March, 2014

Merry Meet

March, 2014

Welcome to the March Issue of PaganPages

In this issue:

 

an Interview with Morgan Daimler

and…

 

 

 Interview with Author Deanna Anderson

 

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

 

Tree of Life

March, 2014

The Earth Is Our Mother…

 

‘The Earth is our Mother, We must take care of Her.’ – Native American Chant

 

This month, on Saturday, March 29th, people around the world will mark ‘Earth Hour’ from 8.30pm to 9.30pm during participants’ local time (see http://www.earthhour.org/ for further information). Earth Hour is an annual event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature, which encourages participants to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. Our household has been celebrating Earth Hour for the last few years and find it a lovely, tranquil thing to do. We usually turn off all electrical items and sit by candle-light, talking, meditating or playing board games.

 

I am not one of those people who believe that spirituality and politics should be kept separate. As a Pagan, I truly believe that the Earth is sacred. And that means I am prepared to stand up and be counted when I see Her well-being under threat.

 

Activism is a scary word to many people; it can conjure up images of raucous demonstrations, people chained to railings, angry clashes with authority. But this is just one type of activism, and one kind of demonstration, for that matter! Earth Hour is a great example of a peaceful, yet powerful demonstration. Political demonstrations are generally the eye-catching, headline-grabbing face of activism. And for that reason they are important – they get publicity, thereby raising public awareness of causes and hopefully gathering more support in the process. Marching or standing in solidarity with others is also a great way of realising that you are not alone in caring about an issue, and that can be very heartening!

 

But demonstrations are only one kind of activism. For me the real activism, the activism that is most meaningful and most important, is the day-to-day activism. What do I mean by day-to-day activism? Well just as Samhain (for example) is a high-profile Pagan festival at which my non-Pagan friends and family are probably most aware of my beliefs, I am still Pagan the other 364 days of the year, even if it is not so visible to them. It is this day-to-day Paganism and day-to-day activism that really grounds me in my beliefs.

So how does such day-to-day activism work? Quite simply, it is how I live my life, the choices I make. I try to live lightly on the earth. I try to reduce my carbon footprint. I try to make wise choices about what and how much I consume. I try to be honest, fair and compassionate in my dealings with other beings. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated. I try to reduce, re-use, repair, recycle. I try not to do any harm. I think about the kind of world I would like to live in, and try to live in ways that are compatible with that.

I do not always succeed. Sometimes I am tired and stressed and compassion is hard to find. Sometimes I can’t afford the ethical choice. Or I don’t know which is the best choice, Fair Trade or recycled? Organic or free range? Sometimes there are no ‘good’ choices and it comes down to making the least bad choice.

 

The important thing is to keep trying, keep in mind that vision of the world I want to live in, keep working towards it, building the good future. This is the work of day-to-day activism, and it is this that I believe truly makes a difference in the long run. Just think of all those little actions being done every day by people all around the world and how they can add up.

So I hope you will join with me in marking Earth Hour on 29th March, and perhaps Earth Day next month (22nd April). But I hope you will also take the opportunity to live your every day life as an activist, thinking about how and what you do, and the power you have to play your part in caring for this beautiful blue-green planet and all its inhabitants.

 

After all, The Earth is our Mother. We must take care of Her.

Mama Donna’s Spirit Shop

The Mugwort Chronicles

March, 2014

Ostara Blessings!

 

Herbs to use in your magic at Ostara: lily of the valley, tansy, lavender, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, lovage, lilac, violets, lemon balm, dogwood, honeysuckle, oakmoss, orrisroot, sunflower seeds, rose hips, oak, elder, willow, crocus, daffodil, jonquil, tulip, broom (Scotch or Iris), meadowsweet, acorn, trefoil (purple clover), vervain.

 

Incense, Herbs and Woods

 

Violet, honeysuckle, narcissus, and lemon make good incenses for Ostara — the scents should be clear and light, floral and evocative, but not overwhelming or intoxicating.

Herbs associated with springs include meadowsweet, cleavers, clover, lemongrass, spearmint and catnip.

