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July, 2015

Merry Meet

July, 2015

Mooncharms

 

 

 

                                           Welcome

 

 

Mooncharms

 

 

 

                                           Welcome

 

 

Mooncharms

 

 

 

                                           Welcome

 

 

The Mood of a Cat

July, 2015

Cats generally are content to do whatever they are doing at the time, whether that is stalking, eating, or simply sitting and going to sleep. They do not feel guilty that they are not doing something else instead. This is the frame of mind in which the witch should enter the circle; for if he or she feels the sort of conflict that cats do not feel, part of the witch’s spirit will be continually moving across the circle to someplace else, and this will disrupt and weaken it. It is because cats feel content to be where they are and to do what they are doing in the moment that they can cross the boundary of a circle (as can small children) without disrupting it.

In order to have the mood of a cat in circle, the witch must cultivate that mood at different times outside the circle. This is one important reason why cats were often kept as familiars of witches, and cats appear to know that they have something to teach us, and look after us strange, uncomfortable animals. A witch keeping a cat as a familiar would shapeshift into a cat at times, when going on nocturnal journeys or traveling to the True Sabbat in the Summerland. Some witches kept hares or horses as familiars, and some kept dogs, of course; but we hear of cats fulfilling this office quite often.

The witches’ rune found by medieval troubadours which begins “Bagahi laca bacahé” is of unknown meaning, but parts of it suggest meanings, especially the last stanza, which runs “Lagozatha cabyolas, samahac et famyolas, Harrahya!” It seems fairly certain that cabyolas means cabaler, that is, covener. Samahac is opaque; perhaps it means ‘guest.’ Famyolas, however, is almost certainly famulus or familiar. Harrahya is our hurray or hurrah, but at the time of this chant it may have retained its original Mongolian meaning of ‘gathering.’ For when shamans and their tribe wish to raise personal power or ‘windhorse’ (hiimori), they will extend their arms forward, palms up, and make clockwise circles with them while chanting ‘hurrahya.’ In so doing they raise power together, gathering it from the other world. It is conceivable that the khan’s armies performed this rite also before battle, and their European enemies may have adopted the practice as a taunt or perhaps a morale-booster. This is all pure speculation, naturally, but it is perhaps suggestive of something witches can do together.

Witches often meditate when first entering a circle, and if they are in the regular habit of doing so, it will help them to get into a cat’s mood for the circle rite. Witchcraft does not prescribe specific methods of meditation, but recommends witches do it or some form of preparation ‘after their ways.’ Just sitting for a short period of time, say fifteen minutes, in the early morning or late at night (or any time when one is unlikely to be interrupted) can slow down the nerves and allow one to feel content to do just this one thing. Once in circle, one should not feel rushed or think about what one will be doing later. Catholics have a joke among themselves about the last words of their Mass: “The Mass is ended; thanks be to God.” The joke is obvious without having to be explained, but if many Catholics feel that way about their greatest sacrament it is unfortunate, for being in a hurry to get something over with is definitely counterproductive to magic or piety.

After the cone of power has been raised and energy grounded, witches sit quietly and pass around water or wine or ale, and bread or cake. This part of the rite helps to quiet the general mood, and to encourage a feeling of fellowship and leisure among the coveners.

Remember that ‘Sabbat’ means ‘rest,’ and ‘Esbat’ means ‘frolic.’ Neither rite is supposed to feel like work. So leave your work ethic outside.

Musings of A Hereditary Witch

July, 2015

Blue Moon

I thought I would share what we did for our 2012 Blue Moon ritual to help spark some ideas for the up coming 2015 Blue Moon (the second full moon in one month) on July 31st. At the Blue Moon we set energies into motion that will manifest our long-term goals (house, business, travel, debt free…) to be fulfilled by the next Blue Moon (approx. 30 +/- months)

Everyone invited for the ritual was asked to wear either blue or white and to bring a potluck dish to share. They were asked to bring foods that were blue, white or purple (we needed another option). The exception to the rule was the meat main dish. One of the guys got creative and had a local bakery dye French bread blue.

The Ritual Area:

Our ritual was held out doors in a small tarmac area behind my apartment. We hung Celtic tapestries from the fence, stairwell and one from a stretched rope to block off an unsightly area. I also pulled out my large cauldron for burning our candles. No, the Blue Moon isn’t specifically Celtic, but I was working with my Celtic students and guests that evening.

altar

The altar was setup for the Three Realms and not the typical quarters/directions; only because I don’t work with them. You can set your altar in accordance with your personal practice.

The altar is covered in a plain dark blue cloth. There are blue Hydrangeas at the head of the altar flanked by two leaded glass hurricanes with blue pillars. We used 3 iridescent globe hurricanes with blue tea lights and a tall frosted candleholder with a blue Celtic knot moon design placed in the center on a raised disk.

A sage wand and small cauldron with charcoal are also on the raised disk. A vial of Sparkling Full Moon incense (which just happens to be blue), a small spoon, tongs to hold the charcoal when lighting and a lighting wand. The Sparkling I purchased it through www.sacredmists.com.

Across from the cauldron, a blue vase holds silver gel pens. Under the vase are blue paper circles cut from scrapbooking paper, one for each person attending. Near the front of the altar is a vial of Blue Moon oil (homemade) and blue 4” candles, enough for each person.

Ritual:

We began our ritual as is customary with our tradition. When the time came we acknowledged Titania and Oberon by sprinkling moon & star confetti on the altar (which I had hidden in a bowl under the altar).

A short introduction was given about why we were here and what we were going to be doing.

Everyone took a few moments to meditate on their long-term goal setting. Then the pens and blue paper circles were passed around and everyone began writing down their goals for the Blue Moon. Some wrote straight across the circle and others spiraled their words around the paper. We anointed our papers and one of the blue candles with the Blue Moon oil. The paper moons were to be kept in a place where they would be seen everyday so that their subconscious mind could work on moving the energy along. They lit their candles and placed them in the cauldron to send their magical goals up and out to the moon.

altar2

 

We ended our ritual per our custom and loaded up on food.

