January, 2015

Merry Meet!

January, 2015

New Year 2015

           HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

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In This Issue…

 

apothecary1

We introduce you to a new herbal column “Notes from the Apothecary” featuring Sage this month

 

We feature two very interesting interviews.

Shaman

Practicing Shaman Isabella Stoloff

and

Romany Rivers

Author, artist, Pagan Priestess Romany Rivers

 

 

candles

Learn to make your own Beeswax Candles in Witchcrafting

 

 

Kali

Read up on Kali in She Who Is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

 

 

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We are always looking for new columnists at PaganPages.

If you have ever been interested in writing, art, photography, and have knowledge you would like to share, pitch us your ideas!

Currently we have openings in the following departments:

God’s:  Writer is to discuss a God monthly.  May include myths, pictures, correspondences.

Movie & TV Reviewer:   Writer will review pagan themed as well as paranormal movies & television shows.

Podcast Reviewer:   Writer will discuss the hot topics on the pagan podcasts monthly, as well as review different podcasts.

If you are interested in any of these positions, or a column of your own idea, email us at admin@paganpages.org

 

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Have a personal question you’re dying to have answered, but are just to embarrassed to ask or do not know who to turn to? Ask our Miss Jules! You can write her at thecraftwytch@gmail.com

In 600 words or less, write Miss Jules your dilemma at thecraftwytch@gmail.com.  Your name will not be published.

 

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She Who Is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2015

Kali

 

“By you this universe is borne, by you this world is created

By you it is protected, O Devi. By you it is consumed at the end

You who are eternally the form of the whole world,

at the time of creation you are the form of the creative force,

at the time of preservation you are the form of the protective power
and at the time of the dissolution of the world
you are the form of the destructive power
You are the Supreme Knowledge, as well as ignorance,
intellect and compassion”
From the Devi-Mahatmya

Kali

I was unsure of which Goddess to choose for the January column.  December was fun in choosing Winter Goddesses.  January is cold and dreary in most of the northern hemisphere.  Should the Goddess be all about the light?  Apparently not.

 

I have been having Kali visit me in the quiet of my mind these past few months, and She got me to thinking.  The New Year is a time of change for many people.  Most run around making resolutions that, honestly, dont make it through the first month.  Some make the same resolution every year Im going to give up smoking, I am going to exercise everyday, and so on.   The thing we most want and what we focus on are our obstacles, and THAT, is where Kali comes in.  She will help you destroy those obstacles and free you to make the changes you wish.

 

In Hinduism, the Goddesses are Devi, which means deity.  She, of course, has different aspects: Durga, Lakshmi, Tara, Sarasvati, Parvati, Kali.  Kalis name means Time

 

Her stories are bountiful.  Born from the brow of Parvati, Kali killed the demonic forces that were threatening.   She danced with the Lord of the Dance, Shiva, and it is said the dance grew wilder and wilder, and as the dance continues, it will one day shake the world to pieces.   She killed other demons during another battle,  and it is said that after they were dead, exhilarated, laughing and roaring,  Kali happily drank their blood and began to dance wildly, hence Her dance of death and destruction.

 

 

She is seen as a Dark Goddess, as she dances the dance of death and destruction, but She is also keeper of time and will be there when new things emerge from Her destruction.  When you see Her, there is no mistaking Her. 

She wears a necklace of skulls around Her neck, She hold weapons in her numerous hands.  Her tongue protrudes from Her mouth.  She can be terrifying to behold and to work with. 

Kali2

 

 

However, She is worshiped by many as the Mother Kali or Kali Ma, in which Her worshipers surrender to Her utterly.   Abrahim Khan, an anthropologist, said that to belong to Her, the worshiper must surrender not just the intellect, but the entire self, that is the mind, the body.”   To me, that is the key to working with Kali.

 

Even so, Kali is still once of the most worshiped Goddesses in India and other parts of the world.   Kali is more than a Dark Goddess who destroys.  She is also the Goddess who helps us to face our fears head on.  She is strength.  She is courage.  She helps us to face our own darkness.

 

The following is my meditation from a *workshop that I have taught, Healing Dance of the Kali Dakini.***

 

Sit quietly, breathing deeply, closing eyes.  Visualize yourself in darkness, a cave, deep within the womb of the Earth.  Breathe into your sacred feminine energy.  Now, open yourself to She, who is Kali, who is both fearsome and

spiritually liberating, offering you healing from your emotional wounds.  Sense Her in whatever way you wish and allow her to see you in your entirety, the good and the bad. Let your breath connect to her.  Draw her presence into your body, into each part of yourself.  As you do this, allow the release of all obstacles, accepting the freedom that She offers.

 

This is a lovely song for a Kali meditation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJa4r-OydDM&list=PL_dIya2JbVnTkujuSpjPc-hZV6LbKSnTX&index=2

 

I also recommend the Dance of Kali, which I also do in my workshop.  The idea behind this is to just dance, allow your body to move freely without inhibition.  As you dance, visualize yourself healed – a blissful Kali Dakini dancing in the light in service to Kali.  (Note: a Dakini translates as sky dancer.  She is a spiritual disciple of Kali, the creative personification of the Divine Feminine)***

 

I would recommend lying down and relaxing with long deep breathing for at least 10 minutes after the above meditations.

 

 

That is Kali.  You can reach me at ShaktiWarriorSpirit at gmail.com if you have any questions or (nice) comments.

 

May Kali bless you on your journey!

 

 

 

 

Resources:  ***The Healing Dance of Kali, Workshop taught by Susan Morgaine

                               (@ShaktiSpirit 2014)

                     Kali, The Feminine Force by Ajit Mookerjee

                     The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

                             (a must-have)

                      Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone

                             (also highly recommended)

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

January, 2015

On Witch Wars…

 

My articles focus on Sabbats, and it is not time to write about the next Sabbat JUST yet. So I am writing about something that we all know all too well about and that drives many of us insane.

The ugly presence of Witch Wars in our communities.

It seems like the spats, ego contests, and just plain out bad behavior in Pagan communities and groups gets a lot more attention than the good things we do sometimes. Shops compete for patrons. Covens argue over who knows most, and people fling name calling and curses at one another on a regular basis.

Many reading this probably became interested in Wicca because of something they read or some Wiccans they had met.

Like I did.

All the Wiccans, or self-labeled Neo-Pagans I’d met were very nice people. They were laid back, easygoing people who agreed to disagree on topics. They were live-and-let-live individuals. They were non-judgmental, and if you judged them, they said it was “unfortunate” and they walked away peaceably.  They believed in the existence of all gods, and believed in the rights of everybody to worship as they saw fit. I had met ONE militant Pagan who had a chip on her shoulder about everything under the sun, but from what I’d seen, that was very rare, and she called herself a Solitary, anyhow.

From what I saw, I drew the conclusion that Pagans were peacemakers, huggers, lovers, and healers who just wanted to worship as they saw fit and experience the divine in the way that made sense to them.

It was a breath of fresh air to come to Wicca and experience community as a newcomer. I was immediately embraced by a shop owner and three New Agers while I was searching, and after relocating to a new State, eventually made my way to initiation into a Traditional Wiccan discipline with a wonderful Priest who I have come to call my dad.

I asked to study for a third degree, and began helping officiate ritual with my Priest after starting a discussion group that met twice a month. I felt I had finally found the religion that I was born for and finally come home to soul kin. I was excited.

Imagine my surprise after converting, seeing witch wars crop up all over the place, both outside my group, and WITHIN my own group.

Soon, I started calling myself “The most hated person” in my hometown as I pulled people aside and discussed conduct and created ground rules for attending group meetings. For some odd reason, people did not know how to get along with one another. I explained things like how to take turns when a discussion was in progress and it was somebody else’s turn to speak. I explained that telling people “don’t let the door hit you on the back on the way out” was no way to talk to other people. I got messages from people complaining about other people. I found out about older people coercing younger people to give them money. And for some odd reason, people wanted to make sure I knew who was sleeping with who. I told people to stop it if they were yelling at my Priest.  I had to ask people to leave on occasion. This all really pissed people off.

