June, 2009

Welcome to the June Issue of PaganPages

June, 2009

Happy Summer to everyone!  We have an excellent issue for you this month.

Featured in this months issue are:

giovanna-adams1

Giovanna Adams talks about her line of art, Faeries of Color.

peatbog-faeries-live1

A great review of PeatBog Faeries newest album.

The second installment of our Runes Course is up for all our students.  You are all doing so well.

I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to our old Assistant Editor Sage and wish her much luck in all her endeavors and to introduce everyone to Michele Burke, PaganPages new Assistant Editor.  If you have any questions for her you can find her email in the about us section of the Magazine.

Enjoy this issue, everyone, and have a safe and fun MidSummer celebration!!

GlitteryBlessingsandLove,

PaganPages.org

Sacred Sites

June, 2009

Beltane Celebration – Tullamore – County Offaly – Ireland

We are back from our travels in Ireland and we hope you had as exciting a Beltane celebration as we did.  I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of our Journey.

Surrounded by a 700 year old Oak forest (the oldest in Ireland) stands Charleville Castle, known for generations as one of the world’s most haunted castles. Legend states that Charleville was built on the site of an ancient Druid burial ground and it is said that Druids conducted ceremonies on this site.

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The 500-year-old Oak tree that hoards the entrance to Charleville

We had traveled here to celebrate Beltane with fellow Pagans in the heart of Ireland. After a warm welcome by our hostess Mary Alagna, we were introduced to others that would be joining us for the may pole dance. They had been hard at work, felling an Ash tree that would be the focus of our celebration.

Mary had asked us to each bring ribbon in a color or pattern, that symbolized the energies we would like to manifest. We tied our ribbons to the tree that would represent the energies we wished to bring into our lives.

Most of our group had participated in rituals, but some had been primarily solitary practitioners. So we found it fascinating to celebrate Beltane with Mary and Eileen (among others) in the gardens at Charleville Castle.

“Everyone was incredibly warm and friendly, although this was true with literally every person that we met in Ireland; it was especially true with Mary and Eileen. They welcomed each and every one of us with open arms.”

“We danced around the may pole which was so fun and a great way to loosen every one up!  The ritual itself was much more interactive than some of the other rituals we had done in the past. We fed each other, massaged each other’s hands with oil and danced together. It was truly a celebration of the season!”

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Mary Alagna, as she prepares for our Beltane celebration at Charleville Forest Castle.

“Some of us had never done, the weaving before and the energy raised was light, yet powerful, intense but not overwhelming. Our beautiful, yet eclectic creation will remain in our memories for years to come.”

It was a privilege to stand in circle with them and witness the celebration of Beltane or as they say it Bealtaine (Be All Tinna). We thank them for making a dream come true, celebrating with other Pagans in Ireland!


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Our first look at the May Pole framed against the backdrop of Charleville Forest Castle.


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Finishing a fine job of wrapping the May Pole.

Always a hospitable, Bonnie Vance and Dudley Stewart, the castle keepers, presented us with a lovely dinner in one of the magnificent rooms. As the Castle runs a bit cool, even in warmer weather, we were also treated to a cozy fire for our dinner.

Unfortunately as beautiful as the day had been, the weather turned on us for the evening, dampening our spirited hope of having a Beltane fire outside. But with warm hearts inside, we took a tour of the castle and it’s amazing rooms. The Castle is being restored, with many areas in various stages of repair and we learned even more about this site.

The Castle was designed in 1798 by one of Ireland’s leading architects of the day, This magnificent building was almost lost through vandalism while it stood vacant during a large part of the 20th century. The main rooms with their spectacular ceilings have for the most part survived the onslaught. The Castle is now occupied and the owners are lovingly attempting to preserve and restore it to its former glory. They hope to infuse the Castle with music and spirit, to bring it to life again with all manner of celebrations, as Charleville has seen it’s darker side.

Although a wonderful example of Gothic revivalist architecture, it is also known for being haunted. For decades Charleville has been visited by parapsychologists, paranormal investigators and documentary makers hoping to capture photographic or video evidence of the many phenomena reported throughout the years. Orbs (spectral light balls) are frequently seen in the building and the grounds. The stories abound in the castle, from Druids and a grotto, to tales of devil worship by the owner, and wicked tales of the use of the dungeon.

Just down from the Great Room, there is a staircase leading to the upper levels of the castle, it is said to be haunted due to a tragic accident that occurred shortly after the Bury family took up residence. Charles Bury’s eight-year-old daughter was sent upstairs to wash her hands, the nursery is situated on the top floor, and on the way down, and she attempted to slide down the banister. Unfortunately she fell and was killed. They say her spirit loves to play with other children that have come to live at the castle; one of them was Bonnie’s son. He tells a story about the little girl ghost that helped him when we became lost in the castle one day.

The Yew trees that surround the castle form a union jack, according to Celtic tree lore; Yew trees were used to keep the spirits of the dead inside the boundaries of cemeteries. I had to wonder if it had the same effect here and if the souls left behind were kept within the walls of the Castle because of it. Perhaps fanciful thinking, but I prefer to remember what Bonnie told us about the Castle returning to life with music and art and activity again. If it brings peace to whatever energy or spirit is there, so be it.