What will you do for the Blue Moon? What are some of your long-term goals/wishes? What types of food will you have?

Blessings on your Hearth & Home,

Elayne & Dillon >^.^<

A Moment for Meditation

July, 2015

Healing

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a *person* changes *their* own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards *them*. … We need not wait to see what others do. ~~ Ghandi

(Pronouns changed from gender specific to gender neutral by me)

I am going to be taking a break from the chakras this month; we will return to the 2nd chakra with next month’s column.

While I realize that many people who read PaganPages are international, I also know that many of us are from the U.S. This past week, another tragedy occurred in yet another violent mass murder, again with racism at its’ core.

Much has been written about the why’s and wherefore’s, as if we have not heard it all before. That is not what this column is about. This column is about healing.

There are those that say that the wounds are so deep that they can not be cured. However, I am not talking about curing. For something to be cured, the illness, the fear, the hate, needs to be eradicated. Racism, and all other the other -ism’s, are felt too deeply by too many to just disappear overnight because some of us wish it so.

No, I am talking about healing, which is to be made whole, even with an illness. We can heal by accepting what is, for the moment, and to work toward change. The world is filled with hate, fear, terror; there are those that kill for killing’s sake. Terror groups in the Mideast and Africa come to mind; individuals who hate abound in this, and other, countries, and bring domestic terror and murder. So, what can one person do?

We can start by realizing that we are all connected; all of us, even to those around the world who we may never see. Everything is connected. It is so simple and yet so difficult for some to understand.


Once we realize the worldwide connection, we can begin to heal.

We need to become part of a greater process of healing, in and of, the world. We need to project peace and healing throughout our daily lives. We need to keep this as our intention, our will. We need to remember “as above, so below”.

We can use meditation to heal. We have the intent, we have the potential, we have the power.

One of the most powerful healing mantras is “Ra, Ma, Da, Sa, Sa, Say, So, Hung”. Ra is the sun energy; Ma is the moon energy, Da is the earth energy, Sa is infinity and univeral energy, Say is the embodiment of Sa, So is how we personally merge with Sa and Hung is the Infinite.

To meditate with this manta, you would get in to easy pose, or in a chair with feet flat on the floor, with hands resting on knees, or in gyan mudra (as discussed in prior columns). Take a few deep cleansing breaths, while visualizing a green aura around who/what you would like healed. In this case, I would start with those in South Carolina, US, and then move outward to to world as a whole and our planet as our home. Chant the mantra verbally, or vibrate it mentally. It can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9OCEfi4Lv0

You should do this for at least 11 minutes.

Alternatively, you can also bring your hands into prayer pose at the heart center and transmit your healing thoughts through the Universe, again visualizing who/what needs to be healed. Concentrate on love and rejecting hate. To end, take a deep powerful inhale and as you exhale, project that love outward to the world and repeat several times.

Can one person change the whole world? Maybe not, but lots of “one persons” can. Talk about change to those you see. Teach them these meditations, spread love, reject hate.

Blessings and Peace…

Change

Lughnasadh Correspondences

July, 2015

(Loo-nas-ah) Major Sabbat (High Holiday) – Fire Festival August 1, 2

Other Names: Lunasa (meaning August), Lughnasaad, Lughnasa Celtic),First Harvest, August Eve, Feast of Cardenas, Feast of Bread, Tailltean Games(Irish), Teltain Cornucopia (Strega), Ceresalia (Ancient Roman) Harvest Home, Thingtide (Teutonic), Lammas (Christian). Laa Luanys, Elembious, Festival of Green Corn (Native American)

Animals and Mythical beings: Griffins, Basilisks, Roosters, Calves, Centaurs, Phoenix

Gemstones: aventurine, citrine, peridot, sardonyx, yellow diamonds, citrine

Incense and Oils: wood aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, safflower, corn, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood

Colors: red, orange, golden yellow, green, light brown, gold, bronze, gray

Tools, Symbols, and Decorations: corn, cornucopias, red, yellow flowers, sheaves of grain (wheat, barley, oats), first fruits/vegetables of garden labor, corn dollies, baskets of bread, spear, cauldron, sickle, scythe, threshing tools, sacred loaf of bread, harvested herbs, bonfires, bilberries, God figures made of bread or cookie dough, phallic symbols

Goddesses: The Mother, Dana (Lugh&’s wife & queen ), Tailltiu (Welsh-Scottish), Demeter (Greek), Ceres (Roman grain goddess .. honored at Ceresalia), the Barley Mother, Seelu (Cherokee), Corn Mother, Isis (Her birthday is celebrated about this time), Luna (Roman Moon Goddess), other agricultural Goddesses, the waxing Goddess

Gods: Lugh (Celtic, one of the Tuatha De Danaan), John Barley Corn, Arianrhod’s golden haired son Lleu (Welsh God of the Sun & Corn where corn includes all grains, not just maize), Dagon (Phoenician Grain God), Tammuz/ Dummuzi (Sumerian), Dionysus, plus all sacrificial Gods who willingly shed
blood/give their life that their people/lands may prosper, all vegetation Gods & Tanus (Gaulish Thunder God), Taranis (Romano-Celtic Thunder God), Tina, (Etruscan-Thunder God), the waning God

Essence: fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, The Bread of Life, The Chalice of Plenty , The Ever-flowing Cup , the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty)

Meaning: Lugh’s wedding to Mother Earth, Birth of Lugh; Death of Lugh, Celtic Grain Festival

Purpose: Honoring the parent Deities, first harvest festival, first fruits grains & drink to the Goddess in appreciation of Her bounty, offering loaves of sacred bread in the form of the God (this is where the Gingerbread Man originated)

