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Me,Myself and I, Notes from a Solitary Practitioner

December 1st, 2011

The children of the Craft of the Wise

Look greatly forward to this day

When the time is nigh for this beloved Sabbat

We know the light is on it’s way

Through this longest night we celebrate

Knowing now the light will grow

And the joy that every spirit feels

Proves that the heart does also know

As the sun goes down

And the Yule logs burn

Our loved ones gathered round

And even Earth’s creatures participate

As they do not make a sound

When the fires cold and the night grows short

This sacred time comes to a close

And the flames, and joy that come at Yule

In each person’s heart now glows.

Since the Sun is also considered helpful in workings of prosperity, during the burning of the log provides an opportunity to work some prosperity magic as well.  One way of doing this is to take a square of cloth or paper and lay it out flat.  Add one or more herb’s for prosperity such as cinquefoil, clove, or patchouli.  You can add a written request before drawing up the corners and tying it into a bundle to be burned in the fire, or you can speak your desire as the bundle burns, but either way I have found this to be a successful added bonus to the Yule fire.  I hope all of you have a Blessed Yule and a Merry Christmas!

Northern Star Rite

As we approach the Yule season, we are reminded that although we have been in the dark half of the season, we will always return to the light. The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the return of the sun. Our days will continue to grow longer, and our nights will become shorter. It is a time of quiet reflection, but also joyous celebrations of winter.

This rite is in honor of the North Star that brightens the winter night and offers its power of guidance to all that accept it. The North Star can be found in many traditional stories of the winter holiday season, so this rite may be a comforting childhood reminder of the power of the brightest star in the night sky.

Gather with friends to perform this ritual on an evening before the Winter Solstice. This rite is written as if it would be too cold to perform outside, like it is here in Maine in December! However, you can certainly do all of this ritual outdoors as weather permits.
Disclaimer

Please use caution when burning candles and incense. Never leave candles or incense unattended or in the reach of small children or curious pets. Also, please use caution when handling ritual blades and burning candles. Inform participants ahead of time about the use of incense, and check on possible food allergy issues.

Supplies
Black altar cloth
Small bowl of water
Small bowl of salt
Incense burner with trivet
Charcoal tablet
Loose pinon pine resin
Feather
Athame or ritual blade
Chalice of milk
Plate of star-shaped cookies
One white taper candle in holder
Two red and white striped candles in holders
Several tea lights in holders
Matches
Markers
Thin ribbon and scissors
Gentle, instrumental music
Basket of wooden cut-outs of stars with holes pre-drilled for a hanging ribbon
Altar set-up

Spread out the black altar cloth on the altar. Place the white taper candle in its holder on the center of the altar. Place the bowl of salt (representing earth) to the left of the white candle and the bowl of water (representing water) on the right of the white candle.

Add the incense burner to the left side of the altar and place an unlit charcoal tablet on it (representing fire). Make sure to place the incense burner on a trivet to prevent heat damage to your altar. Have the pinon pine resin (representing air) handy nearby.

Also add the ritual blade to the left side of the altar. Place the chalice of water to the right side of the altar, along with the feather. Have the plate of cookies somewhere on the altar if there is room.

Place one of the red and white striped candles on either side of the altar. These candles represent the God (left) and the Goddess (right).

Place the tea lights in their holders and place them safely around the room. Use enough so you can turn off all the electric lights and still see and safely maneuver around the ritual space.  The tea lights represent the twinkling, starry sky. Light the tea lights right before you are ready to begin.

Rite

Lead the group in a grounding and centering breath exercise.

Sprinkle some of the salt into the bowl of water, and stir three times with your ritual blade or athame.

Light the charcoal tablet and place on the incense burner. Wait until the tablet is smoking, and then add a small amount of the loose incense on to it.

Have the first participant to volunteer approach you at the altar. Dip your finger into the water and draw the shape of a star on the forehead of the participant.  Then use the feather to move the incense smoke in their direction. Repeat with all participants (ending with yourself) while repeating:

Charcoal lit and incense burn

Salt and water stirred in turn

Earth, water, fire and air

Blessed in the name of the sacred pair

Once everyone has been cleansed and blessed, join together around the altar and take each other’s hand. Cast the circle by saying together:

Hand to hand, this circle is cast

Be us not in the now

Yet not in the past

From above and below

To dare and to know

Within and without

To whisper, to shout

As the Gods will it

So mote it be

Take a moment to enjoy the energy flowing between you all, and then release your hands.

You can call the four elemental quarters here if you like, but it is not necessary.

Light the Goddess candle (striped candle on the right side of the altar) and invoke the Goddess with spontaneous words.

