June, 2015

Merry Meet

June, 2015

 

litha7

 

 

            Welcome

 

 

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In This Issue…

 

Bard

Our Mabh Savage Interviews Damh the Bard.

 

hedgewitch

We have two great book reviews for you one on The Way of the Hedge Witch, Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock.

 

buddhism for couples cover

The Second book is Buddhism for Couples by Sarah Napthali.

 

 

kwan

Learn about Kwan Yin this month In She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names.

 

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Interested in joining our writing family?  email us at admin@paganpages.org

 

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Happy Reading…

 

MagickalArts

June, 2015

Mid-Year Resolutions!

December 31st marks the last day of any calendar year and we bring all the accumulated lessons, joys and sorrows of that year with us as we cross the threshold into a new beginning- the first day of a new year. For many, this self-initiated new start is welcomed by the making of carefully and thoughtfully chosen “resolutions”. And, just as many, often find that by the end of that cyclic year, those resolutions have fallen by the wayside, replaced by regrets or excuses for not having accomplished what we had set out to. What I would like to offer is a new way of looking at this yearly ritual. In fact, we can get the process off to a good start by thinking and approaching it more as a ritual, complete with inspired intent and focused will that may serve to enhance the determination needed to sustain you throughout the entire year.

I would like to propose a mid-year space of resolution. We are fast approaching June 1st and can easily use this as the mid-year refresher and space of re-intention. So, let’s first think about what expectations may arise as we claim the mid-year. By way of example, when we enter into ritual space, we have certain expectations. The first of these expectations is that we are entering into a sacred act or agreement, if you will. We expect that our declarations and devotions in ritual will be supported by Deity and we rarely, if ever entertain the idea of failure as an option. We pour all of our intent and desire into focusing on the successful outcome we are expecting from the work being done in sacred space.

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, the word Resolution (Noun): [res-o-lu-tion] is defined as below:

1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.?2. A course of action determined or decided on.?3. A formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion.

These definitions create the basic energy put into the making of a resolution, but the etymology of the word lends a different perspective. The word resolution is directly derived from the Latin verb resolvere (also-Solvo, solvere, solvi, solutus) which means to untie, unfasten, loosen, unbind, etc. The prefix- re- has two distinct meanings. One interpretation of the meaning of the prefix-re- means “again”, and the other meaning of it implies “backward” or “back”. So, we could say that the literal meaning of the word –resolution- is to unbind again. If we think on this definition we can easily see the cyclic nature of setting into motion what action or change we desire. With the ending of each year and the beginning of another we return to the same old quandary of setting goals, that are still largely under the influence of old patterns and behavior. We would not consider reusing a spell or attending a ritual that was ineffective, yet we allow ourselves to remain caught up in the magick of our own un-making. But, if we approach the resolution making process as one of releasing ourselves from this cycle, there is more energy surrounding the positive and successful nature of this timeless ritual.

As we move through our daily practice, weave our magick and go through our mundane activities, part of this process involves release and loosening up to open up more fully to what we wish to bring into our lives. The alchemy that is a part of that process is the creation of something that will be strong, flexible and serve as a foundation from which we can see more clearly, make more effective choices and realize the great power we hold simply by opening to our higher intent. Magick that allows for the flow of carefully directed energy, bolstered by the resolve of intent is ultimately enhanced when that direction is loosened, becomes flexible and moves in a way that can foster growth and expansion.

We are always in a state of change and growth. It is this movement that affirms our life and our humanity. So creating goals, or resolutions for this process are appropriate tools towards helping us move towards our higher purpose. If we create the intent of our “resolutions” to unbind or loosen us from behaviors that we repeat time and again that are not productive and supportive of our forward moving growth- we allow the space of confinement to break free. If we create “re-solutions” to those hindrances of the past that keeping us looking backwards and often distort or skew our objectives of self-actualization, we have tapped into a very powerful and transformative tool that allows us to be more fully present in both our mundane and spiritual activities. And, when we relinquish our need to constrict and control the course of our actions, we can be more receptive to the many joys and opportunities for stepping into the energy of our inner power and become more firmly resolute in our adaptability to the challenges that come our way.

If we return to the idea of ritual and sacred space, consider sitting quietly in a dedicated space as you put to pen and paper your resolutions for this mid-year. If you want to keep it simple, light a candle, take a deep breath to clear your focus and intent and fill your space with supportive energy in accord with what you wish to bring into manifestation through your resolve. If you want to fully embrace the magick of what you are resolving to, create a ritual working that incorporates the writing down of your intentions. Ground and center, purify, cast your circle and call in the specific elemental energies that will sustain your resolve. Make your declarations in witness of the seen and unseen and be sure to offer up thanks to those supporting to seal your working and resolve.