 

If you want to use wood in your spells and rituals, ash has a strong line with the equinox due to its connection with the macrocosm-microcosm concept in the Celtic ogham runes – the balance of light and dark… as above, so below.

 

 

The Lore of- Hot Cross Buns

The cross represents the four seasons, or the four phases of the moon, and are on the sacrificial bread of the lunar goddesses of many cultures. They are found from Egypt to the Aztecs of Mexico. A circle with a cross (the female symbol) was often set up on top of a pillar (representing the male)-the whole representing union or fertility. It is also interesting that the biological symbol for female remains a circle with a cross beneath (the symbol for Venus).

 

Hot cross buns were also believed to last twelve months without turning moldy, which was of great use during Pagan times when the storage of food was imperative for survival. It was believed that they would protect against evil forces and fire if hung in the kitchen. Sailors believed that hot cross buns would protect against shipwreck if taken to sea. Farmers in certain parts of England (UK) also believed that they would protect the granary against rats.

 

RECIPE

 

HOT CROSS BUNS

 

This recipe will make 2 1/2 dozen buns.

 

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup softened butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs

1/2 cup dried currents

1/2 cup raisins

 

———-

 

2 Tablespoons water

1 egg yolk

 

———-

 

1 recipe Icing (below)

 

Have the water and milk at 110-115 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the warm milk sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make a soft dough.

 

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

 

Punch the dough down and shape into 30 balls. Place on greased baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (or X) on the top of each roll.

 

Cover again and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Beat the water and egg yolk together and brush over the rolls. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.

 

ICING: Combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons milk or cream, a dash of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Adjust sugar and milk to make a mixture which flows easily.

 

Another Favorite-Candied Flowers

 

Candied Flowers

 

Ingredients:

Petals from any edible flower

Several well-beaten egg whites

Vanilla extract

Bowl of granulated sugar

Instructions:

Mix a few drops of vanilla into the egg whites. Dip a paintbrush in the egg whites and coat the petals. Dip petals into sugar until coated, then spread on wax paper to dry.

Please be advised that you cannot use flowers bought at a florist for this recipe!! Many commercially-bought flowers contain pesticides and it is not worth it to ingest poison. Please obtain all flowers from organic retailers or from home-grown sources.

These flowers may be safely eaten and are suggested for this recipe: Allium, angelica, apricot blossom, apple blossom, bachelor button, bean blossom, begonia, calendula, carnation, chrysanthemum, clover, crab apple, dandelion, day lily, dianthus, gardenia, geranium, ginger, gladiola, hibiscus, hollyhock, honeysuckle, hyacinth, jasmine, johnny jump-up, lavender, lilac, lily, marigold (the calendula type only), monarda, nasturtium, orange blossom, pansy, peach blossom, pear blossom, peony, plum blossom, primrose, rose, snapdragon, squash blossom, strawberry blossom, tulip, viola, violet, and yucca.

Ostara Correspondences

March, 2014

(Oh-star-ah) – Lesser Sabbat – Spring/Vernal Equinox, March 20-21st – when the Sun enters Ares

Other Names: Ostre, Oestre, Eostre, Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Lady Day, First Day of Spring, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Alban Eiler, Bacchanalia, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Caisg, Pess

Date: Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere) or when the Sun is 1 degree Aries.

Symbolism: The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility

Goddesses: all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses; Anna Perenna (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite, Persia, GrecoRoman), Athena (Greek), Cybele (Greco-Roman), Blodeuwedd, Eostre (Saxon Goddess of Fertility), Flidais (Irish), Gaia (Greek), Hera, Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Isis (Egyptian), Libera (Roman), Minerva (Roman), The Muses (Greek), Persephone (Greek), Renpet (Egyptian), Venus (Roman), Ostara (the German Goddess of Fertility), Kore, Maiden, Isis, Youthful Goddesses. Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake(Welsh-Cornish), the Green Goddess

Gods: all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods; Adonis (Greek), Attis (Greco-Roman), Cernunnos (Celtic), The Great Horned God (European), Liber (Roman), Mars (Roman), Mithras (Persian), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Thoth, Pan (Greek), the Green Man, Hare, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Taliesin, Lord of the Greenwood (English), Dagda(Irish),Adonis (Greek)

Symbols: Eggs, rabbits, similar to easter symbols.