Resources:

http://www.offaly.ie/offalyhome/visitoffaly/Attractions/historic/

Mary Alagna

Bonnie Vance

Dudley Stewart

Kathryn Wright

Rebecca Beld

Rebecca Sommers

The Celtic Well

June, 2009

Gaelic Healing Water Spell

Acquire equivalent portions of violet, rosemary, and lavender. After give power to them boil them in approximately one quart of water over a medium flame. Once the water has a rich color and the herbs begin to emit a scent throughout your kitchen, drain off the water off into a jar. An organic coffee filter works well for this. Leave the jar in the sunshine for an entire day to take in the glowing energies from the sun. (To add the healing powers of mercury to the spell do this on a Wednesday) Occasionally gaze into the jar to add your own energies to it.

Just prior to twilight bring back the jar from outside and clutch it tightly between your hands just beneath your naval. Feeling your yearning to be in good health filling the jar, with your mind’s eye envision the jar shimmering as brightly as the sun. Repeat this chant until you have filled the jar with such an overabundance of energy that it can hold no more.

By the sun and by the herb
wellness and I are now as one
spiraling energies now are merged.
Destructive energies now be purged…

Anoint the body where the infirmity lurks if you are uncertain as to where the foundation of them discomforts lies, pour contents into bath water.

Bibliography and Works Cited:

Davis, G. G. (1908). Celtic Healing Water Spell.  Retrieved from great grandmothers Book Shadows.

Litha History and Correspondences

June, 2009

History of Litha (MidSummer)

Also known as Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Litha is usually celebrated on June 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that Summer begins on the day when the Sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter. The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer, when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.

Humanity has been celebrating Litha and the triumph of light since ancient times. On the Wheel of the Year Litha lies directly across from Yule, the shortest day of the calendar year, that cold and dark winter turning when days begin to lengthen and humanity looks wistfully toward warmth, sunlight and growing things. Although Litha and Yule are low holidays or lesser sabats in the ancient parlance, they are celebrated with more revel and merriment than any other day on the wheel except perhaps Samhain (my own favourite). The joyous rituals of Litha celebrate the verdant Earth in high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom. This is a madcap time of strong magic and empowerment, traditionally the time for handfasting or weddings and for communication with the spirits of Nature. At Litha, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between “the fields we know” and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for rites of divination.

Those who celebrated Litha did so wearing garlands or crowns of flowers, and of course, their millinery always included the yellow blossoms of St. John’s Wort. The Litha rites of the ancients were boisterous communal festivities with morris dancing, singing, storytelling, pageantry and feasting taking place by the village bonfire and torch lit processions through the villages after dark. People believed that the Litha fires possessed great power, and that prosperity and protection for oneself and one’s clan could be earned merely by jumping over the Litha bonfire. It was also common for courting couples joined hands and jump over the embers of the Litha fire three times to ensure a long and happy marriage, financial prosperity and many children. Even the charred embers from the Litha bonfire possessed protective powers – they were charms against injury and bad wwweather in harvest time, and embers were commonly placed around fields of grain and orchards to protect the crops and ensure an abundant reaping. Other Litha customs included carrying an ember of the Litha fire home and placing it on one’s hearth and decking one’s home with birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, orpin, and white lilies for blessing and protection.

The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play. It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays and it is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. Wiccans consider the Goddess to be heavy with pregnancy from the mating at Beltane – honor is given to Her. The Sun God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor is also given to Him. The faeries abound at this time and it is customary to leave offerings – such as food or herbs – for them in the evening.

Although Litha may seem at first glance to be a masculine observance and one which focuses on Lugh, the day is also dedicated to the Goddess, and Her flowers are the white blossoms of the elder.

Purpose
Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

***

site information:

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Hally’s Hints

June, 2009

LIVES BEFORE LIVES…

So, we are back into Mercury retrograde and if the year wasn’t throwing crazy things at us, no doubt it will this month. Phew! What a year. This year has been full of extreme situations, with extreme illnesses, deaths, births, ups and downs and all of this each day. As they say, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger…

I recently had the privilege of attending an amazing workshop. It was on Life between Lives. Some may have heard about it. It is a hypnotic process which focuses on taking you into the brain wave patterns deeper than that for Past Lives and taps into things such as your life’s purpose, why you chose the family you did and who in your life has been with you for many lives.

The process can take up to several hours and is rather intense for the client and the practitioner. It is apparently a rather new technique having originated in the USA by Michael Newton. Can you imagine the energy that is generated in undertaking this process?

Often during coaching something that comes up a lot is the fact that we create our own reality. That we are in complete control of what emotional state we choose to be in, that we have control over changing the limiting beliefs around finance, relationships and so forth. When we add in the Life between Lives theory, this takes it to an amazing level that we did not only create our reality we also chose the people in our lives and the circumstances in which we currently live. This is a pretty intense revelation to process.

Sit with this concept for a moment… you chose your siblings, your parents and your partner. You chose your pets, the life you live all to fulfil a particular purpose. This as an overall is not that surprising but when you take down to the nitty gritty of detail and think back over your past few years – what does this mean to you?

All of sudden worrying about that chocolate bar you had as a snack seems rather insignificant. All of sudden your mortality takes on a life of its own.