Then I heard of complaints and bashing of me, including criticism of my personal life that followed such things. While the old saying “The boss can’t have friends” may be true, it bothered me.

After a couple of years of this, I found I dreaded opening my e-mail inbox to the point I’d have panic attacks just thinking about it.

I was told by some that I was just obviously NOT clergy material if these things upset me. Pagan clergy transcended all human emotions with proper spellwork and meditation. My Priest said they could all go fuck themselves when they told me things like that.

He was right. I found a majority of the Pagans to be like the first Pagans I’d met, and precious few to be those who caused strife in the community.

I also found my tolerance level and personal well-being steadily diminish with every incident I had to handle. Finally, I stopped organizing discussion groups twice a month, and just went to doing something every other month.

But I continued to maintain contact with members of many different groups and the stories, contacts, and personal upset continued.

The last straw came when I asked a  fellow officiant to do a ritual at a Beltaine gathering. This individual was transgendered,  and all hell broke loose when another member of the group decided a transgendered person was indecent and unfit to have around  other people’s kids.

Being a Libra, I tried to keep everybody happy, and the result was that a few months after the first “concern” was aired, a “poll” was taken to see what people at a large psychic event thought of transgendered people. It was “reported” to me that some people said they would NEVER bring their children to an event where a -GASP- transgendered individual was allowed to officiate.

I found myself sitting on the floor in my computer room, bawling my eyes out for hours, my Priest’s wife trying unsuccessfully to calm me down via instant messaging.

The transgendered individual officiated and nobody died, there were kids in attendance, nobody felt threatened, and life went on.

A huge behind the scenes brawl with curses exchanged cropped up and of course, I was told how I handled it all wrong.  Nevermind the fact none of this would have happened if a Pagan had not discriminated against another one and went on the warpath. The person who was responsible for putting the fires out, not the one who started the fire, was to blame for the whole thing.

About two years after that, said transgendered individual bitched about me on her Facebook and threatened to end communication with me if I had my “panties in a bundle”, and would not let Muslim bashing on my personal page.

And with that, I threw my hands up.

Where are all the peaceable Pagans I knew years ago, and when did we become a community of brawling, argumentative children who cannot get along with one another?

I lamented this to my Priest.

Aside from telling me that people who cannot get along with each other can go fuck themselves once more, he gave me a research assignment.

Upon completion, I discovered Wiccans have been brawling with one another since day one.

It all started when Mr. Gerald Gardner decide to come out to the press.

He claimed Wicca traced lineage from Pre Christian Pagans worshipping the Horned God and The Goddess. He said the religion went underground during the Inquisition and was resurfacing. Some of the folks in Gardners group, unhappy with the attention from the public, raised hell with him, and some departed.

Even in Gardners own group, he disagreed sharply with the beloved Doreen Valiente when she was his Priestess. She felt he limited the Priestesses power too much, and he felt Valiente was asking for TOO much power and the Priest should have more power.

They split.

One would think people responsible for founding Wicca were in full agreement as to how to be Wiccan. Not so. Gardner was publically challenged by people like Robert Cochrane, who Valiente joined, and Charles Cardell.

Charles Cardell’s creation was the Coven of Atho. Raymond Howard worked to promote this Coven, and as per testimony from his son in 2008, he personally created an image of a horned god he claimed was very old. It was stolen from his shop in 1967, and has not been seen since. Howard split with Cardell after a falling out.

Cardell fought with Gardner. Gardner fought with Valiente.  Valiente fought with Howard.

Even  Alexander Sanders, founder of Alexandrian Wicca was publically attacked by Patricia Crowther, who was initiated by Gardner and later founded her own Coven with her husband.

It appears early Wiccans got along only long enough to initiate one another, and then they fought, split, and started new Covens as response.

Each new Coven did things differently than the others, and each founder seemingly declared their way the RIGHT way. They were not shy about publically speaking against each other.

Part of me wonders if this has created an imprint modern Pagans unknowingly inherit. One dictating that there will be chaos. Indeed, most Pagans I meet are intellectuals, and independent thinkers. Many left organized religion because they did not feel some other person can tell them how best to worship. So is it any wonder that you get a gaggle of said individuals together, who gather in the name of a religion founded by people disagreeing with one another, that fights will break out and nobody wants an authority figure telling them to just get along already?

Researching what I call “the Great Witch Wars”  that resulted in the founding of many Wiccan traditions revealed to me that it is not my imagination Pagans don’t always get along with one another. It revealed it is nothing personal.  And it revealed to me that there is nothing I can do about it.

I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Some clergy persons and group facilitators are business owners who do this during store hours. I was not one of those facilitators. I held down two jobs that had nothing to do with Paganism and I paid my own bills. Occasionally, I’d get paid for doing a tarot reading. Talking people down after fights to try and keep the group from splintering was something I did on time off, lunch breaks, and holidays. It took up all my spare time, and I began to dread it.

My Libran “What can I do to make sure we all just get along?” turned to a cynical. “Let them fight. I can’t watch this. I want to go live my own life.”

Everybody had advice and experience with the same thing within their own groups… I don’t need to remind you what my Priest’s advice was.

Some said to let the witch wars roll off my back like water on a duck. I just needed to toughen up and build a thick skin.

Some said to be Solitary. It worked well for many.

Some said it was my imagination and I was letting a few bad apples give all the good people a bad name.

I was told by one person that maybe I was not really called for a life of service to the gods, just to do tasks for a short time.  I felt I was being told that I could just let the pros do it all and just step aside.

Being sensitive was both praised and spit at.  I was told “Sensitives” made good psychics, but were not allowed to be such unless they were getting a vibe or doing a reading. I don’t know how that is supposed to work. They must know of some secret switch I can hit to turn it on and off at will?

The more I listened, the more I heard that many facilitators felt the same exhaustion and futility that I did. Some quit, some took a break and cooled off. Some went on despite the way they felt.

Those who succeeded most were the business owners.

I came to the conclusion that it was a mistake for Pagan clergy to do everything for free.

There is a lot of debate about that.  Of course, I realized, it is oftentimes the ones want to live with their parents for the rest of their lives who shout the loudest that Pagan clergy has no right to charge for services. They are also the ones who publically pick the facilitators to pieces- right after attending the latest free workshop. They are the ones who are most easily disappointed and the ones who always seem to be unable to maintain relationships, hop from group to group, always publically lambasting the group leaders perceived sins,   and many of them are in and out of jobs the most.

In short, since I was facilitating totally free Pagan activities, these people are the ones who attended my offered activities most.

Of course, plenty of people who were not this way attended as well.

I can sit up and complain about people who make community difficult all I want, but it won’t change a thing.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the way things are, because I was in denial. I wanted, needed us to be BETTER. I needed to believe Pagans were so much more advanced than members of other religions. I needed to believe there were a few people I could council or just get rid of, and our Pagan circles would be absolutely perfect.

I admit, I saw the same messes going on at other meetings, and I tried to learn from it and make sure it did not happen at my gatherings. Part of my acceptance came from admitting I was not any smarter or any better than any of the rest of the organizers and that people who wanted to fight were just going to fight.

I also accepted that I cannot please everybody.

I also accepted that facilitators and clergy are not better Pagans than the people they facilitate and minister to.

Let me say that again so I make sure you got it.

Facilitators and clergy are not better Pagans than the people they facilitate and minister to.

They falter and lose faith just as easily. They weep and grope for answers just as often and feel just as lost just as many times. They screw up just as often. They struggle with the same delusions and get sick and have financial woes,  too.

They are learning just the same as the people they teach. The only difference is they are the ones who organize the events, worship services, and the coming together of the people called to come.

