation for this time of going within. These paths are often mired with the thorns and treacherous roots of inertness, illusory thoughts and judgments that I have used as the trappings of who I am in the world. My Shadow has nurtured each and knows the weakness and strength of each because in this space of darkness what is revealed is often seen more clearly in its true form than in the blinding light.
When I finally relax and surrender into the wisdom of my Shadow the first striking of the match of greater light is drawn across the rough surface of my resistance, and the resistance is transformed into the tiny sparks that ignite the part of myself that is receptive and waiting.

In accord with the energy of Yule, I allow the weakening resistance of my Holly King to be replaced with a renewed sense of purpose and the strength of my Oak King. My Shadow self is resistant to being brought forward, knowing that bits of it will be released in sacrifice and other parts will be transformed so that its darker nature can work co-creatively with the strength of my light self. I call to the Oak King that he may bless and enliven both aspects of myself as we move forward into the new year in anticipation of what can be seeded at the Spring Equinox; and accepting the knowledge that his wisdom will be transformed as the Shadow begins to strengthen its work at the Summer Solstice and the rising once again of the Holly King.

At those points when the darkness seems pervasive and overwhelming and the light is barely visible I am reminded that without the necessary shade to prevent the seedling from drying and withering from an overabundance of the light’s unfiltered rays, the beauty of new growth and radiant and healthy flower will not come to fruition.

May the blessings of the growing Light and the wisdom of the Dark create the quickened space for a prosperous, enlightened and informed Yule.

***

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.

Solstice is…

December, 2018

Solstice is…

 

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

 

Holly sharp sting,

Red blood like

Berries, red, white

Mistletoe hang

Deadly dart and Baldur’s curse

Druids’ king seeking potion

Now a kissing spot

Love instead

Shown through gifts

Wrapped mysteries

Ribbons hiding

Hearts’ desires

Wrap the day in a bow

But presents wait

Wait for me:

 

The mother and priestess

Down in the woods

At the sacred crossroads

Of birch and oak

The mysteries of Male and Female

And everything in between

And beyond.

 

Here I find the altar

That no one knows of

But I

I lay the offerings

Salt

Offal

Nothing to scar or litter

Nothing to damage or drain

Leaving only footprints

For even I

Am not permitted to remain.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

The Sober Pagan

December, 2018

Breaking Sugar’s Grip One Day At A Time

 

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

 

I decided this year not to make any huge platters of Yule cookies. I might make a small batch of Heirloom Cut-Outs – just before the holiday – but I am not going to make very many – and they are going to be for bringing out for guests who stop by – along with tea or coffee or some all-natural eggnog.

The reason I don’t want to make a bunch of cookies is because along with trying to stay off alcohol and drugs, I am trying to stay off sugar as well. Totally ending sugar is nearly impossible – it’s a necessary ingredient in my homemade bread recipe – but I want to be able to drink my coffee without added sweetening of any kind and I want to end my daily craving for chocolate. I don’t use artificial sweeteners and never will.

I personally think that there’s a connection between the sugar we consume in the form of cookies and candy and things such as donuts and cravings for alcohol and giving in to emotional triggers that allow us to justify using our drug of choice. I say this because I have been “in” recovery for almost thirty years and I have paid close attention to how my body reacts to what I put into it – these past few years, especially. One thing I notice is that when I overdo it with any kind of sugary treat, I usually end up craving a beer a few days after that. It took me a while to figure this pattern out. But once I saw it, I couldn’t deny that it was real.

When I first got into rehab thirty years ago, I remember going to a lecture by one of the counselors – he wasn’t my counselor but I knew who he was – I no longer remember his name but he was a lot older than I was – probably as old as I am now – which seemed old to me thirty years ago! Anyway, he held up a half-gallon of ice-cream and said, “Now that you’re sober, you’re going to be eating a lot of this stuff, right?” And we all enthusiastically agreed. He shouted, “WRONG!” And tossed the ice-cream into the garbage can! He went on to tell us that although AA and “other people” might say that switching to sweets is a good way to stave off the cravings for alcohol and drugs, increasing our sugar intake would only lead us into other health problems, such as diabetes – AA is filled with diabetics. More importantly, he said, switching to sugar after quitting drugs and alcohol was only “switching to another drug” and eventually would lead us to relapse – “because no sugar high can compare to an alcohol buzz or a cocaine high” – and of course, he was right. At the time, I didn’t think so. At the time, his lecture pissed me right the fuck off. At the time, I wouldn’t have recognized that being so pissed was a sign that I knew that he was right and I didn’t want to admit it. But now – having thirty years to think about it and experience what he was talking about – I do know that he was totally right. When you get sober, your intake of sugar is dangerous to your sobriety. And if you’re anything like me, you had an addiction to sweets before you ever picked up a drink or a drug. Long before I had any kind of addiction to any drug at all, I had a deep love for chocolate. I was never safe around M&M’s. I’m still not. I never buy them anymore at all.

