February, 2015

Merry Meet

February, 2015

BlessedBe

               Welcome

 

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In this Issue…

 

We feature an interview with the author of Pagan Portals: Pathworking Through poetry, Fiona Tinker

Tinker

 

 

We discuss DIY True Love with Nella Nuora in Nelland Living

Nella

 

 

Learn all about Mudras in A Moment for Meditation

meditation

 

 

 

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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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Nelland Living

February, 2015

DIY true love

I hate romantic comedies. I hate love songs. I hate when they (and I did also) say “till death do us part”.

I love myself. I love my kids, my husband and the rest of my family. I love life. I love beauty. I love justice and equality. I love to love.

  Love is universally appreciated above all else, but also romanticized above all else. Love is not something that, once you reach it, it will automatically stay with you forever.

  As a teenager and young adult I remember my friends picturing their future husbands and weddings. Even their kids and family-life-to-be. I always found that stuff boring. I never had a fantasy about my future love life. I stroll in free fall, seeing what comes ahead. I believe we cannot decide on such abstract things far ahead in the future ourselves. Come what may, and we make the best of it. Right now I cannot make a promise to anybody, that I will be in love with my husband say, five years from now. Or even two.

Love is the greatest power in the world. I have loved my husband for over nineteen years now, and can´t imagine not loving him. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach the first time I gazed my eyes on him back then. Now I don´t have those butterflies anymore, but instead I have an amazing respect and deepest bond with him. In a way we are one, but have always made sure we both have our own lives too, keeping a sense of freedom.
Not taking my husband´s love for granted is what keeps our love going strong, true and pure after all these years. It is the secret to true love.

“Till death do us part” is a lie. We can not make that kind of promise. You can fake it, but you can´t force yourself truly and honestly love someone.

Instead I prefer “Together as long as we´re happy”. As long as there is more good than bad in a relationship, it´s worth cherishing. A relationship or a marriage is not a value in itself. Happiness is. For nearly twenty years our relationship has stood on the principle of happiness. We both love and respect ourselves and each other so much that we want to make us happy.

Nella

 

As long as you don´t take your significant other for granted, and strive for the happiness of you both (which also concludes as the happiness of the whole family life), you are keeping your love alive and nourished. Sometimes you need to be selfish by taking time for yourself only, but if your spouse is on the same tracks, he/she will want you to do so, for your sake. And vice versa.

  Whenever my husband hints about an upcoming event he´d like to attend to, alone, I highly recommend him to do so. He needs to feel like a man outside his marriage too. It´s healthy for his self esteem.

No jealousy is needed if you really want the best for your spouse. Some time ago my husband moved to another location at his work, where he got a female boss. The day before he started working there I told him, with a straight face, that he must remember how I don´t want to ever stand in the way of his happiness. He got the joke immediately, and replied that I need not worry, the boss was ugly and probably a lesbian. And we laughed hard together.

But there is truth behind all this joking around. At the very beginning of our going out we talked about this freedom of choice, and how we would not want to “make” each other stay in the relationship. If at one point life should steer us apart, so be it if we found greater happiness somewhere else. Simple as that.

As part of this freedom naturally comes the acknowledgement of not taking the other person for granted. Of course everyday life brings challenges of always remembering it, but overall it keeps us alert, trying to show the love and affection we have for each other.

It doesn´t take much to show appreciation. A daily hug and kiss, sitting in his lap for ten seconds when he´s checking his email, or pretending to be interested when he tells me (again) what kind of car he´s going to get one day. We don´t buy each other presents, we spend time together. Daily moments or occasional getaway weekends, just the two of us, are all equally valuable.
We are not just mom and dad, we are first and foremost girlfriend and boyfriend. That´s the root and stem to our marriage and family life.

  I could not agree more with the saying “treat others like you hope they´d treat you”. Keeping that in mind, along with the “staying together as long as we´re happy”, has kept our love true and strong for 19.5 years.

  Once you find true love, grow with it, listen to it´s needs, respect each other as individuals, and enjoy the ride! It takes courage to let yourself fall in love, but love makes life richer. It enables stronger emotions, in good and in bad, but what is life without emotions? Bland and boring.

  Love rules, but let´s not have it rule us. We are in charge, and can make the most out of it! We all deserve love and happiness, and it´s well worth celebrating as Valentine´s Day!

Hedgewitch Days!

February, 2015

AS ABOVE, DEFINITELY MORE BELOW!!!

 

Pull up a chair and grab a cuppa and a blanket my lovelies, let’s have a natter about Imbolc…I know, the tree has barely gone back into the loft and the weather is anything but spring like and enchanting, just walking out into the garden brings on hyperthermia and chattering teeth. Surely it’s not time for another festival?

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have a secret to share with you all, shhh, don’t tell everyone!

I’m not all that keen on Imbolc, there I said it, and it’s out there now, never to be taken back. It’s not that I don’t actually like it, more like I struggle to see the point of it. There is no harvest to celebrate, no sun to dance in and everything is hidden away under the ground. I appreciate the unseen, after all I work with magic, and all those promising shoots are wonderful and hopeful, but when it comes to Mother Nature I like things loud and proud, kind of in your face screaming look at me!

I find it hard to relate to the symbols of the plough and Brighid dolls, candles are something I use every day not just for Imbolc, milk is something I don’t drink much of (unless it’s chocolate of course) and bulbs are beautiful when you can venture out to gaze at them blooming but most of the time they hide away from sight.

I find the festival of Imbolc such a hard one to celebrate, and yet I so want to honour the tradition of our ancestors. I want to do something that will be the start of a modern day tradition that I can carry down to the generations to in order to celebrate all the promise of Imbolc…the hopeful festival.

After a bit of meditating and a lot of coffee and cake, which goes without saying really, I decided I needed something at Imbolc to represent hope, something to share and something to enjoy doing, after all what’s the point of anything if you don’t enjoy it? Then it came to me, albeit slowly (yep, my dodgy brain again), that the festival of Imbolc is all about what’s happening below rather than all the stuff we can see up above, so why not go with the flow and work with what comes naturally at this time on the wheel of the year?!