More burden is placed on them just the same as we place it on our parents and our bosses. We expect the people who are in charge to be absolutely PERFECT for 100% of the time. After all, our culture expects leaders to lead by example. We don’t LIKE to be told what to do, but if the person doing the telling is absolutely immaculate, we feel we can trust them to have the answers.

Sometimes, the organizers and clergy do not have all the answers. Sometimes, they do the wrong thing. Sometimes, they are not well prepared, and sometimes, they get sick, call off, or just outright quit.

Not because they are not good at it or because the gods have used them all they want to- but because despite what their calling is or what their job is, they are human beings too.

Their mistakes and shortcomings are just more held against them more.

I have spoken with some clergy and facilitators who insist clergy is not ALLOWED to make mistakes. They are not ALLOWED to fail to foresee all things that could happen. You MUST have backup and plan b’s for EVERY possible scenario. If not, you fail and it is all your pathetic fault.

There is a lot of smugness and personal pride in the Pagan community. Not because that is inherently Pagan, but because it is inherently human.

But, as Pagans, because we reject grace and salvation, we sometimes reject the concept of forgiveness.

For me, coming to terms with the fact the community was not what I expected it to be entailed first forgiving our human nature. Our ability to screw up and to be unable to make certain things happen.

I realized I was not upset with community. And I was not even holding things against certain people. I was angry with myself for not being perfect.  Once I forgave myself for that, my Priest’s advice finally made sense. Some folks can just go fuck themselves.

Once I decided to let certain people go fuck themselves, I accepted that I could not run a group that was for everybody who was Pagan. I accepted that I did not owe anybody anything. I was not required to offer or to DO certain things just because somebody expected it. If I wanted to facilitate, I could. If I decided I did not want to do so anymore, that was okay too. It was okay to do so the way I did it, not the way I was told to.

If I ever do decide to quit,  the people who criticized me and lamented how all their dreams did not come true at my gatherings will enjoy saying “I KNEW it!” Such people go through life counting it as a victory if they perceive somebody else failed.

What is it about human beings that we like to see each other fail? I used to think it was an example of “survival of the fittest” .  But I disagree with that. Because human beings survive and thrive best in successful teams.

Neo-Pagans could benefit from learning how to exist in teams.

Neo-Paganism, I believe is in it’s first century, and I quite agree with the Xtians that a  house divided against itself WILL fall. I also feel, that since we are still so new, have no centralized, governing dogma, and even our founders quarreled and splintered, that we will continue to do so.  For a time at least. Reports about legal victories abound in the news, so while we may be making progress against society’s discrimination against us, I don’t see us making any progress since our founding mothers and fathers of getting along with one another. That is the number one complaint people who say they became Solitaries have made to me.

I think that rather than only suing everybody else for legal rights and equal status, we need to also focus on cohesion and cooperation with one another.

I don’t have the answers, and I admit, I have not been to a gathering I have not promised to attend in a long while. I used to go all the time because I enjoyed it. I have just not enjoyed it in a while. I have no idea how long this will last.

I really aspire to emulate my Priests example. He ran a store for over a decade and has officiated for numerous groups and Covens. He has been sited on radio and in print. People seek him out, and although some are not respectful sometimes, he is highly respected and valued as an elder of our community.

What I seek most to emulate is his attitude. He does what he can when he can for who he can. He does not hold it against himself if he cannot do something. He recognizes immediately when somebody is never satisfied and he does not bother himself with their complaints. People have a right to give feedback, and he listens and is humble and does not claim to be unable to improve, but for the most part, his critics, can…you guessed it…go fuck themselves.

That attitude is the number one thing that successful facilitators and clergy in the Pagan community seem to share. Especially if they are active and successful long term.

I know deep in my heart that if I do not learn to be that way, then I really am going to fail. While we have to give people what they need, otherwise, we cannot do the work of the gods, human beings have the tendency to desire the impossible and to expect the impossible from our leaders.  Some seek to replace medical and psychiatric care with a tarot reading. Some seek to replace physical and sexual attractiveness with love spells.  Some seek to replace a personal relationship with the divine with constant attendance at Pagan events. Like a social club, yet there is no deeper meaning. And some expect the facilitators, shopkeepers, and clergy to automatically give them all these things. Many expect it for free.

What I am trying to say here is try to be fair regardless of whether you facilitate and minister or whether you are one of the people being ministered and facilitated to. Be fair to one another and be fair to yourself. Sometimes, we have to experience being unfair or being treated unfairly to realize what actually IS fair.  That is okay too. Embrace, forgive, move on, and enjoy community if you want to. If you don’t enjoy community, that is okay too.  Just try to remember we all count regardless of what we bring to the table. My Priest always reminds me that EVERYTHING teaches, even if somebody is showing how NOT to be. Experiencing frustration based on how somebody treats you can remind how not to treat others.  Those ministering easily forget everybody coming to them has a struggle and is looking for answers. Even the annoying ones who won’t take advice. Those coming for the answers easily forget clergypersons are human too and don’t always HAVE all the answers.

If we are to have community, we must accept that everybody is at a different place in their development, and is just as loved by the divine as the next person who we may perceive as more spiritually developed. Somehow, the gods put up with us when we can barely endure one another, let alone ourselves.  Despite the witch wars, the petty squabbles, and the disappointments, we keep forging community and groups. People come and go, membership changes, people move on. Community, as imperfect and dysfunctional as it can be, stays.

May the gods bless each of us, despite our imperfections, mistakes, and real and percieved crimes. May we find great soul kin to share our lives with, who experience the good and the bad with us, as we walk our own individual paths.  May we never give up on one another and may we have great friends to support us and keep us on the path when we do feel about to give up on ourselves. May we be aware of our own weaknesses more strongly than we are aware of those of others.  May we be blessed and may we bless one another.

Blessed Be.

Hedgewitch Days!

January, 2015

Picture perfect 2015!

Hi my lovelies,

2015 has come screaming in way too fast…time is certainly playing its tricks on this old Hedgewitch, who gave permission for time to speed up?

2014 was a year of excitement as my first book was published and everyone seemed to be moving! I moved house, as did both of my daughters, one at University and one with the 3 grandbabies to a bigger home, packing boxes were flying around the family like a bag of sweets! There is something wonderful about moving house. I know it is supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do, however, I am a serial mover…the amount of houses I have lived in during my life almost total the years of my age…I always say that if I ever was to write my autobiography it would be called Gypsy Feet!!!

Moving gives you the opportunity for a fresh start, out with the old and all that…and I am all for fresh starts, something new coming into your life and the energy it brings can magically change the path you are on and the direction in which you are going. New surroundings, a new environment can herald in a wealth of new friends and neighbours into your life, and a new space to design and create. A new job can boost your confidence and expand your knowledge, a new baby is joyous with the prospects of the future all bound up in a cute little package all sweet smelling and adorable. Anything new is a big change that can take some adjustment but almost always brings wonderfulness to compensate for any inconvenience caused!

The new calendar year brings us the fresh start we sometimes need to kick us up the ‘you know where’ and move on to do ‘who knows what’!

Hedge 1

Although we celebrate our witchy new year at Samhain we all live in the very real world of ‘non witches’ who all start their year on January 1st…a new page of the calendar all blank and ready to be filled, and just like the calendar we have the chance, as the bells of Big Ben call in the new year here in the UK, to create something new!

I really believe that we have a duty to pass down something of ourselves to future generations, and ordinarily that for us Hedge witches would be a book of shadows. All of our magical thoughts, spells and rituals recorded for our use, and hopefully to hand down to someone who can carry on the traditions and teach the next magical weavers all the tricks of the trade so to speak. Recently, mainly through my page on Facebook, I have become more and more aware of the phrase, a picture paints a thousand words…and it really does! Nothing flows around social media faster than a beautiful or funny image, and no one shares around a post only of words. We all respond from our very earliest of years to pictures, in books, on the TV…we understand and learn by what’s in front of us, the sight of others smiles teaching us our first interaction with the outside world rather than the words we use or hear.