Light the God candle (striped candle on the left side of the altar) and invoke the God with spontaneous words.
Drawing in the Star Power

Participants should find a comfortable spot to sit or lay down. Start playing the meditation music.  Add more incense to the charcoal, if desired.

Lead the participants through a meditation. Have them imagine themselves standing in a snowy, flat landscape, where are compelled to gaze at the magnificent, clear night sky. The sky is full of beautiful, sparkling stars, yet one stars stands out from the rest. This is the North Star. Spend some time developing the scene for the participants. Don’t rush things. Let the description naturally come to your mind’s eye and then describe it out loud to the group. When you’ve reached a full description, ask them to open their eyes.

Pass around a basket of thin wooden cut-outs of stars and encourage everyone to take one.  Then, pass around some markers.

Now, ask them to imagine themselves back at the landscape again. This time, they should imagine reaching out their hands and drawing the energy gently down from the North Star and into themselves.  Explain to them that the North Star’s energy is a guiding energy. Ask them to think about where they need guidance in their life.

Allow several minutes of time to pass, before asking them to open their eyes again and hold their stars. Ask them to write down on the wooden stars what they would like guidance on. When everyone is ready, have everyone gather around the altar, and light the middle white taper candle on the altar.  Ask everyone to hold their star between the palms of their hands, while reciting together:

Brightest star of the dark, night sky,

And kin to the sun in the daylight hour,

We reach out to you from on high,
And wish to honor your power.

Finding that within and that without,
Which guides our hearts and minds,
We follow you without any doubt,
Beyond the realm of places and times.

We take your strength within ourselves,
Hold fast to your rays of light,

Where our spirit and hope truly dwells,
With the sincerity of new sight.

We look upon your shining glow,
In need of wisdom, a path we seek
Please help us go, we must know,

At this night hour of your peak.

So mote it be!

Invite participants to come up to the altar, one-by-one and share with the group about how they plan on using their star energy to guide them. You can seal their star tokens by dripping a few drops of wax from the white taper candle onto the tokens and leaving them on the altar to dry. Be careful not to get any candle wax on yourself or the participant.

Allow the tokens to dry before moving them again. Invite the participants to tie a red ribbon on the star for hanging in a Northern-facing window at home.

When everyone is ready, pick up the chalice of milk and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We drink to the Gods, fair and true.
We drink to our kin, those we know and knew.
We drink to the evening sky and the stars so bright.
We drink to the slumbering earth and the cold, dark night.

We drink to honor the moment and times past.

We drink to change the future and help our magick last.

Blessed be!

Pass the chalice around the room and enjoy! Pour the remainder on the ground outside later.

Pick up the plate of cookies and hold it out in front of you, saying:

We partake in the honor our constant companion, the North Star.

Pass the plate around the room and enjoy! Toss the remaining food on the ground outside later.

Give thanks to the God and Goddess in any way you see fit.

Dismiss the four elemental quarters, if you called them.

When you are ready, gather around the altar once more and take each other’s hands, saying:

Hand to hand, this circle is broken.

Let us return to the now,
As our magick has been spoken.
Let us find harmony in the work we’ve done,
With greater good and harming none.

So mote it be!

Floralia: Beltane Renewal Spell with the Goddess Flora

When thinking of Beltane, we usually think of the practices from northern Europe, but we can actually trace some of the roots to ancient Roman Paganism.

The Romans honored many gods and goddesses, but during the Spring months, from the end of April to early May, the goddess Flora was celebrated with the flower festival Floralia.  Flora, the goddess of flowers, was the consort of Zephyrus and her major festival, Floralia, was associated with the dead as well as having strong sexual overtones.

She was mainly worshiped by young girls who would giver her offerings of fruit and flowers and drape her statues with garlands which were carried in a procession of singers and dancers to a flower-covered tree, the predecessor of the Maypole.  These practices were among many to be spread to other cultures after they were conquered by the Romans.

The Spell

This is a simple spell to help you tap into the renewing energies of Spring.  This is the perfect time to do some “Spring cleaning”, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or all three.  Take an inventory of the things that should remain with the dead of winter and toss them out, either physically (like cleaning out your closet) or symbolically (clearing out the cobwebs of your life).  What you have left, the important things that you wish to cultivate and harvest this year, plant like seeds now.  Also, make sure to remain open to all opportunities that come your way to help make you dreams come to fruition.

Supplies:

·        offering to Flora (fruit, flowers or some other form of offering)

·        pen and paper

You may begin by creating sacred space or casting a circle, whichever works better for you is fine.  If you have a statue or a picture of Flora, it would be nice to drape it with a garland (a flower Lei would work for this).  If you would like, you and also burn a floral incense or light flower-shaped candles.  When you feel you are ready, call to Flora:

“Flora, goddess of flowers and Spring,

Whose worshippers would dance and sing;

I call to You this fist of May,

To renew my life on this Spring day.”