I am about as open minded and non-judgemental as one can get and it took a few days to actually comprehend the magnitude of this information. The irony is that it makes perfect sense. The answers are crystal clear and yet, the human, physical side of me, the logical side, had to take some time to process this information. Extraordinary!

Many of us have endeavoured to discover through our past lives where we have come from and what that means to us in this life. Imagine taking this to the next level…

No doubt there are some of you that have done exactly that. I wonder what difference this information and insight has made to your life and the way you perceive who you are in your day to day.

We strive for enlightenment, connecting to our higher self and being regularly assisted by our wonderful Spirit Guides. We are protected by Angels and many of us have tapped into the gifts that we have allowed ourselves in this life to assist us on our journey.

What this all comes down to is that who you are in this life is one in 68 billion of a chance of being replicated. (Something along these lines), which makes each of us extremely unique and extraordinary.

We all know that life can be hard and having had the practitioner advise all of us at the workshop that yes, “the Earth Gig is a pretty tough Gig”, whatever your purpose is in this life – love it, embrace it and have fun with it!

My Reality Can Beat Your Reality

June, 2009

You hear it all the time: “Perception is reality.” Sometimes, that’s a hard thing to accept, but it says a lot about how we act and react to the world around us.  And for any who do magic, it’s a very important, even crucial maxim.  However, it also relates to how we determine who is ‘sane’ and who isn’t.

Of course, I’m sane…  I really am.

I mean, really…  I am…

Sane, that is.

Really

(Here’s some advice:  Do not try to prove you are ‘sane,’ because the harder you try, the worse it gets.)

Our spirituality, probably because it’s based on personal experience rather than a specific book or codified statement of faith, has a wide variety of expressions.  That is a polite way of saying some of us think and act in ways that make others uncomfortable because those others do not share our form of reality, our ‘world view’ or our perceptions.  Even amongst ourselves the differences are great enough to cause discomfort, though we pride ourselves on being ‘tolerant’ about such things.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether we should view another person’s reality as being acceptable or a sign that they are mentally ill.

Do not feel alone about this.  Professionals in the mental health business have the same problem.  What is classified as mental illness sometimes is about as fuzzy as a 30-day-old hunk of bread.  Oh, another thing… without even trying hard, I’ve found (so far) over a dozen different definitions for what defines a person as mentally healthy!  It is definitely a difficult subject because some of these definitions contradict others.  Truth be told, everybody seems to exhibit signs of mental illness at times… just as we exhibit signs of mental health at other times.  The biggest problem is that hardly anybody can agree which is which.

I bring this up because it directly relates to the work of a minister.  In Wicca, as well as several other varieties of Paganism, each person is proclaimed to be a priest or priestess of their religion.  Put as simply as possible, this means that each of us is charged with discovering our relationship with the gods and what that means.  Since everyone will discover something different, we each will have a different take on that charge.  But one of the things that seems to be consistent is we inevitably end up doing ministerial work.  Ministry does not necessarily mean we go out and preach or have a congregation come to us each week.  It means that we help others discover their own relationship to their gods.  But that means we have to evaluate what is helpful and what may be harmful.  Eventually, the problem comes up as to whether a person is operating from a mental illness or not.  Most of us are not in the mental health business and it’s difficult to make such judgments.

For any who find themselves in the middle of this problem, I would offer some advice.  Even though you may not have any training in psychology, there is a simple ‘test’ you can apply any time you question another person’s ‘sanity’ (or, maybe, your own!).  Actually, it is two-fold:  Is the person able to operate in the world (that you perceive) without seriously harming themselves or others?  And (and this is a really important one), can a treatment be implemented that provides for a more suitable reality base?  If a course of treatment reduces or wipes out a person’s reality base, it must build another one in its place or the ‘treatment’ is nothing more than a way of removing an inconvenience from society.  Now, we might not know what a person’s treatment might be because we aren’t mental health professionals.  But many of the people who are out on the streets and in need of treatment are not getting it for one of two reasons.

The first reason is simply this: we cannot afford it.  That’s a cruel reality, but it’s true.  It might be better to say we will not afford it, but it amounts to the same thing.  The cost of care is enormous for some of the worst cases and it is easier to ignore them unless and until they become a big enough problem that society decides the person has to be institutionalized for their (and our) own good.  Of course, society has to pay for such institutionalization.  And very few of those who get put in any kind of institution will ever be made ‘better.’

The second reason is based on the first.  The laws and attitudes of our society basically say that people who need treatment are weak, non-productive, and somehow less important than Joe Average.  If they require treatment, they should seek it on their own.  Even though there exist programs that some of these people could make use of, most of them could no more afford treatment than fly to the moon.  And, to complicate it more, most of them do not want to be ‘treated.’ The medications used to treat many of the symptoms of ADD, bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression, and other common and serious mental illnesses are bitter pills for most of these people.  The ‘treatment’ is often more disturbing to the patient than the ‘disease.’ A lot of treatments are for the benefit of society, not the patient.

All these problems aside, when it comes to dealing with people, anyone in our faith group should understand that there are going to be some pretty strange folks show up and we need a way of relating to them that does not harm them or the rest of us.  Simply ‘diagnosing’ them as crazy is not going to help anyone and quite possibly do irreparable harm.  Even medical professions take an oath that says, ‘Do no harm’.

What can we do?