Purpose: Plant and animal fertility, sowing

Meaning: The God comes of age, sexual union of the Lord & Lady, sprouting, greening, balance of light and dark

Essence: Strength, birthing, completion, power, love, sexuality, embodiment of spirit, fertility, opening, beginning

Customs: Wearing green, new clothes, celtic bird festival, egg baskets coloring eggs, collecting birds eggs, bird watching, egg hunts, starting new projects, spring planting

Foods: Hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, fresh seasonal fruits, milk punch, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, maple sugar candies, hot cross buns, sweet breads, milk, punch, egg drinks

Plants & Herbs: Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, Irish Moss, ginger, hyssop, linden, strawberry, gorse, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, rose, tansy, violets, woodruff and all spring flowers

Incense and oils: African violet, jasmine, rose, strawberry, lotus, magnolia, ginger, sage lavender, narcissus, broom

Colors: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, gold, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow.

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals and Mythical Beasts: Rabbits/Easter bunny, snakes, pegasus, unicorns, chicks, swallows, merpeople

Decorations: Daffodils, tulips, violet, iris, narcissus, any spring flowers, eggs, butterflies, cocoons

Spell/Ritual Work: Garden/plant blessings, seed blessing, spellcrafting, balance, growth, communication, invention, new growth, new projects

Planetary Ruler: Mars

Element: Air

Gender: Male

Threshold: Dawn

MoonOwl Observations

March, 2014

Poppets

            A Poppet is a doll created in the likeness of another person which is used to cause change. There are also poppets that are created for the betterment of the earth, and in cases like that a Poppet will be made to look like, for example, a Goddess like Gaia. They are very connected to Goddess magick because of the creative expression and insight in the creation, and the actual breaking of life into the Poppet.

Poppets have been used for thousands of years and are often feared in society. They have many other names like “Fetish, Mommet, Moppet, Bud-will and Pippie, but are unfortunately associated to evil and the devil. This has led to Poppets being seen as ‘’voodoo’’dolls, and that people use them to cause pain. The story behind voodoo dolls is something that I may come back to another time.

Like most things, Poppets haven’t been used for good and as with all Magick, the power and outcome of the spell lay in the hands of the individual. Poppets are typically used for positive Magick like healing, protection and fertility. One must also take into the account of Karma and the power of three/Law of Return. It’s a lot easier to cause positive change than it is negative because Poppets are a form of ‘’sympathetic’’Magick. Never work to cause harm to others, work for ego, or work to influence another’s free-will. And, you should always have sufficient cause to create a Poppet.

A Poppet should be made during the Waxing of Full moon due to the face that you should make it during the time of positive Magick. They can be made of various materials like wood, clay, paper, cloth, wax of plant root.( If you’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth there is a Poppet made of Mandrake’s root). It should be decorated and/or stuffed with items connected to that person. You can fill your Poppet with herbs, stones, paper, or anything else that suits your needs. The more work you put into it, the stronger your link to the goal will be. Once that is done it is than associated with the aim of the spell.

Poppets are often regarded as ‘’’Magickal child’s’’ as you are symbolically its parent. The more intent you are on birthing the Poppet, the more effective it will be. You should care for the Poppet like you would a human child until the purpose of your Poppet is fulfilled. Only than should the link between the person and the Poppet be broken, and once that happens you need to dispose of it carefully and with respect.

Antiquarian Witch

March, 2014

Raising the Cone of Power

 

One way of casting a spell which is suited to covens of from four to twelve (plus a leader) is to form an image of the magical aim and then cast this into the astral, through the Height, after building up power through the Witch’s Mill and the Witch’s Rune.

While the visible part of the temple is the magic circle within which coveners work, this is conceived as a plane bisecting a sphere.  The highest point on the sphere is called ‘the Height,’ and the lowest point is ‘the Deep’.  The upper half of the sphere can be visualized by all in common, while the lower half is visualized, and felt, by each witch singly, as extending within the mind-body down to the depths of the subconscious mind.  Each witch should practice a descending meditation on a regular basis, so as to become familiar with his or her psychic contents within and down below.