So here it is…my new, pass down to the grandbabies and all of you tradition for celebrating Imbolc…

 

Spring seed offerings!

hedgewitch

You will need;

Any white paper approx. 1 sheet per offering A4 size

(Recycled is great / junk mail etc…) Newspaper will work but give you a grey colour so try and use something with a white base if you are giving these as a gift.

Bowls and Bucket

Warm water

Native flower/herb seeds (approx. 10g to make 25 offerings)

Dried flower petals/ herbs. Coloured paper, food colouring, edible glitter etc…

Muslin square or a thin tea towel

Ice cube trays or silicone moulds

Cooling rack

Method;

hedgewitch2

 

Shred the paper and place in a bowl or bucket and cover with warm water. Leave to soak for a few hours, or overnight if you can.

Once soaked, take out the soaked paper, place in another bowl, cover with warm water and use a hand blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. You can use an electric blender or liquidizer if you have one.

Once blended add your seeds and any petals/herbs, glitter or food colouring and mix really well.

As you mix say;

 

‘Goddess above and Goddess below

 Let us reap what we do so.’

 

Draw the shape of an Imbolc symbol in your mixture with your finger, a candle, pentagram or a flame would all be good!

Pour the paper seed mixture into a tea towel or muslin cloth over a bowl and strain off the water (you can reuse this to water your plants, no need to waste it!)

Squeeze and squash until you are left with a dry looking pulp.

Press pieces of the pulp really firmly into the moulds or shape into small balls squeezing with your hands.

Carefully pop out the compressed offerings from the moulds and place on a baking rack to air dry.

Allow to dry thoroughly for around 24 hrs and store in an airtight container or jar.

When you are ready to use, simply take outside, dig a small hole in the earth and pop in the offering just under the surface of the soil.

Say this blessing;

 

‘I give this gift with blessings bright

In the name of the Goddess, with love and light!’  

 

Cover the offering with a thin layer of soil saying,

 

‘So mote it be!

 

Top tips!

Use up all your junk mail for your paper base, a great way to recycle!

If you add glitter or food colouring use biodegradable and natural products.

Select seeds that are native to your country…Wildflowers, herbs or grasses that would normally grow in your climate will all germinate well.

Make sure your offerings are thoroughly dry before storage to prevent sprouting.

Use dried herbs or finely chopped fresh hardy herbs like Rosemary and Sage to add another layer of magic to your offering.

Water your offering after planting if the weather is dry.

If you have any, plant a couple of bulbs at the same time!

Enjoy reaping what you have sown! Once your offering has flowered collect the seeds and make some more…keep the cycle going!

hedgewitch3

This mixture of paper and seed all bundled up into a pretty shape or balls makes a beautiful gift for anyone too, just pop two or three into a bag and attach a label explaining what they are and how to use them…spread the Imbolc love!

Ahhh, at last, something to actually DO at this time of year, these little shapes full of hope and seed will become my yearly Imbolc ritual. They will drag me off the sofa and out from under my blanket, push me outside to touch base with the Earth once again.  Representing all that’s going on below the surface that we can’t yet see and all the promise of things to come as the wheel turns through the year is quite an amazing feat for some recycled paper and seeds… In fact they may even be the answer to the ‘I don’t like Imbolc feeling’ lol, who knows!

I know I have rambled on again and not even offered you another drink! Have you finished your cuppa? Perhaps I can offer you something else my lovelies?  Chocolate milk?

Sorry I am all out of milk…

I know, forget the milk and just let me get that chocolate!!!

Big hugs and bright blessings guys, Oh and Happy Imbolc!

Interview with Author Fiona Tinker

February, 2015

Tinker

Fiona is the author of Pagan Portals: Pathworking Through poetry, described as ‘ exploring, knowing, understanding and dancing with the wisdom the bards hid in plain view’. I caught up with Fiona to find out a bit more about her love of poetry and how the book came about.

Mabh: Tell us a bit about your book, Pathworking through

    • Poetry

  • . What inspired you to write it? What do you hope the book will bring to the reader?

    Fiona: Pagan Portals: Pathworking Through

    • Poetry

  • explores the concept of using poetry to explore a personal spirituality/a Pagan path, with examples drawn from poets and writers who ‘talk’ to me on a deep, personal level. There is a connection in the writing I discuss that speaks of shared experiences and insights, no matter how much time and history separates us.

    The idea to write it came from discussions with friends and the happy discovery that a lot of us had been using a ‘core’ of Irish-Scottish stories and poems as part of our Pagan paths, even though in our formative years as Pagans – in the 1970s – we had no connection at all with each other or our respective Pagan teachers / mentors. Becoming a Pagan was quite a different experience back then in the pre-Internet days. were hard to come by and expensive, for instance. However, in talking with other Pagan friends in later years,  I found the similarities in some of the stories and poems we’d used really interesting and it made me look again at a lot of things I’d become a bit blasé about over the years. My book doesn’t lay out a Pagan path, that’s not its purpose. Finding your own path is a very personal journey once the initial ground work has been laid and you are ready to take that step. However, the book does suggest some ways readers may use to find their own path through the hidden wisdom in poetry.

    • Poetry

  • is a powerful medium in which to transmit occult teaching. I wanted to share some of my experience with readers in the hope that they might explore the poetry that speaks to them as a method of Pathworking in their own practice. It’s an amazing experience and one it felt the right time to share.

    MS: Can the principles in the book be used by Pagans and non-Pagans alike?

    FT: My initial answer to this was, ‘I don’t see why not,’ but second-thoughts suggest this might not be so. If a non-Pagan is more used to having their personal spirituality directed by external influences, then I don’t think this would work for them.

    Paganism is a personal, experiential religion, albeit one where we have some shared ethics and concepts about our relationship to the land and the Gods.  In general, when we move past our initial years of learning we are ready to explore what we have learned in relation to the lands we live in and perhaps to explore the lives of some of the ancestors who live on in our genes. One of the things we do learn early as Pagans is how to protect ourselves, whether through the use of a circle or the creation of a sacred space. If we set out to work solitary, as in these kinds of Pathworkings, all of this becomes our sole responsibility, there is no third party directing manoeuvres. Those who are more used to – or more comfortable with – having others direct them may not get very much from this idea at all. And that is fine – Pathworking won’t appeal to everyone any more than going to church to have someone else interpret scripture does.

