June, 2013

Merry Meet

June, 2013

 

Welcome to the June Issue of PaganPages

***

This month Features your Old Favorite Columns, Your New Favorite Columns, and New Columns we Promise will Become Favorites!

Check out our New columns:

 

Connecting with Nature
Musings from a Hereditary Witch
art and mystery
Nelland Living
The Neon Pagan
Signposts
A Year and a Day
Seeing the Signs
Tink About it
Seed, Root & Stem
Bare Feet on an Earth Path

Also find all your Litha correspondences

***

Interested in writing?  Pitch us a column.  Email admin@paganpages.org

Do you write your own Spells and Rituals?  Would you like to share them?  We are looking for Spells and Ritual Columnists.

We are currently looking for a columnist to review blogs, sites, podcasts, etc…  If you are interested email admin@paganpages.org

***

Check out our newest creations in our Etsy Shop

***

Have a Blessed Holiday and Happy Reading!

Bare Feet on an Earth Path

June, 2013

I came to paganism, like many of us, by way of books. They intrigued me, and once I got my nose into them, one led to another, which led to another. Many of these books were written by brave, public pagan figures who had recorded their knowledge so that I, an inheritor of that knowledge, could follow their bread crumb trail on a journey of my own.

 

The very first books I plucked off of the bookstore shelves and brought home with me were introductory Wiccan books. They did their best to describe just what Wiccans are and what they do, saying that “Wiccans believe this” and “Pagans do that.”

 

Not knowing much about Wiccans or pagans, I assumed the things I read must be true. This was a stumbling block for me, as doubts like the ones I’d experienced in my conservative Christian days began to eat at me.  I don’t know if I can be Wiccan, I thought, because I don’t know how I feel about this thing that this book says you have to believe to be Wiccan.  Time passed, and my interest in paganism fluctuated, with more books coming and going.

 

More books meant more opinions, and I began to sneak a glimpse into the true plurality of paganism.  I ventured out to a local pagan pride event, not yet sure if I was pagan or proud, and talked to real pagans. But I had no idea of the magnitude of the pagan community until my discovery of the pagan blogosphere. I found that pagan bloggers discussed issues, both theological and societal, and in the process, constantly bounced ideas back and forth, referring to one another’s posts.

 

Did you see this post of Harry’s? I totally agree with Harry, and here’s why! Or, rather, Did you see that poppycock dribble Harry posted the other day? That Harry is batshit insane!  (Maybe without so much name-calling, but it adds color, I think.)  When an issue came up in the pagan blogosphere, it whirled through a multitude of blogs, being critiqued up, down, and back again, with everyone seeming to throw in their two cents.

 

Some of the bloggers I read seemed to be important, respected people in the pagan community. Credentialed pagans. You know, the “I’ve been a contributing member of the pagan community for 35 years, and have 4 published books and three third degree titles to prove it” pagans. Those things are great and all, but I was most definitely not credentialed.  I wasn’t even experienced.  Hell, I ‘d just decided I was pagan!  But the armchair theologian in me wanted to get involved, and so I did.  As I spent more time in this community of sorts, reading and beginning to find my voice, I realized what a great plurality of beliefs and practices are present within paganism.  More importantly, I learned that there was a lot of disagreement.  This was amazingly freeing. If all these people disagreed with each other, then I could disagree with them, too, and still be pagan.

 

Paganism has been called a “big tent” by some, meaning that it encompasses a broad variety of paths and contains a diversity of ways of seeing and doing things. The size of that umbrella is what made room for me. In paganism, I have found a freedom I never knew before: a freedom that allows me to grow and change without fear of growing out of my religion. I can lie on the soft earth with the wind ruffling my hair and look up at the trees, knowing that however my perceptions shift and change, the earth and the wind and the trees will still be here. This peace and spark of life will still be here. Paganism will still be here. And I will still be pagan.