Rituals and Magicks: astrology, prosperity, generosity, continued success, good fortune, abundance, magickal picnic, meditate & visualize yourself completing a project you’ve started

Customs and Activities: games, the traditional riding of poles/staves, country fairs, breaking bread with friends, making corn dollys, harvesting herbs for charms/rituals, Lughnasadh fire with sacred wood & dried herbs, feasting, competitions, lammas towers (fire-building team competitions), spear tossing, gathering flowers for crowns, fencing/swordplay, games of skill, martial sports, chariot races, hand-fastings, trial marriages, dancing ’round a corn mother (doll)

Foods: loaves of homemade wheat, oat, & corn bread, barley cakes, corn, potatoes, summer squash, nuts, acorns, wild berries (any type), apples, rice, pears, berry pies, elderberry wine, crab apples, mead, crab, blackberries, meadowsweet tea, grapes, cider, beer

Herbs: grain, acacia, heather, ginseng, sloe, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, aloes, frankincense, sunflower, hollyhock, oak leaf, wheat, myrtle

Element: Fire

Gender: Female

 

Finding the Pagan Way

July, 2015

Up to now I have dwelt on many of the positive aspects of Paganism, but every lifestyle has its downsides. Many of the negatives aspects of various forms of paganism come from ideas that are carried over from mainstream religious backgrounds,- particularly from the more fundamentalist groups. I believe that Aleister Crowley is a particularly good example of this. Most of his emotional problems, and his deliberately shocking behaviour, seem to have stemmed from a reaction to his upbringing as a member of the Plymouth Brethren.

Paganism is a very wide term, covering many beliefs. Some belief systems are variations on older religions, some are attempts to come to terms with mankind’s mythology and archetypes in a new and individual way,- and some are obvious reactions to the childhood beliefs of the persons involved. My own personal opinion is that those who would style themselves as “Satanists” or vampires are not “Pagan” in any real sense,- but merely aberrations of the western Christian cultural milieu. However, I have no problems, either way, with any beliefs that are within the law and harm none.

Nevertheless it is precisely those ideas carried over from our childhoods that cause most problems for those embarking on a path of spiritual discovery. The world may seem secular, but the majority of our parents and grandparents came from a background which was steeped in some mainstream belief system. I was taught by monks in Ireland, but even in more modern western countries, most parents would have had an education with a strong religious basis. We may find a new freedom in our chosen path,- but, many of us carry unexamined assumptions from our childhood. These make us either fearful or judgemental when we finally come face to face with those beings who inhabit the astral worlds. I will leave it to the reader to decide what level of “Reality” they would ascribe to these worlds. I personally know from experience that they can, and do, impinge on mundane reality.

Nature is neither dark nor light,- It is both. So too are the other realms and those who inhabit them. To ascribe evil to either darkness or light is a folly based on childish assumptions, and fuelled by the film industry. Sitting here typing, I can easily believe that there is no ultimate evil,- only unbalanced people and unbalanced denizens of the astral realms. However, in the heat of an encounter, we can quickly slip back into childhood patterns of belief and behaviour.

I wish to share one such encounter with the reader. If my description seems somewhat dramatic and judgemental, it is precisely because of those anachronistic beliefs which still lie hidden in my own psyche.

Long before I discovered Paganism, I discovered darkness. I do not mean the soothing softness of moonlight or the peaceful interlude between days. I mean the darkness that hides in every human heart. As children, we are much more honest and perceptive. I do not believe that we are really fooled by the adults around us, but simply realise at a certain age that honesty would be a fatal error, so we learn to habitually deny what we see, in favour of accepting the consensus of reality. As I matured, I left behind many of the myths that they indoctrinated us with. However, I still find myself wondering about the concept of evil, especially the idea of negative supernatural forces which can prey on the minds and emotion of mankind.

I would like to share a personal experience from about thirty years ago, which made me, again, wonder about the existence of dark, supernatural beings.

It was, I think, 1986 or thereabouts. I was running a small engineering workshop in Dublin, with a friend called John. We had a workshop on the site of the old Weatherwell Tiles buildings in Clondalkin.

John and I were crossing the yard, when a sheet of newspaper blew across and landed at our feet.

There on the page facing us was a picture of one of his uncles and an article about him being taken into a mental home for his own safety. John was visibly shaken and told me the story of his uncles.

The uncle in question was living at John’s old house. John had been forced to move out when his uncles behaviour had distressed John’s wife to the point of illness. He was a compulsive hoarder and brought home rubbish from local skips and bins every day. There was a second uncle, who John was not forthcoming about, only saying that he was quite violent and had to be sectioned. John had simply left them with possession of the house and moved to the outskirts of Dublin.

Knowing that I was psychic, John asked me if I would do a reading and see if he was okay. He said that he could not bear to get in touch. He just wanted to reassure himself without any further involvement.

I agreed to finish early that day and take the paper home as a focus to do a reading. The house I was sharing at the time was empty, so I quickly made a cup of tea, and then laid out the sheet of newspaper and laid out a spread with the tarot cards. I believe that my hurry, and lack of preparation, were at least partially responsible for what happened that day. I cannot remember the spread after all these years.

I can remember the death card and the moon, then judgement. I lit a cigarette and sat back for a moment, as I realised that John’s uncle had indeed passed. As I relaxed, I could feel his uncles presence trying to communicate. He seemed a kindly old man. But I never got any further in communicating with him.

Suddenly the room became very cold. I could feel goose pimples on my arm, and a pressure around my head. Darkness seemed to seep into the room from all four corners.