In whatever way you choose to claim this mid-year process of resolve, as you sit and pen your “resolutions”, take a moment to pause and give breath and intent to those things you wish both to release and to bring into your life. Take some time to open to all the possibilities that these new intentions offer up. As for me, my resolution is to stand with more widely open arms and a deeper well of heart to what lay ahead. To remember the lessons of a resolve that is born of allowing the energy to flow through me in a way that will be productive. My intent is to fine tune that inner resolve and when I come once again to the calendar ending of December 31, 2015, I will look back at the intention of change I’ve allowed to become my solid foundation.

Blessings Bright for an Inspiring Mid-Year!

Musings of a Hereditary Witch

June, 2015

The Sea Witch

When I think of the Sea Witch, I see her standing upon high cliffs, arms upraised as she harnesses the power from the waves crashing against the rocks below. Sometimes I see her walking barefoot along the beach whispering words of magic while the light of a full moon casts a soft glow around her.

She makes use of the things cast up by the sea; shells, hag stones, glass fishing floats, hooks, rope, sea glass, fishing net, driftwood, sea weed, bird feathers, as well as using sand and sea. Her magic is tied to the tides, the moon, fog, storms and the bright sun. She controls the winds.

There are two high tides and two low tides a month. Her most powerful spells would be performed during the high tides, while banishing spells would be worked when the tide was ebbing or low.

Weather magic is the domain of the Sea Witch. She could tie up the wind in a rope or a handkerchief. Sometimes she would give or sell these to sailors. Sometimes, sailors would bring a length of rope to her and ask for favorable winds and a safe journey. She would take the rope and depending on the ships destination, would tie 3 knots into the rope, harnessing the appropriate winds for the journey. When the sea was calm and no wind furled the ship’s sails, the sailor could untie one of the knots to release the wind the Sea Witch had captured there.

Never anger a Sea Witch for she could raise the fog for concealment or a tempest causing ships to wreck on the jagged rocks. The power of a storm could be channeled into a glass fishing float and later smashed to release the power and aid her in her magic.

If you were to visit her home, you might find wind chimes made from bird bones and seashells, or shells stung to make curtains. Shells are protective as they once protected the creatures that lived in them. A hag stone (a stone with a natural hole) may hang from the rafters or from around her neck; another protective amulet.
On her altar might be a starfish or sand dollar (pentacle), a piece of driftwood for a wand, shells to hold sand, salt and water. She may have a glass fishing float to use for scrying and another hag stone for seeing spirits. She might have a bowl filled with odd objects like sea glass, bones, shells and other bobbles for use in divination.

Fishing net may be draped over the back of the door for protection or she may wear a shawl in a fishnet pattern for the same purpose. Fishing nets are used to ‘tangle’ up the energy of another or used to ‘capture’ a goal.

The Sea Witch works with the chaotic forces of nature, her emotions tied to the sea. She walks the path alone, taking a lover when she feels the need, but the sea will always have her heart. Not many choose the path of the Sea Witch today.
Wishing you calm seas

Astro Report for June 2015

June, 2015

Astro Report for June 2015

Mercury still Retrograde in Gemini – 8 degrees

Monday, June 1, 201512:01 am EDT

Goes Direct on Thursday, June 11, 201510:51 pm EDT

The Planet of Communication enters the Sign of Communication… Hmmm… Interesting how conversations go from subject to subject. It’s a wonder how each segues into the next. And while you’re talking, be wary of what you say about others not part of the conversation. Gossip can bite you in the end. However, when Mercury goes Retrograde, conversations can definitely be uncontrolled. The proverbial foot fits in the proverbial mouth too often. Mercury goes direct later this month.

 

 

Saturn still Retro in Sagittarius – 0 degrees

Monday, June 1, 201512:01 am EDT

Goes Direct on Sunday, August 2, 20154:55 am EDT

The Planet of caution takes a break from its conservative ways. When it goes retrograde, the Planet actually lightens up on the reins a bit. It allows people to explore further than they normally would. Sagittarius allows it to open its mouth and to say things out of control. It’s time to make sure the brain is engaged before the mouth blurts away. Saturn goes Direct again in August.

 

 

Pluto still Retrograde in Capricorn – 15 degrees

Monday, June 1, 201512:01 am EDT

Goes Direct on Friday, September 25, 20153:00 am EDT

Pluto resonates with mystery and transformation. While it is Retrograde, the energies become more stagnating, unchanging and powerless. When Pluto is Retrograde, mysteries and secrets are difficult to keep and sometimes are leaked to the world.

 

 

Full Moon in Sagittarius – 11 degrees

Tuesday, June 2, 201512:18 pm EDT

When it’s time to relax, the Full Moon will keep you alert. Emotionally, it is time to progress to the next level. Think creatively and be adventurous when you have to deal with issues. Sometimes you will have the notion to speak your mind when you are agitated, but don’t fret… whatever you say is going to be the right thing. Everybody else was thinking the same thing, but didn’t have the nerve to say it.