Make a list of the things that you wish to leave behind, the things that you wish to leave in the dead of winter to be recycled by Mother Earth and transformed into something new.  If you need to, take the time to make notes as to how to remove these bad habits form your life.  When done, say:

“I leave my past behind, it’s dead and buried,

Gone are the days all crazy and harried.

I open myself to life anew

And I do it with the aid of You.”

Now, make a list of the things that you wish to plant like seeds, the things that you wish to grow and harvest this year.  Take the time to “check off” each thought-seed on your list, see in your minds-eye it growing to fruition.  If you feel so inclined, Meditate and ask Flora for Her guidance and wisdom.  Place your offering upon the altar and say:

“Please guide my path, show me the way.

I open new doors each and every day.

In return I give these offerings to You,

My thanks for aiding me in what I do.”

In your own words, say thanks to Flora.  Leave the offerings until morning.  Keep checking in on your lists, taking the proper steps to grow your seeds!

Sources:

·        Beltane by Raven Grimassi

·        Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan

Pathways Rite

A solitary ritual to clarify your path ahead.

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Supplies

Table salt

Pepper

A small bowl

Matches

One black votive candle and holder

One white votive candle and holder

One candle and holder to represent the God

One candle and holder to represent the Goddess

Small plate with deep edges

Offering bowl

Small bowl of extra virgin olive oil

A large piece of hardy bread on a plate

Chalice with beverage
Rite

Sit down in a comfortable position and ground yourself in your own traditional way.

When you are ready, stand up and cast a sacred circle and call forth the Elementals in your own traditional way.

When you are ready, invoke the God and Goddess and welcome them to your circle.  Light the God and Goddess candles on your altar.

Place the deep-sided plate in front of you, and pour the table salt into it, so that it nearly fills the entire depth of the plate.

Smooth out the surface of the salt with your fingers, while repeating:

Salt of the earth,

You are of me and I am of you.

We are one, sacred and true.

With your pointer finger, slowly trace a spiral into the flat surface of the salt, leaving a deep trail in the salt as you start at the center of the plate of salt and work your way out. As you are doing this, think of the direction you want to take in your life. What are the things that you want to accomplish? What are your goals?

When you are done, gently pour some pepper into a separate, small bowl. Take a pinch of pepper between your index finger and thumb, and think about where you are in your life at this very moment. Gently sprinkle the pepper onto the center point of the spiral. Say:

I am at the center of this moment,

but I have a path before me.

Take another pinch of pepper, and begin sprinkling it along the path of the spiral. Continue this until you have added pepper to the entire spiral (see photo).

Light the white votive candle, and repeat:

Walking on pathways sacred and true,

Walking along, journey’s not through.

Left turns and right turns and circling back,

Finding my way on this unique track.

Beneath me is earth, above me is sky

To my left and my right, other’s stumbling by.

Doubt is present, and fear passes through,

Yet I’ll find my way, because my compass is you.

Breath on my lips, earth under my feet

Fire in my belly, and water tastes so sweet.

Guided by the Gods, my paths become clear,

As I follow my own way, the choices draw near.

Light the black votive candle and say:

The paths are before me, laid by the Gods,

Yet my steps are my own, and I make my own odds.

The spice of my life, choosing one way or the next,

Make me who I am, beautiful and complex.

Take some time to commune with the God and Goddess, asking them any question you might have about your road ahead.

When you are ready, sprinkle some salt and pepper into the olive oil. Tear off a piece of the bead and dip it into the oil, then present this, your offering, to the God and Goddess, placing it in the offering bowl. Raise you chalice in honor the the God and Goddess and then pour some of the beverage into the offering bowl. Partake of the remains of the offering yourself, as you wish.

Thanks the God and Goddess and bid them farewell. Thank the Elementals and let them take their leave.  Open the magick circle. This rite is complete.

First I would like to say Merry Meet to you all and ask how your summer has been so far. Secondly I would like to ask you all to help me out a bit. I would like to write these columns about the things YOU want. So please e-mail me at [email protected]
with your ideas and desires for the Hearthbeats notes and recipes columns…

Now as I would like to share a poem with you. It was shared with me years ago and often I remember it when I feel like a crackpot… hopefully it will help you as well and as often

Blessings

Some wise words from the Kitchen Witch

An elderly Witch had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her shoulders. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the witch bringing home only one and a half pots of water.. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the witch one day by the stream.’ I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.’ The old witch smiled, ‘Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?’