    MS: What was your biggest challenge in the production of this book?

    FT: Time!

    Although it is a short book, finding the time in between working full-time, the usual domestic stuff and my voluntary work on behalf of the Scottish Pagan Federation meant I had to be really disciplined and make myself write at least 800 words a day. That wasn’t always easy after a particularly hard day.

    MS: Tell us a bit about the Pagan Portals series this book is a part of, and how you became involved.

    FT: Pagan Portals is a series published by John Hunt Publishing, through their Moon imprint, which aims to share snapshots of contemporary Pagan practices. There are about a dozen in the series, with more planned. The subjects covered are varied and the Moon Book catalogue will just about have something for everyone to dip in to. The series is intended as an introduction to ideas and I would love to have the time to set up a Pagan Reading Group using them. The hours of joyful discussion and squabbling we could have over the ideas in the books is delicious to contemplate. Actually, I might suggest this to the local moot!

    MS: What do you feel has been the biggest reward after the completion of this project?

    FT: The biggest reward was writing this book for my son, Iain, so that he can understand something about my Paganism and about his mother as a person; not just as his mum.

    MS: You teach English; do you utilise your interpretations of the poems in your book (Yeats etc) with your students, to enable them to gain a deeper understanding?

    FT: Not to the depth in this book, no, that’s not appropriate. But I do not shy away from exploring Yeats’ occultism as one way of exploring and interpreting his poetry. This is part of who he was and what made him tick. If that side of him is ignored, the understanding of his poetry can only be partial. Yeats is part of the Scottish Advanced Higher course, which is taken by 6th years here and is at a level equivalent to the first year of university. Naturally, I’ve been selecting this option as part of the course I teach and it’s been wonderful to share his poetry in some depth with a succession of students over the years.

    MS: And likewise, did your teaching experience lend itself to the creation of this volume?

    FT: I don’t think so, not really sure. Hmm. That’s actually quite a hard question.

    I would say my MA Literature, History and Cultural Studies gave me the tools to pull together earlier learning and academic learning, thus enabling me to present my ideas in my book. Part of the work here was on the Irish Literary Revival and this re-awakened my undergraduate love of Yeats, to the extent that his works became my ‘light’ reading in those years.

    My MA study was research into Holocaust survivor testimony and in particular how those experiences were conveyed in print. Primo Levi was one eyewitness to a lot of nightmares that most of us can not begin to imagine, let alone understand. Yet his writing bears witness to not only the atrocities and the natures of those who carried them out, but also the human spirit and the light in those who did what they could to help people in the camps. As Levi grew older, he seems to have felt more and more disassociated from the world, as if his experience had marked him out in some way. He referred to himself as an ancient mariner figure, adrift in a world from which he increasingly felt apart. I used Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as an extended metaphor to explore and understand Primo Levi through his writing, using historical documents for context. He was an amazing man and his writing is profoundly beautiful, moving and it dissects what it means to be human.

    However, on the other hand, 20-odd years of teaching have given me the experience to get things across in an accessible way and I hope I’ve managed that in my book.

    So I guess the answer to this question is both yes and no.

    MS: You speak of the potential loneliness of the Pagan Path; did you walk your own path alone for a time before discovering like-minded people?

    FT: There were a few people around me when I was younger, who taught me through story, song and example, and I will be forever grateful to them for this.  Being pagan was not something you shouted about in the 70s and this quietness is something I still carry with me, no matter how open I am about being Pagan now. It was a bit lonely at times but the specifics of my path and those I work with are private and not something that I would talk about in a casual conversation. In that sense, I still walk my path alone. Although I’ve realised over the years there are a lot of us walking with the same influences, if not exactly the same path.

    MS: Why do you think so many writers in the 19th Century were drawn to membership of The Golden Dawn?

    FT: Society changed enormously from the late 17th C. A lot of people were aware that the march to ‘progress’ cost humanity its soul, bit by little bit. A lot of people felt the need for change, the need for reform and the need to escape both the soul-destroying, dehumanising effects of the Industrial Revolution and the demotion of humanity to piece work in the Victorian version of the economic miracle. Money became the driving force and people became devalued. Consider how little importance or value is put on humanity now as a creative force for good, a force who can bring beauty to the world, to enhance it. Arguably, that rot started with the ‘dark, satanic mills’ – or more specifically, with their owners who focused on money at the expense of so much more.

    Certain Victorian religious groups could also see this happening. The Quakers certainly could and much that is good from that time period – prison reform, planned garden towns, decent working and living conditions and an appreciation of workers as people, for example – come from the Quakers admirably walking their talk.

    The move towards groups such as the Golden Dawn, The Theosophical Society, spiritualism and the s and

    • Crafts

  • movements was perhaps a way of countering this and connecting again with the creative and spiritual forces that make us complete as human beings. The Golden Dawn attracted thinking, creative people and that is one reason why I think so many writers were drawn to it. It’s interesting that they felt drawn to the ceremonial magic and ritual involved though. Maybe the order it gave through its practices was a counterbalance to chaos elsewhere in their lives / societies?

    MS: The three poets you chose for your book are W. B. Yeats, Fiona MacLeod and Seumas O’Sullivan. What drew you to these guys in particular? Have you always been fond of their poems?

    FT: I was introduced to Yeats and MacLeod when I was a child by Freddie Anderson, a writer from County Monaghan, who was my neighbour when I was growing up. Freddie was a fabulous story teller, one of the three I was very, very privileged to have in my childhood. Although he could ramble on a bit when he had a wee drink in him, his stories were wonderful.  The memories of the fun we had at Hogmanays over the years are precious. Anyway, Freddie lent me some Yeats poetry books because he thought I’d like them. He was right. I have been fond of Yeats’ poetry and other writing since then; although a lot of it I had to grow into, being a bit young to fully understand.

    MacLeod was an eye-opener. I’d learned a lot of mythology and folklore transmitted orally from a woman named Lizzie MacPhee. She was illiterate, in that she’d never been taught to read and write, but my word, Lizzie carried her library in her head. I found a lot of ‘her’ stories in the folklore collected by MacLeod when I was a bit older.

