January, 2009

Welcome to the January Issue

January, 2009

Merry Meet Readers

This is going to be one of our best issues yet!  This month we have:

An interview with Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone!

janetgavin1

and a great review of a new 2009 Witch Planner: Seasons of the Witch

09weeklyphotoweb1

Some quick updates before you begin reading this issue…

We have opened an etsy shop (http://www.paganpagesorg.etsy.com)  to help raise money to keep PaganPages on the Net and free. So please check us out. Below you will see some of our stock and it changes daily so be sure to check it frequently and remember you are donating to PaganPages while you get some nice items.

We have over 8,000 friends on myspace and still growing, be sure to tell all your friends to add us!
We hope you have a great month, and, as always…
Happy Reading!!

New to the Craft

January, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Wicca is a path rich in symbolism.  Ritual and symbols connect practitioners, forming a common thread which ties them to the same tradition.  Solitary Wiccans are not necessarily as bound as coven members to follow the same protocols – after all there is no one working alongside them to see what they may or may not do in their private practice.  But just as myths form a common heritage of wisdom which we can all draw upon, the traditional symbols of Wicca offer a way of joining both coven witches and solitaries via the same language.  After all, symbols are not necessarily useful in themselves, but instead point us towards profound ideas and truths which we may not see in our ordinary lives.

The famous tools of the witch are an important part of traditional Wiccan symbology.  As a solitary it is easy to ask why and even if these tools are required.  For instance the athame, or black-handled knife, is a crucial part of circle construction in British Traditional Wicca.  Is a solitary therefore stuck unable to construct a circle until obtaining one?  Of course not.  One of the hallmarks of Wicca is improvisation.  Tools have the psychological impact of making one feel connected to and a part of Wicca, and at the same time they aid the new witch in using the most important tool of all: the mind.  Visualization and the manipulation of energy by willpower is the basic practice of magic.  It is completely possible to use no tools at all and perform successful spells.  But when you are a beginner that’s sort of like trying to fly before you can crawl.  If I use an athame to direct energy and create a circle my mind sees what I am doing and the visualization is reinforced.  All of our tools are used in this way, in order to strengthen our skills and aid our practice.  Here is a brief summary of the primary toolkit:

Athame – the black-handled knife used to direct energy, especially in circle construction; traditional Wiccans bestow this upon 1st level initiation to signify that the member has become a witch; commonly represents the element of fire

Cup/Chalice – a vessel which commonly holds wine or water to be consumed during ritual; many traditional rituals call for combined use of the athame (as the male symbol) and the chalice (as the female symbol); commonly represents the element of water

Pentacle – a flat disc inscribed with a five-pointed star; objects to be consecrated are typically placed upon the pentacle; commonly represents the element of earth

Wand – a length of wood (through sometimes made of other materials) used for invocations; commonly represents the element of air

Those four are the primary tools used in most rituals and representing the basic elements.  There are also a few tools which are very useful for practical reasons, they are:

Censer – the incense burner; burning incense is a common way of identifying the working space as sacred; it also combines the elements of fire and air in a literal way on the altar (to likewise combine water and earth Wiccans can add salt to the chalice of water in ritual)

Cauldron – a large vessel traditionally made of cast iron and resting on three legs; this is a very practical tool for creating brews or herbal remedies, but can be used for a variety of purposes including as an alternate incense burner; strong symbolic links to the Goddess and reincarnation

This comprises the basic list of Wiccan tools.  There are many others, such as the broom and the bell, which I will not mention here solely due to my unfamiliarity with them.  Many witches might also add tools of divination like the crystal ball.  Which tools one finds to be the most useful and necessary will naturally vary from person to person.  In my own practice I focus on the tools which represent the elements and aid in the creation of ritual space.

After knowing what the tools are and why they are important the next question for a beginner is when to obtain them.  I am not of the mind that you need to run right out to the nearest occult store and buy every tool on this list before you can begin.  In fact I am emphatically against it.  Sure you may end up with a shiny set of new tools, but if there is more of a process or effort in finding them the rewards are a set of meaningful tools that the practitioner can connect with and use much more effectively.  Handmade tools can be even more useful, and one doesn’t need to be a master craftsman to be effective.  Creativity can only add to the result.  A simple knife can be painted black at the handle and consecrated for use.  A found branch can be whittled to make a wand.  The more personal the tools are the greater they will be in harnessing your energy and imagination, after all that is what you are imprinting them with when you make them!  There is also something to be said for gradually obtaining or creating each tool as you progress in Wicca.  Solitary practitioners have no one to tell them how fast or slow to go, and sometimes in our eagerness we want to do everything at once.  That is when it is important to remember that it is not the outward symbols that are of primary importance, but rather the inner journey.  Witches can have no effectiveness unless they are able to train their will, and while these tools definitely assist in that process, they are no substitute for the discipline necessary to harness one’s power within.