Witches stand within the cast circle near its perimeter, facing inwards towards the center.  They should alternate by sex, with four of them (including the coven leader) standing on the cardinal points, and the rest between these.

After the coven casts the circle and calls quarters after its ways, and having invited in the Lady and Lord in their seasonal forms, the magical aim should be discussed by the coven leader (High Priestess or High Priest), the reason for the spell, the physical location of its impact, the temporal limits of the working, and the spell’s conformity with the Rede.  This last ensures that none is harmed, controlled or manipulated by the spell.  An exception here would be wanions, that is, protective spells cast during the waning of the Moon.  In the case of a protective spell, the object of the working is to restrain the hostile attentions or actions of some person against the coven.  But even in these cases, no one is to be harmed.

Proceeding deosil [1] (clockwise) from the coven leader, each covener speaks briefly, presenting an image or epithet which applies to the magical aim or goal.  Once everyone has had a chance to speak, the images volunteered by the coveners are consolidated, by mutual consent, into a single image or mental form which can be silently envisioned by each covener.  When this has been agreed upon and a sound picked to invoke the image, the coven is ready to begin the Witch’s Mill.

 

 

The Witch’s Mill:

The coven leader repeats the following, which is taken from Nigel Jackson’s excellent Call of the Horned Piper:

“On an oak-leaf I stand;

I ride the filly that never was foaled;

And I carry the dead in my hand;

Under the earth I go.” [2]

Everyone then says together the invoking sound.

Now the coven leader repeats the first line of the Witch’s Mill, and each succeeding line is spoken by the other coveners on the quarters.

After the four lines have been spoken, they are repeated by all together, as the witches join hands and slowly begin to process deosil.  This should be timed so that all return to their original stations upon completion of the fourth line.

All then repeat the invoking sound.

The Witch’s Rune:

The coven leader then recites the first part of the Witch’s Rune, which is taken from an old troubadour manuscript of the Middle Ages and is regarded as a genuine witch chant.  No one knows for certain what it means, though there have been educated guesses.  The purpose in this and the later part of the Witch’s Rune is to focus the mind of the coveners away from rational speech to speaking unknown words or sounds which have an effect on their subconscious minds, enabling them to raise their inner power together and, at the last, release it in a great cone or vortex overhead.

The troubadour’s chant goes as follows.

“Bagahi laca bachahé

Lamac cahi achabahé

Karrelyos.

Lamac lamec Bachalyos

Cabohagi Sabalyos,

Baryolas.

Lagozatha cabyolas,

Samahac et famyolas,

Harrahya!” [3]

As this is difficult for some coveners to learn, it is spoken by the coven leader. The circling continues during this, gradually speeding up to a light walk.

The coven leader then switches to another rune, which I will attempt to represent by its sounds, as we do not possess it in manuscript form.  It can be found in Eight Sabbats for Witches, by Janet and Stewart Farrar.

The coven leader chants this second rune first, as the pace of circling is picked up slightly.  Then all repeat the rune together a second and third time, moving quite swiftly on the last go-around (but be careful of the candles!), and increasing the volume of the chant:

“Eko eko Azarak,

Eko eko Zomelak,

Zod ru koz e zod ru koo,

Zod ru goz e gu roo moo,

Eeo eeo hoo hoo hoo !” [4]

Upon shouting the final hoo!, coveners stop suddenly, lift their arms towards the Height, shout the invoking sound, and send their power together into the form of a vortex or Cone of Power.  The idea here is to hurl the thought-form of the magical goal or aim, visualized in thought, through the zenith point of the temple into the surrounding astral world, whence it will rebound on the material plane and bear fruit.

Immediately after releasing the Cone of Power, coveners drop to all fours and ground the power.  They remain  in that position for a few minutes resting, and then, when rested (but not before), crawl back to their original stations, sit and meditate quietly.

It is time for cakes and ale.

 

 

Bibliography:

 

FARRAR, Janet and Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix

Publishing House, 1981.

JACKSON, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper, Berkshire, U.K., Capall Bann Publishing,

1994.

 



[1] Pronounced ‘jesh’l’.

