February, 2014

Merry Meet

February, 2014

 

Merry Meet and welcome to the February 2014 Issue of PaganPages

We have a great issue for you this month, which includes:

Interview with Dorothy L Abrams: Magic, Ethics and Standing in your Power

and

Book Review: The Qabalah Workbook for Magicians

 

Our Etsy is back!  You can check it out Here

Be sure to like us on facebook and Twitter for updates and releases!!! 

 

 

We are currently looking for Pagan Parents to head up some columns on pagan parenting.  Interested??  Email admin@paganpages.org

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2014

February 1, 2

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.
Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.
Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.
Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil (see above)can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.
Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).
Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).
Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.
Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.
Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.
Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.
Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.
Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.
Element: Earth
Gender: Female
Threshold: Midnight

Astro Report for February 2014

February, 2014

Imbolc (Candlemas)

Saturday, February 1, 2014 – 7:22 am EST (sunrise)

Names: Candlemas,  Imbolc, Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid’s Day, Bride’s Day, Festival of Lights, Brigantia, Gwyl y Canhwyllau (Welsh), Lady Day

Date: Feb 1st (sometimes celebrated on the eve – Jan 31st)

Astro Correspondence: 15 degrees Aquarius
Color: reds for the blood shed by lambs, whites for the milk

Food: lamb, nuts, legumes, breads, egg dishes, chicken, cakes, chocolate, wine

Common Info: Brigit or Brid is honored (Keepers of the Flame at Kildare, Ireland), Brigit’s Crosses are made, first Fertility Fest, Initiations/re-dedications,

 

Imbolc (Oimelc) is the festival of candles, aka as Candlemas. The date is usually around the 1st or 2nd of February, or when the Sun moves 15′ degrees into Aquarius. It is the mid-point of the winter season, when a single candle is burned from dusk to dawn to commemorate the waxing Sun. The days are getting obviously longer now, as the Goddess grows pregnant with fertility. Some folks will celebrate it in the US as Ground Hog Day or St Brigid’s Day. However, other cultures will recognize other animals as they come out of hibernation. St Brigid, Danu and Epona are the celebrated Deities of choice, which makes this Sabbat female-oriented. Customs include candle making and burning, relighting the Hearth and snuggling in with a partner. Foods used most often are the canned foods and preserves of the previous harvest.

 

I would like to share an Act of Power we use in the Coven for our Imbolc Sabbat. We call it “Banishing the Winter”.

 

Quite simply, we make paper snowflakes. After folding and cutting them, each person opens them one at a time to divine the different shapes and figures that reveal themselves within the snowflake. It’s amazing the things you can see within the paper snowflake after cutting and opening it. It is similar to reading Tea Leaves, except it’s a snowflake…

 

Second, we ball the snowflakes and have a paper snowball battle. It releases the tension that cabin fever can bring… And paper snowball battles are relatively safer indoors. Oh, the frivolity it alludes!!

 

Last, we take each snowball and burn them in the cauldron to “Banish the Winter”. We recite the following incantation over the paper snowballs before we burn them:

 

“Awaken, O slumbering Earth.

Bring us Joy and bring us Mirth.

The long Winter’s Sleep lingers still.

Cold nights decreasing

And warmer days increasing.

Cease ahead the cold Winter’s chill.

Banish the snows traditional,

Until the need arises next Yule.

So Mote It Be!!”

I hope that anybody who likes this specific Imbolc Act of Power shares their interest. Obviously, anybody who uses it has the option to augment it to their desire as it is given without interpretation.

 

 

Ground Hog’s Day

Sunday, February 2, 2014 – 7:21 am EST (sunrise)

The Pennsylvania Tradition of Groundhog’s Day stems from the Norse, where they celebrated Horning. This celebration happens midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Although it was not really emphasized as a major holiday, it did mark the calendar to prepare for the return of spring. The Norse would keep vigil on hibernating animals, such as the badger, to see if it would emerge from its shelter. The myth says that if he sees his shadow, it will foretell six more cold weeks of winter. However, if no shadow looms, then spring would soon be evident. This tradition is carried over into North America as the “watching of the groundhog”, a counterpart of the badger, by the PA Germans. Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby is the name given to the Groundhog of Gobbler’s Knob, where he lives with his wife, Phyllis.

 

Astrologically, Imbolc marks the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, so there are approximately 6-7 weeks left of the Winter Season. Whether that is cold and harsh or mild and warming is all part of the prognostication of the Badger or Groundhog.