Art+Nature=Magic

June, 2013

I wake up slowly on the second day of a writer’s retreat in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.  The morning is cool, the air gray and hazy.  Unzipping my tent, I’m surrounded by green.   Moss-covered trees flank rolling hills just beyond a forest where coyotes, mountain lions and wolves hunt in freedom.  In the clearing, I see that dandelion flowers have gone to seed, overnight changing from sun-yellow to moon-white to form hundreds of pale spheres.  Painted in the morning mist, they look like spirit flowers.

My dreams from the night before were of water.  “Distill” was the word that came.  The story that I’m writing is dense and layered with too many characters.  The dream tells me that I need to get to the heart of it.  In order for the story to live, I need to become quiet.  I want to be filled with gratitude and little else for awhile, and so I go to my teachers, the plants.

I’m drawn to one of my most beloved medicine plants, Alchemilla, also known as Lady’s Mantle, the shawl the Green Woman wraps around her shoulders as she walks at sunrise.  Drops of water coalesce around the ruffled edges of this silver-green plant, catching the moisture from the pregnant air, dozens of tiny globes refracting the weak morning sunlight.

My grandmother, a Welsh witch, poet, and herbalist taught me that women who wash their faces in this liquid at dawn stay beautiful forever.  Her memorial service was packed to standing-room with male admirers.  And so I dutifully press my sleepy face to the furry wet leaves each morning.

Alchemilla can also save your life.  Tincture of Alchemilla will staunch bleeding in childbirth or with menstrual hemorrhaging.  Its astringent and skin healing qualities will staunch any wound.

As the name implies, Alchemilla has long been used in magic.  The plant has many secrets.  Today I will ask it to share some of them with me.

The air here is full of birdsong: chickadee and robin, Western jay, red-winged blackbird and swallow, all high in the towering cedar trees above me.

The ground is wet and little cold, but I know it’s best to go barefoot when listening to the plants, and so I take off my Wellies to walk to the bottom of a rock garden behind the main lodge where Alchemilla has become quite at home.

After introductions, letting the plant know my name and intention, I give Alchemilla an offering of my breath, breathing from my belly and imagining the energy of my spirit flowing out to meet her.  I look at myself inside the tiny orbs of water dotting her toothed edges.  I look like an eyeball.  I am tears outside of time, not flowing but hovering, reflecting all of the lush green beauty around me.

“Yes, “ Alchemilla says, “I can teach you to be gratitude, rather than just to have it. “

I have become quiet enough, sitting here in the wet grass, for a robin to come close, hopping hungrily after his morning worms.  For a time I’m blissfully empty, like a cup, like a vessel, like the Alchemilla plant that catches the wondrous morning dew.  This state is necessary for creativity, and later I reap the benefits with a burst of inspiration.

I think about this state of being in terms of physical pregnancy as well as that of ideas.  Alchemilla, when taken regularly internally, typically in the form of a tincture, helps to balance women’s hormones. In this way it is a fertility plant as well as a help with PMS and menopausal symptoms.

Alchemilla holds mysteries that cannot be written down in prose.  They must be sung or danced.  But I can say that they have to do with a state of being that anyone, male or female, young or seasoned elder, can attain and revel in… that state of catching what falls, of being open, of being in gratitude for beauty and possibilities.

Alchemillia is truly a goddesses’ chalice.  May you find her and glimpse yourself within.

 

**The magical retreat place is called Mosswood Hollow, the wonderful writer’s retreat was Robert Moss’ Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming, both of which I highly recommend.

Ask Your Mama

June, 2013

Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

                 *Ask Your Mama™               

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Spirituality and Didn’t Know Who to Ask™

by

©Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

A Question of Connection

 

Dear Mama Donna,

 

It’s so important that we all work together in cooperation.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that we’re all connected.

They live their lives thinking they’re completely separate. So how do we get everyone to realize that we are a whole?

 

Looking for Unity in Ashville

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.

      -Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Dear Looking,

Well, that IS the question. Basically, we keep talking. To everyone we know and everyone we encounter in the normal course of our lives. We take every opportunity to keep pointing out our connections and our mutual interdependence.

 

Just by virtue of your having written this letter, you have touched who knows how many people. Granted, most people who will be reading this already understand the complex web of life and relationship. However, we all need reminding from time to time. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

 

Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads…our actions run as causes and return

to us as results.