[2] Jackson, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper, p. 9 et seq., part of an illustration. ‘Under the earth I go’ is a signal to each witch to reach within.

[3] Farrar, Eight Sabbats for Witches, p. 44.

[4] Farrar, Eight Sabbats for Witches, p. 45, fn 14 by Doreen Valiente.

Tink About It

March, 2014

My Power Animals

 

Some refer to them as totems, totem animals, spirit guides, animal guides, etc. I simply call them power animals. There are several definitions and uses to distinguish. I learned several, but to me my power animals are always with me. In meditations they accompany and/or guide me. I can ask them questions, or to bring me somewhere or to someone.

I want to share with you how I met my power animals. I know a person can have temporary power animals too, but at the moment I have two permanent ones with me.

 

Years ago I was at a workshop with Gavin Bone (author, lecturer and Wiccan High Priest). He guided us in a wonderful meditation to find our power animal. Gavin has a talent and great voice for guided meditations, so it was quite easy for me to get into it. Along the path we followed I felt a presence next to me that felt very familiar and reassuring. I didn’t pay much attention to it. At a certain point Gavin told me to look around and see if there was an animal that caught my attention. I didn’t see anything, but I felt the presence that was next to me bump into me! I looked and noticed a beautiful black panther staring at me. I thought: ‘no, not you Bagheera! You’ve been with me like forever…’ She sighed and gave me a look that said: duh…! Suddenly I realised I’ve had a power animal all of my life. As a child the panther had been my ‘imaginary friend’ and I called her Bagheera (after The Jungle Book of course). She never left and I loved her presence, but didn’t do anything with her anymore. The meditation was a great way to get reacquainted. From that moment on we work great together.

Black panther’s power includes astral travel, guardian energy, symbol of the feminine, death and rebirth, understanding of death, reclaiming ones power, ability to know the dark, aggressiveness and power without solar influence, reclaiming power.

 

An anecdote about a black panther and me… Long ago I was in the Frankfurter Zoo with Ron, my husband (then boyfriend). Of course I had to visit the cats. From some distance I noticed a black panther and ran towards it. I was able to approach the cage up until the fence, about 50cm from the cage. I followed the leopard with my eyes and spoke softly to him (or her). Suddenly he stood still and pricked up his ears. He turned and walked right at me. I kept whispering soothing words. We had eye contact and after a while he sat down. Without any hesitation I wiggled my hand through one of the bigger openings in the cage. He moved his head towards it, sniffed and licked my hand. Slowly, very carefully, I stroked under his chin. He nuzzled against my hand and I continued to pet whatever part I could reach. Then he gave me another lick on my hand, stood up and walked away calmly. It was such a magical moment… I thanked him and looked over my shoulder to look for Ron. He was standing some meters away with the big cats’ keeper. The man had stopped him from calling me and walking to me. He said it was a very stupid thing to do, but he had also noticed the magic between me and the animal. Only at that moment I realised what I had done and started crying. I don’t think I will ever pull a stunt like that again, but I wouldn’t want to have missed this magical experience for anything!

 

Three years ago I attended a seidr-themed workshop about divination / oracle “under the mantle” in Amsterdam. Útiseta literally means “sitting outside” and ‘sitja á haugi’ means “sitting on a burial mound”. The practitioner or ‘vala’ retreated to a place in nature, covered herself with a mantle, blanket or animal skin and just sat there. Singing and praying she tried to get into contact with the dead (ancestors) to seek information and/or advice. We tried it ourselves. At first I didn’t feel comfortable at all covering myself. I struggled to find the right position for me. Then suddenly I found it and I surrendered myself. After a while I encountered an unexpected ‘guest’. Next to me a polar bear showed up and offered to be my power animal. He said I needed him in that time of my life and he’d be happy to help me. Wow… I was flabbergasted and didn’t really know what to say… I never heard of someone getting a power animal this way before, but of course I was as honoured as I was surprised.

Although it felt wonderful to have him with me, it took some time to get to know each other. After a while I asked him whether I could give him a name and he agreed with Knut, in honour of a famous but unlucky polar bear that had just died.