It was as if I was in a bubble of light,- with the darkness pushing in from all directions. I broke into a cold sweat . What I sensed, pushing in on me, was neither pleasant nor friendly. I sensed a cold arrogant presence and half-heard a humourless laughter. I called on my guardians and began to push the darkness back. It was almost touching me at this stage and I was afraid that some sort of possession or over-shadowing was becoming very likely. As I pushed the entity back, I built a ball of white light within my solar plexus area. When I felt that it was ready, I allowed it to explode outwards, and I blasted the dark energy from the room. I was quite shaken by this episode, so I cleared up and I made myself another cup if tea and a cigarette. I must admit , that having being disappointed by many rituals attended up to this point, I had not a full appreciation of their worth and normally only used “mental” magic at that stage of my life. Since then, I have a new found respect for the power and the beauty of a ritual that is written and performed by those who are truly enlightened.

These days I would have done a full cleansing ritual on the house, and perhaps brought in trusted friends to be certain that the house was cleared. I was careless, and perhaps a little arrogant then, and I paid the price in months of annoyance and unexplainable events around the house.

That night, as I drifted off to sleep, the entity came back. It looked like something from a horror film. The face appeared almost touching mine. It had sharp angular features, as if it was made by a computer. It seemed to be created from many straight lines of energy, etched onto a black background, and gave an impression of spikes of energy coming out at me. Each time I drifted off to sleep the entity would be back to disturb me. I had weeks of annoyance and unexplained breakages and disappearances around the house. Nothing seemed to banish it. Luckily a friend popped in for a cuppa one day. He was an exorcist. I told him about the nuisance and he persuaded it to follow him home. It took him three months to finally rid himself of the entity.

Most of the problems that people have when dealing with other realms come from fear, and the negative expectations that it creates in us. I am not saying that negative energies do not exist,- but I do think that we clothe and feed them from our own uncontrolled subconscious energies.

We need to choose carefully when selecting people to work with in self-development. I normally work alone or with my wife, Tina. Before we do any work,- we should always cleanse the area, call on our guardians, and ground ourselves. I will dwell on this in more detail at some point, when space permits. Learn to develop a nose for drama, then you will be able to sense when your imagination is leading you down a path of illusion. I will finish with a poem which describes this type of drama and clearly shows the work of subconscious impulses in creating a magical story.


paganways

 

 

An Angel Dreams.

In the sacred space between the worlds, an angel slept.

As planets circled in the loving comfort of her breast.

Galaxies spread out like sparkling gems upon her robes,

The universe beneath her, like a silken web on which she took her rest.

An entity with purpose foul and aided by a creature half divine,

Struck her cruelly through the heart as she lay dreaming worlds, not yet begun.

Her vast eternal heart, for just a moment, ceased its perfect rhyme.

And in the galaxy for which she cared, a icy comet pierced a friendly sun.

Thunder roared and lightning flashed across the darkened sky.

The thick black clouds were tinged with bloody red.

Travellers hurried home in fear and certainty that something was awry,

Worriedly they cast a nervous eye, and prayed to make it safely home to bed.

In his lofty tower, the mage was marking symbols on the grimy, granite walls.

Mumbling garbled incantations, as he chalked a doubled circle round the room.

In the smoke of acrid incense, shadow-figures formed and then dissolved,

The candles, and the glowing brazier in the centre, barely lit the gloom.

The earth beneath the craggy outcrop groaned, as screams reverberated from the very depths,

They shook the tower, as tiles fell down and smashed upon the trembling dirt.

The seas rose high and dashed against the shore and swallowed many shivering ships.

While lofty mountains burst and molten tears ran down the face of mother earth.

All around the world, the people loudly prayed, as jagged flames lit up the skies.

In the bowels of the earth, the sleeping giants awoke and hurriedly prepared to wage the final war.

The mage continued chanting, with his trembling voice and fear filled eyes,

The evil he had summoned, gathered strength to strike the guardian of the world once more.

The rumblings deep within the earth, disturbed the little people at their play.

Angrily, they donned their armour, and with swords and bows, they flew on tiny winged steeds.

They loosed the demon hounds and sent them off to seek their prey.

And in the blinking of an eye they stood before the crumbling tower, and saw the mages deeds.

A thousand arrows flashed and struck the ground around the ancient tower.

Within a moment tendrils quickly grew, and spreading thickly, climbed its lofty heights.

The ancient tower groaned as it was crushed and swallowed back into the earth.

And before the sky had cleared, and all the seas were calm,

The Fae were home again, engaged in dancing and in mirth.

Patrick W Kavanagh 23/10/2014

Picture by Boy So Blue Graphic Arts and photography.

Book Review: A Spell A Day: for Health, Wealth, Love, and More by Cassandra Eason

July, 2015

Spelladay

 

A Spell A Day: for health, wealth, love, and more

By: Cassandra Eason

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling Ethos (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English

 

I am a huge fan of Cassandra Eason’s books. They are always full of practical wisdom and enchanting insight. This little tome (and I mean little—if not for the thickness it would be pocket sized) is full of spells for most of your magical needs. There are 366 spells for you to choose from; that’s a lot of magic happening in this petite book. You won’t find curses or hexes in A Spell a Day, but you find spells to break them. Most of the ingredients needed are easy to find and cost little, if any, money. Most materials can be found in any aspiring witches home. There are plenty of spells for both the novice and adept alike; I know I have found many to be quite useful for my magical wishes.

Here you will find spells for health, wealth, and love as the title suggests, and in addition hidden throughout this gem of a book are spells for acceptance, self-love, loss, life development, and fertility. There also spells for sex (including libido), death, gambling, luck and success, protection, and many more.

A few of my favorites are:

A Sea Shell Spell For Acceptance Of A Love Who Is Not Accepted By Family And Friends (pg165)

A Full Moon Spell For Anything You Urgently Need Or Desire (pg95)

A Five herb Spell To Protect Your Home From Theft, Fire, Flood, Storm, Or Any Natural Disasters (pg99)

A Bay Leaf Spell To Ensure A Regular Inflow Of Money (pg258)

Cassandra Eason provides a list of ingredients, timing, and instructions for each spell. They are very straightforward and easy to follow. The spells are not divided into sections or put any particular sequence, but the index in the back of the book offers the page number for each type of spell.