 

 

Mercury goes Retrograde in Pisces – 3 degrees

Thursday, February 6, 2014 – 8:58 pm EST

Be prepared for communications to go awry. Back up your computers, verify your writings and think about what you’re going to say before you utter a word. As a Planet of communications, Mercury’s role can elicit free-flowing words of wisdom. However, make it retrograde and you might find that foot in your mouth more often than not.

 

You might find computer glitches and down-time as commonplace during a Mercury Retrograde. At work, bring a book to read while you wait for the computer geeks to reboot the computer systems. As a minor Planet in health issues, it is best to watch your diet, drink plenty of water and wash your hands often. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when Mercury prepares to slide across the face of the Sun.

 

 

Valentines Day – Venus in Capricorn – 16 degrees

Friday, February 14, 2014 – 00:01 am EST

St Valentinus was martyred for performing forbidden marriages. Now known as Valentine thru Anglicization of his name, the Martyr is now venerated as a love idol of sorts. He is called upon to invoke lust and love twixt two individuals. Modern times have instituted cards, candies and decorations to commemorate this love-intentional holiday, (not Hallmark).

 

Look at the weekend ahead for settling in with somebody you adore. St Valentine’s Day will be the beginning of a new facet of your relationship.

 

 

Mercury enters Aquarius

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 – 10:26 pm EST

Mercury is quite compatible with this Air Sign, except that it is retrograde… You may find yourself with original thoughts and abstract ideas, but they seem to slip away. Try to write down your ideas and go with the flow to be yourself. If you have been working on a project, you may find yourself on that proverbial hump. It will be quite difficult to break out of that mental block you have been in… Instead of wracking your brains over your project, have a cup of Earl Grey tea and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet. Maybe you will find inspiration…

 

 

Full Moon in Leo – 26 degrees

Friday, February 14, 2014 – 6:53 pm EST

Being the best person you can be is the rule of the day. Leo is all about being proud of who and what you are. Show off your pride. The Full Moon expands on that and allows you to come into fruition. You will have a healthy ego, so let it show! Share that pride among your family <OR> show off the family and the pride you have in them.

 

 

Native Lore

Snow Moon or Hunger Moon – February is a month of heavy snowfalls, thus the Full Moon is referred to as the Snow Moon. Due to the heavy snows of February, it is more difficult to go hunting for food. Animals tend to burrow deep into their holes. The land is covered so there is very little vegetation. Hence, the Full Moon of February is also called Hunger Moon. It is best to eat and get plump before the snows of February keep you from leaving the nest.

 

 

Sun enters Pisces – Happy Birthday, Pisces!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – 12:48 pm EST

The energy of the Sun is overwhelming, but is subdued when in Pisces. It’s a time to make final attempts to relax and get ready for the impending Spring. It is a time to enhance your supernatural energies and hone your spirituality. Avoid being a pack-rat… when in doubt, throw it out. Start your Spring cleaning now.

 

 

The Sun conjuncts Neptune

Sunday, February 23, 2014 – 1:06 pm EST

The Sun seems to be chasing after Neptune and catches up finally to surpass it today. The feelings of courage and leadership seem to be impressionable, but delusional at times. Neptune is quite comfortable in its Rulership of Pisces, so when the Sun finally rides past, Neptune will be able enjoy its peace and quiet of mysticism again. So for the moment, rise above, avoid the drama and share the love!

 

 

No Planets go Direct in February.

 

There are no New Moons in the Month of February. We will examine the two New Moons in March in detail.

Inside

February, 2014

Inside, inside,
I see inside.
I look so deep
I want to hide.
I hear a calling,
a presence so near,
it fades away,
carries my fear.
Inside, inside,
I feel so safe.
For so long it’s
been my true escape,
I know what’s there
it touches me,
draws me in,
helps me see,
inside.
Kathleen Morgan ©

Seeing the Signs

February, 2014

Divining the Weather: Will Winter This Year be Kind or Cruel?

 

There has been an ongoing argument among some of my Facebook friends about the Banded Wooly Caterpillar and if this animal really can predict the weather of the winter to come.  A Wooly Caterpillar is black with a middle band that is brown or tannish.  If the brown band is narrow, the coming winter will be harsh.  Naturally, if the band is wide, it will be a mild winter.  I have to admit I have never seen any of these caterpillars, so I cannot comment on whether these animals actually do predict the weather.  But having been watching nature and the weather for most of my life, I can make a few educated guesses.  I do believe that where I live, Western New winter will be harsh.  Naturally, if the band is wide, it will be a mild winter.  I have to admit I have never seen any of these caterpillars, so I cannot comment on whether these animals actually do predict the weather.  Apparently, there is a professor at UMass who, after years of study, says that they are actually commenting on the previous winter.   I find the subject fascinating.