I think the first thing we can do is what other faith groups require their ministers to do:  Take some classes in psychology so you can better understand the problems and symptoms of people who have mental illnesses.  Educate yourself on what is known about human psychology and the clinical treatments for some of the more severe conditions.  Do not ignore the problem.  Everyone is affected by mental illness.

The next thing we can do is to make ourselves more compassionate.  The Buddhists base much of their religion on this one word and rightly so.  Compassion does not mean feeling sorry for somebody; it means (quite literally) to feel with the other person, to understand what it is like to be in that person’s reality.  Of course, that does not mean we should somehow make ourselves crazy.  It means we should gain an understanding, through education and reflection upon our own lives, of what the other person is experiencing.  Being ‘different’ is often painful, no matter the degree of difference.  Being afraid is always painful.  Imagine what it would be like to hear voices that are coming from nowhere and plotting against you.  Imagine feeling useless and without any joy day in and day out.  Understand when a person refuses their medication because it makes the world seem lifeless.

None of this requires us to tolerate any activity that harms us or the people around us.  If somebody is acting in a way that places us in danger, treat the problem at hand.  Without a doubt, our religion can attract some pretty strange people no matter by what yardstick you may judge them.  But remember that these people have seen the world through the lens of a different life.  Their perception is their reality.  If they have a physical problem (and most mental illnesses do have a known physical aspect to them) that causes them to experience a wildly different reality, they deserve our compassion just as much as a person who has an injury to a visible part of their body.  They are just as much children of the gods as anyone.

In the role of priestess or priest, we often are required to conduct our lives in a manner that demands more effort.  That’s part of the ‘office’ of the priesthood.  Educating ourselves on the various aspects of the human mind shouldn’t be ignored.  Acting with that knowledge may complicate things, but it should never be viewed as a burden.  It is but one of the ways we can make ourselves and our world (as we perceive it) better.

WiseWoman Traditions

June, 2009

Healthy Bones The Wise Woman Way

Every woman I know is concerned about osteoporosis. Frightening stories equate it with broken hips, bent spines, wheelchairs, and death – things we all want to avoid. What can we do? Should we take calcium supplements? Hormones? Fosamax? Can we rely on our green allies?

The Wise Woman tradition maintains that simple lifestyle choices – including, but not limited to, regular use of nourishing herbal infusions, medicinal herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed – are sufficient to preserve bone and prevent breaks. And, further, that these lifestyle choices produce multiple health benefits, including reduction of heart disease and breast cancer, without the problems and risks associated with taking hormones. As for supplements, as we will see, they do more harm than good.
Forget Osteoporosis

First, we must rid ourselves of the idea that osteoporosis is important. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we focus on the patient, not the problem. There are no diseases and no cures for diseases. When we focus on osteoporosis, we cannot see the whole woman. The more we focus on disease – even disease prevention – the less likely we are to know how to nourish  health/wholeness/holiness.

In fact, focusing our attention narrowly on the prevention of osteoporosis actually increases the incidence of breast cancer. The postmenopausal women with the highest bone mass are the most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Women who take estrogen replacement to prevent osteoporosis, even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

These risks might be vindicated if we could show a correlation between bone density and bone breakage, but there isn’t one. When I found myself at dinner in 2000 with Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, I asked her to point me in the direction of any study that shows a clear relationship between osteoporosis and broken bones. She smiled.   “There are none.”

“In a recent study,” she continued. “Researchers measured the bone density of people over 65 who had broken bones. Twenty-five percent had osteoporosis. Twenty-five percent had high bone density. And fifty percent had normal density.” Notice that those with high bone density broke their hips as frequently as those with osteoporosis.
Get Flexible

If osteoporosis isn’t the problem, what is? In a word: inflexibility. Flexible bones bend; stiff bones break. This holds true even if the flexible bone is thin, even if the stiff bone is thick. Think of a piece of dead pine wood. Though it may be thick, it is brittle and breaks easily. Think of a green pine twig. Even a small one is nearly impossible to break. Flexible bones, whether thick or thin, bend rather than break.

Flexibility is synonymous with health in the Wise Woman Tradition. It is created by nourishing and tonifying. Bone flexibility is created by nourishing the bones and tonifying the muscles around them. Tonifying is as important as nourishing, but because we are herbalists, let’s focus on the benefits nourishing herbs offer to women who wish to have strong, flexible bones.
Nourishing Our Bones

Old age does not make weak bones. Poor nutrition makes weak bones.

What are bones made of? Like all tissues, they contain protein. They are rich in minerals, not just calcium, but also potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others. And in order to use those minerals, vitamin D must be present and the diet must contain high-quality fats.

* Bones Need Protein

I have heard, and no doubt you have too, that animal protein leaches calcium from the bones. This is only half true. All protein, whether from meat, beans, soy, grains, or vegetables, uses calcium in digestion. Protein from soy is especially detrimental to bone health; soy is not only naturally deficient in calcium, it also directly interferes with calcium uptake in the bones. Traditional diets combine protein and calcium (eg, seaweed with tofu, tortillas made from corn ground on limestone with beans, and melted cheese on a hamburger). Protein-rich herbs such as stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, and comfrey leaf provide plenty of calcium too, as do yogurt, cheese, and milk (which also provide the healthy fats needed to utilize the minerals). Limiting protein limits bone health. Increasing mineral-rich proteins increases bone health.