—Herman Melville

 

We also need to make it our business to point out the frightening ramifications of breaking the bonds that bind us, and to suggest positive alternatives to destructive or divisive behavior. It is especially important to talk with people who you think might relate to these ideas. You never know.

 

When I was in Florida recently, I asked a retired gentleman, a refugee from the north, just why there were no solar panels anywhere with all the new development going on. And you know what? He agreed with me. While this is something that he never noticed or thought about before, it immediately struck him as true and important. And then he, too, wanted to know why not. Hey, maybe he’ll write a letter to the editor.

 

Lately, when I buy stamps at the post office, I refuse the flag ones that they are always trying to palm off on me instead of the pretty flowers and such. Each time, I announce in a loud voice, “No thank you. I refuse to fly the flag until this war is over.” And it never fails to elicit a chorus of “Uh huhs” from the folks on line and an “I hear you, sister” from the clerk.

 

These are very small gestures. Tiny. Miniscule. But they serve as cause for thought and invitations for interaction. Each one, one more strand woven into the web that reaches around the world and connects us all at our cosmic center.

Keep looking. Unity is already here, everywhere, all the time. And unity creates more unity. Let us celebrate it every chance we get.

 

xxMama Donna

 

No one can deny that a network (a world network)

of economic and psychic affiliations is being woven

at ever increasing speed which envelops and constantly penetrates more deeply within each of us. With every day that passes it becomes a little more impossible for us to act or think otherwise than collectively.”

 

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

            From The Formation of the Noosphere, 1947

Dear Mama Donna,

 

I applaud your call to others to make connections and make friends. There are so many of us wanting the same things and it’s a matter of simply being aware of each other’s presence. We need to introduce ourselves and share where we come from. May I recommend a website to visit? www.vov.com. If that’s not correct, please look up Victory Over Violence on the internet. This program renews the practice of peace in everyday situations. It is non-sectarian but based in Buddhist principles. We need this interfaith-interaction now more than ever.

For Peace, Rhode Island

 

Dear Peace,

 

You are right. We do need programs of all descriptions that facilitate cooperation, understanding, compassion, and community. Thanks for sharing this information.

 

Also, for peace,

 

xxMama Donna

A person who believes…that there is a whole of which one is part, and that in being a part, one is whole: such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God.  Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it.

-Ursula K.  LeGuin

*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. *Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com

Book Review: The Spellcasting Picture Book

June, 2013

The Spellcasting Picture Book

By Diana Rajchel

© 2008, 2011 Diana Rajchel

48 pages

electronic book available at http://www.dianarajchel.com

The Spellcasting Picture Book’s full title is The Spellcasting Picture Book: Visual tools for grown-ups. At first glance it does appear to be a children’s picture book and not a book for adults. Further investigation reveals this to be a fun and inventive book. The book is full of fun colorful pictures with directions or spells. The artwork is done primarily in crayon and inspires the reader to take the whole further with their own fun with crayons and spells. The author does state the spells are designed for the reader to figure some of it out for themselves. This is due to a belief that only the reader can define what does or does not work for them and design the appropriate follow up.  

 

The book covers a wide range of topics including grounding, centering, home protection, exorcism, Hecate and ghosts, dreams, spirit, hand of glory, signs and seals and much, much more. Each topic is presented with a colorful background as well as the words of the spell.

 

The first time I went through this electronic book I just enjoyed the drawings. They are all fun and creative, making me want to grab a box of crayons and see what I could create. Successive readings showed the depth of the material in the crafting of the spells.

 

This book is not for everyone. For those who love something different and creative it is a joy to read and may inspire others to try their hand at this creative art form.

 

The book can be obtained through the author’s website.

Stones Corner

June, 2013

Hornblend

Hornblend is the ambassador or mediator of crystals promoting the manifestation of brotherhood through allowance and acceptance of differences rather than through enforcement of pseudo-like-mindedness.  It tends to promote the expression of personal qualities thereby showing individual uniqueness.  It is a mineral capable of reducing the emotional static of tension and conflict between parties attempting to reach agreement on an issue.  It helps individuals to reach clarity on what they perceive as their vested interests and to accept compromise so that both parties can achieve resolution.  Hornblend contains aspects of grounding and is a highly stable interactor with other minerals and humans.