Journal for the Month of December:

Most of this month was taken up with frenzied holiday cookie baking and shopping!  Currently I’m reading A Witches Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar.  It’s a fascinating look at traditional Wicca as practiced in Gardnerian and Alexandrian circles, and as a solitary I’m drawing a lot from it in terms of structure for rituals and such.  I’m not a big “follow the rules” kind of person when it comes to spirituality, but if I’m going to deviate it helps to know what I’m deviating from.

The holidays have confronted me with an issue I’m sure many of us deal with which is -how do I go about celebrating and do I tell my family anything about my new path?  Do I start saying Yule instead of Christmas?  Personally I have a very loving family who has never been anything but supportive – but I am not planning on telling any of them about my path in Wicca.  Of course I don’t want to risk a bad reaction with people I love and see every year, but I think it is also because I just don’t want to make everyone uncomfortable.  My family is Christian, though not overly-religious.  I don’t know how much they know of Wicca, and of course I could explain it to them, but for something I am new at myself I don’t want to put myself in the position of defending something I am maybe not yet equipped for.  I feel a bit sad keeping it inside, but I remind myself that this is after all a personal journey, and I understand that religion is a very sensitive issue to a lot of people.  Once I am more comfortable and knowledgeable there might be a time to “come out of the broom closet” so to speak.  But for now, I am planning on spending a wonderful solstice with my family and friends, and whatever name we all call it by, we are all there to celebrate the season with those we love – that part will never change.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

Door to the Beyond

January, 2009

New Beginnings – Candlemas

I get the feeling I’ve been through this Door before, but let’s do it again…  I know Candlemas (or Imbolc, Oimelg, or what have you) isn’t until next month, but our Gracious Editors have asked us to write our Imbolc articles for this month… soooo….

Most of the year, we Labelled Persons feel we are burning our candles at both ends.  In February, we get to burn them all out, get new candles, and start over.  In essence, Candlemas is the Pagan version of Mardi Gras.  We should learn to have fun at it, like the Cajuns, Brazilians, and others around the world do.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  (attributed to Albert Einstein)

Hey, I’m crazy.  I know it.  I try to be the best crazy I can be (as opposed to the most crazy I can be).  It’s not easy, it’s not hard, it just is.

Hmmm, what did I do last year…  well, I did a one-hour recorded video interview about the homelessness issue on local public access television, which broadcast January 5 and several other times – unscheduled, like me, LOL — which led me to make 2008 the best year ever for the homeless of Asheville.  New programs, a new shelter, more volunteers.  Now if I could just get City Council to repeal some of the laws on the books which, essentially, make homelessness illegal without providing any relief for those who find themselves on the streets.

I won’t republish my entire Yule Letter here, sorry.  There would be no use writing this article if I was just going to republish things I had already written, now, would there?  But I had a lot of big things in 2008, making it a hard act to follow.  I’m still waiting to hear what my 4th Quarter Distribution for my work with Eternal Press will be, but that could be the springboard for 2009.

So what do you have planned?  Is this just going to be another year of surviving for you?  Are you going to accept depression, things beyond your control, same old boring stuff?  Well, if you’ve been reading The Door, you probably have lots of ideas for changing all that; if you haven’t, you can find the back issues in the archives and at my website, so go be positive and read what has been written.  Always good to get a plug in – and I’m always amazed when I re-read these articles how good they were.

Note: I’m usually down on myself, it’s an old habit I’m still working to change.  It amazes me no end when I do something well or write something good, and even more when I read it later and still find it exceptional.  One of the reasons for this amazement is that I tend to write these articles virtually out a mindset of stream-of-consciousness, and rarely work on them after finishing them.

Here’s a thought: perhaps one thing you could do is start writing things down, and then you could put them somewhere that you’ll find them in a year or six months, and see what you think of what you’ve written then.  If you still love it, polish it a bit and see if PaganPages, WitchVox or another online zine might be interested in publishing it.  You might get MY job.  I wouldn’t be mad, you’d be freeing my schedule up for something else.

Last month, we discussed the new “candles” we are sending to Washington in January.  If that was important to you, how much more important would it be to clean out your own house?  I don’t mean dusting and vacuuming (something I don’t do enough of).  I mean making changes.  Finding little things that you can feel good about, and adding them to your routine.  Just a bit at a time.  Only what you can do, not some ambitious program that you will back down from when it appears that you have over-reached.