Breaking the addiction to sugar and to sweets is one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. Trying to find something to take the place of chocolately desserts is really tough. I do love fresh fruit and eat whatever is in season. Natural sweets are wonderful but I still crave chocolate and I always will. I know that white sugar in my coffee affects me like a line of cocaine and all I can manage is a small amount of brown sugar. Hopefully someday I will have milk in my coffee and that will be it. But I love homemade cookies and cakes. I love baking pies, especially fruit pies. I don’t want to have to stop eating all sweets forever, but I am going to really be aware of what I eat and how if affects my other triggers – my cravings for alcohol, my jones for cocaine and my bipolar moods.

All I know, is that the more sober time I have, the more quality sober time I want. Sobriety is definitely a part of my spiritual life now – I can’t imagine trying to meditate, do ritual, read the Tarot or the Lenormand or reach the Goddess in any meaningful way if I was stoned or drunk or even hungover! Breaking sugar’s grip one day at a time is another step in my recovery. Maybe it would help you too.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings and Happy Yule! Stay Sober! Hugs!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Wreathing the Wheel

December, 2018

As an eclectic witch, one of the most transformative practices that I’ve adopted is the practice of setting intention. At its root, intention is a really basic method of manifestation: make a plan, then execute the plan. But as I’ve explored the idea of intention over time, I’ve come to see a beautiful effect that results from the ongoing process of self-examination. It’s not just the external result of manifesting my dreams, but a reminder to check in with myself and make sure I’m on the right path. After all, if I can’t answer the question, “What’s my intention in doing this?” for any given action I am taking… then why am I even doing it?

It is in the spirit of setting intentions, and thoroughly understanding those intentions, that I started bullet journaling. While I keep a separate grimoire (and have kept other books of shadows), my bullet journal is the place where my magical life intersects with my daily life, and I put some of the spiritual concepts that I’m working with into practice. In this monthly column, I’ll be exploring various methods for working craft into bullet journaling to help track astrological transits, green ally work, Tarot journaling, celebrating the Wheel of the Year, working with associations, artistic exploration, and more.

 

Monthly Spread for December

 

 

I like to illuminate my monthly spreads with images of plants that are associated with the nearest major sabbat, and the season in general. I gravitate towards plants and natural objects that are native to my own area, as a way to bring the outside in. So for December, the plants that I chose to draw in my journal were pine, ivy, and holly. I like to use the information in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of as a jumping-off point to get started with these associations, but it’s good to remember that associations aren’t set in stone, and can easily be changed to accommodate your own hemisphere and biome.

The next thing that I do when building my monthly spread is add the phases of the moon and the full moon’s name. I also record each month’s Tarot card, which I drew in my whole-year reading at the beginning of the year, so that I can reflect on the role that this card plays in my life and how it fits in with other themes and experiences that I’ve encountered during the year. In keeping with the occult tradition of associating moon values with the left side of the body and sun values with the right side, I track the astrological transits of the sun and moon through the month, with the moon transits in the lower-left corner of each day, and the sun in the lower-right corner. This December, the winter solstice falls on the day before the full moon; at the same time, the sun enters Capricorn, and the moon enters Cancer. The darkest night of 2018 will be filled up with the light of the full moon.

I’m calling this column “Wreathing the Wheel” in an effort to remind myself that this project is about more than just to-do lists and chores. Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to acquaint myself intimately with the cycles of nature, immerse myself in intentional thinking, record and study associations, and deepen my divination practices. This is a bit like the process of making a wreath: you find a solid base, and then weave together plant allies, ribbons, and baubles until you’ve got something that looks alright. While I realize that not everyone is as artistically inclined as I am, I would encourage any journaler to embrace the creative side of bullet journaling, not to impress anyone, but as a way to celebrate the passing of time, allow awareness to manifest as creation, and decorate the days that we’re given.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

The Holly and the Oak King

December, 2018

The Holly and the Oak King

 

 

Each holds sway and hand of might
Upon the year’s Great Wheel.

In each domain one shall be King
As wax and wane of Light
Move within nature’s cyclic ring.

Solstice Kings, though brothers, they
In battle determine solar fate.

The Oak holds fast to
Growing light as Holly

Brings his shadow near.

The time between held in
Equinox Gate and season’s turn
Tips finely calibrated scales.

The Light holds fast the Oak marks time
Flanked by strength and sundial’s grace.

The Holly answers with response
A dance of calculated pace.

At sunset’s call, he strikes his final blow
As Oak in silent acquiescence bows
And bends to Summer Light’s repose.

His brother hails triumphant as
Holly King and in power upon rooster’s

Early morn call shall next arise.

The waning of the year begins
With Oak King’s necessary demise.

For what lay sleeping within

The growing splendor of

Holly’s strong and fertile embrace

Is the promise of Light’s return

At the peak of winter’s darkened

And heavy snowy face.

And, once again the two shall meet
Oak strengthened by slumber’s rest.

In wooded green and glowing sun of

Lark song’s spring warmed nest.

The end of darkness nears its birth

The Holly King, his energy drained
Shall relinquish crown as brother
Oak King’s claims his time to reign.

***

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.

Yule Correspondences

December, 2018

(Primitive Witch Hat Tree Topper, “Winter”, by Loren Morris of PrimWitchery on Etsy.)

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:
yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:
cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:
bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

GoodGod!

December, 2018

Meet the Gods: Mithras, the Pagan Christ Child

 

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

 

Merry meet.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

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

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