 

 

 

 

Iolite

(Cordierite) Clear bluish-lavender.  Opens a light pathway from Throat CTR up through crown.  Truth, simplicity, imagery, peace.  Living at higher awareness level.  Alcohol/addiction detoxificator.  Sobriety stone.  A newer stone recently more available.  Opener of the head region, from the throat to the two chakras above the crown.  It is a discernment stone, drawing on “other” senses, bringing a true/false reading to the heart level.  Acts on the 6th Chakra.

 

 

 

 

Iron Sulfide Included Crystal (Churgar)

This is an excellent mineral for internal warming.  Can transmit warmth to frostbitten extremities from the inside out so the body’s natural abilities to heal are allowed to occur.  For frostbite, the crystal is held in the palm with the thumb and the fingers placed near the injured parts.  Headache due to sunstroke is alleviated, and heat prostration can be avoided altogether by wearing this crystal.  This is a healing tool specifically and is not meant to be worn as ornament as it has a tremendous impact on the internal homeostatic system.

Moon Owl Observations

June, 2013

Evocation

          Evocation has two different meanings today. If you have a ceremonial background than you would believe that Evocation is the summoning of a spirit or deity into a magic triangle that is outside of the ritual circle. The other meaning is that one evokes positive energy from within themselves, and this is typically done within the circle.

The Evocation of a spirit is quite complex, so I will touch on the latter meaning first, the ability to evoke the positive energy from within yourself. This you can do by yourself and can be quite empowering. Some people state that the words must be carefully picked and that they are the most significant part of Evocation. Others, they will tell you that the words are not nearly as important as the feelings and energies you put forth at the time of saying the words. Personally, I focus more on the energy. If you have never tried Evoking the positive energy within yourself, I have found “Evocation of the Witch” in Silver Ravenwolf’s book Solitary Witch, which I find quite helpful.

Evocation of the Witch

I am one with the universe

I am no-thing and am everything

I am the stars and the moon

The seas and the storms

The breathe of life

The alchemical change

The living and the dead

I AM!

I am the power and the joy

I am the spirit that dances

I am the magic and the priest

The witch and the sorceress

The angels and the elements

Omnipotent

Omnipresent

I AM!

I am the past, the present, and the future

I am the void

And I am the manifestation of my desire

I AM!

Now, moving onto the other meaning of Evocation. This describes the method of inviting a deity, spirit or entity to join you either in or at the edge of your circle. One typically does this so they can observe your ritual and offer their energies to help you perform it. In order for this to be successful, one must have the ability to enter a certain state of mind that would allow you to access a higher consciousness.

We are conjuring their presence both physically and mentally and it is VERY strongly recommended that you research their origins, mythology, family, correspondences, likes and dislikes. Trust is critical as we must put our full trust into that God or Goddess. They have the ultimate power and because of this you need to treat them with the utmost respect.

If you plan on evoking a different type of energy, much more caution needs to be taken and you should never invite them into your circle. When summoning a different energy, a magic triangle is usually drawn outside of the circle for this reason. You also must be sure to have a secure magical circle so you are protected.

If you don’t see something manifest, or feel the energy change, that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. Sometimes the deity may turn up when you aren’t expecting them and so it may not happen when you ask for it. It may also be different than you expected so you need to approach it all with an open mind as there is not right or wrong way to interpret deities.

Vikki Bramshaw has the operations for evocation outlines in her amazing book Craft of the Wise.

          Scent- Incenses, oils, etc.

Sound- The spoken word- Petition to the deity or spirit, vibration of Gods names

Taste- Libation

Touch- Tools, oils, robes, etc.

Vision- The circle, the magical tools, statues, talismans, etc.

Visualization- Quieting and centering the mind on ones focus

The mind- Combination of these operations and reflection on their significance

Trust- Complete belief that the Evocation will work.