Set large, sweeping goals.  Then find tiny steps to take to get there.  I know I have been working on my devotion to Deity in the past year.  You might understand that I have been working on learning and honoring various Hindu deities as I grow into my path.

I started out getting pictures from online searches. I printed them out and taped them to the wall.  I then started building a small altar, along the lines of the Wicca I knew but changing it, one thing at a time, to reflect the Hindu aspects of worship.  I then started waking up, and going to bed, with a prayer to the deity (I started with Ganesha, added in my beloved Ardhanarishwara, and then later Brahma-as-Guru).  Then I started chanting the mantra to Ganesha (Om gam Ganapatiyei Namah).  Later, I made it 5 times through the chant (Discordian that I am at the core).  Then added in the chant to Ardhanarishwara (Om Ardhanarishwara swarapaya Namah).  [I actually had to search the Web to find that one – which some of my friends have thanked me for).  And finally, the chant to Brahma-as-Guru (Om gurur sakshad paramBrahma tasmai Sri Grurama Namah).  (General translations available if asked.)

All of this took me 6 months to get going, get consistent with (I still mess up occasionally), and even get to say the chant (that last one took quite some time).  Eventually, I will use my mala (meditation beads) to do these chants – which will mean 108 repetitions.  Ooh, that will take a lot of work.

You don’t have to do the actions I did, but taking the same or similar steps to accomplish your goals is the point.  Baby steps.  I actually grouped a lot of my steps together above, so if the steps seem large that’s because they were.

Give Yourself A Break.  If you’re working too hard or too fast on something, you will “backslide” (to use a Methodist term).  This is not saying you are doing the wrong thing, just that you are going too fast or are expecting too much too soon.  Slow down.  Start over, or back up a few steps and resume from there.

Oh, gods, Anxiety.  If I don’t do things perfectly, I’m just not good enough.  Don’t go there.  “Fear is the mind-killer.” – Bene Gesserit saying.  Nobody is perfect, nothing you try to do will ever be perfect… but it doesn’t need to be.  It only has to be Good Enough.  That’s all.  And if you’re anything like me, you will need to set your standards a lot lower until you have “Good Enough” set where it is in reach of your everyday ability.

ALWAYS give yourself a break.  ALWAYS give yourself a pat on the back.  “Endorse for the effort, not the result.”  Endorsing yourself for every little step is like getting paid for every minute of work.  Do it.

This could be the year we learn a new way to burn our candles.  Maybe we can learn to burn them only at ONE end… or maybe we just use more artsy candles.  However you choose to do it, be inventive, creative, bold, and feisty!

Until next month and another walk through the Door…

Ghosts and Hauntings 101: A Procedural Manual for the Investigation of the Paranormal

January, 2009

A WORD TO THE WISE

Contact with Spirit Entities

Each of us is born with a natural sensitivity to spirit entities. It is society and our exposure to the culture around us that tends to teach us to surpress and ignore that natural talent. In some of us, though, it is quite strong and is never completely surpressed. In a tiny fraction, it is sufficiently powerful to survive intact throughout an individual’s life. This ability is not something to be feared or ashamed of; it is a gift.

All children are sensitive before they are old enough to be taught by those around them that it is impossible or to understand the concept that it is bad, wicked or evil.

In many cases, a child’s gift manifests by their acquiring imaginary or invisible playmates. Parents think this is cute and charming, but in many cases it is likely the spirit entity of a child has managed to find another child to play with. The disappearance of the imaginary playmate generally happens when the physical child ages and grows beyond the desire to play and sometimes blocks the ability to sense their companion. In short, the earthly child ages, but the child spirit entity will always be a child and will eventually find another little playmate.

Some individuals retain this gift of sensing and communicating with spirit entities throughout life. For those who are extremely high-level natural sensitives and psychic the existence of such spirits is never doubted. Communication is always possible and usually goes on regularly. However, anyone at this level of sensitivity will quickly explain to the investigator that they never initiate contact unless it is an entity they have been

familiar with for many years, often for a lifetime. Others they will hear, at times respond to, but will not attempt to contact even though they are immediately present.

Ouija boards, pendulums and other tools of divination and contact with spirit entities may be seen as games and parlor tricks. A seance might be seen as a good way to entertain at a slumber party. No high-level sensitive or psychic, even a child who is aware of that very special gift, will participate lightly in such things, for none of these are games or simple fun. They not only work, they sometimes work all too well. Those who view them as games or diversions are either very brave or very foolish people.