I have been pleasantly pleased with this book of spells. It is adorable in its compact style which makes it easy to travel with. A Spell A Day will be a book I turn to often for quick and easy, yet very effective spells. I recommend this enchantingly fun book for any Witch or Wiccan who could use a little extra boost in their magical lives.

 

 

 

Witches Soul Work

July, 2015

Witches Soul Work: Gratitude

I’m looking after a little 93 year old lady right now who was in Auschwitz for 3 years during World War II. She saw her parents killed in front of her and begged the soldier to kill her too. Every night she still has images of the horrors that she experienced and yet she is one of the most positive and grateful people that I know. I ask her how things are going at the senior’s residence where she lives and she says: “Darlink! It’s like paradise here! Mine beautiful children visit me and everyone loves me!” Her face shines with happiness and I am ashamed that I get sad about little things in my life when I see a woman who can rebuild joy out of truly horrendous ashes.

When we focus on the negative it creates sadness, bitterness and even depression within us. A dark cloud descends as we rehash bitter memories of perceived wrongs, painful betrayals, losses and things we don’t have. If we could focus on gratitude our lives would be filled with joy for what we do have and the wonderful things we have received, not the dark side of life. But practicing gratitude takes focus and work. If we are able to start each day with a short contemplation on the things we are grateful for, opening our hearts to receive more, the dark clouds disappear and everything changes.

One of the most important things to be grateful for are our spiritual teachers who have helped us on our path to happiness and balance. I was fortunate enough to have many wonderful spiritual teachers during my life such as Satsvarupa Goswami from ISKCON, Baba Hari das, Marnie MacDonald of the Reclaiming Tradition, Cathy Heiss from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Lady Rhiannon from the Coven of High Oaks, American Welsh Tradition and lately Fearn Lickfield, Ivan MacBeth and Salli Crow from The Green Mountain Druid Order. These teachers gave (and are giving!) selflessly of themselves, their time and energy to answer my questions and guide me on my way.

When I became a spiritual teacher myself I didn’t do it for money, for honour, or for gratitude but rather as a way to thank the teachers who gave so much to me. I wanted to share what I have with others because it brought me closer to the heart of the God and Goddess. Selfless service strips the heart of ego and creates deep happiness that is not connected to materialism. But within this idea is a dilemma of sorts. I am not doing my work to receive gratitude but rather to repay with gratitude what I have been given; but in order for my own students to progress they need to understand that giving gratitude to me is part of their own spiritual work.

As the High Priestess I represent the Goddess in the Circle and in the world. But I am human. I make mistakes! So it is difficult for me personally to receive gratitude for my work. I must stay focused on my reasons for doing it and not let my ego get all puffed up thinking that I am so wonderful! It is the Goddess who is wonderful and I am her servant.

It sounds a little strange to hear me say to my own students that being grateful to me for what I have given them is part of their spiritual path, and not my own ego. I have had many students who came, took what they wanted, and left without saying thank you and are now using the knowledge I have given then without any acknowledgement. That doesn’t matter to me but it is actually doing to harm them because it is stealing, ungrateful and hardens the heart.

So I invite you all to remember the teachers in your life that have given you so many gifts, helping you to be where you are now, and don’t forget them in your prayers and in your biographies. You may be a very important spiritual leader now, but giving thanks to your teachers will teach the lesson of gratitude to your own students. Have you hugged your High Priestess today?

work

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Time

July, 2015

Lughnassadh 2015 

The warm season is going by fast, isn’t it? Can you believe Lughnasadh, the beginning of harvest is nearly upon us?

This year’s harvest will not be so great for some of us.

El Nino began messing things up for some of us in March. Drought in California, flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, and the first four months of this year were the highest on record, according to NASA.

Some would say this is global warming and that we should recycle and ride our bicycles more.

Regardless of what is causing this, harvests will be drastically affected. Even in my own garden in Ohio, I lost almost all my sunflowers, all my sun loving wildflower seedlings, nearly every nasturtium, and I also lost my temper! We had heat come on suddenly, and it withered every last sprout that in years prior would have done marvelously well. I have never done pest control on my plants either, but with the dryness and heat, thirsty bugs are munching on my cool, green leaves for subsistence. Hello spray on pesticide!

First world problems!” you might joke. Wilted flower seedlings and pests on my flowers will not kill me.

But were it not for modernization, a weather event like this one might just wipe out food and destroy everything.

This is what I have been meditating on while I have been scrambling to try and save plants that I could not.

There is something you might not have figured out about me. I am a bit of a control freak. Having a rose to prune is the ideal activity for me. I tend my plants daily. I bless the water I use the first time I water them. I talk to the plants. I fertilize. I soak seeds prior to planting. I research all winter long. I buy seeds before the season and plan what goes where. I discuss things with neighbors. I am in a gardening group with friends. If I find cat doots and dog doots in garden patches, I respond by spreading cayenne pepper and bamboo skewers around plants.

I am pretty obsessive about gardening! I never had an unsuccessful growing season. Being unable to save the seedlings from the overnight heat snap was unbearable for me. I am an action based individual. I experience existence by doing. When I am helpless and can do nothing to create the change I want, it really bothers me.

I am more than certain that weather events like this have happened in my lifetime before. I was just unaware before because I was not connected to the earth. Any gardener experiences what the earth experiences.

Because we have our grocery stores, we simply do not get the sense of reliance on the earth the people who grow all their own foods do. We ARE reliant on the earth. It’s just that because of our culture, we don’t all know it.

I told my husband that generations ago, the weather this year would wipe a lot of people out. He kind of ignored what I said , but he IS worried about his elm tree. He planted it a few summers ago and said there are no new leaves developing right now due to heat he calls drought. But the thing grew so much! It has to be 30 feet tall at this point, and it was only about five feet tall when we got it!