**A good rule of thumb is to only Evoke any sort of deity with the help of someone quite experienced.**

Connecting with Nature

June, 2013

Spring Renewal

 

After the long winter months, the quiet has finally lifted. Nature has woke and with it a fury of activity. Branches become lush with new leaves, the birds sing for a mate, flowers spring up from the earth and the insects are buzzing. It’s a time for the emergence of animals from hibernation and the birth of new ones. The lengthening days of spring stimulate growth hormones in many animals. In male deer these hormones stimulate the growth of antlers in the spring and early summer. This is the time of year where everything is fresh and new again. Where we can release that which is weighing us down and begin anew.

 

 

Warm sunny days are broken up by periods of refreshing rain. Rain is essential for new growth and provides a sense of cleansing the earth after winter. Rain carries nutrients through the soil to the plants where they use them as food for new growth. As the rain drips through the canopy of trees, it runs down the stems to pick up and carry with it even more nutrients. Nutrients are deposited on stems and leaves as dust. The rain picks up the nutrients and transports them to the ground where they can be absorbed by the plants. This rainfall is richer in nutrients than rain falling in the open. We know that soon the rain will subside, giving way to the heat of summer.

 

 

As spring soon blends into summer we enjoy longer days and increasing temperatures. The warm sun on my skin is invigorating and I can breathe easier. After being indoors for months to escape the cold and sometimes harsh weather of winter, I seek to renew and strengthen my connection with nature. Now is the time to tend to the yard, plants flowers, hike, camp and spend whatever time we can outdoors. For me, being in nature, away from the bustle of town, allows me to escape the chaos of everyday life. On a trail with no one else around and all you can hear are the birds and the trickle of a creek nearby. I can quiet my mind, think clearer and feel at peace. No matter what’s going on in the outside world, here, in this sanctuary, everything will be okay.

 

 

 

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~Helen Hayes

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Afar

June, 2013

Playmate

 

All children, or almost all of them, go through a stage in which they invent imaginary playmates. Russian children are no different from any others in that respect. Viktor and Katya Boikia’s little girl, Vika was no different. When Vika was about five years old, she was constantly talking to her parents about her friend “Natasha”. Of course, her parents didn’t pay much attention to her. They thought that it was funny, and sort of amusing… except for one thing… “Natasha” was always hungry… Vika was always going to the kitchen and raiding the refrigerator, cookie jar, or bread bin for food… “for Natasha”. Now, Vika, unfortunately, takes after her father, who is a short, stocky man with a tendency to gain weight rapidly… so after a while, Viktor and Katya began to become a little concerned.

One evening, last summer, about ten o’clock, Vika was in the process of making one of her “raids” when her mother stopped her and confronted her. “You shouldn’t be eating at this hour, you know. It isn’t good for you.”

“It’s not for me, Mama. It’s for Natasha”. Vika beamed. “She’s always hungry”.

“Well,” Katya Boika, said somberly to her child, “you tell Natasha that it isn’t good to eat at this hour. She’ll have to wait until morning like the rest of us”.

“All right, Mama”. Vika nodded. “I’ll tell her”.

The next evening, it was the same… about ten o’clock… half an hour after Vika had been put to bed. Once again, she was in the kitchen, foraging for food “for Natasha”.

Once again, Vika’s mother sent her back to her room with a stern admonition concerning “Natasha’s” late night eating habits. “Bad enough in the daytime”, Katya told Viktor, as they settled back in to continue watching television. Down the hall, they could hear Vika’s voice as she somberly delivered the message to her imaginary friend.

Not too long after that, Viktor’s father passed away. The family, of course, traveled to St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) for the funeral, and to help tie up “loose ends”. St. Petersburg is a lovely city… a tourist mecca, and the traditional capital of the Russian Tsars… and known throughout the world for having withstood a three year long siege by the Germans during the Second World War. Over half of the population died in the “Siege of Leningrad”… mostly from disease and famine…

Shortly after their arrival in Viktor’s boyhood home, Vika began to investigate the flat. She had, of course, been there before, but with the adults so preoccupied, she now had a more or less free run, so long as she didn’t break anything… about which she had been sternly warned. Vika was a curious child, and the big flat on Nevski Prospect was fascinating to her. It had been in her father’s family for many years, and was filled with mementos of generations past.