This thought returns me to the whole ‘moving’ thing again…I know guys, I do ramble on lol, stay with me now! When I moved in September last year, I finally got round to sorting out the 4 boxes of photographers, mainly left to me by my Mum when she died 12 years ago. Sitting on the floor deciding what to keep, and what may be relevant to my own children and grandchildren was an emotional task…There were photos of beloved family members, including my own babies, pets, obscure family members whom I struggled to remember, and many photos of people and places that must have meant something to my Mum that I had no clue about at all! Back in the distant past of no digital technology all records of that family member, holiday, birthday and school sports days were recorded on film, far removed from what we now hold in our hands to record images. These films were pot luck as down to the chemist or developer they would go, as you patiently waited to collect your photos without having a clue what was captured in those 24 images. At the moment of truth there was an excitement to see just what had been recorded, was there even one photo that didn’t have a thumb covering the corner, or wasn’t plastered with a sticker saying over exposed. To get a couple of good pictures out of one film was proclaimed a success, and there in your very own hands you were holding something that could be handed down to someone. These images, all powerful in their own way, were a traditional way of handing down the past to the future, from my mum to me. It is now in my hands to hand down what’s relevant and important to my children and grandbabies, phew…what a responsibility!!!

These days of technology, however wonderful they are, have mainly robbed us of the image in your hand moments. Everything is digital now, mainly on phones, allowing us to click merrily away, deleting as we go and only holding onto only the most pleasing of photographs. Gone are the shaky, overexposed thumb printed pictures of your seaside holiday, how I mourn those captured ‘human’ images….but I mourn the demise of the actual ‘hold in your paws’ photographs even more! When was the last photo you took on your phone printed out? How many times do we show people our precious grandbaby pics or our beloved pets doing something cute to others by handing over our phone? It’s so sad and, I for one, as much as I embrace the ease of new technology would like to propose the following idea for this New Year….the’’ Image Book of Shadows’’!

Hedge 2

It is my goal to create a book of shadows that talks to the future generation in the simplest language of all to understand, the language of images. So here’s the idea my lovelies… The book of shadows photo album…sectioned into the months of the year, or the 8 festivals, whichever you feel most comfortable with. Then click away! Take pictures of what matters to you magically…the sunset, a crow on a fence, new buds unfurling, the frost on the car, anything that calls to your magical side! Of course include what you hold dear, family, familiars etc… but focus these images on the magical side. Then regularly, say once a month, actually print out these magical images into something physical you can hold in your hand. Spend time in a comfortable place, candles and incense lit and ask as ever the Goddess, God and the elements for their guidance as you work. Create your Picture book of shadows by instinct and for each image write a line or two as to why this image is important, what it magically represents for you. Just a few words will do, the essence of the pictures will mainly speak for themselves. Try and include a front page though with a short paragraph explaining what it is you are doing and what year it is.

Build this book throughout the calendar year…It really is a wonderful way to bring a focus into making everyday life magical, as you will start to see meaning in all that’s around you, and want to record it! Then, when the time comes, and the future generations take up the baton of the path we follow. They will hold in their hands the world as it is around us, seen by our eyes, all the magic captured for them to add to and hand down themselves one day.

Well, my lovelies, I will shut up now lol…I wish you a magical New Year, wherever you are and as ever the brightest blessings and big hugs

MoonOwl Observations

January, 2015

Consecrating Objects

Anything you purchase will have been handled by other people and will have traces of their energies on it. This especially applied to anything second-hand. Second-hand items could have been used for any number of purchases, including dark magic. Anything you tend to use magically will need previous energies removed. There are a large number of ways you can consecrate and cleanse and item. Some ways will work well with certain objects and not with others. Of course there are other ways that may be more convenient for you and also, the resources you have will also play a part. You should always follow what you feel is right and what you think will connect that object to you, or your purpose in the best way. I personally prefer to do most of my cleansing and consecrating outdoors if I can, of course, I live in Canada, so it’s a lot harder to do that during the winter. Sometimes you may want the sun or moon to shine down on it, as I do. I have various methods listed below, and feel free to take any of them, and make them your own.

An item could be a candle, a talisman, a crystal, or any number of things. When someone else comes to you for help with magic, it can sometimes be helpful if they bring an object they are connected to as it will link them to the magic. In these cases, consecrating it, may not be the ideal.

Typical objects should be cleansed and can be placed on the altar prior to the start of the ritual. Most practitioners like to keep their tools entirely separate from ordinary everyday objects, which I also recommend. Some tools are dedicated to a certain task at hand, and will be used for nothing else. If a tool has been used for a mundane, non-magic task, it will be of no use to you in magical workings. It would ideally need to be replaced, or at the very least, re-cleansed and consecrated. Consecration or dedication consists of the preparation, purification and presentation of your objects.

Until they are needed, the athame, boline and wand should be wrapped in a silk cloth of any colour except black or brown. Before they are used they also should be purified and consecrated. Some spells recommend that objects be consecrated. In general, these spells can invoke spiritual assistance of one type or another. By consecrating the object you can dedicate it to a spirit or deity, which will in turn serve as conduit to that deity’s energy and blessings.

For spells and certain objects, you can build an altar dedicated to the spirit or deity. You can then charge it with your desire. After that, you should consciously request that the object receive the needed blessing and energy of the spirit/deity. Keep the object at the altar close to the spirit/deity’s image for a time you feel appropriate. You can even keep it there overnight, but I don’t recommend leaving a circle cast for that length of time.

>To consecrate a basic item you can sprinkle it with water, and expose it to perfumes. The sprinkling is best done with a bunch of mint, marjory, and rosemary, or with a bunch of vervain, periwinkle, sage, mint, valerian, ash, basil and rosemary, tied with a thread. The perfume is best done by using ecclesiastical incense or made by burning aloes, wood, mace, storax and benzoin.

>You can place it in the moonlight of the Full Moon, preferably for the whole night, as this will not only cleanse it, but will empower it too. Make sure you leave it somewhere safe, like on a windowsill, compared to it remaining outdoors, where animals, or other things could get at it.

> You can also place it under running water for about 10 minutes while you visualize all negativity being washed away, of course, this is of no use if the object will spoil if it gets wet.

> The best, but most elaborate way would start with you soaking the object overnight in saltwater, or letting it stand in the sunshine or moonlight. This will create the best environment and energy to further enhance the connection between you and the object being consecrated.

You should then hold the object and allow your own energy to pass into it. Really make an effort to establish a link to it so its energy can flow back into you. You should then present it to the four points and then to the Goddess and God.

This is the method I have used, which I found in a book a while ago, which is now in my book of shadows. I have felt it has worked well for me in the past.

For your tools or altar items you can do the following:

You will need: Incense, a white candle, a small bowl of water, a small bowl of earth or salt and the chosen tool

  • Cast your circle

  • Ask for a blessing on your articled representing the four points and place the symbols in their corresponding direction

  • Pick up the object to be consecrated

  • Concentrate on the goals you want to achieve and the actions that you want to carry out and then say: “ Before you wandering spirits, I bring this (name tool). May its benefits be devoted to the work of the Lady and Lord.”

  • Light the incense and waft the object through the smoke. Say “By force of Air, be purified. Be devoted to clarity. May all aspirations be realized for the greater good of all. “

  • Then, having lit the candle, pass the instrument through the flicker of the flame and say the following “ By the power of the dancing light, be purified. Be devoted to longing. May all aspiration be realized for the greater good of all”

  • Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the chosen implement and say “By the power of Neptune’s domain, be purified. Be devoted to the waves of ardour. May all aspirations be realized for the greater good of all.”

  • Next, take the object and bring to the Earth/salt and say “By the power of earth and dust, be purified. Be devoted to resolute intent. May all aspirations be realized for the greater good of all.”