    O’Sullivan was a find and a half in a second-hand bookshop a few years ago. I was idly browsing, took a slim volume of poetry from the shelf and it fell open on one of his Angus poem. Pow! I own a lot of his books now too.

    MS: You speak of protecting one’s self while pathworking; have you ever had an experience with an undesirable element while pathworking?

    FT: Yes, I think that is a basic mistake we all make. It’s certainly a learning experience.

    MS: What’s the difference between pathworking and guided meditation?

    FT: Pathworking is a personal interaction between you and your Gods. Guided meditation is different: someone else leads and you follow.

    MS: I found it fascinating reading the Scottish variants of the tales of the year, for example Brigit and Angus as opposed to the Irish ones (Brigid and Óengus, and not linked in the same way), which are part of my heritage. Did you have to do a great deal of research, or are these aspects all parts of your Pagan path anyway? Have you learned by word of mouth and tales passed down, or has there been a great deal of hitting the books too?

    FT: There is an element of a shared heritage in that a lot of the West of Scotland has Irish heritage as well as Scottish heritage. My paternal roots are in Donegal and there are relatives living in Ireland, so I got stories from both sides.  I’ve pondered a lot on the differences / additional attributes in the shared Gods. The relationship between Angus, Bride and the Cailleach was a folktale, collected and written down by Donald MacKenzie, but told as a story long before I read it, about the battle between summer and winter. Whether the stories from Ireland have been added to later is unclear, but I do feel we are talking about the same Gods, just different aspects that may be peculiar to Scotland.  However, the Scottish folklorist, Stuart McHardy, has written extensively on Brigit / Bridget / Bride, looking at whether they are one or two separate Goddesses and he has some fascinating ideas that are great to explore and think about.

    I didn’t do much formal research for my book, these are stories / myths I’d heard from a young age, then discovered in the collections of various folklorists as I grew up. That’s probably when I hit the books – you find one, it leads you to another and you praise the ghost of whoever came up with the idea of a bibliography. I did do some background research into O’Sullivan as I knew nothing about him until I found his book. The interpretations of the poems are personal, rooted in both my subject and my practice. I suppose any research here is my reading over the past 40 years or so – I was an avid reader as a child and a teen and that hasn’t changed now I’m in my sixth decade.

    MS: Have you always enjoyed writing? Do you ever write poetry yourself? What inspires you?

    FT: Yes, I have always enjoyed writing in one form or another. I’ve written some poetry but I’m not sure it’s for public consumption! Sometimes it can be the most mundane thing that inspires. I remember being 17 and sitting on the steps of a hall in Partick, Glasgow, waiting for some friends to turn up so we could get on with a band practice. It was about 5pm and the rush hour was well underway: noise, petrol fumes, too many buildings. Horrible. But opposite where I sat there was a small public garden with the most beautiful rowan tree in it. The sun suddenly shone on that tree and I was transported by the sheer beauty of it, its colours and the vibrant life shining from it. It was an amazing experience, probably the first time I experienced that ability to ‘leave’ and to see what was really there and truly important. That inspired me in so many ways, even today when I think about it; I am back in that time and place and stunned by the awe I felt.

    MS: Are you planning any more books at the moment?

    FT: There are two underway at the moment, but I’d rather not say too much about them just yet.

    I have a very small vignette in a new book from Moon . The book is called Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans, edited by Trevor Greenfield.

    MS: And any other projects on the horizon?

    FT: I’m very much enjoying writing short pieces for children in Lora Gaddis’s magazine Pooka Pages. This is a free magazine for Pagan children and it’s available to download www.pookapages.com  It’s actually really hard to write for small children and I’ve certainly enjoyed doing this.

    Another thing I’ve been busy with is reviewing books – it’s great to be asked to do this and the books I have reviewed have been first class reads.

    At some point, I will have to pay attention to the mundane life projects, like getting the boiler fixed before winter gets here properly, but that kind of stuff is for another day – probably the one where there is neither heat nor hot water!

    You can find Fiona’s book on Amazon and through other good book retailers. Visit Fiona at http://fionatinker.wordpress.com  and http://www.scottishcelebrants.co.uk  .

    Tink About it

    February, 2015

    My Imbolc traditions

     

    You can find the traditional meaning and celebrations around Imbolc everywhere. In books, on websites, in this e-magazine, etc. So I won’t go there. Instead I’ll share some personal Imbolc celebrations.

     

    Traditionally Imbolc is linked to Brighid. I’ve worked with her on several occasions but the last few years another goddess took over the lead so to speak. I’ve told you earlier (in another column) about Skadi and how she came into my life. She has a strong connection with winter and snow. The colour of Imbolc is white and it’s celebrated right in the middle of the two coldest months of winter around here. So it feels very good and obvious to me to work with Skadi at this time.

    There is no traditional, historical or other ground or source behind this. Skadi simply claimed this sabbat in my wheel of the year and it feels right to me. My altar is white and icy blue, Skadi’s colours. If possible I use fresh snow for my ritual at Imbolc, but I also have some in the freezer. The water is melted snow from the last time we had snow over here.

    tink

     

     

    Another, completely different tradition at Imbolc is making slemp. Slemp? Yes, slemp! It’s an old Dutch recipe for hot spiced milk, made of warm milk with tea and spices. The first written source that talks of ‘slemp’ dates back to 1542, the drink itself may be older.  In Dutch we also have a verb ‘slempen’ meaning ‘to gormandize’.
    Milk is a symbol of fertility and belongs to Imbolc. The spices have strengthening and protective qualities. I’ll share the recipe I use:

    Ingredients:

    • 1.5 liter milk
    • 3 teaspoons black tea
    • 5 cm cinnamon stick
    • a bit of lemon peel
    • 6 whole cloves
    • a piece of mace
    • 3 saffron threads
    • 50-100 grams sugar (to your own taste)
    • egg yolks or cornflour (Am. cornstarch)

     

    Bring the milk to a boil. Tie the spices and tea in a cotton cloth (or put them in a tea ball) and hang it in the milk, or add them directly to the liquid. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for one hour to let the spices infuse in the milk. Add the sugar towards the end. You can thicken the drink with a few egg yolks or cornflour.

    Filter the slemp before serving it hot. Enjoy!

    tink2

     

     

     

    Let me know what you think of it!