 

Native Lore

The Strawberry Moon yields some of the tastiest fruits this time of year, especially on the Full Moon. Gather them fresh as the dew washes them in the morning and before the turtles gobble them up. Roses come into full fruition on the Rose Full Moon in June. Take time to smell the roses!! This is also the time of year when I like making Rose Petal Mead. The days are hot and so are the early parts of the evening. A Full Moon in June can offer a Hot Full Moon. It’s a good time to work Moon energy skyclad, if possible.

 

 

Venus enters Leo

Friday, June 5, 201511:26 am EDT

Testing the waters of independence can be the energy of the moment. Venus enjoys her hedonistic charm, but she requires a partner to share that energy. When in Leo, she gets to spotlight herself and she will show off her talents. It is especially magical because the weekday Friday is ruled by Venus.

 

 

Neptune goes Retro in Pisces – 9 degrees

Thursday, June 11, 201512:00 pm EDT

Goes Direct in Pisces – 7 degrees

Thursday, Nov 19, 201512:39 am EST

The “Pink Fog Machine” normally keeps us from seeing the truth clearly, because Neptune can askew our vision. When retrograde, Neptune can see things more clearly, like the fog has been lifted, for a short time. It helps you to understand the higher concepts of beauty, love and spirituality.

 

 

Mercury goes Direct in Gemini – 4 degrees

Thursday, June 11, 201510:51 pm EDT

The Planet of Communication goes direct in the Sign of Communication… Hmmm… Interesting how conversations go from subject to subject. It’s a wonder how each segues into the next. And while you’re talking, be wary of what you say about others not part of the conversation. Gossip can bite you in the end.

 

 

 

Flag Day – Uranus in Aries – 19 degrees

Sunday, June 14, 201412:01 am EDT

Fly the American Flag high today to represent your patriotism. Uranus rules adventure, independence and freedom, all things that America is based on. Uranus was also discovered shortly after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. This Planet is gliding thru Aries, which allows us to express an outgoing attitude. Show your Patriotism today!

 

 

Sun conjuncts Mars in Gemini – 23degrees

Sunday, June 14, 201510:49 am EDT

When the Planet of personality aligns with the Planet of action, it’s time to “man up”. You find yourself bursting with courage and becoming more assertive in your actions. There is a duality at play, because what you say you want to do is not what you end up doing.

 

 

Retrograde Saturn enters Scorpio backwards – 29 degrees

Sunday, June 14, 20155:52 pm EDT

Saturn’s Retrograde ride thru Sagittarius ends as it backs into Scorpio. Saturn’s energy can be so conservative, but when in Scorpio, the Planet can be more determined. This particular Sunday will speak of many aspects that innuendos are made of – especially when Scorpio adds mystery to the mix. However, the Retrograde actions spins an air of throwing caution to the wind.

 

 

New Moon in Gemini – 25 degrees

June 16, 201510:04 am EDT

A New Moon in Gemini can be quite tricky to experience. New Moons benefit from new emotions and imaginations. Gemini as a Sign can cause excitability and people will talk up a storm – becoming gossip geese. When the New Moon creates this new energy of emotion and imaginations, it propagates the excitability of the gossip geese – honk, honk, honk… There seems to be no end to the talking and gossip. Avoid getting too involved in those types of conversations, because they only cause trouble in the long run.

 

 

Stellium in Gemini – 11th House

Tuesday, June 16, 201510:06 am

Moon overtakes Mars and the Sun with Mercury dragging the rear. The Moon overtakes Mercury on June 14th at 10:27 pm EDT after emotions engage in subtle conversations. Harsh words may ensue. However, the ego hurts and regret for argument offers sorrow. While the initial confrontation happened in the 4th House of Hearth & Home, emotions offer hope among friends.

 

 

Father’s Day – Sun in Gemini – 29 degrees

Sunday, June 21, 201512:01 am EDT

Dads are in the spotlight. Remind him how much he inspired you. Tell him how he changed you and your life for the better. He deserves a pat on the back for a job well done! Offer him the pride he deserves and later, it’s ok to get a little sentimental.

 

 

 

Litha at sunrise – Sun in Gemini – 29 degrees

Sunday, June 21, 20155:44 am EDT at Sunrise

Litha/Midsummer (no –mas ending)

Names: Midsummer, Litha (a name occurring in Bede’s “Reckoning of Time” [De Temporum Ratione, 7th century] Bede writes that “Litha means ‘gentle’ or ‘navigable’), Samradh, Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, Gwyl Ganol yr Haf (Welsh)

Date: Jun 21st (longest day of the Solar Year/waning half begins)

Astro Correspondence: Sun enters Cancer (first day of Summer)
Color: whites and yellows,

Food: earliest fresh fruits and vegetables, soups, breads, pasta, chicken, pork, wine, sangria, iced teas,

Common Info: “Midsummer’s Night Dream” is enacted by Shakespeare, Battle of Oak/Holly Kings (Holly wins), Sun at highest peak and begins its descent (wanes),

 

Alban Heffyn (Midsummer or Litha) is the Celtic Festival of the Oak. It is the last day for the Oak King to reign. It is usually on the 1st day of summer (June 21st) or when the Sun enters Cancer. It is the Summer Solstice. It is also known as St John’s Day. Ogmios, Arianrhod, Huon and Math are usually celebrated as the Gods. Celebrations consist of herb hunting (St Johnswort), pickling early vegetables, circle readings and Fairy Hunts. Oak leaves are typical symbols of the season and open-face Green Men hang from walls. Foods sacred to the Sabbat include any fresh fruit, especially strawberries. Now is the time to hunt for mistletoe so it is easily found at Yule.