As far as it being a drought, I do not know that Ohio has a drought at this point, especially since we are now having some rains and flooding that is wiping out some of the gardens the heat did not. But, it is hotter out than it was a couple of weeks ago, and we had no rain for as many days last month as my husband thinks we should have. So he insists Ohio is in a drought. I don’t know about that, but my dead seedlings agree with my husband.

One of my favorite depictions of drought was the Mesopotamian demon, Pazuzu. He is the son of a god, and is specifically in charge of the southwestern wind which brings locusts during storms and famines during drought. Ironically, this guy who brings things that have the capacity to starve everybody to death was also called upon to protect against other things deemed threatening. Most especially a goddess named Lamashtu, who could harm a mother in childbirth.

Maybe I was a Catholic for too long, but I don’t understand how one demons presence with their respective life threatening bad things is any better than other things with their respective life threatening bad things, but I guess I don’t have to.

When I looked at my garden this week, I kind of felt like Pazuzu, or something similar had been at work! Rationally, I know better, it’s El Ninos effect, and other places have it a lot worse, but the little kid in me that pitches a tantrum every time I am out of chocolate wants something to blame!!!!!!!

I had planned a specific garden harvest in my head and started damn hard work for it clear back at Imbolc. Now it is mid June ( and this article will go in mid July) and some of those plans are wrecked and it is too late to start again. I have to plan for next year and start next February.

This is actually a perfect analogy to what happens in our lives if you think about it.

I have no clue who said “Life happens when we are making plans” but it is one of the wisest things I have ever heard. I remind myself of it all the time. Control Freaks like me plan carefully and try very hard to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Just like in the garden. Some of us want to control everything. We are the pruners and the ones who thin out the weakest seedlings. We choose which seeds we plant. Carefully.

I admit, I eyed the wildflower mixes greedily for years, refusing to buy them because I was worried I might not like what grew unless I handpicked the plants. This year, I found some for eleven cents a bag. I nabbed ten bags of them and threw them into the ground in a space nobody ever used for planting and none of us expected anything out of it. Imagine my surprise when those cheap seeds thrived in the weather my husband called a drought and the seeds I carefully chose outright died on me!

I took equal care of both, but I expected more from the seeds I chose than the seeds that were random. So when those survived, it was a special joy. Isn’t it funny that what we harvest in life is just the same as what I am harvesting in my garden this year sometimes?

What does it mean to harvest?

For many of us in modern cities, we are not going to harvest a farm or an orchard, or even herbs or a flower garden. But we harvest spiritual things.

We work hard all the days of our lives for something or another. Babies work hard to crawl and eventually walk…and their parents work hard to keep up with them! Kids work hard at school, even if it is to get out of school to reap the benefits of having the summer off! Teens work hard at those summer jobs to earn spending money so they can enjoy good times with their friends. Adults work hard to make a living and live a comfortable life. Everybody is always busy working on something.

We also work on things beyond our mundane survival. We have our personal goals. Maybe there is someplace we want to go or something we would like to experience and everything we put towards that plants and cultivates the seeds that go towards that harvest.

Like my garden this year, life develops its own way regardless of our efforts. I always say our results are partly our efforts and partly what is meant to be. While we have to be proactive in our own lives and move things forward in our own progress, we have to also understand that the universe has its own plans for us sometimes. It is at those times we are called to graciously accept the harvest we are blessed with even if it was not everything we had planned for and expected.

The Lughnasadh working I will include here will focus on opening ourselves to just that. The harvest we are meant to have, not necessarily the one we THINK we are going to get. But first, let’s discuss historic Lughnasadh.

What is Lughnasadh?

Back in pre Christian days, the folk had harvest celebrations and games and traveled to healing wells. Like all of the Sabbats, historically, many different people did many different things at different time periods and different locations. The specific thing I want to discuss is what we believe are the true origins of Lughnasadh, and the beautiful tribute the god Lugh paid to his foster mother for clearing the land so the folk could plant.

It all started in Ireland.

Tailtiu was the foster mother of the god Lugh, and she died of exhaustion, after clearing space for planting crops. Lugh established what is known as an Aonach, or an honorary mourning festival in her name. It is now named Lughnassadh, after him. The festival entails not only funerary processions, but also, athletic competitions, lawmaking and handfastings, first fruit and animal sacrifice, merchants, and pilgrimages to holy wells.

On a sidenote- this all reminds me of the Highland Games they have these days with music and athletic competitions, food, and vendors. If you have never attended a Highland Games, which I realize is not specifically Irish…but still is very very fun and very Celtic, look online at The Association of Scottish Games and Festivals online at www.asgf.org. You can also do an internet search for your individual state, like typing in “Ohio Scottish Games”, for example. The Ohio Scottish Games will be June 27, in Lorraine , Ohio. Before this article is published! There is always next year. But remember the Dublin Irish Festival will be in Dublin, Ohio right smack dab in Lughnasadh time. July 31, August 1 and 2, and the Druids in Columbus , Ohio will do public ritual Sunday morning yet again. Information to attend this can be found at www.dublinirishfestival.org. I hope to see you there!

Back to the origins of this wonderful Sabbat!

Lugh established the festivities at County Meath. It was called the Tailteann Games and a complex of earthworks dating back to the Iron Age has been found there. Lugh buried his foster mother in a mound onsite, and the games were at the end of July or the beginning of August. Games were held there until the Norman Invasion and some events in Medieval times took place. A closer look at all the wonderful things that took place!

Funerary processions, lawmaking, and handfastings

The whole reason Lughnasadh started in the first place was to honor the dead! The specific kind of mourning festival this was is called an Aonach. Tailtiu was not the only one honored with these. This was a specific kind of funeral.

First, the funeral took place, which included chanting and a funeral pyre, which is interesting because it is said Lugh BURIED Tailtiu in a mound as opposed to cremating her. Many, however, did the cremations, and had other bonfires aside from the funeral pyres.