Polar bear’s power includes the ability to navigate along the earth’s magnetic lines, introspection, ability to find sustenance in barren landscapes, purity of spirit, strength in the face of adversity, solitude, expert swimmer through emotional waters, finding one’s way back from the brink, communication with Spirit, dreams, death and rebirth, transformation, creature of dreams, shamans, mystics and visionaries, defense and revenge.

Of course my power animals have their own place on my altar

I feel very privileged with those two magnificent companions. A major theme in my life has always been (and still is) balance and even my power animals are balanced: black-white, male-female.

To honour my power animals, I try to do a little extra for their real-life family members. I adopted a black panther called Bagheera (coincidence doesn’t exist…) at Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit educational wildlife sanctuary in Tampa, Florida that gives a home to unwanted, abandoned or abused exotic big cats. Bagheera died in 2010 at the age of 21, but I continue to support BCR in the great work they still do.

I haven’t found a way to support an individual polar bear yet (although I might symbolically adopt one at WWF) but I support the survival of the species any way I can. Their Arctic habitat is endangered and that worries me…

 

I’d love to hear how you met your power animal(s) and how you work with them.

 

B*B, Tink

 

Links & sources:

·         Homepage Gavin Bone & Janet Farrar – http://www.callaighe.com/

·         Power animals, totems & spirit guides – http://www.shamanicjourney.com/display-category/100-0-30/power_animals_totems_spirit_guides

·         About Knut, the polar bear – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_(polar_bear)

·         Big Cat Rescue – http://bigcatrescue.org/

·         Bagheera’s tribute at BGR – https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/bagheera-black-leopard

·         WWF adopt-a-species – http://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx

 

 

Tarot Talk

March, 2014

Last but by far not the least of the Six cards of the Tarot Minor Arcana is the Six of Wands.  As we’ve come to discover, in the Tarot Minor Arcana, the Six cards are kind of unique.  This is in part because of the properties of the number 6, and in part because of the properties of the Sephira corresponding to the Tarot Sixes on the Tree of Life.  Before we talk about the Six of Wands, if you haven’t read October’s essay on the Six of Pentacles, and in particular the information regarding the number 6, please do so now.

 

The Six cards of the Tarot offer the concept of forward momentum achieved through victory over the obstacles presented by Four (in the case of Wands cards, the creation of a strong foundation that allows us to look toward the future) and Five (inconveniences and cross-purpose efforts).  These victories are met with the healing achieved through negotiation; of course, this means that acceptance is a part of these Six cards, self-acceptance and the acceptance acquired through effective interactions with both friends and enemies.

 

In sacred math, the number 6 is considered to be a powerful and pure number because the first three numbers, 1, 2 and 3, add up to 6, and because in the Christian creation myth it took Yahweh six days to create the world.  This number offers the concepts of both vertical and horizontal balance, and the corresponding element and suit at their practical best.  This is particularly true of the Six of Wands, which tells of the achievements associated with growth, often through the successful navigation through some kind of challenge.  Remember, the Six cards often present the corresponding element and suit at its practical best, and since the suit of Wands is about creativity and passion, it makes sense that the Six of Wands offers an acknowledgement of achievements gained through the application of creativity and passion.  In most cases even a reversed Six card has many benefits to offer a Seeker, and the meanings of the reversed Six of Wands can be similar to the upright interpretation, just less intense.

 

Tiphareth or Beauty is the sixth Sephira on the Tree of Life, the second on the Pillar of Balance (which is the “trunk” of the Tree), and it represents harmony, equilibrium, and the epitome of balance.  Above Tiphareth are the top three Sephiroth of the Tree, the Supernals, representing God/Source/the Higher Self.  Below the Supernals and above Tiphareth is a void known as Da’at or the Abyss; the Abyss separates (and also bridges) Deity/the Higher Self and the rest of our life experiences.