The Fairy Realm is quite active at this time, so honor them with milk and honey. Leave simple, shiny gifts for them and they won’t steal your keys or your kids.

 

 

Sun enters Cancer – Happy Birthday, Cancer!!

Sunday, June 21, 201512:26 pm EDT

Cancer is the most emotional of all Signs. Folks born under this Sign tend to be motherly and compassionate by nature, but it can go to an extreme where the motherly effect becomes smothery. Cancer can create an air of crankiness if provoked. If you find yourself offended by something or somebody, you may find yourself sulking away in your crab shell. Change your moods and you mannerisms and be the joyful, playful person you yearn to be and you will see that happiness is far better than moodiness.

 

 

Mars enters Cancer

Wednesday, June 24, 20159:25 am EDT

The Planet of Action drives forward through the Sign of Emotion and Family. If there was any moment in time that you wanted to take action with your loved ones, now is the time. Make peace and harmony number one on your list of things to do. Avoid engaging in any competitive actions.

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

June, 2015

More Dollar Store Delights

Merry Meet.

Magical stores are few and far between, but dollar stores are everywhere and they have a wealth of items for altars, rituals and sabbats. With Litha in mind, I snapped these photos as more examples of items you can find for $1.

wings

dolls

On mid-summers eve, the fairies are said to be at their merriest. You can be, too.

wands

Whether or not you are donning fairy wings, you can still wave a wand.

bubbles

butterflies

Butterflies are as much a part of summer as are bubbles. Celebrate both.

Whats your best dollar store find?

Merry part. And merry meet again…

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

June, 2015

Croning Part 3

Merry meet! 

This month is the third of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone. It touches on some of the symbols of the crone you can consider incorporating into your ritual.

Croning : Symbols

Amethyst:

amethyst

This is often considered the gem of the crone because it is associated with spirituality and wisdom. Everyone who attended the weekend event at which I croned was given a small piece of amethyst and the instruction to give it to me with a personal message. I was given an etched champagne glass to collect them in.

Braid / stole / shawl: A wearable symbol of the level of crone is a stole or braid, that is placed over her shoulders. It can be round woven from ribbons representing the elements, or it can be of colors that have meaning for the crone. Charms, beads and crystals can also be added. I chose a black shawl as the garment I wished bestowed upon me because old women of all nationalities have worn shawls.

Cauldron: This customary witch’s tool is associated with the crone goddesses Cerridwen, the Celtic Keeper of the Cauldron; Hecate, Greek Goddess of magic and the underworld; and Kali, the Indian Goddess of destruction and rebirth. It is a symbol of germination, transmutation and transformation. It is the merging of the Great Goddess and the Great Mother. Crones stir their wisdom in the cauldron. I used mine to hold wisdom scrolls (to be described next month).

Crown:

crown

The placing of a crown on the head symbolizes rising to a higher rank – in this case, the rank of crone. It can be made by the crone from dried flowers, branches or other materials that are available as well as meaningful. Mine was made for me by two dear crones.

Owl: The owl – the bird of magic, darkness, prophecy and wisdom –is considered to be the totem of the crone.

Staff:

Staff

A staff is another symbol of initiation into cronehood. I chose to make a ceremonial one modeled after a medicine stick I had seen. The skull of a grandmother goat was a gift from a fire witch and farmer. Leather laces were strung through three holes to which I attached a variety of charms, amulets and other meaningful objects that previously had been on my altars or tucked in various places. It is both personal and powerful, and remains a work in progress. Staffs need not be elaborate. They can even be disguised as walking sticks.

Waning moon: As the moon decreases in size going from full to new, it is known as the waning moon and is associated with the crone. It’s a time of intuition and divination.

Next month I’ll prompt you to reflect on your life and the wisdom you have to share. My croning ritual will be a large part of the August column, along with some ideas for your own and some references. We’ll wrap up in September with any questions you may have as well as some details that did not fit into previous columns.

Merry part. And merry meet again…

Book Review: Buddhism for Couples by Sarah Napthali

June, 2015

Buddhism for Couples

By: Sarah Napthali

Paperback: 248 pages (tentative)

Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin (June 2015)

buddhism for couples cover

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of a father who struggled to balance his Buddhist practice with his daily responsibilities of being a father and a husband. After the finite hours of his day were divided between work, wife, daughter, and son, there was barely any time left for himself. It was only when he changed his idea of “free time” or “his time” to include running after his children and shopping with his wife that his days opened up and he found he had all the time he needed.