As for lawmaking, tribal people passed clan authority on when somebody died. It makes perfect sense to get the transfer of power and establishment of authority out of the way before brawling can begin. What better place than at the funeral where everybody is already gathered?

One way to make a political alliance was through marriage. Couples could be temporarily joined for as long as a year and a day to see if their union worked out. If it did not, they would part with no consequences. Rather than a cord to ritually bind as is oft used in modern handfastings, they grasped hands through a hole in a door. The couple could break up or make the bond permanent at any time during that year and a day.

One thing Neo Pagans will not like about these ancient handfastings is that sometimes, they were arranged. I cannot imagine any of you reading this would consent to such a pairing. Some of the couples were introduced to one another for the first time this way and may have seen one another only after joining hands through the door hole. Depending on who their parents were, they may not have been allowed to break off their bond. It was acceptable in tribal societies to carefully arrange marriages for political alliances. Contrary to popular belief, this had roots in Paganism, not Christianity.

One thing to keep in mind is Lughnasadh has been celebrated for generations, and many many people were handfasted for many different reasons there. Each couple had their own story and while it was not always for political gain, it was likewise not always like moving in with each other in modern times. This would be a fascinating research topic in and of itself, for sure!

Athletics

Interestingly enough, attempts to revive the Lughnasadh athletics in the 1920’s and 1930’s occurred, and part of the games included climbing, which persists to this day. It is unsurprising that some of the climbing today is now done in the name of Christian pilgrimages. Reek Sunday pilgrimage is held the last Sunday in July every year in Ireland. Barefooted climbers climb Croagh Patrick in honor of the Saint it was named for, and it is said this climb has been observed for 1,500 years. Up to 30,000 people do this climb annually. It only takes about an hour and a half to do the climb if the weather is decent, that is. It is also said site was used for Pagan pilgrimages since 3,000 BCE at Summer Solstice. This is yet another reason we can thank the Christians of Ireland for helping to keep Pagan practice alive and well.

All the athletic events you can imagine have been held Lughnasadh. Running, feats of strength, horseracing, fights, swimming, swordfighting, jumping, throwing various objects. It has been referred to as an Olympic gathering of sorts. In the 1920’s, motorized vehicle races were thrown in! Shooting was included as well as boating competitions and even chess matches! People from other parts of the British Isles and the Americas were welcomed to participate in the 20th century games as well!

Bull sacrifice and Harvest sacrifice

I apologize in advance for what I am about to write. I am sure all my articles say this exact same thing about this… BUT…

Animal sacrifice was done to prepare fresh meat to be eaten out of necessity. These were the days before refrigeration and meat went bad faster. Blood was given to the gods, and people ate the meat. The people feasted with the gods in a sacred meal. A lot of people today look back on this practice as barbaric as they open up their store bought steak and slap it on the barbeque grill. This always amuses me.

Bulls were sacred as they were seen as great wealth to the people of Ireland. You gave the best tribute you had to the gods in thankfulness and rejoicing.

The first corn and the first bilberries were offered to the gods as well. These foods were part of the feast as well. Bilberries are closely related to blueberries and huckleberries. This makes it convenient for those of us in the USA who want similar foods for Lughnassadh as are traditional in Ireland. We can have corn on the cob with steak and blueberry pie! These first fruits of the earth go directly to the gods in thanks, and the people partake of the feats as well.

Merchants

What festival would be complete without good things to eat or buy to take home? Human beings have always looked forward to festivals for this. In times past, if money was not used, things could be traded. Back before industrialization, there was still specialization. A good time to trade for what you needed or liked would be at festivals. Remember that people traveled by wagons, horseback, and by foot, not by jumping in the car and speeding off to a store conveniently nearby. Whatever they could not make, they might not be able to get for many months, and these festivals provided valuable commercial opportunities sometimes. Craftspersons and metalworkers would offer their wares as well as weavers, and you know very well that aside from the main ritual foods, there were people serving up delectable yummies! Baked goods would be sold and traded, and farmers would offer their fruits and veggies to hungry customers. Just like we do today!

Puck Fair is said to be a survival of the early Lughnasadh fairs. A climb up a mountain to catch a “king goat” keeps with the tradition of climbing, and while there is a horse fair, the importance of cattle is not lost to the Irish, as a cattle fair is held. The fair can only be inconclusively traced back to the 1600’s, but many say it does go back to the original Lughnasadh fairs.

Holy Wells and Healing

The Irish have always visited holy wells for healing. The very wells the Pagans visited are now venerated by Christians. Holy healing is holy healing, period. Visits to wells to cast in coins and tie strips of cloth or rags to trees and ask for healing are made. This is practiced in Scotland as well. The cloth is called a cloot or clootie in Scottish. A hawthorn tree in county Meath, the same county where the original Lughnasadh was held, is on the site of megalithic monuments, and is used to tie clooties to. These ancient sacred places are still used by the descendants of the people of these early gods. The deities might have changed for many of the celebrants, but the meaning behind the practices has not.

Reaping your own Harvest

Maybe you will go to a public event with friends or host a Sabbat yourself for Lughnasadh. I humbly suggest a working to open yourself to acceptance of the things you are given , as opposed to just what you were expecting. And I include a pilgrimage in it. It seems as if the original gathering was a bit of a trip for many attendees. A lot of planning and travel went into it and to this day, some of the remaining festivities include tens of thousands of people. This first harvest is just the beginning harvest in the wheel of the year for us, and to prepare for each blessing you will harvest, here is my suggested working.

Lughnasadh 2015 First Harvest Celebration

Singly or with your group, go on a pilgrimage. This may be a walk at a local park, or even a trip out of town to get a fresh perspective.