 

Traveling upward through the Abyss is usually an uncomfortable but in the end beneficial process, for it involves coming to know our Shadow Self, and thus our entire awareness.  This knowledge is terrifying to our conscious mind and empowering at the same time, for it is the source of our personal ethical code and our ability to tell right from wrong. The Abyss is also associated with the cerebellum and the powers of memory and concentration, which allow us to recognize and sense the meaningfulness of life events in a personal, experiential way.  The knowledge and awareness associated with the Abyss are not about the outside world, for the Abyss is connected directly to the one who is doing the knowing and the learning, the Self.  The Six of Wands represents that moment when we realize that our efforts to conquer the Abyss are bringing results that are worth celebrating.

 

Now that we’ve talked about the number 6 in a general fashion as it connects to the Tarot and the Six of Wands, let’s begin the process of breaking our Six of Wands card down even further.  The Six of Wands is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues.  Remember, while on the surface a Minor Arcana card can appear insignificant or mundane, it can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue.  Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

 

We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit.  In this case, we are dealing with the number 6, and the suit of Swords.  These two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation, especially with all the cool information out there regarding the number 6.

 

The suit of Wands corresponds with the playing card suit of Clubs, the cardinal direction of South, and the element of Fire.  In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry.  It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects.  Fire is passionate in nature, and transforms everything in our world.  Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us.  The cards of the suit of Wands teach us about Fiery attributes: creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives.  The suit of Wands represents our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexual passion), and the Wands cards can represent our creativity, our ability to be artistic or to be drawn to beautiful things.  Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine.

 

Astrologically speaking, the Six of Wands represents Jupiter when it is in the sign of Leo. In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler, guardian and protector of the gods. Similarly, the planet Jupiter is in many ways the ruler of our solar system.  Some astronomers believe that Jupiter with its massive gravity actually protects the rest of our solar system by attracting or deflecting comets and asteroids that might otherwise threaten Earth.  Like passions and emotions, Jupiter is brightly colored and covered with large and intense storms; the planet is symbolized by a lightning bolt.  Jupiter needs 11.9 of our years to orbit our Sun, and it spends 361 days in each sign of the zodiac.  Astrologically, Jupiter is associated with growth, expansion, prosperity, freedom, exploration, and good fortune. Jupiter is connected to long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, all humanitarian pursuits, and the law (and its role as a protector of society). Jupiter is also associated with gambling and merrymaking.

 

The Sun sign of Leo is connected with the Lion, the king of the jungle, our Sun, the center of our solar system, and the element of Fire; it is a fixed sign.  In Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. This means that Leos are powerful and willful in all they do, often achieving more than expected.  Of course, they can also be inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded.  Leos are passionate and courageous; they can combine dignity and strength in order to be effective leaders who have a talent for inspiring others to also go above and beyond what is expected.  They tend to plunge into a situation without a second glance, but since they thrive on risk and competitive situations, the end result is often good.

 

When we combine these ingredients together, we end up with a pretty nice description of the Six of Wands!  Let’s reassemble our card.

 

To sum up: the number 6 tells of the vertical and horizontal balance that is achieved through negotiation and acceptance; even the reversed number is still beneficial.  The Sixes of the Tarot correspond with balance and beauty, a child’s ability to find innocent joy in simple things, and the ability to remember and understand events of the past, whether pleasant or uncomfortable or challenging, in order to be a better person.  The suit of Wands is about passion and ambition, creativity and the courage to take action, and the ability to feel vindicated by succeeding through hard work.  The energies of this suit (and the element of Fire) are hot and dry, they tend to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects.  Jupiter is about expansion, growth, exploration, prosperity and protection.  Leo is about leadership abilities, courage, loyalty and honor, ambition, creativity, and an enjoyment of being in the public eye.

 

This means that the Six of Wands expresses the celebration we feel when we have passed some test or successfully met a challenge.  This card is about realizing that we’ve established our reputation with others, perhaps through an uncomfortable process; its most common image is a victorious warrior receiving the accolades and recognition of those around him.  The Six of Wands can tell of having our day in the sun, and it can tell of feeling good about what we’ve accomplished.