This anecdote remains with me over the years, because it beautifully illustrates the Buddhist approach to life’s problems. Buddhism puts the responsibility of our reactions and emotions strictly on ourselves, not whatever circumstance we tend to blame at the time. The First Noble Truth acknowledges dissatisfaction and suffering as an integral part of life, and the Second Noble Truth sets the cause of this on ourselves, our perception of ourselves, and the yearning that fills the void between how we want things to be and how they really are. We can do something impossible, like making more time, simply by changing our perspective toward the mundane and routine.

It is this uncompromising simplicity of the Buddhist teaching that is so hard to put into practice. The middle way between humility and being a pushover, honesty and being critical, it is wavering at the best of times, let alone with the strong emotions of relationships. Practicing Buddhist compassion toward strangers is so much easier than where it really counts. At home, our insecurities easily manifest in the little frustrations that we either handle badly or sweep away only to pile up in the corners. There they build into ghosts of dissatisfaction, secret tallies of unfairness cataloging who contributes more to the household, thoughts of what other peoples’ marriages are like, and whether whether we were not heard or just ignored.

It is in this context that Sarah Napthali explores Buddhist practice in her new book coming out this June. Using frequent anecdotes and drawing heavily on research in psychology, sociology, Buddhist authorities and relationship gurus, Napthali explores how Buddhist teaching can explain the troubled waters of our relationships and how to use Buddha’s teachings on non-attachment with those we are most attached to. Time and again her honesty in confronting her own shortcomings lets us drop our guard and opens us to see our own failings. Many times she uses humor to show the ridiculousness of our own habitual responses. In the chapter on anger, for instance, she asks us to imagine a book on relationships offering the following advice:

  • If you really want your message to sink in, raise your voice a few decibels.
  • Talking through gritted teeth helps to convey how strongly you feel and should achieve your goals.
  • Expressing contempt is a powerful tool.
  • An angry look can work a treat.
  • Give sulking a try.

In one moment she has simultaneously made us laugh and confront what each of us has done on many occasion.

Buddhism for Couples is highly readable. The tone is easy, almost conversational, peppered with anecdotes and quotations throughout, and the short chapters conform easily to the morning commute and the opportunistic reading of a hectic schedule. Each chapter is closed by a “homework” list of Things to Consider and Things to Do, which I found especially helpful and apropos. In her references, she draws heavily on experts in psychology and sociology, Buddhism and relationship gurus across the board. Ms. Napthali has also avoided two of my pet peeves – lax research and poor citations. A full reference section is included at the back of the book and, although missing from my evaluation copy, it looks like an index might be included in the finished edition as well, which is always a bonus.

Despite the Buddhist theme, the book’s advice is practical and honest enough to ring true for anyone open to the presentation. It also does not require both partners (or either partner for that matter) to be Buddhist. Buddhism for Couples a great book to explore both the dynamic of relationships in the West and the difficulties of the practical, daily spiritual path. Being a man, not having children, and not having any major marital issues of ones own, I felt I was not the target audience of many parts of the book. Indeed, I found myself glossing over chapters on housework or sex, which (naturally) were written from a more female perspective. Even so, I found myself enjoying the book and getting a lot out of it – a new perspective on familiar issues.

Notes from the Apothecary

June, 2015

Notes from the Apothecary: Angelica

Angelica

 

 

A tall, stately plant that I remember well from my mother’s herbaceous garden when I was tiny, Angelica is as beautiful as the name suggests. Unlike many of the herbs in my Apothecary, Angelica can withstand quite cool climates and is found as far north as Iceland and Lapland. In seeming contradiction to this, the plant’s ruling astral body is the sun, and it is mostly closely associated with fire. Despite being classed as a masculine plant, Angelica is linked to the goddess Venus; deity of love, beauty, sex, prosperity and fertility. We can follow the link from the mother of Romans to Aphrodite, her Greek forebear, so Angelica is a perfect offering for either of these deities.

The Kitchen Garden

Angelica is yummy. Known as the ‘herb of the angels’, it is closely related to parsley and celery so it’s no surprise it has a flavour to back the relationship up. A diverse plant, the stems can be used to replace celery in recipes, and the younger shoots candied and used as sweets or cake decorations! The seeds are used to flavour wines and gin and the leaves to lend body to stews and pasta sauces. The Japanese even make tempura from angelica stems. Despite the myriad of uses for this wonder herb, the stuff is nigh on impossible to get a hold of (in the UK at least). Even candied Angelica diamonds, the mainstay of traditional Christmas Cakes, has left our supermarket shelves although you may still find it at small, independent stores. The only answer is to grow it yourself.