At this point, it is necessary to give a substantial and substantive warning to

all new investigators of the paranormal. If a spirit entity is encountered, positively no attempt should be made to contact this entity unless it first attempts to contact you. At that point contact should be attempted by the most experienced member on an investigative team—preferably a psychic or one who is very sensitive and borders on being so—or by the group, on a second, subsequent visit. The reason for this is very simple, and obvious upon even a cursory examination.

Although as I said earlier, we do not change in our basic nature at the point of physical death we do in many other ways. There are all sorts of people—good, bad and indifferent. We can’t know on first encounter with an entity into which category that individual will fall. This is essential to understanding the nature of a contact. I will repeat: we definitely will not change character when we become a spirit entity. This is what makes encountering and communicating with some entitiesextremely dangerous. While truly evil individuals are, generally speaking, quite rare, they do exist. By the same token one should never, under any conditions, attempt to invoke, summon or call any spirit entity, particularly one at the site of a field investigation in which their actual nature is unknown and unknowable.

No Not all spirit entities are who they appear or profess to be. Since they are

energy, they can take on any physical form, and one of the many ways in which we do change at physical death is in gaining the ability to “read” other energy forms—a form of telepathy. Spirit entities can, but rarely do, manifest solidly enough or make the tremendous expenditure of energy necessary to use vocal communications. They can, and do, literally speak to our minds and they can and do read them to the extent that we will allow it.

So, a spirit entity who wishes to gain the confidence of any given person for any reason can, if they desire, present themselves to that person as some deceased friend or loved one or some figure who is known and respected by that person. Only close observation over time can determine the difference. If they are truly who they say, they can and will prove it in ways that will make the person they are contacting certain, and they will not insist that person open up and allow them “in” until they are certain.

The reason for these warnings such is vital to know. At the time of physical

death we become a being composed of pure energy. That being has the capability of manifesting and becoming solid; but it also has the capability of over-riding the neural system of a living person and inhabiting that person’s body, either for a short time (which does happen at times for the purpose of communications by an entity but is never to be invited) or for very long periods. This is called possession, and it is a very grim and real possibility for those who are naive enough to invite it or to accidentally stumble into it. For this reason a conscious effort must always be made to avoid any

uninitiated contact. They cannot enter without your permission. It is a physical impossibility. However, if that permission is given even accidentally there are entities who can and will take advantage of it.

I will state, however, that unlike in the movies, this is not always a particularly evil or malevolent act. Please note that I said “not always.” It can be. In some cases, a spirit entity sees an opportunity to live again in a symbiotic/parasitic relationship in the body of a possessed individual. This is not necessarily evil, but it is nevertheless bad and something that is to be avoided.

It is extremely difficult to be rid of a possessing spirit entity. It is not quite as bad as what Hollywood presents, but I assure you it is bad enough. So, with all this in mind…

Good hunting!
.

Goddess in the Grove – Imbolc

January, 2009

The snowstorm had settled down somewhat during the day, leaving a blanket of crunchy white snow draped over the countryside. The High Priestess stood at her kitchen window holding a warm mug of steaming hot tea in her weathered hands. Those hands had seen hard work and toils far beyond her young motherhood years.

As she stood in the dimness of her kitchen, the smell of beeswax and candle oils filled her senses and warmed her heart with joy. In just two days would be Imbolc, the festival of lights representing the increase in the light after the Winter Solstice. The candles that were drying from the racks in her back room would be used in not only the coven’s group ritual but also her personal one as well. Imbolc was also the time of the year when life was coming back to the natural world, with plants starting to peak their heads above ground and animals getting ready for the coming births of their young.

Herne and Sebastian were settled down in front of the fire, curled up into little balls of fluffy fur. Pine scent wafted through the house, carried on the breezes from the fireplace. The crackling in the fireplace occasionally made the cats stir, and the High Priestess settled in her chair with a warm blanket and her cup of tea. On the table beside her was her notepad, with the rough outline for the ritual written in her careful, flowing script.

A light rapping at her door stirred her from her thoughts….who would be out on a cold night such as this? Alighting from her chair, Herne and Sebastian quickly took their customary places beside her as she went to answer the door.

Flicking on the porch light, she peeked through the peephole to see a coven member, Bridget, with her two small children. She quickly opened the door and ushered them in, placing their jackets in the hall closet. Curiosity shone on her face, but she kept her greeting polite and general.