Having been watching nature and the weather for most of my life, I can make a few educated guesses.  I do believe that where I live, Western New York, is going to see a colder, snowier winter this year.  These are my observations:

Moss.  When I was a little girl, my mother told me that if the moss grew thick, that it would be a hard winter.  Earlier in the summer, I was hiking in the woods, and sat under a tree to rest a while.  The moss growing there was so thick and lush, it was like a pillow.  Everywhere I went this summer, I was struck by the lushness of the ground cover.

Another thing was the amazing amount of acorns everywhere.  Sitting in my tree stand a few weeks ago, listening to them drop, it was like listening to rain.  It’s almost like Mother Nature is providing for the deer and squirrels and turkeys before she gets really tough with all of them.  A single oak tree can feed dozens of animals.

It’s been too warm for the geese to move, but that’s another sign … if the migration starts early.  But since it’s been so warm, you won’t see geese moving until this week or probably next week, when the skies will be filled (I have to say that it’s one of my favorite things to see, geese moving across the sky).

I haven’t yet harvested a deer, but my friend has, and he told me that the doe he brought down was heavy with fat.  I have been hunting for many years and I can tell you that when the deer are carry an extra layer of fat, it will be a cold, hard winter.  Maybe we’ll even have a blizzard!  We haven’t had a good blizzard in years.

Another thing are spiders and bees.  If you see lots of spiders or spider activity (webs and web-making), then there will be a harsh winter.  Also, if you kill a spider, it will rain.  Heavy bee activity in the fall also foretells a harsh winter, because bees are trying to get all the pollen they can before they are unable to do anything at all.

I know people who will laugh at all this, and say that these signs are “old wives tales” or just plain silliness.  But one person’s silliness is another one’s wisdom.  So who knows?  Only time will tell.  Come January, when the snow is flying, I’ll be here … to say, “told ya so”.

 

References

http://www.almanac.com/content/predicting-winter-weather-woolly-bear-caterpillars

http://epawablogs.com/the-true-winter-prognosticator-nature/

Tree of Life

February, 2014

Spring Cleansing

Though winter may seem to still be holding on very tightly at this time of year, spring is only just around the corner. The days have noticeably lengthened since the Winter Solstice, birds are starting to pair up in readiness to raise their broods, and the first spring flowers are starting to appear.
Spring is a great time to give your home and your life a good cleansing in preparation for the year ahead. After the period of withdrawal and contemplation provided by winter it is time to shake off the literal and metaphysical cobwebs, let in some fresh air and welcome in the new possibilities that life has to offer.

 

First give your home a really good spring clean. Sweep the floors, vacuum behind the couch and under the bed, polish the windows and dust behind the radiators. Get some bags and boxes ready to store clutter and ensure you take anything you no longer need or use to a charity shop. Throw open the windows to air the place. Even if it’s still chilly outside all your hard work will keep you warm!

 

If you like, you can concoct some home-made cleansing products that will be kind to the environment and make your home smell great! This is a favourite essential oil blend of mine, a zingy citrus-floral, perfect for spring. Mix 10 drops lemon oil, 10 drops orange oil, 10 drops geranium oil and 5 drops rosemary oil in a glass bottle*. Use a few drops on a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces. Your space will smell heavenly – but you can of course use your own favourite oils if citrus really isn’t to your taste, or choose oils for their magical properties (consult a good magical herbal). As you clean, concentrate on those things you need to clear out of your life to make space for new and better opportunities to arise.

 

If you’d prefer not to use essential oils, white vinegar is a great non-toxic disinfectant to use around the home, and although the smell is not to everyone’s taste it doesn’t tend to linger once it’s dried. But if you’d like to get a better fragrance you can infuse the vinegar with citrus peel – chop up lemon, orange or grapefruit peel and use to loosely fill a wide-necked jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in enough white vinegar to cover the citrus peel and leave in a warm place for at least a fortnight. Alternatively, experiment with fragrant herbs such as rosemary or thyme. Strain the vinegar and bottle.