As a medicine…

One of the reasons Angelica is so widely used as a seasoning is because of the way it aids digestion. Angelica actually helps promote the production of digestive juices and bile, making it particularly useful (as well as flavoursome) with meat or fatty dishes. It is also an anti-spasmodic so a tea of the herb is excellent for stomach or uterus cramps.

As a diaphoretic, angelica is useful as an herb to bring fever down say during a cold or mild flu episode. The root is cleaned and bruised to free the juices. Boiling water is then poured over the root to create an infusion. This can be drunk 3 times a day.

The root can also be dried and powdered; I have a spice grinder for jobs like this, but you can use the traditional mortar and pestle if you wish.

Mixed with honey, angelica is effective at soothing a sore throat. The leaves also relieve flatulence after a heavy meal!

Science tells us…

Like its cousins parsley and celery, angelica is an emmenagogue, meaning it can stimulate menstrual blood flow. For this reason, you should avoid these plants if pregnant or trying to conceive. Users of warfarin should also avoid angelica as it can react badly and cause bleeding.

The Icelandic Science Institute have proven that there are compounds in angelica that can influence cancerous cells, but the ramifications of this are not yet fully understood. They are also researching the impact of angelica on the immune system. If proven to have a positive impact, this would justify the use of angelica as a tonic for the last few millennia!

In the Witch’s Kitchen…

In her Modern Botanical, Mrs Grieve tells us that Angelica was associated with ancient Pagan festivals, and that it wards against evil spirits and dark magic. Even after the advent of Christianity, the name Angelica was linked to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and was also known as the ‘Root of the Holy Ghost’ and held in much reverence for its protective properties.

Angelica2

 

Cunningham corroborates Angelica’s powers of protections, adding that bathing in the herb may help break a curse or hex upon one’s person. The plant is also used for exorcism, and to ward against negative energy. He also states that the plant was used in America as a gambling talisman, carried in the pocket.

Angelica can be combined with lavender to create a peace spell for home and hearth. It is also used in a similar fashion to protect new-borns; a piece of the root is hung in a bag near the child (not so near the child can reach it!).

Historically angelica has been associated with women’s health and reproduction, particularly women who are trying to conceive. However, as stated above, angelica promotes menstruation, not conception, so use with caution if this is your goal.

For you to try at home

Sow angelica seeds in a small pot and keep moist, but not over watered. When the seedlings have 4 leaves, move each into its own, larger pot. When the plants have a sturdy stem, move them into an eastern point in your garden. They will reach up to greet the rising sun, the fire of the skies, and the haunt of Venus. This is just one way you can tie your herbal garden into the elements and directions of your Pagan path, or of any path that observes the movement of the seasons and the skies.

If you don’t have a garden, just keep one plant on a windowsill that gets some sun, and give the others away. A healthy angelica plant would be a great gift! Remember though, the plant can get quite tall, so make sure you have enough room for it.

When the plant goes to seed, collect enough seeds (3 or 4 at least) to start a new batch of plants. The rest of the seeds, gather into your palms and hold them close to your chest, thinking of all the things you love about your hearth and home. At the new moon, walk the outside perimeter of your home, dropping a seed every few steps, imagining an invisible barrier appearing between the seeds that keeps all negativity out, but allows love, happiness and joy through both ways. When you have walked the full perimeter, thank the plant for its protection and ground yourself with wholesome food and water.

Finally, one thing you didn’t know about Angelica…

According to John Parkinson (1629), angelica used to be taken with wine as an anaphrodisiac, to ‘abate the rage of lust in young persons’!

Litha Correspondences

June, 2015

History of Litha (MidSummer)

Also known as Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Litha is usually celebrated on June 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that Summer begins on the day when the Sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter. The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer, when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.

Humanity has been celebrating Litha and the triumph of light since ancient times. On the Wheel of the Year Litha lies directly across from Yule, the shortest day of the calendar year, that cold and dark winter turning when days begin to lengthen and humanity looks wistfully toward warmth, sunlight and growing things. Although Litha and Yule are low holidays or lesser sabats in the ancient parlance, they are celebrated with more revel and merriment than any other day on the wheel except perhaps Samhain (my own favourite). The joyous rituals of Litha celebrate the verdant Earth in high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom. This is a madcap time of strong magic and empowerment, traditionally the time for handfasting or weddings and for communication with the spirits of Nature. At Litha, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between “the fields we know” and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for rites of divination.

Those who celebrated Litha did so wearing garlands or crowns of flowers, and of course, their millinery always included the yellow blossoms of St. John’s Wort. The Litha rites of the ancients were boisterous communal festivities with morris dancing, singing, storytelling, pageantry and feasting taking place by the village bonfire and torch lit processions through the villages after dark. People believed that the Litha fires possessed great power, and that prosperity and protection for oneself and one’s clan could be earned merely by jumping over the Litha bonfire. It was also common for courting couples joined hands and jump over the embers of the Litha fire three times to ensure a long and happy marriage, financial prosperity and many children. Even the charred embers from the Litha bonfire possessed protective powers – they were charms against injury and bad weather in harvest time, and embers were commonly placed around fields of grain and orchards to protect the crops and ensure an abundant reaping. Other Litha customs included carrying an ember of the Litha fire home and placing it on one’s hearth and decking one’s home with birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, orpin, and white lilies for blessing and protection.