Bridget made quiet grievances for her late night visit, shifting her sleeping babe in her arms. She explained that the power had gone out at her house because of the snow, and she felt she had no one else to turn to. Bridget was a new coven member, unsure of where she stood in the circle of close knit friends…more like a family than any she had ever known.

The High Priestess led Bridget and her kids to her spare room, which doubled as her office. It had a homey feel to it, with dried flowers, candles and handmade bedding handed down through three generations of her family. Pictures lined the walls, some in modern frames, some in antique wooden one. It felt so comfortable here, so inviting. Lost in her own reverie, Bridget hadn’t noticed that the High Priestess had left the room and returned with a long, flannel nightshirt and some slippers. These little comforts were enough to send Bridget into tears. Never had someone been so nice to her or her children.

Bridget had been nervous about joining the small coven, afraid to let other people into her life for fear of getting hurt. The High Priestess told her to stay as long as she wanted, for she welcomed family no matter what the need.

After a long, restful night’s sleep, the High Priestess woke to the muted sounds of children laughing in her kitchen. Curious as to what was amiss, the High Priestess donned her robe and went into the main part of the house.

A breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon greeted her senses and brought moisture to her lips at the thought of dining on a feast like this; she usually ate a quick bowl of cereal.

After they ate, the women and children piled into Bridget’s van and carefully made their way to her house to see what had happened with the power. Upon their arrival, Bridget was in tears. The ice had ripped the power lines from her house, causing the power to go out the previous night. But more astonishing was who was at her house without her knowledge.

The coven members had arrived en mass and had taken up places outside like they were supposed to be there. Looking over at the High Priestess in amazement, she noticed tears in the older woman’s eyes as well. Unknown to Bridget, the High Priestess had called two of the coven members who had called more of them.

“Families stick together.” was all the High Priestess said to Bridget.

While the adults worked to repair the damages from the ice storm, the kids played outside making snowmen and snow fairies. Afterward, everyone piled into the small home, and Bridget felt so thankful and warm with the pleasant turn their lives had taken.

Hot chocolate was passed around, and a loaf of  pumpkin bread was cut up and offered as thanks for all of the hard work and support they had provided her. Never could she payback all the kindness and generosity she had received the last couple of days.

As they took their mugs of hot chocolate, the High Priestess stepped forward with a lighter and lit a candle on Bridget’s mantle. She said an impromptu blessing to the Goddess Brigid for the house and her occupants, and for all of the coven members and their families. She thanked Brigid for all of her love and generosity that she had bestowed on the coven…and for keeping watch over her children.

The sun was shining like a bright, blazing ball of fire in the sky, warming the Earth below. As the friends stood inside finishing their drinks and planning the next day’s activities, the Earth was awakening outside with the coming signs of Spring.

January correspondences

January, 2009

Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts and cones

Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black

Flowers: carnation, crocus, snow drop

Scents: musk, mimosa

Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase

Trees: birch

Animals: fox, coyote

Birds: pheasant, blue jay

Spirits:  gnomes & brownies

Deities: Freya (Norse); Innana, Sin and Antu (Sumeria); Saravati (Hindu); Hera and Irene (Greece); Ch’ang-O (China); Felicitas; Janus, Pax and Venus (Rome)

Power Areas: Sluggish, below the surface, beginning and conceiving, protection, reversing spells, Conserve energy by working on your own personal problems that involve no one else.
Time to work on new goals.