* Bones Need High-Quality Fats

Hormones are kinds of fats, and cholesterol is the precursor to many of them. Post-menopausal bone problems do not, to my mind, arise from a lack of estrogen, but from a lack of fat. If the diet is deficient in good-quality fats, hormones will be produced in inadequate amounts. And vitamin D, a hormone-like vitamin, will not be utilized well. Further, mineral absorption is dependent on fats. A low-fat diet, in my opinion, makes it quite difficult to have healthy bones.

* Bones Need Minerals

Bones do need calcium, and they are the last to get it, so our diets need to be very rich in this mineral. But to focus on calcium to the exclusion of other minerals leads to broken bones, for calcium is brittle and inflexible. Think of a piece of chalk, calcium carbonate, and how easily it breaks. A six-and-a-half year study of 10,000 white women over the age of 65 found that “Use of calcium supplements was associated with increased risk of hip and vertebral fracture; use of TumsÔ antacid tablets was associated with increased risk of fractures of the proximal humerus.” The other minerals found in bone lend it flexibility. When we get our calcium from herbs and foods (containing a multitude of minerals) we nourish healthy bones.

* Extracting Minerals

From the Wise Woman perspective, the perfect way to maintain bone health, bone flexibility, and resistance to fracture is to use mineral-rich herbs and foods. Because minerals are bulky and do not compact, we must consume generous amounts to make a difference in our health. Just as eating a teaspoon of carrots is laughable, so is taking mineral-rich herbs in capsule or tincture form. Because minerals are rock-like, we need to break open cell walls to get at them. Raw, fresh foods do not deliver minerals to our bodies.

To extract minerals, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material. I prefer to extract minerals into water or vinegar. To make a nourishing herbal infusion, I pour one quart/liter boiling water over one ounce/30 grams of dried herb in a canning jar, covering it tightly, and letting it brew overnight. In the morning, I strain out the mineral-rich liquid and drink it – over ice or heated, with honey or milk, mixed with black tea, seasoned with mint, spiked with rum, however you want it. You can drink the entire quart in one day, but do finish it within two.

My favorite nourishing herbal infusions are made from oatstraw (Avena sativa) or nettle (Urtica dioica) or red clover (Trifolium pratense) or comfrey leaves (Symphytum uplandica x). I sometimes add a little bit of aromatic herb such as peppermint (Mentha pipperata), lemon balm (Melissa off.), or bergamot (Monarda didyma) to change the flavor.

To extract minerals from fruits and vegetables, I cook them for long periods of time, or until there is color and texture change, evidence that the cell walls have been broken.  Kale cooked for an hour delivers far more mineral to your bones than lightly steamed kale. Fresh juices contain virtually no minerals. Cooking maximizes the nutrients available to us, especially the minerals.

* Herbs Are Mineral Powerhouses

Eating a cup of cooked greens every day is difficult, even for the most motivated woman. But drinking nourishing herbal infusions, eating seaweeds, and using medicinal herbal vinegars is easy. They are tasty, fun to prepare and use, and add a big nutritional plus with virtually no calories attached. Nourishing herbs and garden weeds are typically far richer in minerals than ordinary foodstuffs. Not only are nourishing herbs exceptional sources of minerals, their minerals are better at preventing bone breaks than supplements.

The ability of herbs to counter osteoporosis may be more complex than their richness of minerals, however. The minerals in green plants seem to be utilized more readily by the body and to be ideal for keeping bones healthy.  Dr. Campbell, professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for midlife and older women were found. He says, “The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis.”
In Summation

My own experiences in helping women regain and maintain bone density and flexibility have led me to believe that life-style modifications work exceptionally well for motivated women who wish to avoid the risks and expense of long-term pill use. Nourishing herbal infusions, mineral-rich herbal vinegars, yogurt, and seaweed, combined with attention to tonification of the muscles, unfailingly increases bone density and creates flexible, healthy bones and women.

Green blessings to you all.

8 Keys to Healthy Bones

1. Good nutrition for your mother while pregnant with you.
2. Good nutrition for you during the formation of your bones.
3. Monthly menses throughout your fertile years, especially before 30.
4. Special attention to maintaining high levels of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins from herbs and foods in your diet when menses cease during pregnancy, lactation, or after menopause.
5. Regular rhythmical movement, the faster the better, daily.
6. Consistent practice of yoga, tai chi, or any strengthening, opening, flexibility-building discipline.
7. Chop wood, carry water.
8. Eat yogurt.

The Days of June

June, 2009

June 1
Festival of the Oak Nymph. This Pagan celebration honors all hamadryads (female nature spirits who are believed to inhabit oak trees). Decorate a Pagan altar with acorns and war some oak leaves in your hair. Kiss an oak tree or place a small offering of some kind before it, and the tree nymphs who dwell within it will surely bestow a blessing upon you.

June 2
Shapatu of Ishtar. A Pagan festival dedicated to the goddess Ishtar is celebrated every year on this date. She is the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian deity who presides over love and fertility as well as war. The birth of the god Apollo is also celebrated on this date.

June 3
The Festival of Cataclysmos is celebrated annually on this date on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The seaside ritual consists of prayers for the souls of the departed, traditional water games, and a sacred dance.
In Japan, a Buddhist ritual for young girls is performed annually on this date, and is dedicated to the goddesses Befana, Bona Dea, Kuan Yin, Rumina, and Surabhi.