Or why not try making the legendary ‘Vinegar of the Four Thieves’? The story goes that a group of thieves were able to rob plague victims during an outbreak of the disease by protecting themselves with this disinfectant brew. There are many different recipes for Vinegar of the Four Thieves, but the version I’ve used involves steeping sage, rosemary, wormwood, rue, lavender and thyme in cider vinegar. Garlic is an ingredient listed in many versions of the recipe – and it’s certainly a great antiseptic – but I opted to omit it for house-cleaning purposes as I didn’t want the place smelling like a pizzeria!

 

You can clean windows, mirrors or glass surfaces cheaply and easily with a few drops of vinegar in a bucket of water. Wipe them over with a cloth dampened in the vinegar water, then polish dry with a sheet of scrunched up newspaper – guaranteed to give a streak free finish! While doing so asking your deity or ally of choice to help you see clearly that which you need to see.

 

Sprinkle baths, shower stalls, sinks or tiled surfaces with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and scour clean with a damp cloth. I say ‘scour’ but though it’s very effective, it is actually quite gentle. Rinse clean and polish any chrome fittings with a dry cloth until they sparkle! Take the opportunity to meditate on whatever you wish to wash away out of your life as you do so.

 

Now change the linen on your bed, symbolising a clean start and a comfortable place to dream. Nearly done! Give the floors a good vacuum, sweep or mop.

 

Take a moment to look around. Doesn’t it look great? To end the cleansing of your home with a magical flourish, walk around each room sprinkling salt water and saying something like, ‘I cleanse this space of all negativity. I bless this space with peace, harmony and joy.’. When you have completed the cleansing/blessing, you may like to light a special scented candle or arrange a vase of flowers on your altar as a blessing for your home.

 

And finally, you. Strip off your house-cleaning clothes, go into your beautifully clean bathroom and  take a well-earned shower or bath. Use your favourite shower gel or bubble bath, maybe give yourself a salt scrub to really deep cleanse both your skin and your aura. Watch the water disappearing down the plughole, taking any residual negativity with it. Dry yourself with your fluffiest towel, dress in the clothes that make you feel your best self. Reward yourself for all your hard work with a nice cup of your favourite tea or coffee. Sit in your beautiful, clean home and know that you are now well-prepared for the coming spring and all the adventures to come.

 

Blessed Be.

 

*Do note that some essential oils can irritate sensitive skin, so consult a good aromatherapy book if you’re not already familiar with essential oils. And do not use any of the products mentioned if you are allergic or sensitive to them. There are plenty of alternative products out there you can use instead!

 

Across the Great Divide

February, 2014

 

 

Paranormal Communication

            To exist is to communicate. Bees in a hive; a pack of wolves on the hunt; two women in a coffee shop; – even the phones we text each other with-; effective communication is occurring everywhere around us every day and in various forms both organic and artificial.

            Humans are quite egocentric when it comes to the physical world and their professed mastery of it. If they cannot hear it, see it, touch it, or understand it then it doesn’t exist or is laughed off as the illogical ramblings of the foolish. A common- and clichéd- axiom is “if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This naïve reasoning asserts that since no human was around to hear it, then it didn’t happen; that it is impossible to occur. The wildlife that scattered as the sound pierced the serenity might feel differently.

Humanity assumes that the only effective, real, communication between two sentient beings is in the verbal patterns of spoken language; but true communication occurs all around us every day without us even being remotely aware that it is happening or how. Just because we do not readily perceive or understand it does not dismiss this fact.

To effectively communicate with the world around us means that we have to let go of this arrogant mentality and realize that all things are different in the way they speak to each other and to the environment around them. This is the central canon when learning to understand and communicate with the world on a deeper level.

Why is it that emotionally-connected people can know exactly what each other are thinking or feeling without a single word being spoken? A look from a beloved dog or cat can elicit intense understanding in the same way. These are forms of paranormal communication.

When one knows how to listen, communication and understanding come easy.

            We saw last month that parapsychology researchers have made interesting discoveries about the possibilities of telepathic communication between two beings; and we’ve previously covered the topic of Electronic Voice Phenomenon with some intriguing examples that I personally captured. (It should be noted that Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) is the more general, accepted, term in parapsychological research for any variation of device and corresponding phenomenon collected.)

            Many believe that communication with the dead is a scientific fact and experiment with a variety of techniques for spirit communication to provide evidence of the continuation of life after physical death. Many parapsychologists and ghost hunting groups agree. That is why it is such common practice to attempt communication with spirits using devices such as voice recorders and cameras.