If the object is a chalice continue with this: (Presentation of the chalice)

  • Hold your chalice to the sky in both hands and say: “ O beauteous Lady, shower sanctity upon this chalice. May it be a vessel for activity and achievement, and so appear worthy of your omnipresence. May it be so constrained that no harm results. To your service, O Lady, I devote this chalice, that we both shall long in your reverence, serve. “

  • Then say “O magnificent Lord, sanctify this chalice so that it brings delight and clarity. Protect the dealings which pour from it so that no thing is harmed. May it be dedicated to thee and thy beauteous Lady, may it serve thee well. So let it be.”

If the object is an athame, continue with this: (presentation of the athame)

  • Hold your athame towards the sky in both hands and say : “O Great Lord, bless this athame. May it be forever unsullied, bound to your greatness so that no thing may be harmed. O my Lord, bless this athame. May it be used only for the good and the glory of you, one heart, one hope, one love.”

  • Then say “ O Beauteous Lady, bless this athame. May it be untainted in thy service, dedicated to your goodness, harming none. O my Lady, bless this athame. May it be used only for the good and glory of you. Great Lord and Lady, so let it be.

>Then, don’t forget to close your circle.

When you are consecrating a mirror, it is a bit different, especially if you are speaking of a magic mirror.

You simply need to add 3 spoonfulls of sea salt to a dish of water, I would suggest rain water, or water that you get from a natural body of water, such as an ocean.

Stir the salt gently until it is all dissolved.

Take a new cloth or natural sponge, dip it in the water and salt mixture and use it to wash the mirror. After you have cleansed it, dry it with another new cloth.

I hope that some of this information comes in useful. As you can see, there are a few methods here, and there are many more. This is just what I have used in the past, and I have found great connections with my tools. Try and remember to keep your thoughts pure, and sometimes if you feel the connection is slipping away, don’t be afraid to re-dedicate and consecrate your tools more than once.

Finding the Pagan Way

January, 2015

I hope that I have not exhausted the reader as they followed my journey so far. I have never kept a diary, and I guess that I am simply reviewing my own past as I look at what paganism means to me. Also, because I write about faeries, a lot of people think I am in a fluffy world of my own.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Until I met my dear Tina Kavanagh, I followed a very logical, analytical path. I joined and studied many groups who were involved in the paranormal.

 

I read widely on psychology, hypnotism, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and anything even remotely connected with my obsession. I wanted to know how some people seemed to be able to do things which were considered impossible by science. I kept my feet firmly on the ground, and I refused to accept even the evidence of my own eyes unless confirmed by other evidence.

Then I met Tina, and my dry and dusty world was turned upside down.

I will pass on her advice to you, in a poem I wrote a little while back.

 

Don’t search,- Look.

So many many hours I spent in dusty rooms with dusty books,
I never touched the Earth,
My mind could reach the furthest edges of the universe,
yet never saw the sky.
Oh! What a fool was I, that I should never feel the earth ,
or gaze in awe upon the evening sky.
I search the ancient wisdom of the dead,
And never stopped to listen to the beating of my heart,
Or what it said.

My spirit withered like the crumbling parchments over which I peered and pondered ,
Like some dried up husk ,- My childhood lost , my youthful joy was choked by gloomy shadows of the past.
What kind of wisdom chills the bones and turns your feet to clay,
What kind of truth can suck the laughter and innocence of youth away,
and leave just tired old bones and sagging flesh that stink of misery and
pity and decay,
A fool was I , my weary eyes despised the cheerful light of day,
and wallowed in that dusty darkened world of candlelight,
And never saw how far away from life that I had strayed.

And then one day I stared into a pair of eyes of violet blue,
and little did I realise that Life would never be the same again,
How could I tell the strange, amazing things that they would do,
They burned into my very soul and tore my dust-filled world in two,
and in a single moment I had died and was reborn,
My childlike eyes looked up in wonder at the morning sky,
The long, long night had fled,
I listened to the joyful songs of birds at early morn.
The wisdom I had sought was there before me all along.
It whispered in the trees, I felt it on the veins of leaves,
I saw it in the flight of birds and heard it in their song,
I smelt in on the leaf-strewn forest floor,
I knew my search was over and I seek no more,
I felt within my very blood and bones , what I had sought for oh so long.
At last, my dusty world of darkness,- dead and gone.

I wandered barefoot on the glistening dew-capped morning grass, my mind was dazed ,my heart was full of joy.
The Earth flowed through my naked feet, She rose and touched the sky,
She brought me to the wisdom I had sought since I was young,
I knelt upon that sacred place and thanked the gods for what my love had done,
For Fortune smiled upon me when I listened to the words my she said..
She said, ”Don’t search, just Look , my love”,
and on the day I looked , my search was done.

Patrick Kavanagh
13/08/12

 

paganway1

 

 

Tina is a natural medium, and she has seen spirits since she was a child. We became close friends and she gave me messages from my late wife Frances. Tina told me things that no other living person knew. I tested her carefully and I gave way nothing. As a past member of the Irish Society for Psychic and Spiritual Studies, I was experienced at dealing with mediums and ‘readers’.               I myself have read the tarot cards for over 45 years. I had learned from my mother,- who also read tea-leaves.

We were catalysts for each other, and we slowly began to explore the Pagan community in Lincolnshire. Tina discovered her Guide, Nicholas Black Elk, through a Reiki master in Hessle, Dean Kingett, and our journey took on many new paths. Tina persuaded me to go to a Spirit Drumming workshop, run in an amazing place called Cabourne Parva in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. This was where I met Kevin Guy, a local Druid. Then our journey accelerated.

Tina started to sit in on my tarot readings and gave spirit messages, bringing comfort and release to many people. Then, guided by Nicholas Black Elk, we began to hold drumming workshops around Lincolnshire, and witnessed the amazing power for the drum for healing and guiding inner journeys. I had hosted a drumming circle in my own home for over a year at this stage, but with Nicholas behind us, we saw a whole new healing energy and vitality in the drumming. Nicholas taught me how to drum from the heart, through Tina, and a whole new world opened up for me.

Drumming from the heart, opened up so much for me that I was totally changed in a very short period of time. So much happened in this period that I will have to leave it until the next issue to avoid confusing the readers. It was through Drumming that I re-discovered the faeries and that is quite a tale in it’s own right.

 

 

 

Drumbeats

 

The drums are beating softly in the distance,

Like a peaceful heart. they draw me to them,

leaving life’s  conundrums far behind.

Like  poetry, with inspirations, much too large for words,

The rhythm opens up my soul and fills my mind.

 

As I sit and write, the rhythm of the drums still beat within my heart.

In the forest of my mind I see the shamans dance and whirl.

Orange flames that go so high, they almost reach the moonlit sky.

Somewhere in the Once, or in the Now, they beat their drums for me.

And now the healing magic of their chants is reaching out to me.

 

Wolves with emerald eyes are in the shadows.

I can hear the eagles piercing cry.

Brother Bear is everywhere, though Him I cannot see.

All the spirits of the native forest watching over me.

Lending me their powers, so I can live the life I never thought could be.

 

    • Poetry

  • in every beat, and magic in the rhythm of the drums.

    Through the cadence of his chants, I find the link, the shaman comes.

    Healing for the body, for the spirit and the mind,

    As I leave this world of  consternation far behind,

    and  find again, the wisdom and the beauty that was meant for all mankind.

     

    Patrick W Kavanagh

    22/03/2014

     

    paganway2

     

     

    work by Boy So Blue Graphic s and photography

    Photograph by Jayne Ruby Kirke

    Signposts

    January, 2015

    Pagan Polytheism

    I practice a hard polytheistic path.  I believe in the individuality of different deities; that they are, in fact, different beings.  I didn’t start out this way.  Like many aspects of my path my beliefs evolved as I learned and experienced new things.

     

    Before Paganism I thought I had a pretty good idea about how things worked.  I had an understanding of the role of a God in life and had been raised with a specific version of what that God was like.  There was a “take it or leave it” view; you either believed in the God of Abraham or you were an atheist.  There were no other Gods.  So, I was obviously surprised when I found out that this wasn’t true.