The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play. It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays and it is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. Wiccans consider the Goddess to be heavy with pregnancy from the mating at Beltane – honor is given to Her. The Sun God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor is also given to Him. The faeries abound at this time and it is customary to leave offerings – such as food or herbs – for them in the evening.

Although Litha may seem at first glance to be a masculine observance and one which focuses on Lugh, the day is also dedicated to the Goddess, and Her flowers are the white blossoms of the elder.

Date

21/22

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2015

Midsummer 2015 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, and afterwards, the days begin to shorten. The Sun is at it’s highest point, and at it’s strongest this Sabbat. It is still going to get warmer, and the wheel is turning towards harvest time. If you are in Finland, “the land of the midnight sun”, this is the time of year there is practically no darkness at all due to location. All Winter, some of us look forward to this time of year when it is warm, the sun rises early, everything is green and growing, and it feels like the Summer will be forever!

Many of the same practices are found in most places that celebrate the Summer Solstice in Europe. Both Eastern and Western Europe include bonfires. In many cases, bonfires that people jump over, are built to drive out illness and evil. Superstitions about marriage, visits to wells to “wash away” illness, and gathering medicinal plants are part of the festivities. Healing so that life can be long and healthy, and making babies, or at least taking steps to find somebody to make babies with are all part of the celebrations.

In modern times, bonfires are still very much a part of celebrations. Some are done in honor of St. John the Baptist, whose feast day replaced Pagan worship for many Christian traditions. Some Bulgarians include dancing on “smoldering embers” (Wikipedia) and some Danes take use of fire for purification a step farther and burn dolls that represent witches who could cause harm. Leaping the fire is done, and while in many places, young men traditionally leap the fires, in Hungary, girls did it, even up to the 1930’s. It was believed those who were able to actually accomplish the leap would be blessed with marriage by the next year!

For Wiccans, Solstice is when the goddess is pregnant with the god. He is growing inside her like the things we will harvest in the coming months are growing on and in the earth. The focus is life, strength, and fertile growth regardless of how the individual tradition celebrates.

While people like me think Summer Solstice seems to have been celebrated everyplace on earth and by most all people, discussing each cultures festivities might bore you to sleep! I will discuss two historic sites associated with Solstice.

One historic site I will talk about is Callanish, which is in Scotland. Dating to possibly as early as 3,400 BCE, it is not just the ring of standing stones it is known for. An actual complex of various structures stretches out for miles. Traces of the mysterious Beaker people’s pottery have been found , as well as burials. The famous stone circle with its huge central stone became covered with some five feet of earth, and was dug out in 1857. The circle is flanked by four avenues, forming a kind of solar cross, and legend has it that the sun, or the “ shining one” travels up one of the avenues Summer Solstice Sunrise, according to stonesofwonder.com.

Multiple internet articles, including the one above mentioned state much research has been done , trying to prove the theory that the site is an astronomical calendar, yet, unlike some other sites such as Stonehenge, strong proof of ritual use at turns of the wheel of the year is still in the process of being established.

A historic site that does show alignment with the Solstice Sunrise is Townleyhall passage tomb, which is part of the complexes of Knowth and Dowth in Ireland. The chambers are filled with sunlight on the day of Solstice, and apparently some days around it as well. The Sunset on Summer Solstice, on the other hand, aligns with Site B, a mound in this same group of monuments. While we do not know exactly what the Solstice celebrations entailed there back in ancient times, we do know that the dead were included as well as the living, as their tombs aligned with the solar activity that marked the event.

For the people I celebrate with, we march at LGBTQ Pride for Solstice. June 21 is the 2015 Summer Solstice and Pride falls on that weekend. June 20 at 11 A.M., we step off for our sixth year being in the march. Pride is something we try, as Pagans to have a presence at every year. Years before we marched, my Priest used to donate money to the cause. Some of the other Pagan groups in town have booths at the festival. Pagans have supported this cause in my town for a long time. A lot of towns have a Pride event. Some people think it is only about getting legislation approved to legalize gay marriage, but it is so much more than that.

To me, it is a celebration of one of the aspects of the god and goddess. In The Charge of the Goddess, it says “Let my worship be in the heart that rejoiseth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” I interpret that literally as ALL acts, not just heterosexual ones. And not just acts to procreate.

Some traditional Wiccans will be quick to point out that homosexuality was not part of early Wicca with Gardner. But I point out just as quickly that early Wiccan elders like Herman Slater were homosexual, and still represented the god in ritual regardless of their personal sexual orientation.