Before you embark on your journey, you will need to give sacrifice. You will be giving away an offering of the fruits of your labor for your gods and guides. But this will not simply be something sat on an altar to be discarded or burned at a later time. This will be something given away to somebody else in a way that pleases your gods.

For gardeners, that is easy. Whatever is growing in the garden, give some of it to somebody who will enjoy it. For you, if you grew nothing, it might be something you bought as an offering that symbolizes your efforts. If you cook, then create something delicious to give to somebody to eat. If you are a musician, perform a song for somebody. If you are an artist, donate a piece of art to a library or homeless shelter or to a friend who likes your art but cannot afford a piece. It could even be a cash donation to a charity in the name of an ancestor you would like to honor. Surprise a stranger and pay for their lunch. Be extra nice to a grumpy, difficult customer. (Yes, that is a HUGE sacrifice, and it counts.) If you genuinely cannot think of what to give at this time, offer a future good deed! The gods will guide you, I promise.

Then, before the journey is about to begin, say this short prayer, “ Mother, Father, first harvest is at hand. Look upon all I have done this growing season and all the things I have worked for. I accept that I am limited by my own perceptions and cannot fully understand which blessings are mine and which are not mine to want as they unfold. I diligently continue to be proactive in my own growth and industrious in fulfilling my responsibilities. In gratitude, I accept all that is mine, and relinquish my grip on that which I cannot control. Accept my gift of my labors in thanks and enlighten me to that which you want me to know on my journey.”

Then, begin your pilgrimage. It can be a daytrip or something as simple as a walk on a nature trail.

Keep in mind that enlightenment and guidance comes when your gods and guides will it. It might happen the minute you open yourself, even before you utter the prayer. It may happen ten years after the pilgrimage. But it will happen. May you have a Blessed Lughnasadh.

Blessed Be.

Tink About it

July, 2015

House Cleansing and Blessing

From time to time I cleanse and bless my home. We are living in an old house (1918) and a lot of people have lived here before us. It has been a dairy shop and later several families lived in 3 apartments. During the rebuilding I put a blessing in one of the walls downstairs and did some other stuff to claim it as OUR home. I had noticed other energies from the beginning, but most of them didn’t bother me at all. With a friend I did an extensive cleansing and blessing ritual. Together we went to every room in the house to remove old energies and residue of past emotions, and to recharge with love and light. Every now and then, when I feel it’s necessary, I do it again. First I walk through all the rooms and spaces with a smudge stick, widdershins (anti-clockwise) from top to basement and everything in between, to cleanse the house. Then I do the same deosil (clockwise) to bless everything with the elements. Sometimes I do both rounds in one. I just follow my gut instinct to feel what is needed.

Occasionally people ask me to do a home cleansing and/or blessing for them. When one of my friends got a new home we did a ritual in which we combined it with making a witch bottle to protect her home. Most of the time I do the cleansing and blessing together with the inhabitant(s). Although I’m happy to come back for ‘maintenance’, I often teach them how to do it themselves.

For the smudging you have several options. White sage is very common for this, but I also like to use palo santo (holy wood). As both are not native to my country I often use mugwort too because that is. It works just as good. Sometimes I mix in other herbs . At some locations where you just can’t use anything smoking I sprinkle salt water or water with essential oils. You can also sweep the room with your witches broom and/or use sound / music.

Blessings with the elements can be done in many ways, as elaborate as you wish or feel is needed. Some examples of what I use for earth: rock salt, crystals, holey stones, wood. For air: incense, sound (voice, singing bowl, drum), feathers. For fire: candles, firestones, peppers, heart shaped objects, red rose. For water: water (duh…), shells, sea weed. I represent the fifth element, connecting the other elements. You can bless a room separately with each of the elements, or just put them together on a tray. I improvise whatever I say while blessing.

For good energy in the home I often use and advice the Golden Triangle: rock crystal, rose quartz and amethyst. They each have a unique energetic effect on the human body and the energy in rooms and houses. As a set they will balance the environment, purify the energy and calm space, body and mind.

A few years ago a friend called and asked me to do a cleansing at her friend’s home. I always ask beforehand what they want and/or expect me to do and why they want it. That way I can adapt the things I do in a way that feels right to them too. It’s their home after all! I don’t want too many details though, so I can enter with an open mind. This was a family of 4 (mum, dad and 2 sons). They had a feeling there was something or someone in their home. Not frightening or scary, but they all had experienced some encounters. Our mutual friend had the same thing and after I cleansed her home it was over, so they asked me to help.

This time I made a mix of white sage and palo santo for the smudging. While preparing the incense I explained what stuff I had brought and why. We started in the attic and made our way down. In the room next to the bathroom I felt the energy of an elderly woman roaming about and suddenly I got dizzy. In the bathroom her energy was stronger. I saw a glimpse of her in the mirror. She said sorry for the things she did to get the attention of the people living there. She gave me images of her touching the arm of the eldest son and opening cabinet doors. When I told the family this, they looked at each other and said that was exactly what had been happening. They knew it was an old woman because the younger son had seen her in the mirror too. The old lady once again said sorry. Then I felt her energy moving away, heard a sigh and saw something in the corner of my eye. The mother and one of her sons saw it too and they gasped in surprise. Later on they told me the former inhabitant was an older woman and she was found dead in the bathroom.

When I walked into the shed in the garden I felt happy at once. The energy was active and positive. It belonged to an older man (the husband of the old lady??). The shed was clearly his place and he spent a lot of time there. The mother of the family said they still used some of his stuff, his gardening tools and such. He told me he was glad they did this, but they had to take good care of his things. Then I felt and saw his energy move away. So did the mother! Later on she remembered other strange things that had happened in the shed.

Afterwards we talked about everything that had happened. It had been very special to them, but to me too! I often experience things while cleansing a house, but rarely as distinct and concrete as this time. I was very thankful for this wonderful experience!

Do you cleanse your home regularly?

Feel free to share any thoughts or ideas!

Blessings

 

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