Candlemas, From Ice to Light

January, 2009

Each year, I strive to find  personal meaning in Imbolc/Candlemas. The Pagan festival of the birth of lambs has nothing to do with my life. I don’t live on a farm. There are no sheep or lambs frolicking merrily on hills nearby. Nor, am I a personal devotee of the Goddess Bridget, although I do have honor and a great respect for Her.
The beginning of Feb. in New England is much too early to be looking forward to Spring. Looking towards Spring in early Feb. would be raising a false hope which would thereafter be dashed deep into the frozen ground by the stark reality of two more months of snowstorms followed by a month of ice storms. I don’t allow the Jan. thaw to fool me. I won’t allow Candlemas to fool me, either. My corner of the world does not start to thaw until the middle of April and does not blossom until early May.  So, while Imbolc/Candlemas may have brought the hope of an early Spring to the ancient Celts, it’s still dark, frigid and blustery in North Central Massachusetts, with no end in sight until the Turning of the Wheel on Beltane.
A recent event radically brought Candlemas to my mind. That recent event will go down in local history as the Great Ice Storm of ’08.  We New Englanders weather Spring ice storms each year. There’s always some debris from broken branches in our yards and the danger of slippery roads for traveling. Ice storms are very pretty, beautiful even, but not fun.
This year, for the first time that any of us can remember in our lifetimes, we had an ice storm in December. Not March, not April, December. Yup, this is the land of 40- 60 degree temperature changes in one day. The joke about New Englanders skiing in shorts and a parker is a reality, not a joke. The Yankee saying, ‘if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute’ is very true. Sort of.
Dec. 11, 2008 started out as an usually warm and rainy day. A torrential torrent of about three to four inches of rain fell in the afternoon. The remnant of the storm froze to sleet during the early evening. That night, the temperature tumbled down to just ten degrees above zero.
Darkness fell upon 21 towns in my area of north-central Mass/southern NH. Highways and most roads in each town were closed. Massive power outages had occurred. Entire electrical grids had been destroyed. Main power lines were down, everywhere.
While I was aware that our power had gone out, I didn’t realize the immensity of what had taken place during the previous night until I tried to drive to work the next morning.
It was like entering an alien world. Tall trees had been cracked in half as if lightning had struck thousands of them at once while picking and choosing the next victim from amongst the survivors. Fallen trees were strewn carelessly across the road, one after another, as if a tornado had touched down every quarter of a mile. Never, had I driven over one power line after another after another as if they were merely markers along the road. I had to drive in the opposite lane around the edges of ice-laden fallen trees and slowly sneak beneath power lines that grazed the roof of my car, hoping against hope that they were not live wires. I will never forget that eerie, other-worldly ride to work for as long as I live. Of course, there was no power or phone lines at work.
For as far as I could see, the world around me was encased beneath inches-thick ice. The surviving trees were bent low to the ground. They groaned and creaked beneath the enormous weight of the ice. Toppled telephone poles in the center of towns made you wonder if someone had set off a series of bombs.
Areas that were once private were now in full view due to the massive, wide-spread devastation. I dread to see the woods when I walk on the trails this Spring. It will make me cry.
Everyone had a story. Within my own family, there was a tree that broke through the roof and living room ceiling, two cars were dented and windshields smashed beneath fallen trees, each and every transformer blew along the road before the telephone poles toppled to the ground, appliances were lost during a power surge. A friend lay awake all night, listening to the trees, limbs and ice surrounding his home come crashing to the ground.
Stores, gas stations and work-places were closed. When one small store opened due to the use of a generator, we lined up for coffee, sharing our stories with strangers.
The headline of one local newspaper was most apt, “CRUSHED”.
I had to drive a total of 12 miles before I found cell-phone service. I immediately called my visiting daughter to warn her not to drive home to Boston in order to go to work. At that very moment, she was stopped in her car on the way to the gas station, stunned. Before her lay a scene that she described as being possible only in a disaster movie. Two large trees lay across the road stacked one upon one another. On top of the trees lay two telephone poles, the total height of which dwarfed the policemen who were frantically waving to her to immediately turn around.
Next, I called my two youngest sons to warn them not to venture out of their home as a state of emergency had been declared by the governor. Naturally, they were out joy-riding with their video cameras. Figures, I sighed to myself. My husband was out and about in the process of trying to save thousands of dollars worth of tropical fish.
This was the first year that we did not have a wood stove. By the night of Dec. 12th, the interior temp of the house swiftly dove down to 46 degrees. My son’s house was down to 31 degrees. My husband, daughter and I decided to take a brief drive in order to warm up in the truck before hunkering down for the night. We drove up the hill to an old cemetery. The stark, cold beauty we encountered there was virtually indescribable.
It was the night of the full moon. There was not an artificial light anywhere around, for miles and miles. The moon lit up the icy panorama around us. There was just the light of that brilliant, huge, white moon hanging, seemingly almost within reach, above us and nothing else. Two tall trees had survived the storm. The canopies of the trees shone with what seemed to be an interior light shining from within the ice, so bright was the Snow Moon that night. The world around us sparkled and glittered as if a fountain of diamonds had opened from the cosmos and became embedded in the trees and blanketed the Earth. I simply had to stand outside in that severe cold in order to breathe in the beauty and bask in the quiet, sparkling solitude.
Later on that night, I gazed out the window close to midnight. The entire outdoors was ablaze with a cold, dazzling, glittering ice-fire so bright I could see everything as clear as day. I had never seen anything like this. I was awestruck.
This was our first winter without a wood stove due to a recent move. But, being a nun, deaconess and witch, you can be assured that I always have plenty of candles on hand. We filled each room with natural light and spent the evening playing cards, talking and laughing together, huddled beneath shawls, sweaters and fingerless gloves.
As I fell asleep that night, I realized what Candlemas was going to mean to me from now on because of the Great Ice Storm of ’08. The awe-inspiring natural beauty that I had witnessed on the night of the Snow-Moon, the night of the glowing ice-fire, was a once in a life-time event
As I write this, it is now nine days after the storm. We were of the lucky few who received our power back after only three days. We were able to shelter family members within the renewed warmth of our home this past week.  Most towns have had their power restored yet, there are still many within each town who don’t have it back. Some have wood stoves. Some have generators. Many are staying in hotels and shelters. Several towns have been told it will be another two or three weeks because it is not just a matter of restringing wires but rather, it’s a matter of rebuilding the destroyed grids from the ground up. We have received help from the National Guard and from power companies from as far away as Indiana and Ohio down to PA, Tennessee and Fla. All are working tirelessly, 16-18 hour shifts. They will be missing Christmas with their families. We are so grateful for their assistance.
What will Candlemas mean to me, now? For me, Candlemas will forever be a celebration of the moon-struck, ice frosted dance of nature that I was so very privileged to witness. It will be a remembrance of the many who traveled from so far away to help us for, without their help, we would still be in the cold and dark. When I light my 13 candles on Candlemas in my cauldron strewn with herbs, I will remember and know that no matter how dark or cold the night, the moon will always cast its protective glow upon my world. My ritual will be a celebration of the natural light of the many candles that guarded us from the encroaching house-darkness.  Yule may represent the re-birth of the infant Sun, but Candlemas will mean that the Light is always there during the long, winter night, reflected by the moon, the ice and shining within the candle-light and the hearth-fire.  We are never alone in the dark. There is always Light.
May you all have a Happy New Year and a very Blessed Candlemas.