     

    There are widely different views about the Gods and Goddesses and the roles they take in our lives in the Pagan community.  They range from atheist to polytheist and everything in between.  Most of the people I’ve met, however, follow a soft polytheistic path –  they believe that all named Gods and Goddesses are all basically part of or from the same God and Goddess, that we as humans personify and attribute characteristics to them to help us connect with what we cannot understand.

     

    Scott Cunningham discusses this in his book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner:

     

    “Every deity that has received worship upon this planet exists with the archetypal God and Goddess. The complex pantheons of deities which arose in many parts of the world are simply aspects of the two. Every Goddess is resident within the concept of the Goddess; every God in the God.” [1]

     

    Recognizing a God and a Goddess is also often symbolic, only used to provide for the balance between the masculine and feminine of our world.

     

    I understand this view and can see how it makes sense for so many.  However, in my practice I find there are distinct differences between the Gods and Goddesses, and not just the ones attributed to them during a Sabbat or ritual.  Over the past few years I’ve developed different relationships with what I recognize as very different beings.  I have a relationship with Diana that is different from the one I have with Brigid.  The same goes for Lugh, Pan, and the other deities I work with.  I truly feel as if I’m interacting with completely different beings.  They have different personalities, different ways of helping me, and often different expectations for doing so.

     

    Many soft polytheists say the same thing.  When they ask a seasonal deity to participate in a ritual or ceremony they acknowledge the traits traditionally attributed to them and try to respect them.  For me, however, the distinction is they are more than temporal beings that come in and out of existence when we call upon them.  I’m not simply interacting with a part of the One.  They are always there.

     

    Regardless if we are hard or soft polytheists, today it seems we either adopt a pantheon or eclectically blend pantheons to suit our path or our needs at the time.  Some embrace the Gods and Goddess normally associated with their current surroundings while some embrace those of their ancestral heritage, regardless of where they currently live.  Depending on who I talk to I get different answers as to why one way is better than the other.  Some I’ve talked to have a problem with the eclectic blend of pantheons – they find it disrespectful to the original culture and to the Gods and Goddesses they’re working with.  While I see where they are coming from, I leave that up to the deities themselves.  If they don’t want to work with you they won’t.

     

    The signpost for me is our interactions with deity is personal.  How we do so is a reflection of our personal experiences that shape our beliefs.  If we’re honest with ourselves then how we interpret deity is the right way for each of us.  My insistence on my beliefs doesn’t make someone else’s beliefs wrong –  it just makes mine right for me.  I also know that as I practice and continue to grow on this path my understanding of what I experience can change.  We’re told to open our minds to new possibilities and ways of thinking, to let go of the things we thought we knew from before.  I think this applies to our established Pagan lives as much as our pre-Pagan lives.

     

    How do you view deity?  Do you practice with incarnations of Gods and Goddesses acting as aspects of the one, or hard polytheism, or something else?  Does this work for you?

     

    [1] Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham

    Tarot Talk

    January, 2015

    Since we are in an “Eight” frame of mind after talking about the Eight of Cups last month, let’s talk about another Eight, the Eight of Wands. The Eight of Wands is an interesting card, especially if you tend to favor Tarot decks with images on the Minor Arcana Pip cards rather than symbols of the suit, because its traditional image is one of the few Minors without people on it. Let’s investigate the Eight of Wands.

    As stated above, the Eight 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. Notice right away that I am qualifying many of my statements with “most likely” or “usually”; as readers and interpreters and students of the Tarot we do need to remember that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

    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 8, and the suit of Wands. These two ingredients could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation.

    Let’s look at the number 8 first. I see the number 8 as telling me that I need to consciously act or choose the next step, and that I need to believe the next step I choose will bring something good. It is easier to understand the number 8, which is about deliberately reacting, if we understand the number 7, which is causing this deliberate reaction. The number 7 represents the pause that occurs as growth slows and the beginning of degeneration approaches. This pause usually requires a choice of some kind, usually either stick with what we have, or try for more. The number 8 offers the concept of a remedy or a reaction to the pause and approaching degeneration of the 7. The number 8 is kind of a kick in the pants, telling us we already have what we need to move forward, so move already. So, just by looking at the number of our card, we already know that the Eight of Wands is going to be a card of action or manifestation.

    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.

    We have other sources of information besides the number and suit of our card. The traditional image of the Eight of Wands, as I stated in the first paragraph, usually does not have people in it. Usually, the card will show eight Wands or Spears flying through the air. The Llewellyn Welsh card shows those eight Wands flying through the air, along with five bucks, four of whom are watching carefully, prepared to give the alarm and flee. The Shadowscapes Eight of Wands, one of the few exceptions to the “no people” rule, shows a woman blowing what looks like dandelion seeds into the wind. The Wild Unknown Tarot Eight of Wands shows those eight Wands in a circle, points facing in, with a lightning bolt zapping down to hit them all. The next step here is obvious: those Wands are going to explode outward, probably in a shocking manner. The Thoth Tarot grabs the concept of electricity even more; its image shows eight electrical bolts shooting outward from a central point. Electricity makes a great metaphor for the effects of the Eight of Wands!

    Like every other Tarot card, the Eight of Wands has an astrological connection as well, which can help us to add even more depth and texture to our readings. The Eight of Wands represents the planet Mercury when it is in the constellation of Sagittarius.

    In Roman mythology, Mercury is known as the messenger of the gods known for his ability to move fast. The planet Mercury echoes this manifestation of speed, circling the Sun quickly, taking only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending about 7.33 days in each sign of the zodiac. Astrologically, Mercury represents the principles of communication, mentality, thinking patterns, a focus on details, rationality and reasoning, and adaptability. Mercury is connected to schooling and education as well as communication, and thus to email, telephone and snail mail, newspapers, journalism and writing. In medicine, Mercury is associated with the nervous system, the brain, the respiratory system, the thyroid and the sense organs. It is also linked to the animal spirits.

    Sagittarius, the 9th sign of the zodiac, is often seen as the wanderer, but remember, not all those who wander are lost. Sag the truth-seeker is about knowledge achieved by traveling the world and talking to everyone. They can be seen as enthusiastic consumers of information; the life quest of the Archer is to understand the meaning of life, and thus they are enthusiastic consumers of information who enjoy using spiritual and philosophical disciplines to digest what they learn. Sagittarius corresponds with Jupiter, and the element of Fire; it is a Mutable Fire sign. Those born under this sign enjoy physical activity as much as they enjoy learning about the world around them. Sag is an effective healer, and can be a bridge between humans and animals. Sagittaritus has a philosophical, wide open nature, and an optimistic and generous spirit.

    The combination of Mercury in Sagittarius tells of big ideas or visions, a restless intellect that searches for knowledge but won’t be troubled about mere facts, and a mind that defends justice and freedom vigorously. These energies like having room to grow; clutter is uncomfortable but procrastination will prevent a cleanup until things become unbearable. Then, everything will need to go, now. This combination of detail-oriented communication and expansive, philosophic ideas will often dominate the environment, even if that is not the original intention.

    Each of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck also has a home on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; all of the Eights correspond to the sephira (or sphere) of Hod. Hod (or Glory) is the eighth sephira on the Tree, the third on the Pillar of Form/Restriction, and represents science, teaching and the intellect. Hod corresponds with Mercury, the planet that receives the most light from our Sun, and working with Hod can stimulate the workings of the mind and provide illumination, but this kind of work presents dangers, too, especially if the process of shining light in the dark corners exposes any shadow issues. If you think about it, the Eights represent some kind of conscious use of the intellect rather than feelings or emotions, often in order to maintain control or harmony.