     

    Do you have your own personal Imbolc traditions or recipes?

    I’d love to hear/read them!

     

    Blessings

    Finding the Pagan Way

    February, 2015

    To make some sense of my journey into paganism for the reader, I must backtrack a little from my last article. I mentioned last month, that it was really when I moved to Lincolnshire, that my interest in all things occult blossomed into a new lifestyle. London is a very busy place, and I was a very busy person. With a fairly large family to provide for, I generally worked over 80 hours every week. In the latter years, as engineering died due to the sell-off of British industry, I had to travel further and further to work.  I spent what time I had left working on our garden. It was about half an acre and my late wife and I turned it into a mini nature reserve. We spent many contented evenings sitting under the pergola and watching the birds and insects. We lived 25 miles away from central London, but every year it got more and more overpopulated and noisy. When My wife suggested that we move to Lincolnshire, and I agreed readily.

    It was when I was walking our two Yorkshire terriers one evening that everything started to change for me spiritually. I was wandering along the bypass in New Holland lost in thought. I was worried about my late wife’s health, and I had made her have several checks on her heart. Each time we were told she was fine, but I had this awful feeling that would not go away. There was a beautiful full moon, and the road was empty and silent, as I walked between two fields of rapeseed flowers in full bloom. I looked up at the moon and I suddenly felt like the Goddess was looking back down at me. I poured out my concerns to Her and I really felt that I was heard. I can not say that I was reassured.

    I walked home with the realisation that everything happens for a reason and that I needed to make the best of each day and try to stop worrying. Not that I did at that stage. I fact it was later that year, when I was made redundant, that  my wife said exactly the same words to me. I tried hard to take her advice. I even managed to convince myself that my premonition was just a case of “Nerves”. The following march, my wife had two massive heart attacks and sadly, she passed away.

    I cannot remember much of what happened next. My stepson kept me alive, forcing me to eat.  Eventually, I took a job as a self employed sales representative for a company selling mobility scooters. Within a year I was wiped out financially. With the help of my family, I managed to persuade my stepson to go back to London.

    I settled down to the task of simply fading away… It was not to be. My Goddess spoke to me again.

    I was cooling off after a soak in the tub and sat down at the computer. I had a compulsion to write.

    After about five minutes I was looking at the first poem that I ever posted in public.

     

    The Goddess Calls

    Who are you ?
    Strange longing that has crept into my restful soul,
    I hear your quiet whisper, but,in words not of my race…
    There is nothing in this world is seek,- My cup is full
    and yet you call me softly from some distant place.

    Are you the whisper in the wind that calls my name ?
    The Breaking of the waves against some rocky shore?
    Or Moonlit shadows rustling in some country lane.
    I feel as …if somehow you’ve called my name before.

    Stay !..don’t fade away !
    Your gentle torture seems to stir my bones.
    I wait and listen in this dying light of day,
    Perhaps My Goddess speaks in these soft tones.

    Oh that I were not deaf and blind
    to all those things on which my spirit soars,
    If all the thoughts which cloud my mind were gone,
    And only You and I remained as once before.

    Patrick Kavanagh
    16/04/12

    Angel

     

     

     

    I knew that I was meant to do something to make my life worth living again, but I did not really want to. I was finished with life. I wanted nothing more from it. I stared at the poem on the screen in front of me. I remembered the search that had consumed much of my life, and decided that if I was to stay,- I had to find some way to make a difference to the world. I was compelled to post the poem on a popular social media website. I have been posting ever since.

     

    I had joined the Grimsby Pagan Moot when I had moved up from London, and I began to go to meetings again. I became friends with the Tina and it was then that my life started to really change.

    I have mentioned earlier that Tina was a medium. She had a vision of an angel and her own spirituality evolved as a result of it. Through her I met several people who were to change my life.

    I can see all the links clearly now, in retrospect. Spirit was guiding me on a path, as surely as if the Faeries had held me by the hand and led me to them again. Tina asked me to take her to a shamanic drumming workshop which was being run by  Kevin Guy, a local druid. I was happy to go with her as I had been aware that there was a druid of that name who lived in the village next to mine. Funnily, although he lived less than a mile away from me, I had never been able to find him. When We visited his home, later that year, I realised that he was two fields and about twenty houses away, in a straight line, along the only road to New Holland.

    I set off to Cabourne Parva with Tina in a very uncertain frame of mind. I wanted to meet Kevin, but  I tend to be very sceptical. Kevin Guy is tall, with a spectacular beard and a ponytail, but it was the mischief in his eyes that made me wonder a little. However, I was not to be disappointed.

    It was an amazing workshop. I began to sense energies in a much more natural way that I had in many years. I saw a little girl in spirit, who turned out to be Tina’s child whom she had lost through miscarriage. Tina saw her too and was quite upset, so we left the workshop and went outside for a while. We were confused when I said I was given the name “ Lucy” as Tina had planned to call her “Danielle”. However,- that her name is now Lucy has been confirmed independently by quite a few mediums since that day,- and without any prompting.

     

    It was when we were drumming at the labyrinth at Caboure Parva that something happened that was to have a huge impact on my future. Kevin had promised that a “gift” might be given as we walked the labyrinth. I was unconvinced. There is a photograph by Jayne Culver, in my last article, which I believe was taken moments before I had a very strange experience. I was walking the labyrinth and feeling a little foolish when a voice sounded in my ear. Just one word was spoken, “Laughter!”

    It as very clear and very real. It seemed to be coming from a few inches away from my right ear.

    Baffled, I said nothing about it to anyone. But, for the next six weeks or so, everything that went wrong brought me to fits of laughter. By the time the “gift” had faded, I was beginning to heal emotionally and learning to enjoy life again. I still had sadness, but it was no longer unrelenting.

     

    A few months later, Tina and I visited Cabourne Parva for an afternoon of Buddhist meditation.

    There is a beautiful rough-wood stage built in the woods near the “Barn” in Cabourne. The event was being held there. As I lay on the woodland stage,  I was amazed to see hundreds of faeries flying above me. It was hardly what I had expected, but I was later to find out that they had plans for me. Yet again, it was Tina who was helping to guide me on my path. This time it led to Hessle, and Dean Kingett at Spiritual Hart. We went to a psychic demonstration hosted by Eileen Akrill.