June 4
Whitsunday, an annual Christian festival marking the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples, is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter (which normally falls on or near this date). However, like most Christian holidays, Whitsunday was at one time a Pagan fertility festival. It was celebrated in Europe with a “heathen feast” that marked the death of the spirit of Winter and the birth of the spirit of Summer.
According to English folklore, if a baby comes into the world on Whitsunday, he or she is destined to commit an act of murder or to be murdered.

June 5
On this date in the year 8498 B.C., the legendary island-continent of Atlantis sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean in a cataclysm believed to have been brought on by the anger of the great god Zeus.
To ensure an abundant harvest, a sacred Corn Dance is held each year at this time at San Ildefonso pueblo in the southwestern United States. It is dedicated to the Earth Mothers and the nature spirits known
as the Rain People.

June 6
On this date (approximately), an annual festival to honor ancestral spirits begins in Nigeria. The festival, which lasts for one week, consists of street dancing, offerings of food and gifts to the Egungun, and ecstatic trance.
In Thrace, an ancient country in the southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, a festival called the Bendidia was held each year on this date. It was dedicated to the lunar goddess Bendi.

June 7
The Vestalia, an annual festival in honor of the hearth goddess Vesta, began on this date in ancient Rome. During the eight-day long festival, the shrine of Vesta was opened to married women. After the festival was over, the shrine was once again forbidden to all except the goddess’ attendant vestal virgins.

June 8
In many Japanese villages, an ancient rice festival is held annually on this date. Women wearing traditional kimonos recite prayers and light rice-straw fires to honor the god of the rice and to bless the crops.
In China, the Grain in Ear festival is celebrated at this time. The grain gods are honored with old rituals to ensure a harvest of plenty.

June 9
On this date in 1892, Grace Cook (a popular spiritualist medium and founder of the White Eagle Lodge) was born in London, England. Her first psychic vision of Indian Chief White Eagle and other Native American spirits occurred early in her childhood. With the aid of her spirit guide, she authored many books on healing and spiritual growth. She believed that after her death (which occurred on September 3, 1979), her spirit would be reincarnated in Egypt.

June 10
On this date in the year 1692, a woman named Bridget Bishop was hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts, after being found guilty of the crime of Witchcraft. She was the first person to be publicly executed in the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

June 11
On this date in 1912, spiritualist-medium Ruth Montgomery was born in Princeton, Indiana. Her interest in the world of the occult began in 1956, when she first began attending seances. She has written numerous bestselling occult books and is famous for her gift of communicating with spirit guides through automatic writing.

June 12

Light gold-colored candles on your altar and wear oak leaves in your hair to honor the Greek god Zeus, who is traditionally honored on this day.
In Korea, rice farmers wash their hair in a stream on this day as part of an annual ritual to dispel bad luck and to ensure an abundant crop. This ritual has taken place since ancient times.

June 13
On this date in the year 1884, Gerald Gardner was born in Lancashire, England. Nicknamed King of the Witches, he went on to become a famous and well-respected Wiccan author and the founder of the Gardnerian tradition of the modern Wicca religion. He died on February 12, 1964.
Irish poet and ceremonial magician William Butler Yeats was also born on this date in the year 1865.

June 14
In ancient Rome, the goddess Minerva (patroness of wisdom and the arts, and a deity of battle) was honored annually on this date at her sacred festival, the Lesser Quinquatrus of Minerva.
In India, this is a day sacred to Jagannath, a benevolent incarnation of the god Vishnu. An annual festival in honor of him is celebrated in the city of Puri on the East Coast of India.

June 15
On this date in the year 1648, Margaret Jones of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was executed in Boston for practicing Witchcraft and magickal healing. This was the first pre-Salem Witch execution to be officially recorded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

June 16
Silver Chalice Day. Every year on this date, Wiccan friends and coven members gather together in a circle to rejoice and share a traditional silver chalice of wine (or fruit juice) consecrated in the names of the Goddess and Her consort, the Horned God. Many Pagan handfastings and Wiccanings are performed by coven priestesses around this time of the month.
On this date in the year 1881, famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau died in her home in New Orleans, Louisiana.

June 17
An annual purification ritual to drive away the evil spirits of the rainy season takes place on this date in Nara, Japan. Lily stalks are blessed by seven white-robed priestesses, and a traditional dance is performed.
Also on this date, Eurydice (a tree nymph who was transformed into an Underworld goddess after dying from a serpent bite) was honored annually in ancient Greece.

June 18
The annual Dragon Boat-Festival (which at one time was a Pagan summer solstice ritual to appease the dragon gods of the rivers) is celebrated on this date in China in honor of the martyred poet, Qu Yuan.
In ancient Rome, the goddess Anna was honored on this day with an annual religious festival.

June 19
The Feast of the Holy Ghost, a weeklong religious festival, begins annually on this date in Brazil.
In ancient Rome, the Day of All Heras was celebrated annually on this date in honor of the Goddess within as well as all wisewomen.

June 20
On this day, Pagans in parts of England celebrate the Day of Cerridwen in honor of the ancient Celtic goddess of fertility. Vervain (the herb most sacred to Cerridwen) is burned in small cauldron pots as an offering to the goddess, green ribbons are tied to trees, and green candles are lit on altars dedicated to her.