            Mainstream science has generally ignored ITC, finding the results less than credible, and references a percentage of recordings that turn out to be hoaxes created by frauds or pranksters. Many also regard the examples put forward by proponents as simply misinterpretations of natural phenomena, explained via a variety of known psychological and physical phenomena- the tendency of the human brain to recognize patterns in random stimuli and radio interference are respective examples. I am not arguing the validity of the recorded samples that I or others have collected over the years as absolute proof of spiritual communication nor am I completely debunking them but if anyone has sound, logical explanations for their origin then, please, enlighten us; if not, then take it with a grain of salt and an intellectually open mind.

            Pareidolia and Apophenia are the most common basis for arguments against the legitimacy of ITC.

Auditory pareidolia is a situation created when the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns. In the case of ITC, it could result in an observer interpreting random noise on an audio recording as being the familiar sound of a human voice. The tendency for a “voice” heard in white noise recordings to be in a language understood well by those researching it, rather than in an unfamiliar language, has been cited as evidence of this; and a broad class of phenomena, referred to by author Joe Banks as “Rorschach Audio”, has been described as a global explanation for all manifestations of ITC.

            Apophenia is related to, but distinct from pareidolia, in that it is the spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things that are random, unconnected, or meaningless, and has been put forward as a possible explanation.

            Suppose, for example, that an English-speaking group such as Ghost Hunters International were in Germany on an investigation. Would it not seem logical that any samples recorded and cited be in German rather than English? If a group’s team members are walking around an Italian castle asking questions in English how do they expect any possible spirit to understand the question, let alone respond correctly and in English? When they analyze the audio, are they listening for English and Italian words, or perhaps another language entirely?

            I have developed a theory that attempts to explain Rorschach Audio.

Everything about life I learned from watching Star Trek. (Humour me for a moment.) Ever wonder how the intrepid crew of the Enterprise can travel the galaxy and always find alien cultures speaking perfect English? Well, they have an ingenious little device called a universal translator that puts the spoken words through a sound algorithm that searches for patterns and then correlates them to the correct English vernacular. Neat trick, I think. However, there’s often a fine line between science fiction and reality.

In Jungian psychology, there is a bedrock principle that part of the unconscious mind is common and accessible to a group, a society, or even all of humanity, which is the product of all the ancestral experiences of a people throughout time and shared by all, termed the Collective Unconscious. Based on this model, if- as many world cultures similarly believe- we are all related, and taking into account the scientific theory that we revert to pure energy after the death of the physical body, then it stands to reason that as we pass from the material world into the realm of pure energy we have access to all of the knowledge of our fellow man. Therefore, if one were Russian in physical life, then such a being would have knowledge of the English language after death and would thus be able to communicate freely and fluently with an English-speaking researcher conducting an ITC session.

            It might not be too hard to imagine the possibility. It is a known fact that the human body creates, stores, and uses electrical energy. Our neurology is much like a computer’s in that it transmits data in much the same way as a circuit board. This explains how ITC is possible because if, after death, we revert back to pure energy then that energy is quite capable of manipulating and being captured by recording devices that operate on the same principles.

            The old-style method of using cassettes to communicate with spirits is a testable theory because those mediums rely on the creation of electromagnetic fields to imprint the data on the magnetic strips. This is also why spikes in EM fields are of major interest to researchers and ghost hunters because it hints that spirits must draw upon the energy in the environment in order to be discovered. The modern digital recorders are similarly valid because of the means by which they retain information.

            In a recent conversation online, it was jested that if ghosts did exist, it was doubtful that they would be using Facebook as a means to communicate. Based on the points raised today I would have to disagree. The internet is a digital world, using electrical currents and electromagnetics to transmit data from one side of the globe to another in an instant, and is just one more avenue that a being of energy could manipulate in order to communicate- a literal “ghost in the machine” as it makes its voice heard.

            It is said that we have two ears but one mouth because listening is twice as hard as speaking. This is a universal truth. If we simply learn to listen to the world around us in a different way, we just might hear things that we were previously unaware were there.

            Until next time, quiet yourselves and listen carefully to the sounds of the universe. The truth- and understanding- are out there if we are simply willing to listen with an open mind.