 

The Tarot of the Sephiroth sees the Six of Wands as being connected to successes and riches of a spiritual nature, or at least achieved not only through our own efforts but also through Divine guidance and intervention.  The Shadowscapes Tarot describes this card as representing someone who has ascended to authority and distinguished himself by being strong and clever.  The Shadowscapes Six of Wands warns, however, of the danger of falling prey to pride.  The Thoth Six of Wands reminds us of the balance and harmony of Tiphareth, and it reminds us that the strength which brings Victory (Crowley’s keyword for this card) comes through being able to blend together opposites.  The Llewellyn Welsh Tarot tells us that the Six of Wands represents establishing authority through gaining the respect of our peers.  The Legacy of the Divine Tarot reminds us that the victory of the Six of Wands comes us because we were able to make use of the foresight of the Four of Wands, and because we were able to maintain our focus despite the churning energies, competition and cross-purpose of the Five of Wands.

 

A reversed Six of Wands could indicate that we don’t yet have the right to celebrate.  It could indicate a possible loss or humility or defeat, but the presence of the card, even if it is reversed, gives a bit of hope even on the darkest of days.  A reversed Six of Wands could also be a warning that we have passed through justified pride and moved into arrogance and a sense of self-importance.

 

There you go; we have covered all the Sixes of the Tarot Minor Arcana.  That requires a bit of a celebration of our accomplishments because we successfully dealt with the challenges of the Sixes, eh?

 

Next time, we will go back to the Major Arcana and look at the Justice card.

A Shamanic View

March, 2014

A Shamanic View: Cultural Misappropriation

One thing that has come up a couple times in our local pagan discussion group is cultural misappropriation. Usually when this comes up in the media it’s about stealing fashion or culture.  But what about when it’s spiritual or religious? I think the usual rule tends to be, “ask ten pagans and you’ll get twelve answers.”

I’ve already said some things about appropriating the title ‘shaman.’ This time I want to talk about rituals, ceremonies, healing or divination techniques, and so on.

One example to start with would be the sweat lodge. This made headlines a few years back when people died in one that wasn’t done very well at all. Among First Nations people, this is a sacred ceremony led by people who have undergone lengthy training. Then a white guy runs one as part of a really high priced seminar, presenting it as something it was not. This made the genuine ones look bad and made the Lakota Nation understandably pissed off.

Now, similar purification ceremonies have been done in Scandinavian and Eastern European cultures. Of course, the guy wasn’t portraying it as one of theirs, or even as a “done around the world” thing, but as a Native American ceremony.

The term, “plastic shaman” has come about to refer to people who are using shamanic culture for their own profit. Read up a little on “indigenous intellectual property” rights and–okay, you actually have to read quite a bit to follow it all! It’s being talked about online quite a bit lately.

So here’s *my* individual take on some of it. I apologize in advance to any who might take offense.  I don’t have the space to cover it adequately, so consider this just a sampling and something to meditate on for yourself.

There are some aspects of intellectual property I just can’t find myself agreeing with. One example would be the lore or knowledge of healing properties of plants. I don’t personally believe anyone can “own” that knowledge. Someone could “own” a technique for using it.

But there are a *lot* of things that are common among shamanic cultures throughout the world. Can any of those cultures “own” any of those things? In my experience, most shamanic teachings come from the spirits we work with. I’ve learned far more from my spirit teachers than from the physical ones. If one of those spirits teaches me a healing ceremony, that maybe it also taught to tribal shamans long ago and far away, then that ceremony was given to me to use. I don’t own it any more than anyone else does.

The difference comes in with how I might present it. I’d never say, “I’m going to do an Australian Aboriginal healing ceremony.” I might say, “Australian Aboriginal healers do something similar.” I’ll never do a “Lakota sweat lodge” ceremony. And I’ll always be respectful of other cultures which have been taught some of the same things I’ve learned. Because they certainly learned it before me.

Not to say that I think cultural misappropriation is a myth. Wearing a feather headdress to “look cool” doesn’t work. That headdress has important symbolic meaning to some people. Wearing a priest’s collar because it might look cool isn’t really any different. But when someone tries to claim ownership of knowledge, I have to wonder if they’re defending what they think they are or if they’re getting defensive about something else.

Individually, it means we should all think carefully about the things we adopt. Are we potentially stepping on someone else’s feelings? For any of us who identify as eclectic it’s even more important. When we adopt ideas or beliefs from others are we adopting them for honorable and respectful reasons/motivations?

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