June 21
On the first day of Summer (which normally occurs on or near this date), the Summer Solstice Sabbat is celebrated by Wiccans and Witches throughout the world. Summer Solstice (which is also known as Midsummer, Alban hefin, and Litha) marks the longest day of the year when the Sun is at its zenith. In certain Wiccan traditions, the Summer Solstice symbolizes the end of the reign of the waxing year’s Oak-King, who is now replaced by his successor, the Holly-King of the waning year. (The Holly-King will rule until the Winter Solstice.) It is the ideal time for divinations, healing rituals, and the cutting of divining rods and wands.
On Midsummer Day, the people of ancient Russia worshiped the fertility goddess Kupala. To ensure female fertility and abundant crops, she was honored with bonfires, sacrifices of cockarels, and special wreaths that were cast into the rivers.

June 22
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Cancer. Persons born under the sign of the Crab are said to be family and home-oriented, nurturing, sympathetic, and often very moody. Cancer is a water sign and is ruled by the Moon.

June 23
In parts of Ireland and Great Britain, Pagans celebrate an annual festival on this date called the Day of Cu Chulainn. It is dedicated to the legendary Irish folk hero of the same name and to the ancient Pagan fertility god known as the Green Man.
Saint John’s Eve. This night is a traditional time for Witches to gather herbs for spells and love potions, for it is believed that the magickal properties of plants are at their peak on this mystical night.

June 24
On this date, an ancient Egyptian festival known as The Burning of the Lamps is celebrated in Sais,
a city on the Nile delta.
In pre-Christian times, the festival of Fors Fortuna was celebrated annually on this date in the city of Rome to honor and receive favorable blessings from the goddess Fortuana.
A sun-god festival called Inti Raymi was celebrated annually on this date by the ancient Incas of Peru. Llamas were ritually slaughtered and their entrails were used by priests for divining the future.
On this date in the year 1950, Reformed Alexandrian Witch and author Janet Farrar was born in London, England.

June 25
Gay Wiccan Pride Day. This is a time for gay and lesbian Wiccans from around the world to unite and celebrate life, love, and the Goddess. Come out of the proverbial “broom closet” and be proud of who you are!
A centuries-old women’s festival is held in India every year on this date in honor of the goddess Parvati.

June 26
According to ancient Icelandic legend, every year at noon on the date, the tip of the shadow of Mount Scartaris points to the secret entrance of “Centre Earth”, in which dwell giant humanlike creatures and prehistoric monsters.
Salavi, the Spruce Tree Rain God, is honored annually on this day by a Native American corn-ripening ceremony. This day is also sacred to the Corn Mothers and the Kachinis.

June 27
A centuries old Native American Sun Dance ritual is performed annually on this date by many Plains Indian tribes in honor of the Summer Sun. As part of the ceremony, a sacred crow totem is decorated
with black feathers.
On this date in the year 1956, prolific Wiccan author Scott Cunningham was born in Royal Oak, Michigan.

June 28
Every year on this day, the birth of Hemera (the ancient Greek goddess of day) is celebrated. Festivals in her honor begin at sunrise and last until the setting of the sun.
On this day in the year 1916, Reformed Alexandrian Witch and author Stewart Farrar was born in Highams Park, Essex, England.

June 29
On this date in Appleton, England, the boughs of a large and very old hawthorn tree are decorated with flowers, flags, and ribbons as part of a centuries-old Pagan tree-worship ritual known as Bawming the Thorn.
This is a sacred day to Papa Legba, a powerful loa in the Voodoo religion. Originally a Dahomean sun god, Papa Legba is worshipped as the spirit-master of pathways and crossroads, and is the most important deity of the Vodoun pantheon.

June 30
Day of Aestas. The ancient Roman corn-goddess of Summer is honored each year on this sacred day. Corn bread is traditionally served at Wiccan gatherings.
This day is sacred to the Pagan and Native American goddesses Ceres, Changing Woman, Chicomecoatl, the Corn Mothers, Demeter, Gaia, Ge, Hestia, Iatiku, Oraea, Pachamama, Spider Woman, and Tonantzin.

Goddess Cards

June, 2009

The Goddess of Summer Solstice

the-goddess-pp

People from every culture and era have held spiritual and religious celebrations in June! Most are holy days, linked to the Summer Solstice. Officially, it’s the first day of summer. On this day, literally, the sun appears to stand still as it reaches the zenith of its climb through Heaven. From this day forward, it will slowly descend, the days growing shorter as we move toward winter.

The Pagan Community celebrates Litha, the Summer Solstice, on June 21st. It‘s the longest day of the Pagan year, halfway between Beltane on May 1st, and Lughnasadh on August 1st. At this sacred and fruitful time, the Oak King, or Green Man, who presides over the first part of summer, is succeeded by the Holly King, or Horned God, who carries us forward toward Fall and Harvest. Both are seasonal gods, lovers and royal consorts of the Goddess. They provide for her and for her children: the Green Man, with the fruits of agriculture, and the Horned God, by his skills as a hunter.  The images I’ve painted of both gods depict them at the peak of their powers, instead of as an aging or youthful deity who is just beginning, or ending, his reign.

herne-green-man-copy

For me, however, the Solstice is all about the Goddess! Here, she’s shown as pregnant with the Sun God, to whom she’ll give birth at Yule.  Surrounded by the tropical lushness of summer, she’s the essence of fertility and abundance. A summer sun rides high above, warming her and the god she carries with its healing rays. Fruitful, feminine and maternal, she proudly cradles her belly, nourished by her understanding of the vital role she plays in Creation.