© 2014 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

 

February Correspondences

February, 2014

Legends and Lore for February

February, the second month of the current Gregorian calendar and the third month of Winter’s rule, derives its name from Februa, the name of a Roman purification festival held on the fifteenth day of February in ancient times. The traditional birthstone amulet of February is the amethyst; and the primrose and the violet are the month’s traditional flowers.
February is shared by the astrological signs of Aquarius the Water-Bearer and Pisces the Two Fishes, and is sacred to the following pagan deities: Aradia, Brigid, Juno Februa, and the Wiccan Goddess in Her aspect as the Maiden. During the month of February, the Great Solar Wheel of the year is turned to Candlemas, one of the four Great Sabbats celebrated each year by Wiccans and modern Witches throughout the world.

February Moon:

Quickening Moon

Gemstones:

Rose quartz, amethyst, jaspe

Trees:

Rowan, Myrtle

Gods:

Aphrodite, Juno, Mar, Brighid

Herbs:

Hyssop, myrrh, sage

Element:

Fire

The Witch’s Cupboard

February, 2014

Blessed Imbolc!

Pathworking for Imbolc includes some of the following:

*    Go for a holiday walk.  It can be short or long, whichever you like.  See if you can feel the impending season.  Imagine, as you walk, what activities are occurring under the soil.

*    Clean house.  Physically first, then psychically, magically.

*    Make a list of things you would like to plant in yourself, and keep the list in a place you will remember.  Add to it between now and Ostara, whenever the mood strikes you.

*    Light candles for yourself and your loved ones, saying prayers and sending them light ad color symbolizing that which they most need or want to come into their lives.

*    Make some candles.  One can make hand-rolled ones from sheets of beeswax (they’re easy and quite beautiful), poured candles (this requires a mold—see what kinds of molds you can make from inexpensive items around the house), or you can ever try hand-dipping some.  You will need to heat your wax in a deep vessel—I suggest a large coffee can, and have another can nearby with very cold, or even iced water.  You will start with only a string of wick, perhaps a foot and a half long, divided in half.  Dip both ends in the wax a few times, then dip them into the cold water to set the wax.  Be sure to keep the ends from sticking together.  Repeat the above (it will take some time), until they look right to you.   Remember to dip in and out of the wax quickly, or you’ll melt off what you’ve just dipped.

*    See your healers, and give your body a “tune-up.”  You’ll feel better, more energetic, more able to let in the light and energy that is growing so rapidly this time of year.

*    Purchase some small (I call the “seed”) crystals, and think of what you will program into them, so that you will be ready to “plant” them at Ostara.

One of my favorite activities is to plant seeds that will be open by Ostara.  Take a container of soil and perhaps some Nasturtium seeds, 9 in all (which grow fast) and make a wish with each seed you plant.  A wish for the upcoming Spring Equinox.  Once the seeds have germinated keep in a sunny window and watch them grow, then blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible so come Ostara you can throw them into a nice garden salad. 

Here’s some information on Nasturtiums:

The entire plant is edible…leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, and all. I consider nasturtiums a spicy green, and grow them in my garden as such. Add the leaves and flowers to any green salad, stuff the blossoms with an herb cream cheese, or chop them and add to pastas for a delicious addition to any meal. During the mid 20th century, people used nasturtium seed pods as a replacement for pepper. We can still do this today! All you have to do is wait for the seeds to dry and then grind them in a coffee grinder (I have one that I use specifically for herbs). Note: Make a yummy herbal seasoning salt by adding ground nasturtium seeds with other dried kitchen herbs from the garden.

Nasturtiums are nutritionally dense, as their leaves contain significant levels of vitamin C and iron. Medicinally they are known to be useful in breaking up congestion of the respiratory system and they provide excellent relief from colds. Likewise, nasturtium is said to encourage the formation of blood cells and can be given as a blood purifier and detoxifier. When preparing for a harvest, remember to choose fresh leaves and flowers that show no sign of browning or withering.

Pair Nasturtiums with other edible early spring flowers such as Violets, Pansies and Cover tops for the ultimate in edible flower salads!

Bare Feet on an Earth Path

February, 2014

Note: When I first started writing here at Pagan Pages, I decided to write about how I came to paganism.  But as I sat down and began writing, I realized just how messy a story it really was. It felt too deeply personal for my first column here, so instead, I published a different, somewhat lighter article on the topic. I have received some comments on my posts since then and feel blessed to know that my articles are touching readers. Writing, for me, is about being raw, about being real, and I believe that I am at my best as a writer when I am those things. This is the original article that I wrote but did not publish. I could have sanitized it and taken out all the unacceptable parts and the parts that make me look a little strange. But all the strands of the story are tied up inextricably together, and those messier parts are those that have brought me here and made me who I am today.