‘That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower and herb seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them’.

‘For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers and herbs to decorate the table and cook with. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house and feed us.’

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. SO, to all of my crackpot friends and family, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Life is short, Break the rules, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably and Dance often.

Never regret anything that made you smile. And remember that being a Crackpot is a good thing!!!

This poem was given to me years ago, I do not know who wrote it nor have I been able to find out. But I did modify it from its original form to be “witchy” rather than what it was.

If anyone lays claim to it or know who wrote the original let me know and I will give credit to them.

Until next time

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

Making Positive Changes with Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom

December 16th is set aside on the Greco-Roman calendar for the goddesses Sophia and Sapientia.  You may notice the word “sapiens” in the name Sapientia, as this is the Roman Latin word for “wisdom”.  This is why we humans are called “Homo Sapiens”.

But the Romans “stole” this goddess from the Greeks, and to them she was called Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom.  This Greek principle was actually adopted by the Gnostic Christians and she was the primordial female force in the cosmos.  She was sometimes called Pistis Sophia because Sophia descended from the “goddess” Pistis (which means “faith”) who was one of the rulers before the cosmos was even created.  Because of her Christian “roots”, Sophia was widely worshipped during this time of early Christian influence.

According to the Gnostic Christian writers of the time, who were a blend of Judaic, ancient near-Eastern and Greek philosophies, Sophia is described as a primeval element of light.  She as Pistis was one of the Archons (“rulers”), the primordial celestial deities of the universe and the creators of mankind.  In the war between light and dark, Pistis Sophia was the challenger to the primordial “shadow” that became chaos.  She also acts as a mediator between the immortal Archons and humans, or “Homo Sapiens”.

THE SPELL

This is the time of year when we look forward to the Mid-Winter Solstice.  Even though it is the shortest day and longest night, we know that every day after will bring more and more light as we approach the warmth of Spring.  One week after the Mid-Winter Solstice we plan to celebrate the time of Janus, where the month of January gets its name, the time of looking ahead and making resolutions and looking back and analyzing what lessons we have learned over the past year.

You can use the power of Sophia to bring back the light in your life, to make wise decisions and to set goals for the coming year.  For this spell, you only need a candle (color of your choice, white is ideal), a pen, a piece of paper, a calendar and your will to take control of your future.

Gather these items and call to Sophia:

“At this time of the waning light,

Awaiting the rebirth of the sun;

I call to the primeval element of light,

Pistis Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom.”

Light the candle and say:

“I light this candle in honor of You,

To attune with your brilliance.

In this coming year of new,

Please guide my pans with intelligence.”

Now get out your pen and paper.

Look over the past year and ask yourself what lessons you learned (“mistakes” are learning experiences after all!) and what changes you need to make so that the coming year runs more smoothly.  Brainstorm and make a list of goals that you would like to achieve for yourself.  Next, figure out what you need to do to accomplish those goals.  Now, put these items in order of importance.  Spread them out over the span of the entire year if you need to.  Don’t try to makeover your entire life in a couple of weeks.  Be honest with yourself and take baby steps if you have a lot to get done.  “One thing at a time” as they say.

Then, get out your calendar for next year.  Write in brightly colored marker when you will tackle each thing on your list.  When working on things that you wish to attract to you, place these things on the parts of the calendar where the moon is waxing.  Conversely, when working on things to rid from your life, place these “to-do’s” at the time of the Waning Moon.  It’s also a good idea to not make any plans during the time of Mercury Retrograde or when the moon is Void-of-Course as you may get frustrated because these plans will likely not get off the ground.  Again, spread your work out and allow yourself plenty of time to get it all done.  Slow and steady is just fine.

Whew!  That was a lot of work, but, you didn’t do it alone, you had the help of a goddess.  Make sure to giver Sophia your thanks.

“Pistis Sophia, my thanks to You,

For guiding this work I do.

For the good of all and harm to none,

So say I, so shall it be done!”

The next step is to tap into the faith aspect of Pistis Sophia.  You have to have faith in yourself that you will make these positive changes.  Keep in mind that others may not have the same faith in you as you have in yourself, so you may want to keep this your little secret.  Their negative “jabs” may just get you to quit, so don’t give them the opportunity!  Just keep plugging away, and you’ll get your “to-do” list crossed off in no time.  If you feel like something on your list is too tough, simply light a candle and call to Sophia to help you puzzle it out.  Also, to keep the faith, support your physical actions with visualization ad affirmations.  If things don’t play out as you have planned, that’s OK, just reformulate your plan and keep at it.  Don’t ever give up on yourself!

Sources:

Yule:  A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison

Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan

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