Crystal Clear

January, 2009

New year, New Beginnings

As the wheel begins another turn into the year 2009, we all begin to think of new beginnings, fresh starts, and new year’s resolutions.  To begin new ventures, or even to begin the ending of old habits, one must draw on inner  resources of courage.
It is no coincidence that January’s birthstone, Garnet, is a stone of courage.  It’s strong empowering energy gives us the push to go forward…to do what we must.  It gives our gut feelings support, and we know that ‘IT’,  whatever ‘IT’ may be, can be done!  One step at a time is the best way, but the first jump…the first step must be made.  The energy and strength of garnet encourages our spirit on this path.
Other  than strengthening our courage so that we may eagerly move forward, garnet has many other talents.  It is a wonderful healing stone as it cleanses and strengthens the aura.  As all illness starts in the aura, garnet’s cleansing and strength can help to nip illness in the bud.  This is best when garnet is constantly worn or carried so that it does not lose contact with the aura.
Garnet’s cleansing abilities are also useful when giving or receiving psychic readings.  This is because our aura picks up gunk from everyone we come into contact with.  If when giving or receiving a reading, the aura is cluttered, things won’t be as clear as they otherwise could be.  Garnet cleansing out the auric area helps in this greatly, however.
The most widely seen garnets are the red ones.  This red can manifest itself in a manner of color ranges from a brownish orange to  a lighter red, to a very deep red, to a red that looks black unless held under an extremely bright light.  Green garnet isn’t as often seen, but it’s energy is very soothing.  Rainbow garnet is a more rare variety, and very lovely.  Like most of the earth’s children, garnet comes in many more colors than are commonly displayed in typical jewelry stores.  Each is unique, powerful, and lovely, and should be remembered.
Happy New Year, and Happy Stoning!

Celtic Awareness

January, 2009


Oimelc a Celtic Fire Festival

Following the Celtic fire festival of Samhain is the Celtic festival Oimelc (pronounced Im-melg; Also known as Imbolg, Candlemass, Brid’s Day, and Bride’s Day) which translates to ewe-milk, at this time of year (January 31) sheep begin to give milk; celebrations begin in the Northern hemisphere on the evening of January 31st. and in the Southern hemisphere on August 31st.. While this time of celebration has since developed an association with dark magic, the Sabbat and the assembling of witches, traditionally Oimelc was a lambing celebration welcoming the new life and the coming of spring.

During the festival of Oimelc, the primordial Irish goddess (Brigid Daughter of Dagda) of the fire, hearth, poetry and craft was and is invited into each house to visit and bless for the upcoming seasons of spring and summer.

Brigid

Her blessings quickening the forces of life

Brining with her, her creative powers to the hearth,

To the land and to the hearts, minds and spirits of her people

~ Michele Burke (2008).