    She brought my late wife, Frances, through to me, and spoke about a box of treasures hidden in my home.

    It was a box of little ornaments and memorabilia which Frances had collected over the years.  Thanks to Tina, I found it and sent it to my eldest stepdaughter. Unknown to me, it contained a ring from her grandmother which she had wanted as a keepsake, but which we had been unable to find. We became friends and Eileen was responsible for my coming into contact with Bill Oliver and writing our first book,  The Faery Portals.

     

    The Faery Queen

    Wings of finest gossamer that sparkled as she flew,
    Silken robes that shimmered brightly in the morning dew.
    Pearls of sunlight on the early morning sunlit leaves.
    I gazed in admiration at her beauty as her faery spell she weaved.

    I stood and watched with joy, and felt again, just like a little boy.
    Her singing touched my heart and played with it as if it were a toy.
    One fleeting glance and I was hers, I shyly reached to take her hand.
    She took me far away to share her native land.

    I can not remember any nights or any days.
    Just the endless revelry and all the games we played.
    It seemed to last all summer long, then I awoke and she was gone,
    But in that single dream, I found that fifty years had gone.

    Where are those middle years I planned to spend in quiet company?
    Where are the friends and family that filled my life with comfort and delight?
    There’s no one left to fill my final years with joviality.
    A lifetime passed away within a single day and night.

    Patrick W Kavanagh

    01/07/2013

     

    angel2

     
    art by Boy So Blue graphic s and photography

    Bardic Song of the Month

    February, 2015

    This month’s Bardic Song is called “Imbolc Song”. It is a simple tune that institues poetic license in that it doesn’t always rhyme.
    When I initially created this song back in 2002, I never put words to it. It was created as part of a Witchy Lesson I had with a previous Coven. I was rummaging thru those old Lessons looking for something else and this song popped out of nowhere. I entered it into the computer and my Muse tapped my shoulder and gave me the words to coincide with this month’s Sabbat – Imbolc. I hope you enjoy the lovely melody line and the picturesque words and phrases that resonate with the Holiday.
    As much as possible, all songs are created as a single page in pdf format for easier printing and reading. If you play the piano, these songs are simple enough to pick up right away. If you don’t have the musical inclination, an MP3 file is attached for easier listening and learning.
    All songs for this and future monthly articles are published by the Blue Ridge Mountain Clan by Lord Fairy Bottom Educifer aka Wayne Minich, II. Any similarities to other songs is coincidental and not intentional.

    Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times

    February, 2015

    Bright Blessings!

    Imbolc in upon us. One of my favorite Sabbats.

    It originated in Pre Christian times when there was milk because lambs had babies and it was time for a feast!!!!!!!!!!!

    And believe it or not, in that hard frozen ground…first signs of Spring appear. A few birds return, buds appear on the trees, and for many of us, cabin fever creates an eagerness for warm weather.  Seed companies in modern times anticipate this, and send out their catalogues, and stores begin stocking up on gardening supplies. If you are like me, you buy everything you can! As a matter of fact, a seed catalogue came in the mail for me yesterday, and I simply cannot put it down!

    At Imbolc, life in brewing within the earth, and will burst forth in a matter of weeks after MONTHS of cold and fallowness. It is a good time to plan for the return of the growing season and an even better time to enjoy the last month or two of winter and the deep introspection it brings.

    Like the earth, we hold many ingredients for newness and change and growth.  If you are earth based and you cycle with the seasons, you already slowed down after Samhain. Perhaps you wander the stretches of nature year round, and observe how active the critters still are in wintertime. You see the plants die back, but their dried branches, berries, and leaves are still eaten by deer and birds even as the ice storms ravage the land.  The odd squirrel can be sighted and geese pop out from time to time en route to elsewhere. The earth too is moving, rustling in the wind. Ponds and creeks freeze and unfreeze. Streams creep along or stop. Once the trees lose leaves, you see father into the forest to where ravines you were unaware of lie and sometimes, when you are walking a trail, you can HEAR, absolutely HEAR a hissing from the snow as it compresses upon itself.

    Nothing smells quite like the air does in wintertime. Sweet, crisp, and smoky. Not like the smokiness of falltime, or the summertime campfire smoke. But winters sweet smokiness is the smell of fallen leaves after all the life has shrank out of them and their spent bodies lie on the ground, protecting the earth and tender new life within it. It is out of all this nothingness and decay that everything will come.

    While you wait for Spring, why not take advantage of the powerful energy from this nothingness, which is the source of all life to focus on your own growth?

    Or those things within you brewing , that have yet to take shape and become form, and that are waiting to come out and be? Some folks spend more time at home in wintertime, and have had time to think about things they want to do when weather warms up.

    If there is one thing I have learned about human beings, it is that we are always changing. Even people who consider themselves creatures of habit. Our bodies and the things we do change even if we don’t realize it. If there is something else I have learned about us humans, it is that we want things. We want new experiences and to enjoy them. For some, it is improving their favorite things, or finding better ways to continue experiencing them, and for others, it is going on new adventures.

    Whatever it is you have brewing inside you, Imbolc is a good time to pull the ingredients together and start the “activation” process.

    First, a little history of what the Sabbat was in past times, and then suggested ritual!

    The goddess Brigid, later Christianized into Saint Brigid has long been the deity of this Sabbat. Not being a devotee of Brigid, myself, I however have been in her presence. It was about four or five years ago when a woman who is a devotee of Brigid did a healing well ritual invoking the goddess. Brigid was THERE, and touched us all even though the officiant was the only devotee of hers. There was not a dry eye in the house that day.

    Brigid, from what I experienced is a goddess of mercy and healing. She is one of the high matrons who was mother not only to entire peoples , but to other gods.  Different forms of her name were used by different cultures of peoples and worship of her lasted for centuries. So great and important was she, that I believe many of her merciful, and compassionate traits were absorbed into Catholicism not only as making the goddess into a Saint, but her characteristics went into veneration of Mary, mother of Christ. Catholics cannot do without their great mother.

