March, 2016

Merry Meet

March, 2016

Eggs

 

                             WELCOME

 

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In This Issue…

 

Ellen

 

An Interview with Ellen Evert Hopman. Ellen is a druid, an herbalist, and a prolific author. She runs the Willow’s Grove shop through her website. She also runs a course in herbalism for those wanting to learn the marvellous powers of plants.

 

labrynth3

 

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals has information on  labyrinths they offer a sacred space for introspection. In the shape of a circle, it also holds magic.

 

Lemons

 

Aromatic Life features Lemons.

Lemons might seem an unlikely addition to

the Witch’s armoury but they have a good

many uses both medicinally and magically.

moneypoppet

This months WitchCrafting: crafts for Witches is about making poppets.  A poppet is a figure representing a person or animal and is used in spells.

and much much more….

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SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

March, 2016

Why Walk a Labyrinth

labrynth1

Photo by Mario Dasz

Merry meet.

A labyrinth offers a sacred space for introspection. In the shape of a circle, it also holds magic.

Labyrinths go back 4,000 years, are found in most major faiths and around the world. They are found in parks, places of worship and private homes, and often can be walked for free, offering the opportunity for a no-cost, nothing-needed ritual.

Unlike a maze, there is only one path in and one path out of a labyrinth. No dead ends. No wandering, lost. This makes it suitable for meditation. As you walk through a labyrinth, following the path, you head one way and then the other, turning right, turning left. This allows your awareness to shift from one side of your brain to the other and then back again.

One way to walk a labyrinth as a ritual is to prepare by taking time to reflect on what you would like to be able to resolve. Is there a situation spiritual or physical you would like to better understand, something for which youd like a solution?

labrynth2

Photo by Lynn Woike

Slowly, step into the labyrinth. Let each step be soft and deliberate. As you walk toward the center, feel yourself walking toward a bit of wisdom, an answer, a clue. Let all your senses allow you to become aware of your surroundings. Gently explore the situation: when and how did it begin, how does it make you feel, what are the effects? Hold no attachments and no emotions, remain open and allow space for insights to come to you, if not consciously, on another level. Accept visions without judgement or analyzing even if they dont make sense.

As you step into the center, let your solution sink in. Imagine how you will feel when this is resolved. Know that you are healed, supported, loved and guided.

On the return path, ask for the help you need and remain open to ways to make this happen, bringing that resolution you felt in the center back out of the labyrinth with you. Bring any deities, tools or answers you were given, leaving behind that which no longer serves you.

When you reach the end, which is also the beginning, offer gratitude for the awareness and the strength to make changes.

labrynth3

Photo by Mario Dasz

In a group, we once placed divination tools including runes and tarot decks in the center of the labyrinth before beginning our ritual. We contemplated the situation on the way in, drew from as many of the decks as we were called to do, and carried them with us on our return journey. We then gathered for cakes and ale, and, as we were moved to share, spoke about what we drew and allowed others to offer interpretations.

To help find a labyrinth near you, visit the worldwide locator at labyrinthlocator.com. To connect with others, there are Facebook groups you can join. Consider Labyrinth Wisdom, The Labyrinth Society Global Group, One Path Labyrinth Ventures. There was also a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine you might like: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/walk-worlds-meditative-labyrinths-180957823/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&no-ist.

Enjoy your adventure!

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

March, 2016

artemis

(Dedicated to Sunshine)

artemis1

(Photo Credit: symbolreader.net)

he Greek Goddess, artemis, is very complex. She personifies opposites.

She is seen as a virginal moon goddess, however, She is a goddess of fertility and childbirth. She was a fierce hunter, who could kill with one shot of her arrow; yet, She fiercely protected the animals of the forest and woods.

She is said to be born of Zeus and Leto. At the time of her birth, Leto was very weak, and so, it is told that She helped birth her twin brother, Apollo. Due to this, she is a Goddess of Fertility and Childbirth, a force of creation. Women in childbirth would pray to her for the safety of their children and of themselves.

As a child, she was asked by Zeus what she wanted for her birthday. She replied that she wanted a bow and arrow, like her brother; She wanted to bring light into the world, and She wanted to live her life free from love and marriage.

She valued freedom above all else and refused to conform to convention or the traditional roles of women. She was quick to anger if any man would look upon her.