No one paid much attention to Vika for about an hour… then, she came running up to her mother, shouting, and waving a small, framed photograph… “Mamma… Look! It’s Natasha. What is her picture doing here in Grandfather’s flat?”

Shock, horror and realization crossed Katya Boika’s face as she looked at her daughter, and then at the aging photo. It was an old family portrait, taken shortly before the Second World War. Viktor had shown it to her once. In it, among others, were Viktor’s grandparents, whom he had never met, along with his father and his aunt… who had died… during the Siege of Leningrad… some fifty years before… at the age of five… of starvation.

 

 

 

Musings from a Hereditary Witch

June, 2013

Being a Hereditary

A Hereditary tradition does not have to be transferred from parent to child. Often it can skip a generation and be passed from a grandparent or an aunt, uncle or other family member. A Linage tradition is passed directly from parent to child and so forth down the generations. Of course, I am speaking from my family’s understanding within our own tradition.

My own line of hereditary witchcraft began with my great, great aunt who was adopted into a hereditary line of witchcraft. Often entrance into a family tradition was through birth, marriage or adoption. My great, great aunt then passed on the tradition to my grandmother and from that time it has been passed on directly from parent to child. I am the fourth generation and my children carry the path forward with my granddaughter being the sixth generation. All in all we have a hereditary path spanning over 125 years. We are by far not the oldest hereditary family path, nor are we the youngest.

I know that I am very fortunate to have grown up in a family tradition as opposed to seeking one out later in life. I am often asked what it was like growing up with a path already set in place. It was magical, like living within warm earth and it was lived every day. My family raises cattle for a living and every day we were surrounded with the cycle of birth, life and death. We grew our own food and butchered our own animals. It was hard work.

While my mother worked a day job, I lived with my grandparents. Grandma was the local healer and a semi-self taught veterinarian. Someone was always bringing a sick or injured animal, domestic or wild, to the house. Sometimes grandma would go to administer healing at someone’s home. There was always some sick person or animal she was tending too. Family and non-family referred to my grandma as ‘aunt’.

We are an oral tradition. The closest thing to a Book of Shadows would have been the Old Farmer’s Almanac. We do not adhere to the tenets of the new religion of Wicca; we have our own codes of conduct and honor. We do not take magical names, let’s face it, we are family and everyone knows who we are. We do not use terms such as Priest or Priestess, but we do have an Elder who is elected by the family. We do not wear special clothing for our rituals; as long as we were clean, pants and shirts were fine. Of course today I can afford to wear something more to my liking for ritual.

Growing up, there wasn’t a local metaphysical shop to drop into to pick up supplies. We either made what we needed or used what we found in nature. Candles were made from canning paraffin and oil lamp wicking. We were lucky to get colored birthday candles on occasion. We grew our own herbs, made our own teas, tinctures, salves. Sometimes we found quartz, serpentine, arrowheads and sea shells in the creek, washed down from the mountain.

Our rituals are rooted in our family land. We work with the land children and the guardian who watches over our land. We differ from some traditions by not calling quarters, casting circles, or worshiping gods & goddesses. Well, that’s not quite so, because the gods & goddesses of my dad’s family claimed me when I was young, but that is for another column. The ritual tools we use are the cauldron, knife, staff, broom, stone, and antler. Our rituals may include healing work, gratitude, communion with the land, journey work, learning a new skill, divination and sharing what portents & signs we observed. We work with folk/sympathetic magic which may include workings for justification.

We celebrate the seasonal shifts and moon tides; however seasonal shifts do not necessarily coincide with a date on the calendar, but rather with the physical shift of the season on the land. We do a spring cleaning and a fall cleansing. We have rituals for honoring the steers before slaughter and when we drive the cattle from the winter pastures to the summer ones.

This is but a small glimpse into my family tradition.

Next »