    Some say  all the gods and goddesses are reflection of one true god and one true goddess that exists that people view in different ways. One need only talk to Kali Ma as opposed to Minerva to see they are not one and the same.  Rather, in seeing how many forms of the same name exist, views of goddesses like Brigid may have evolved as cultures changed and people were influenced by neighboring religions. Same goddess, different cultural characteristics, and different spelling and pronunciation of her name.

    Different names for Brigid are  found in different Celtic regions. To be lazy, I found an excellent list in the Wikipedia article about her name variants…’

    Brighde/Bride is Scottish

    Fraid is Welsh

    Brigindu is Gaullish

    Brigantia and Brigantis  is from Great Britain

    Brigantia is also Gallician and Gallicia has another spelling of her name, which is Braga

    Braganca is Northern Portugese

    Bregenz is Austrian

    Sacred wells and eternal flames were tended by her devotees, and Catholic Nuns continued this practice.

    One of the most famous sites is the Cathedral to Saint Brigid in Kildare, Ireland. The Cathedral began near 480 a.d. with the settling of nuns and construction of a humble building. Brigid was the head nun who was so highly regarded, after her death, a shrine and new building went up. It was destroyed many times, and by the late 1600’s, the building was redone almost 20 times.

    It was officially consecrated in the 1200’s, and up until the 16th century, a “firehouse” temple that originated in pre Christian days was maintained.  It was ruined after the Protestant Reformation and Irish Confederate Wars of the 1600’s. There was much breaking away from Catholic influence after this time, and reconstruction, without the firehouse was completed from 1875 to 1896.

    Interestingly, this illustrious num, Saint Brigid of Kildare patronized the same things as the goddess Brigid. Some  of the things St. Brigid patronized included milk, poetry, and blacksmiths. As St. Brigid was also seen to be merciful, she patronized some of the people who were looked down upon and who suffered greatly including abused children, and the poor. More similarity to the goddess- St. Brigid of Kildare’s feast day is Feburary 1, Imbolc.

    The Saint became Abbess and Abbesses preceding her from her order for many years were regarded at superior generals of monastaries in Ireland. Even the Episcopals recognized them.

    Many miracles of healing, charity, and defending the defenseless against cruelty have been attributed to this Saint.

    Naming Christian children after Pagan gods and attribution of the gods characteristics to Saints is just one way Christianity helped unknowingly keep Pagan traditions alive.

    Backing up for centuries before Christianization, the beloved, and well-used Mound of Hostages provides evidence of the sacredness of this time. The inner chamber aligns with the sunrise both Imbolc and Samhain. Long believed to be then markers for beginning of winter (Samhain) and beginning of Spring (Imbolc). Imbolc was about the fires of new life and fertility.

    The fires in the home were extinguished and the ashes were consulted for signs that the goddess had visited in the night. An image of the goddess was taken from house to house the next day to bless the homes, and inhabitants. Like St. Brigid, who watched over children, the goddess tended an eternal flame that protected herds and people. Healthy herds meant food for the folk. Healthy folk meant more babies. More babies meant the folk endured.Brigid, keeper of the sacred flame was the protector, and giver of life.

    In my research for this, I discovered that although it was deemed too Pagan, and the flame was extinguished in the 1600’s, it was relit in 1993 by the Brigidine Sisters.

    It still burns.

    The Fire Temple was also rebuilt on the grounds in Kildare. It was constructed where it is believed the original stood, and while that flame is not kept burning at all times, fires are lit there for special occasions. You can read more about this wonderful group and the fire sites at www.brigidine.org

     

    On doing ritual for this Sabbat.

    Many of us do not leave candles or hearth flames burning 24/7 in our homes because we have central heating and air conditioning and we don’t want a house fire!  Many neo-Pagans do not follow the goddess Brigid either. So the tradition of extinguishing a hearth fire and looking for signs of the goddess and then inviting her into the home may be a fitting rite for some Pagans, but not for everybody.

    But the powerful energies of life brewing is what can be harnessed by everybody. I do not recommend an exciting, cool, very ethereal working for this. But a plain old, bland, boring list making session you light one candle for and a bit of journaling, and a lot of footwork.

    Why?

    Because I believe magic is not just spell slinging. I believe it entails active work on our part. I have seen people say a prayer or “put it out there to the universe” when they wanted something to manifest, and that worked. I am of the mind, however, that the times that all is required is making a wish to get results are few and far between, and I think it is up to us to try and be proactive in bringing about manifestation of what we want.

    The operations for simply putting a request out to the universe are as simple as writing the desired outcome on paper and burning it and releasing the ashes to the wind or leaving libation to a god or goddess and asking them for help. If you want to preface my suggested ritual for Imbolc with this, go right ahead. I think everybody has to do what works for them, but I suggest also following up with action.

    Ready?

    Get paper, plenty of it, and pencil with eraser. Get a candle you can light multiple times over the course of a week or two if needs be. You may well be sitting down with your list more than once while you are deciding what you want and just how to go about getting it. Shut off your cell phone and music and tv, and sit comfortably in solitude someplace where you will be undisturbed.

    Light your candle and take a moment to gather your thoughts before you begin.

    Then start writing about what change you want to manifest in your life. Be as specific as possible, keeping in mind that you can be as lofty with this initial writing session as you please.Take as long as you need, and when you have finished, extinguish the candle and go do something else. Wait a good twenty-four hours before revisiting this list.

    Sit down undisturbed and light that candle again. Repeating use of the same candle for this consecrates it and links it to this working. Use of a single notebook or a stack of papers kept in the same folder can establish this link , too. These are your ritual tools for this. As you write on the papers, save them. Number the pages or put the date you began on each page so you can refer back to your progress.

    Now is time to revise. Maybe you put a complete overhaul changing every aspect of your life and you are just not looking to tackle that much at once. Maybe you want something that is just not going to happen. I am sorry to say, but sometimes, we have to accept that we just cannot have everything we want. Try to whittle it down to a single thing you want to focus on and that you feel is attainable.

    Get a new piece of paper, and do a mission statement of sorts starting with “I want…”

    For example, “I want to eat healthier this year because I want my overall health to improve.” Or even , “I want a higher paying job.” Or even, “I want to break off/ start a new romantic relationship. “ Short and sweet, and not too much to focus on. The more simplified and specific, the more time and energy you can effectively focus on that and the faster you can be successful.