Aktaon was found spying on her, unclothed, while she bathed. In Her anger at his behavior, she turned him into a stag. His hunting dogs, not knowing it was him, tore him apart.

artemis2

(Photo Credit: greekmythology.wikia.com)

As a bringer of light into a dark world, She is often portrayed carrying a torch or a candle, always lighting the way for others. She nurtured the needy and protected the weak. As She defended the people against the patriarchy of the Olympian gods, She was an early feminist and is invoked by some of today’s Goddess feminists, most often in her guise of the Roman Diana.

artemis3

(Photo Credit: gettyimages.com)

She is portrayed always in the company of other women, bathing or roaming through the forest, which was Her domain. This domain is the home of two of her symbols, the bear and the stag. Her rituals were conducted within the forest and trees, under the sacred light of the full moon.

The women, or nymphs that accompanied her, would run with here through the woods, as fast and sure as the deer. When they could not run from the men who chased them, they would call upon artemis for protection.

One such woman was Daphne, who ran away from Apollo, the brother of artemis. She was in such fear of being captured and used by Apollo, that she called out to emis to save her, whereupon artemis transformed her into a laurel tree. Apollo was ever seen after that with a wreath of laurel upon his brow.

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(Photo Credit: greekmythology.wikia.com)

Another, Arethusa, who also loved her freedom and roaming the wood, was running from Alpheus when she called upon artemis. She was rescued by being transformed into a beautiful spring of clear, clean water; as such she would still have the freedom to roam through the forest.

Even though they looked to Her as the Goddess of War, She was worshipped as the many-breasted Mother Goddess of the Amazons at Her Temple at Ephesus, which was a Wonder of the Ancient World. She was served by the Melissa, the Bee Priestesses, who are also associated with Aphrodite, Persephone, Demeter and Cybele. As the Mother of the Amazons, she was called “Proto Thronia” – artemis, First Upon the Throne. She and her Temple were held as sacred.

This is a portrayal of the Melissa, the Bee Priestesses of artemis.

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(Photo Credit: realmofgoldthenovel.blogspot.com)

The Greek traveler and geographer, Pausanius said of Ephesus, “All cities worship emis of Ephesus and individuals hold her in honor above all other deities. This is due to the renown of the Amazons, , those who first consecrated the land of Ephesus, those who dedicated the first image of the Goddess before the Ionian Greeks arrived”.

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(Photo credit: thinglink.com)

While some will state that the Temple at Pyrrichos in Greece belonged to Apollo, it was to artemis that the Temple belonged, as it was built to honor Amazons who had fallen in war.

While emis was identified with Dyktynna in Crete, Britomartis in Minoa and Bendis, who rode a mighty horse through Thrace with her torch and spear, She is most identified with the Roman Goddess Diana.

Diana, who was originally the Goddess of the open sky became the Huntress Moon Goddess of Rome. She also was worshipped only out of doors. Her name comes from the word “diania”, which means intelligence. She gives her name to Dianic Witchcraft, as founded by Zsuzanna Budapest.

A ritual to emis would have your altar adorned with a green altar cloth and green candle to symbolize the forest. The Goddess candle, symbolizing artemis, would be white or silver. Some of the symbols you could include would be the moon, a stag or bear, or any other forest animal.

As always, take a cleansing bath before ritual and cast a circle in your own tradition. Breathe, meditate and focus on artemis and what you would ask of her. Light the white Goddess candle. When done, thank Her for Her presence and close your circle according to your own tradition.

Blessings

Resources:

The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

goddessgift.com

Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone

Aromatic Life

March, 2016

Lemons

Lemons

Lemons might seem an unlikely addition to

the Witch’s armoury but they have a good

many uses both medicinally and magically.

Lemons have long been prized for their high vitamin content, and lemon juice is still carried at sea to prevent scurvy. The juice makes an excellent gargle for sore throats and, when diluted, can be applied to reduce itching. It is recommended for rheumatic pain and can even be used to counteract some poisons. A teaspoon undiluted will cure even the most stubborn hiccoughs. If you make your own lemonade you won’t want to touch the fizzy stuff again. Mix the juice of one lemon and a tablespoonful of caster sugar in ½ pint of cold water and drink for the most refreshing and cooling drink.