    Let’s sum up what we have found. The number 8 tells of deliberate action or remediation or response to a slowdown that could be bringing some kind of discomfort. The suit of Wands tells of growth, passions, actions aligned with divine will, and with recklessness. The image on the card tells of action, possibly explosive or shocking or electric in nature, that might not be sourced from people. Mercury tells of speed and communication of all kinds, learning and rational thinking, and Sagittarius tells of philosophy and a connection to spirit, an open mind and an ability to view the big picture. The sephira of Hod tells of the intellect and of knowing why something works.

    So, the Eight of Wands is presenting lots of sudden expansion. We have transformative Fire, speedy Mercury, expansive Sagittarius, deliberate action of the number 8, and the working of the intellect of the sephira of Hod. This card to me is about taking action, about knowing that now is the time to set things in motion. It is about obtaining the last piece of the puzzle that will bring a grand finale, or about receiving a piece of news that will tie all the loose ends together. It is about striking while the iron is hot and putting plans into action.

    When reversed, the Eight of Wands could be telling of a blockage or stagnation or lethargy of some kind, probably along with a warning to look out if that blockage ever lets go. The reversed card could be telling us that we need to think before we act, or slow down a bit. Perhaps it could be telling of some conflict or cross-purpose; imagine all those Wands moving in random, unplanned directions.

    The Eight of Wands is a card of action, of quick developments, and of pulling it all together so things can be completed. The energies of this card are fast and strong and sudden, and while the dust will surely fly, the end result should be balance. This one is kind of a Minor Arcana version of The Wheel, which represents cycles of manifestation that are not under our control. The difference here is that the sudden eruption of the Eight of Wands usually occurs at least in part because of our efforts to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The eruption of energy is happening, now, and we need to hang on and ride the wave. Kowabunga!

    Nelland Living

    January, 2015

    Colors of New Year

    Nature rules! It is the greatest source of beauty with it´s ever changing scenery of light, colors, and seasons. Nature is my greatest inspiration for creating beauty in my life.

    Deep dark blue and silver make the perfect couple in my color palette around New Year´s. The sky shows it´s darkest side now, bathing in deep murky blue most of the time. Luckily there are also stars up there, twinkling ever so brightly on cold clear nights. That´s the combination I embrace this time of year, at late Yule, after Christmas and before Imbolc. (Sadly my little snapshot camera is unable to capture the beauty.)
    When it comes to clothes and appearance, I always like to stay in tune with nature. Here´s how I´ve merged the spirit of New Year into my wardrobe:

    Nell1

     

    A close-up of my sweater. When I saw this fabric in the store the other summer, I immediately fell in love with it, and knew I had to make a kimono-sleeved shirt of it for New Year´s.

     

    Nell2

     

    This necklace is my newest piece. Combining yarn with glass beads, the result is more casual and can easily be worn to work, even with jeans. This was the first time I ever used this technique, and was positively surprised by how easy it was to make. On a double yarn just pop a bead through one string, then make a knot, and pop another bead in, etc. Voilá, done!

     

    Nell3

     

    Earrings are a part of my daily beautifying routine. These aromatherapy pieces are perfect for New Year´s theme. I like to add a drop or two of bergamot  essential oil on them to create a festive and happy spirit.

     

    Nell4

    Nailpolish is another easy favorite of mine when building a look. I´ve found these great two colors, which I like to apply like this:

     

    Nell5

    First two coats of dark blue. Once dried, I take the sparkling silver one and start having fun adding small dots here and there, whatever happens to come to mind.

     

    Nell6

    This time I did “crescent moons” on thumb- and ring fingers. The silver nailpolish looks amazingly like little jewels when applied in small dots. I highly prefer this over sticker ones, because these are flat and stay on persistently.

    Nails are an excellent way to perfect any look. Like most things in life, I rather do this myself than go get fake nails done. It saves me both time and money, and I can change the look weekly (I usually do my nails on Sundays).

     

    Nell7

    In dark blue I also have a pair of furry mittens, which add to the New Year´s spirit with my winter coat on. But I don´t want to do blue and silver from head to toe. A little goes a long way, and hints here and there is enough to keep the party going!

    Happy New Year!

     

    Witches’ Paradigms Part 1: The Wheel of the Year

    January, 2015

    Part One: The Wheel of the Year

    Whereas non-pagans are guided by sacred books, pagans are guided by nature. Nature guides us through the course of the seasons. We take our moods, our goals and the way we pursue them, from the seasonal round, which is called ‘The Wheel of the Year’.

    Witches of our Celtic tradition follow three interlocking paradigms throughout the year. The course of the Sun throughout the year is plotted by the Wheel of the Year. The course of the lunar month is plotted by the phases of the Moon and their meaning. And the sequence of lunar months through the solar year is plotted by the Ogham Tree Calendar and the Rune of Amergin, as reconstructed by the poet Robert Graves in his seminal work The White Goddess.

    The paradigms offered below are tools. Witchcraft is a craft, and witches make use of ideas as tools. More specifically, skills are tools, and lore is building material, like wood or stone or metal. What is important is what you build with them, and that is your personal Craft. Select your tools and materials among the many available, and feel free to make a re-selection. Eventually you will have a house to live in that feels just right.

    When we follow the Wheel of the Year, we invite nature spirits to contact us and become involved in our personal lives.

    The Wheel of the Year is depicted as a circle divided, like the compass, into eight equal segments by radii which contact the circumference at the points of the four cardinal directions plus the directions in between. The eight witches’ sabbats are plotted on these points. They are as follows:

    1. Yule – the Winter Solstice, which generally falls between 20 and 23 December. The old Oak King is released from his prison in the sacred oak log or hod, as his sacred bird robin redbreast; he fights and kills the Holly King in his sacred bird-form, the gold crest wren, and hangs the latter from the holly bush. The Oak King is then reborn as the Child of Promise. He rules Middle-Earth until Imbolc, when the Maiden returns to rule with him.

    2. Imbolc – The Maiden returns. The original pagan date was 1 February. The christian church moved it to 2 February. Many covens celebrate it on the 2nd because they are unaware of this. The Maiden may meet with the young Oak King and they may mate at this time. If they do, we shall have an early Spring. The Corn Maiden, constructed from wheat the previous Lammas, is plowed into the ground to instill last year’s fertility in the crops to come.

    3. Ostara – the Spring Equinox, which generally falls between 20 and 23 March. The Maiden and the Oak King are mated and Spring begins in earnest. Witches send out their wishes for the year on a great solar tide.

    4. Beltane – May 1st. The preceding evening is called Walpurgis Night. The Maiden becomes the Mother. The handfasting of the Mother and the Oak King is symbolized by the Maypole. Celts regarded this date as the beginning of Summer.

    5. Litha – the Summer Solstice, which generally falls between 20 and 23 June. The union of the Mother and the Oak King reaches the acme of power. Then the Holly King appears. He is like the Oak King’s dark twin, his shadow, as the Jungians would say. He fights the Oak King for the favor of the Lady and wins. He kills the Oak King and imprisons his spirit in the sacred oak, which is cognate with the World Pillar. The Oak King’s spirit will remain imprisoned in the sacred oak until it is released on the following Yule.

    6. Lammas or Lughnasadh – August 1st. Lammas, meaning ‘loaf mass,’ is the later christian name, but many witches like to focus on baking sacred bread on this eve (July 31st), so the name Lammas is often used. The Mother becomes the Crone. The bread is traditionally baked in the shape of a man, representing John Barleycorn, the corn or harvest god, an aspect of the Holly King who is sacrificed for the fertility of the harvest. The bread also stands for the matured craft of the second-degree witch. Coveners eat the bread at midnight. This is the first of three harvests, the grain harvest. A Corn Maiden is made of wheat, traditionally the last ear harvested, which contains the fertility of the fields. It is kept until the following Imbolc. Lughnasadh is the Celtic festival in honor of Lugh, who instituted celebratory games in memory of his mother Tailtiu, who died after plowing Ireland to make it fertile. Some witches celebrate Lughnasadh rather than Lammas, some celebrate both.