Today, many who call themselves Wiccan are young, eclectic, and liberal. They are the ones changing Wicca. Many of them tend to be less focused on initiation in established traditions and more about personal practice. They are less likely to do something the way Gardner did it just because it is the way it was done. They are the ones who are today’s face of Wicca, and many of them view homosexuality, bisexuality, and being transgender as being just as valid as being heterosexual. Many of them do not consider monogamy to be the only acceptable expression of sexuality. Also, in America, a growing number of people are coming out of the closet and demanding the same civil rights as heterosexuals.

I am a woman who is legally married to a man and am not in an open relationship. I still consider it very much my business and my job to be supportive of my brothers and sisters who are not heterosexual or monogamous. I think of human beings as physical embodiments of the gods and we act as the gods for one another. I do not think of the gods as being heterosexual monogamous beings who do nothing but have babies all the time.

So my reasoning asks why we should only support a lifestyle that does?

I see our culture as doing so because of Christianization. While modern Neo-Pagans don’t go on headhunts or slaughter bulls at worship like our pre-Christian ancestors did, (and I am not seeking to make that the norm), I also do not hold myself or my loved ones to Abrahamic standards of lifestyle in other areas, like sexuality and marriage practices.

I consider it a problem that the laws governing marriage in this country are specifically based on Abrahamic ones. While I celebrate the fact some people want the lifestyle Abrahamic faiths teach, I also celebrate the fact not everybody does.

Pride is a celebration of life and lifestyle and demonstration of the beauty of all kinds of people and how they love. So, to me, it is very Pagan to get involved in Pride!

It’s hot and exhausting to do the march. We register and lineup in the morning, and step off about two hours later. A few hours after that, we are all flat on our behinds downing copious amounts of iced beverages and grinning from ear to ear because we have, yet again, been a part of a beautiful movement that is creating beautiful change.

It is a big part of our practice to do weather magic before the march. I recall feeling a couple of raindrops one year, and asking Thor aloud to hold off the rain until we finished. No more rain fell after that…until after the march. Upon returning to my car, I was unlocking the drivers side door, and the very next drop fell at that very moment. I made sure to give Thor a beer to thank him!

Your own celebrations may include going to Sabbat with soul kin or celebrating at home. The suggested working for Solstice is the one I want to incorporate into our prayer before we begin our march this year. It can be used before an election, before a civic meeting, or even as a prayer before a discussion on topics such as civil rights. The strength of the Sun at this Sabbat is a good strength to connect with to create change.

Summer Solstice 2015 Columbus, Ohio Pride March Rite

Form a circle with all your attendees.

Select people to represent each of the four directions.

Select one person to stand in the center to evoke the Sun.

The person at the East begins by lighting incense and saying :

Mighty ones of air, inspire the minds of those who we have chosen to lead us so they may see all of us as human beings equal and worthy of the same rights and privileges and to reflect that in the law. Let all people look upon the many thousands of us here today, and let them know that we are but one people, united in our beautiful diversity, and the children of one earth. So mote it be!”

Next, the person representing South lights a candle OR flicks on a cigarette lighter and says:

Mighty ones of fire, transform the pyres of bigotry to passionate celebration of the amazing diversity that we, as human beings are blessed with. Let all look upon the many thousands of us here today, and let them know that we are but one people, united in our beautiful diversity, and the children of one earth. So mote it be!”

Next, the person at the West sprinkles water on the ground and says:

Mighty ones of water, open the hearts of people who do not understand those who express their love for one another and experience their sexuality differently than them. Let all look upon the many thousands of us here today, and let them know that we are but one people, united in our beautiful diversity, and the children of one earth. So mote it be!”

The person at the North touches the ground and says:

Mighty Mother, earth from which we all draw life, we, your children are each separate from one another, but united in our communities by our kinship with you. Support us and embrace us, no matter who we are or how we live. Let all look upon the many thousands of us here today, and let them know that we are but one people, united in our beautiful diversity, and the children of one earth. So mote it be!”

The person in the center raises their arms up to the Sun and says:

Hail to you, invincible Sun. Now is a time of great change and immense growth and you are at your greatest strength. The goddess is filled with life, carrying within her the great god who will be reborn at harvest time. Let the growth of love for all people be part of that harvest. Let the seeds of positive change for the good of all people, beautiful in our diversity, grow strong. May we reap the harvest of equal rights before the law and in the hearts of our fellow man. So mote it be!”

Afterwards, the incense stick is passed around, from person to person, and we will bless one another with the smoke. The first person smudges the second person, saying, “Blessed Be” and passes it to this person, who in turn blesses the next person the same way, and so on until all are blessed.

Candle and incense are to be extinguished. No banishing.

However you celebrate this Sabbat, have a Blessed Summer Solstice. Enjoy the warmth and the beauty of life growing around you and good things happening within you.

Blessed Be!

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