    Extinguish the candle and wait another twenty-four hours. If you have to work on this mission statement over more than one session, that is okay. Once you have your mission statement, start again in a quiet place where you can be undisturbed and light that candle and take out that notebook or folder of papers.

    Next you are going to examine that goal and think of three things you can do to accomplish it. By now, you might have found yourself thinking about your goal outside the quiet time you spent writing. You may be driving home from work, or at your workout, pondering things.

    Your list may be something like this.

    “I want to eat healthier this year for my overall health to improve.

    Three things I can do to work towards this are:

    Give up eating dessert and stop putting sugar in my coffee and tea.

    Take a multivitamin every day to get more nutrients in me.

    Give up soda for good, and instead drink at least eight glasses of water a day.”

    Extinguish the candle. Put your mission statement and three goals someplace where you can see it.

    Twice a week, light your candle and write at least a paragraph about your progress. In a month evaluate your success. Revise and redo as necessary. Some goals are long term, and some practically instantly accomplished.

    What I just listed about eating healthier is actually my list. I started doing these things a month-and-a half ago and I am proud to say, I have not faltered. BUT, this is a long term project. If I drink ONE soda, it does not mean I have failed, but if I do one every day, I need to try harder. And I am not assuming I will never have a dessert again for as long as I live. I am just one of those people who “can’t eat just one” and I have seconds and thirds and I like sweets all day long every day. Going on a sugar fast to get the cravings under control was literally, a gods-send. But I know myself well enough to know that if I am not vigilant, I will fall back into the habit of being ruled by sugar addiction, and I will never be healthy that way. So this list is one I will have to adhere to for my whole life.

    We all want better things in life and positive changes, but as Pagans and witches in general, we sometimes forget to add mundane action to our quest for improvement or acquiring what we want. I am not suggesting an end to spellwork. Goodness, no! I am simply suggesting that in addition to spellwork, we do footwork. As a matter of fact, I suggest footwork and spellwork always be combined.

    Have a blessed Imbolc and may you bless yourself with accomplishing new goals. And wish me luck, my dears…because I had a dream last night I was eating a candy bar. (Don’t tell my husband on me!)

    Blessed Be.

    Musings of a Hereditary Witch

    February, 2015

    How I Came to Teach

    I never expected to become a teacher in the witchcraft/pagan community. I was really quite happy working with my family and helping a few close friends. However, my god family had other plans (as they so often do).

    In 1992, I was a buyer and clerk at Infinity. A lovely metaphysical shop housed in an old Victorian; complete with three resident ghosts. People would drop in after work, just to soak up the atmosphere before going home. It was a wondrous and magical place.

    Infinity had Readers, massage therapists, offered Spiritual counseling, soul retrieval and past life work. We sponsored author workshops & book signing by such authors as Angeles Arrien, Z. Budapest, and SARK. We sponsored other events, even one where Susan Seddon Boulet held a one woman art show. There were classes and workshops in meditation, psychic development, Reiki, crystal healing, magic, Goddess Spirituality and had other wonderful offerings, but not much in the way of witchcraft.

    One week, there were seven different women that came into the store all inquiring where they could learn witchcraft without joining a coven. Most of the covens in our area were by invitation and you had to know someone who knew someone, if you know what I mean. I would suggest books that we carried, but what they were really looking for was a teacher. I had no one to recommend at the time, but each time someone asked I took down their information, in case I thought of someone.

    At the end of the week I was relating all of this to my husband. He bluntly said “Well teach them.” Uh, no. My excuses ran from: this is my life path, I can’t separate it from who I am, I can’t compartmentalize it and I can’t teach to non-family; to that old adage of ‘Those who can, do; Those who can’t, teach’ that was running though my head. I was very resistant to the idea almost to the point of panicking. You see I am a big time introvert and I have a borderline social anxiety disorder. I’d be happy living as a hermit.

    Then, my gods spoke up, loud and clear. “These women need to learn from someone like you, that’s why we sent them.” Ah Crap! So, that weekend I worked out a six week set of classes aptly called, Witchcraft 101 (personally, I thought of it as a six week get your feet wet set of classes).

    I contacted the women and they were all excited to attend. Two of the women brought their sixteen year old daughters with them. They were all wonderful students and I have to say we had a great time. I had a great time. Our last class was a ritual and we were sitting around afterwards talking. One of the women asked ‘What are you teaching next?’ which the others chimed in on. ‘Um, I didn’t think beyond these classes’ I admitted (which was the truth).  We discussed what other things they would like to learn.

    I made a deal with my god family; I was willing to continue teaching, but they had to bring me the right students and for over twenty years they have. I love teaching and I love seeing the look in a student’s eyes when something rings true for them.

    Blessings on your Hearth & Home

    P.S. I am now a functioning Introvert with a borderline social anxiety disorder.

    Witchcrafting: Crafts for Witches

    February, 2015

    Get Swept Away
    Merry meet!
    Besom

    Besoms – along with black pointy hats and cauldrons – are the three symbols most associated with witches. That was part of the reason my coven decided to have some fun with them. One full moon we adorned black hats. On another, we decorated brooms.

    The idea was to personalize it while incorporating all our energies. We each began with a standard broom, a crystal, and ribbons and beads for the directions, the God and Goddess. We then exchanged offerings. I gave everyone shells and a skeleton key. Each woman chose how to incorporate the items into her broom, so no two were alike, yet each had all the same components.

    We used our besoms in ritual, to cleanse a space and to define our circle. Other items were added along the way. After a while, we stopped lugging them to ritual. They were retired after there had been a significant turnover in the coven and together we each decorated a smaller broom, transferring some of the unique items.

    It wasn’t long before we also stopped carrying those new, smaller brooms to ritual, and again, there has been significant turnover in the coven, but, as of yet, no talk of brooms.

    Besom2

     

    If this has inspired you, let me point out one thing to keep in mind. Generally, I had stored besoms with the handle down and the bristles up. But decorations – such as ribbons – seem to naturally hang down to be in place when the besom is held and used to sweep. Storing it upside down then seems to go against the flow of the decorations, so I’ve hung mine off the floor. If you find a way to bring harmony to this predicament, please do post to the comment section!

    Merry part. And merry meet again.

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