With all Nature in a riot of fertility at this time of year, it’s not surprising that June has long been the traditional month for weddings.  The ancients believed that the “great union” of the God and Goddess happened at Beltane in early May. Unwilling to trespass on the rites of deities, many couples delayed their weddings until the following month.

The word “honeymoon,” describing the joyous period when they went off together to savor their marriage, came from the first full moon in June ~ called the Honey Moon. Our ancestors believed this was the best time to harvest honey from the hives, hence the name. Newlywed couples were also fed food and drinks flavored with honey for the first month of their marriage, to increase love and fertility.

June is a magical month. Rejoice in the fertility of the goddess and her consorts, as seen at Summer Solstice.  Enjoy Earth’s abundance that she brings into being. Celebrate it in your own life!  Now is the time of milk and honey, long, sleepy days, and scented nights.


Anne Baird, Designer/Owner of GODDESS CARDS, is a self-taught artist who has been painting and writing since childhood. Her chosen media for her unique line of greeting cards is watercolor, with touches of gouache, ink and colored pencil.

Her GODDESS CARD line grew from a birthday card she created for her daughter, Amanda, in 2001. Amanda was disheartened at being a curvaceous beauty in the Land of Thin. (Los Angeles.) That seminal card declaring, “You’re a GODDESS, not a nymph!” evolved into a long line of love notes and affirmations for ALL women. At over 125 cards, the line is steadily growing.

Anne is inspired by the archetypal Legendary Goddesses, who have so much to teach today’s women. Her greatest inspiration however, comes from the Goddesses of Today, who write her with wonderful suggestions and thoughts that expand her consciousness and card line.

She is launching an E-Goddess Card website soon, where the Goddess on the Go can send Goddess “e-cards”, enriched with music and stories, at the click of a mouse. (A virtual mouse.)

Oracles & Omens

June, 2009

Dreams Part IV
Helping the Dream

To wrap up the series on dreams I thought I would share some of ways to making divination through dreams more powerful and provide the clearest results.  Often times my most creative inspirations and thoughts come to me during the “twilight” stage. (no, not the vampire movie)  You know when you’re feeling yourself drift off to sleep, but technically you are still awake.  This is the time when crazy solutions seem reasonable and the worries of the day dance softly to the back of your mind.  I often meditate for story ideas, answers to questions or signs on which direction I should take.  When I am in between dreaming and alertness is the time that I often receive the answers to my specific queries. There are many ways to help yourself achieve these answers, most of them are fairly simple.  One of the most common ways is to use lavender.
Lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means to wash. This plant most likely earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit.  This theory is also very true when it comes to purifying your dreams.  When using lavender in dream divination the dreams tend to be crisper and easier to interpret.  If you’re not big on spell bags or intricate details, you can simply sprinkle some lavender essential oil onto a tissue or handkerchief and tuck it between your pillow case and your pillow or burn a lavender scented candle, being sure to extinguish it before you drift off to sleep.  If you are looking to really pull the benefits from the lavender for divination purposes, here are some wonderfully wicked ideas.

Lavender Sleep Spell: Use a charm bag (preferably purple, but any color that fits you will do).  Add the following dried plants: lavender, white sage, mugwort and chamomile.  Add the following gemstones: blood stone, rose quartz, tiger’s eye.  Tie up with a long purple ribbon (again, color choice is yours).  Lie down where you sleep, placing the charm bag on your stomach area while repeating the following chant: “The purity of light – Guide the way to prophetic sleep – Hence may I be known – For the knowledge that I keep. When the timing feels right, move the charm bag to beneath your pillow, or in the pillow case and sleep with it for three nights; by the third night, the answer you are looking for will come to you in your dreams.  This is another example of why it is good to keep a journal nearby your sleeping space, you don’t want your answer to slip away from you.

Lavender Pulse Oil: By mixing five drops of lavender with 20ml of carrier oil (such as almond) you can make a wonderful pulse oil that will help you to relax and drift off to slumber, thus giving you the answers you are seeking.  The lavender will continue to work as you sleep by relieving the stress from your mind and allowing you to focus on the question.

Lavender Sleepy Tea: With a tea infuser, or in a saucepan combine 1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried lavender, 2 tbsp drint mint (peppermint works nicely), 1 cup boiling water.  Pour the water over the lavender/mint mixture and steep for 3-5 minutes.  As you sip at the tea focus on what your divination topic is that night.  Imagine the tea releasing its magical elements as you swallow it.  Feel it working its way through your body, to each of your limbs, and finally swirling up to your mind.  Feel the tea release the answers you are searching for.  It is even said that if you leave a few of the lavender/mint blend leafs in the bottom of the cup that the answer will come in the form of a design.

Again, lavender is only one of many, many herbs that can be used to induce dream divination.  If you find that another works better for you, it can be easily substituted for any of the recipes above.  Do what works for you, your dreams are yours to explore!

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