    7. Mabon or Modron – the Autumn Equinox, falls between September 20 and 23. Initiate witches travel in spirit to the threshold of the Summerlands and there invite their ancestors and dead friends to visit them in Middle-Earth during the month of October. Mabon ap Modron is part of a tale in the Mabinogion, a compendium of Welsh mythology. It is apparently incomplete, as we know very little about the hero-god. He was abducted from his mother Modron when three days old and imprisoned at Gloucester. hur and his war band free Mabon. That is practically all we know, but there is a clue in the fact that only the salmon of knowledge knew where to find him. In the Craft tradition I follow, the knowledge possessed by the salmon, which is very ancient, is available to the initiate on the inner journey down the World Pillar. Mabon therefore stands for the Root-soul, the original identity of the witch, liberated by Inner Craft and brought back to Middle-Earth. At Mabon initiates descend to the Summerland and there invite their dead ancestors and friends to visit them at the dumb suppers of October. This is the second harvest, the fruit and vine harvest, and the knowledge brought back to Middle-Earth by initiates reflects its bounty in an inner harvest.

    8. Samhain – October 31st, is the culmination of the series of ‘dumb suppers’ held with visiting ancestors. Now the gates of the Summerlands open wide, and Herne the Hunter (the Underworld aspect of the Holly King) leads forth the Wild Hunt, comprising human and non-human spirits. The Wild Hunt will range the skies from Samhain to the following Imbolc. Souls of those who have died during the year but failed to find the path to the Summerlands are gathered up at Samhain and shown the way. The Crone goes to the Summerlands to rest for the Winter. The ageing Holly King, soon to become the Lord of Misrule for the December festivities, takes over. This is the third and final harvest, in which whatever is still ripe in the ground is picked to save it from the curse of the Pookah. It is also called the blood harvest, for at this time the herds are culled and the weaker animals slaughtered for meat which will be salted down and laid up for the winter.

    In general, Sabbats are celebrated on the evening before their date. Exceptions are at the solstices and at Beltane and Samhain. The solstices fall on the days of shortest and longest sunlight and should be celebrated on those actual days. Beltane is celebrated both on the preceding evening as Walpurgis Night, and on the following day when the dance around the Maypole and other festivities take place. Samhain, Hallowe’en, is celebrated on the evening of its date, October 31st. Its name means ‘Summer’s end’. The following day is a christian implantation and is ignored by witches.

    The Lady and Lord together illustrate dynamic balance. The Lord, the god Cernunnos, is both the Oak and Holly King. They represent opposite tendencies of his dual nature. The Oak King is of Middle-Earth and rejoices in the outer world and its pleasures. The Holly King is an Underworld deity who promotes inner spiritual work and journeys down the World Pillar to the Summerlands. Left to themselves, they would tear the world apart but the Lady holds them together in harmony. She has three visible aspects: the Maiden, Mother and Crone. (Graves in his witchcraft utopian novel of the future, Watch the Northwind Rise, names these the Maiden, Nymph and Crone.) Unlike Cernunnos, she can manifest any of these at any time: “She is old or young as she wishes.” But left to her alone, the harmony she creates would be static. It would be like always eating so many vegetables, or taking so many sips of wine at meals. The extremes of the Oak and Holly Kings add passion and adventure to the cosmic harmony through their excesses, which the Lady keeps within prudent limits. This serves as an example to witches, who seek dynamic balance in their lives. As Lin Yutang once said, pursue moderation moderately.

    The word ‘Sabbat’ means ‘restful recreation.’ The word ‘Esbat’ is from Middle French esbattier, and means ‘to frolic.’ Thus the main celebrations of witchcraft are joyous affairs, the farthest thing from the grim oh-so-solemn assemblies of some churches. Esbats are generally held at the Full Moon. When an Esbat and a Sabbat fall on the same date, the Sabbat is given precedence.

    The Wheel and the Elements:

    Witches seek a dynamic balance in their lives with humanity, plants, animals, and spirits, both of Middle-Earth and the worlds on The Other Side. In so doing, they focus on the four ancient elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These correspond roughly to the three states of matter (solid, liquid and gas), plus detectable energy (Fire). Etheric matter or energy is a fifth element or ‘quintessence,’ that witches cultivate through achieving a good working balance with the other four, and can be understood as referring to energies not yet detectable by current scientific methods.

    Each element has a power contained within it which increases through the practice of witchcraft. Air contains the power to know, Fire the power to will, Water the power to dare, and Earth the power to keep silence. Ether contains the power to go, that is, to conduct spirit journeys either from waking or dream, up and down the World Pillar. Travelling to the Summerlands while in the body is an etheric goal of initiates.

    While the four powers are cultivated throughout the year, the four quarters of the Wheel of the Year are each associated specially with one of the elements. The North, from Samhain to Imbolc, is associated with Earth and the power to keep silence, that is, to keep still both mentally and physically, within and without. It is a time favorable to meditation and quiet home handicrafts. The East, from Imbolc to Beltane, is associated with Air and the power to know, that is, the power of understanding. The South, from Beltane to Lammas or Lughnasadh, is associated with Fire and the power to will. And the West, from Lammas or Lughnasadh to Samhain, is associated with water and the power to dare. This means the power to dare to go beyond one’s limits, to reach out for new life, whether through a change of consciousness or of life circumstances.

    The major Sabbats occur on the cusps between one elemental quarter and the next, because the transitions from one element to another are of primary importance. Thus, the minor physical Sabbats occupy the cardinal points of the Wheel, while the major spiritual Sabbats are on the points in between.

    Imbolc, occurring on the cusp between the power of silence and the power to know, is a time of silent intuition, when images and feelings from the dream-soul (who corresponds in some ways to the Holly King) begin to stir, like lambs in the bellies of ewes at this time of year.

    Beltane, occurring on the cusp between the power of knowledge and the power of will, stands for the union not only of heaven and earth, but of theory and practice. Witches are nothing if not practical. The price of knowledge gained in the East is putting it into practice in one’s life in the South, cultivating the will.

    Lammas, occurring on the cusp between the power of will and the power of daring, is the time when the witch applies will power to the uncanny realms of spell-casting and change of consciousness, as well as to adventures that lead to revolutionary life-changes.

    Samhain, occurring on the cusp between daring and silence, is when acquired skills are allowed to sink down into the unconscious mind, there to incubate and give rise to new life. A musician will put away sheet music and improvise quietly on his or her instrument. The cast spell will be ‘earthed’ and put out of mind. Problems will be set aside for the unconscious to solve. Spontaneity will replace methods and rules, and one will be ready to join the celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia.

    The power to go is cultivated through lucid dreaming, knowing one is asleep and dreaming while it is happening, and also from a peculiar state of heightened awareness while awake called lucid waking. A few people have the knack to cultivate this power up front, but most of us need to approach it gradually, through the balanced development of the other four powers, by following witches’ paradigms and conducting sacred rituals.

     

    Bibliography

    AUDEN, W.H., ed., The Portable Greek Reader, New York, Viking Press, 1948.

    CAMPANELLI, Pauline and Dan, Ancient Ways; Reclaiming Pagan Traditions, St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.

    ELLIS, Peter Beresford, Celtic Myths and Legends, New York, Carroll and Graf, 1999.

    FRAZER, Sir James, The Golden Bough, A Study in Magic and Religion, Abridged. Hertfordshire, Wordsworth Reference, 1994.

    GRAVES, Robert, The White Goddess; A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 27th printing, 1993.

    _____________, Watch the Northwind Rise, New York, Avon , 1949.

    LELAND, Charles G., Aradia; the Gospel of the Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix, 1990, orig. publ. 1890.

    RYALL, Rhiannon, Celtic Lore and Druidic Ritual, Berkshire, Capall Bann, 1994.

    ______________, West Country Wicca, Custer, Washington, Phoenix Publishing, 1989.

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