 

 

From Pathological Guilt to Paganism

 

You could call it OCD, or just obsessing, but whatever you call it, I was a twenty-two year old college student who was intensely fascinated with a type of particularly strict Christian doctrine. I liked rules; things you needed to do.  I liked to read about women who wore skirts and covered their heads. About Christians who followed the Torah, because that was what Jesus had meant all along. And maybe he did, I don’t know. But I read about it all the time. I read their reasons, mostly. Why you needed to do those things, why they were the right things to do. I didn’t exactly believe the things at first, or want to do them, but I developed a way of sort of brainwashing myself. It wasn’t even subconscious, really. I knew that if I read about the things enough and thought about them enough, they could become mine eventually. And I wanted them to be mine because their rigid certainty and boundaries gave me a sort of confined satisfaction.

 

My painful relationship with religion started early. By the time I was about twelve years old, I’d become aware of the “unforgivable sin.” And so the things I wanted in my head least were the things I couldn’t keep out of it.

 

I hate God.

 

Over and over, just under the surface, trying to escape into a fully-formed, legible “I. hate. God.” I fought it. I fought it so hard, and I cried in my bed at night, terrified of going to hell because of my inability to keep a single phrase at bay. In the midst of all this, I discovered that my seventh grade health book contained a table of mental illnesses and symptoms. Under obsessive-compulsive disorder were the words “repeated, unwelcome thoughts.” My eyes widened in recognition. That moment stuck with me, and I believed that I wasn’t supposed to feel the way I did. One night, after crying in bed fighting the thoughts, I wished I could tell someone my dirty secret. And this one night, I finally did. But I can hardly blame myself, in my moment of distress, for poorly describing what I was going through, and it wouldn’t really be fair to blame the person I told for thinking I was experiencing normal doubt, and telling me it was okay. I knew she hadn’t understood what I meant. I wasn’t talking about questioning sometimes whether or not God was real. I was talking about not being safe in my own head. But I cried silently in her arms and went back to bed.

 

A couple years into college, guys began to pay attention to me. Which might have been okay, except that I had decided my sophomore year that I believed God was calling me to life-long celibacy. I believed this because it felt “right,” and being with guys didn’t. Because it felt “right,” the same reason I’d look through a long line of identical products on the supermarket shelf and take my time in picking the one perfect one out, or envision the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 in my head in that same pattern over and over again. The modern church’s obsession with finding God’s perfect will for your life reinforced my idea that these feeling of rightness mattered, and anything associated with uncertainty made me sick to my stomach with guilt and anxiety. Adults in my life told me these feelings were guilt, and hearing this took its toll. If celibacy had really felt right, maybe none of this would have mattered. But my hormones were raging, and I wanted to go out with those guys. And so I did, sometimes, and then felt sick and guilty after.

 

I was in the Christian bookstore one day and saw a book with the title Just Do Something: A  Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. I passed that book by many times because I assumed it must be sacriligous and wrong, and that I was just trying to find a way out of what God wanted from me. But finally, one day, because I wanted it to be right, I picked it up, began to read it, and bought it. Apart from leaving Christianity, buying that book is the most spiritually freeing thing I have ever done. It argued that, from a Christian theological perspective, we were never expected to find some specific will of God for our lives. That this was a biblical misinterpretation of the modern church, and that God would be perfectly happy with whatever we chose as long as we were the kind of people the Bible told us to be. I accepted this argument, and though I still felt intense guilt for the choices I had been making and the somewhat serious relationship I was now in, I held onto it like a life raft, and it gave me a little spark of hope that kept me from drowning entirely.

 

I began to see God in a different way. I acknowledged that the gut-wrenching, guilty, anxious feelings I experienced had nothing to do with God. And I started to pray and talked to God like he knew that the feelings weren’t my fault. I think that, all by itself, was something.