An Oimelc Ritual (Modern)

Find a quite place so as to be undisturbed.

Take a dark red to represent the Brigid and a white candle representing her as Maiden.

Call upon the elements as well as the Goddess and the God to come and be with you.

Light the dark red candle and say, ‘”This light is the light of the Crone, the Wise One who has ruled over the winter months, the resting time”.

Now take a few moments to reflect on all that has passed since the celebration of Samhain. Now say, “Now it is time for the Crone to turn away and become once more the Maiden, Lady of spring and of promise”. Light the white candle and extinguish the dark one.

Now reflect about what you would like to begin in the upcoming season.

Thank the elements and then the Goddess and the God for their attendance during this ritual (West, 2003)

Bibliography and Works Cited:

West, K. (2003). An Imbolic Ritual. Deszone.net. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from http://www.deszone.net/imbolic.html

A New Year, a New Age & a New Beginning

January, 2009

For a long time now we have seen great changes happening in the world around us. We have seen people search out a path that is more spiritual, an economy begin to crumble, a government’s corruption wobble on its last leg and the man who will be our next president finally prove that racism is no longer an issue nor has power within the realm of ‘We the People’. And most importantly, we have heard the chants of a coming ‘change’.

We have heard all the talk concerning dimensional shifts, veils thinning, 2012, and whatever else falls into that category but this article I am writing has absolutely nothing to do with the doomsday garbage that people have been preaching of that but of the hope and great change we can make possible now. Beware those who cling to negative doomsday conspiracies. These things, in my opinion, are meant to make you afraid of something so you will not discover the more positive revelations of it. It’s one more way to keep you blind and we are no longer blind are we?

We are on the brink of a New Year and the lunar eclipse which falls on New Years Eve may just mark the beginning of it. In ancient times eclipses had great spiritual meaning. It marked the beginning or end of something or a person who would bring about great change or have a huge impact on the world or something in it.

Not long ago, we had an alignment of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon. Jupiter represented Janus who was the god of portals and dimensions. He was the gate keeper so to speak and represented rebirth, change, the death of something gone but the beginning of something greater.

Venus, aside from typical lore, represented not just love but the Goddess of Generation. We also know that the Goddess is birth giving and life giving. We often think of a soul being born when we think of life and birth but what if it means more than that? What if it could pertain to a world or an age? What if it pertained to a situation?

We then had the moon which was believed to be a gateway for souls to pass into their next phase of life. It represents the Mother of the Universe. The moon also represented revelation, moon ‘blood’ or ‘wise blood.’ Isn’t it fascinating when we seek out the symbolism of things?

I found it also interesting that the three planets formed a triangle which to me represents the Trinity. In ancient times some believed that the Triangle represented the Goddess’ holy door, or in some cultures it represented the virgin, maiden, and crone. Whatever you perceive this to mean, we are indeed on the path to great change and I think in 2009 things will certainly begin to fall into place.

We are not on some fearsome journey which will end in horror and doom. We are on the brink of awakening and many of us have already begun to awaken. We are suffering a recession yes, many of us are losing jobs, homes and all of us are struggling just to put food on the table. Hang in there because this is only the end of an old world. It’s a cleansing period, a way to move us forward.

I think the end result will suit our personal vision, needs and hope. For some this could be a huge spiritual change, for others a different world entirely. And to be perfectly honest, things could get much worse but again, that’s an old world being pushed out from under us so that a better one can replace it.

How do bad things happen in your life? Do they happen all at once? After the bad phase passes, what happens then? With open and honest eyes, look back over your life and think about that. When bad things happen to me, it seems like my entire world changes afterwards. It’s as though my life is drastically changed, ripped apart so that I can enter a new phase. What happens afterwards is always better.

So if you are one of the ones who are having a hard time accepting that you must move, or lost your job or can’t make Christmas, try to hold on. We can survive anything and with that survival, something much more rewarding awaits us on the horizon. We can replace material things and we can get new jobs, hopefully better ones. Everything happens for a reason and in the New Year to come; I think we will see more of that. Some of you already see it but for those who are struggling, have faith.

Now this article isn’t meant to forecast our future in any way because I am not a fortune teller. It is only my opinion of what is about to happen and what has been happening. In the end we must ask ourselves how we can change to help further along this New Year and coming age.

Let go, accept, let the flow take you and trust in your God, Goddess, or Spirit that you will be taken care of. First though, we must help ourselves and we will help ourselves because we are capable of so much more.

May this New Year bring you happiness and success!

Next »