 

As anyone who struggles with emotional problems can tell you, anxiety, depression, and the like don’t just go away overnight. And so my anxiety, attempting to be a normal emotional problem, stuck around. I’d overcome the guilt enough to be able to stay in a relationship with the man I loved for two years straight, and the longer I stayed, the easier staying got. But my anxiety got worse, interspersed with periods of depression. We’d finally gotten engaged, and we were getting married soon. My depression had built up so much that everything felt lifeless, even the things I wanted to feel happy about. He did his best to deal with my ups and downs, but sometimes, he just didn’t know how. And so, when I told him I’d been imagining killing myself, he looked as lifeless as I felt, and said he didn’t know what to do anymore. “I could go to the hospital,” I said quietly. I’d read a memoir by a lady who’d been diagnosed with just about every diagnosable mental illness, and she’d gone to the hospital and gotten help there. I wanted there to be someone who could rescue me, and maybe, I thought, that was the answer. After realizing I was serious, he helped me pack up my things, we talked, and he drove me to the hospital. I held his hand tightly as we walked through the ER doors, and I replayed the words “They’re going to help me, they’re going to help me” over and over in my head to keep me from trying to turn around.

 

I’ve since come to realize that the hospital is no miracle, and that there may be no one but myself who can truly get me to where I need to be. I don’t want to give the impression that my problems went away, because they didn’t. But that week that I spent talking to therapists and psychiatrists was one of my best. I met a young man who I had nothing in common with, really, but we became friends after he came and talked to me as I sat crying, holding the teddy bear my fiance had just brought to that day’s short visitation. And the nurses were amazing, and I got up every day and ate breakfast with all these people, and this crazy, completely-out-of-the-ordinary experience, along with the absence of all my ordinary anxiety triggers, snapped me out of where I had been. It happened slowly over the week, but I got out of the hospital one sunny day feeling giddy and free. I wore pants instead of skirts for the first time in months. I stopped worrying about Biblical dietary guidelines and ate bacon.  And then I to the bookstore.

 

The bookstore was the place where my boyfriend and I spent a large portion of our time because we loved books and, living in a small town, it was the only place where it was acceptable to just sit for a long time. I started by looking at liberal Christian books by authors like Brian McClaren; the kind of people I had thought were seriously sacriligous before. After a while, I began to look further afield. One day, looking around to make sure no one was looking, I walked awkwardly toward the forbidden metaphysical bookshelf, just a couple aisles away from the Christian aisle I had frequented so often. I’m not sure what I thought I’d find, but my discouraged, searching spirit took out the books I would have thought represented the worst kinds of sins just weeks before and began to look through them. Over time, I bought a couple of books about Wicca. It filled the newly exposed hole in my heart, in a way, because it showed me that I didn’t have to be left alone, abandoned, just because the Abrahamic God had let me down. Maybe there was a God and a Goddess, or any other number of gods and goddesses. Just maybe I could be spiritual in a way I’d never considered before, that I could have never considered until I began to take those inching steps away from my faith of origin.

 

Then came more outrageous thoughts. Maybe Jesus wasn’t the son of God. Maybe he was just an apocalyptic rabbi, and maybe I wouldn’t go to hell if I thought about this. I started looking at other religions because part of me missed the certainty of the doctrines I had left behind. But as I explored religions that believe they have the only answers, I finally realized that I didn’t believe any group of people had one perfect, divinely revealed truth. And the more perspectives I tried looking at the world through, the more impossible it became for me to ever go back to seeing things in the simple, unquestioning way I had been taught to see them. I couldn’t accept that, of all the people proclaiming a truth, we had just happened to be the ones who were right. And after various wanderings, I’d come back to paganism again. I’d always felt closest to God, even the Christian god, in nature, and so it fit.

 

Finally, and slowly, I began to feel pagan. For a while, I described myself as pagan”ish”. But one day, I had finally said paganish in my head so many times that pagan felt true, and I called myself a pagan from then on.

 

I think most new pagans think that you have to believe this or do that to be a pagan and it was the same with me. But eventually I realized that none of those guidelines were universally true. And this is why, really, paganism is great for me. Because I can grow, and I can change. I can think anything, believe anything, question anything. My paganness isn’t dependent on strict adherence to any doctrine. It has allowed me to be spiritual, without boxing me in. It has given me wings, and left them unclipped. Here, I have room to move.

 

I still like to talk about spiritual and religious things, just like I did as a Christian. I love to sit at the park and discuss the greater things in life, drive down the road and discuss them, discuss them wherever. But I no longer have to obsess about minutiae and rules. And if I forget to think about or discuss them for a while, that’s okay, too. Life is never perfect and I am not 100% anxiety free. But as I learn more about myself, things get better. Things that I didn’t used to know or believe were under my control. Life is crazy, but as I face this crazy life, I’m happy to say I’m a pagan.

Next »