Lemon juice in water can be used to cleanse magical objects and is particularly good at shining up silverware. Lemon Charms were often made and given to bring blessings and luck, especially in a new home. Take a small lemon and tie it with red ribbon to hang it up. Into the remaining skin press as many new pins as you can. Hang it in the central room of the house. An alternative version of this was sometimes made by pressing cloves into the skin. Grow a lemon from seed if you wish to attract love, and if the tree bears fruit, however small, give it to your lover to seal your relationship. Thinly slice a lemon crossways and carefully dry the slices. Arrange and glue these in a crescent moon and place above your altar as a gift to the Goddess.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

March, 2016

Spring Equinox 2016 Part II

My last article focused on cleaning toxic people out of your life. I believe that is a good first step. I have a lot of experience with toxic people! I am an adult child of a toxic parent, and said parent has also crossed the veil. I know that although that toxic relationship is over, the hurt and heartache is not. Some people think you can just “get over it” and “move on with your life” as if nothing happened. While I realize things that happened to us are in the past, and thus will never happen again- I also realize that not everybody can forget these things.

Aside from hurting over past memories, and having flashbacks or PTSD, many adult children who survived a parent who was mentally ill suffer from fears they will become just like those parents. This can affect all of your relationships. You can either find yourself unable to maintain relationships, or find yourself maintaining unhealthy ones. Some people decide not to have kids of their own, out of fear they will be the same sort of parent that their own parent was. Some fear genetically passing mental illness on to a child, as well. Substance abuse is higher for adults who had mentally ill parents, and overthinking “all the bad things that could happen” happens more often when you had a traumatic or abusive childhood.

No matter how many therapy sessions or tranquilizers you take, these things can haunt you for your entire life. I could certainly provide spellwork to ease these sorrows, but I prefer to address what mundane things you can do for yourself as an adult once you have endured this sort of childhood, and what we can do to be supportive of the children or adult children of mentally ill parents. Also, mental illness is not a choice, and our loved ones struggling with mental illness need our support too!

The best man for the job

It is often assumed the most highly trained professionals or social workers our tax dollars pay for are the best people to be supportive of kids dealing with their parents mental illness. While I agree these people are absolutely crucial, most especially in cases of child endangerment, oftentimes, they rely on professional experience and education to guide them. But they have absolutely no idea whatsoever HOW it feels to be the victim.

If you, yourself have been a victim, then empathizing with other victims is second nature for you. You instinctually can tell if something is not right, and you can remember how you felt when you were a child. It can be healing to be a victim’s advocate. To be somebody who reaches out and makes a difference for people who cannot do for themselves. You could not prevent what happened to you, but helping to ensure somebody else’s suffering is eased- or even if somebody is rescued from a situation you could not escape from can do wonders for your own peace of mind. Your participation in somebody else’s rescue or healing cannot change your past, but it might help you to at least feel better that you were able to spot somebody else going through it, and intervene in a positive way.

Those old meanies!!!!!

I have, in my mom’s side of the family, in my work in long term care, and in my religious community, met a lot of people diagnosed with a mental illness who really are mean, hurtful people who do bad things to other people and have absolutely no remorse. Hell, some of them LIKE inflicting suffering! They blame everybody else for their actions. I also know some people diagnosed with a mental illness would NEVER EVER deliberately hurt anybody to save their own life, and who are kind people well-known for all the awesome things they do to make the world a better place. I am also aware that very often, mental illness takes over, and the people suffering from the disease unintentionally cause harm. They really cannot choose to do any different.

Children raised in this environment are often taught that their needs come last. Many children of mentally ill parents become their full time caretakers by their teenaged years, and sometimes find themselves in dangerous situations their parents inability to make good decisions puts them in.

Most people I have encountered who suffer from mental illness really do love and care about their family, and friends, and children, and want to make everybody happy. Their illness just prevents them from making good decisions about what is best sometimes.

Luckily, we are living in a day and age where scientific breakthrough has shown ways to help sufferers of mental illness. I know some people who medication is a godsend for, and others who are helped by counseling. Much attention is paid to doing the things necessary to help people suffering from mental illness live healthy, happy lives. However, sometimes, little attention is paid to the children of mentally ill parents unless their lives are at stake.

It is assumed it is best for mentally ill people to have normal family lives- which translates as keeping children at home with mentally ill parents. This often makes the parents happiest. Unfortunately, this is not always best for the children. I know each case is different. Some people I know were rescued and did not live with their parent’s illness for one day! Others narrowly escaped with their lives!

My story

While times are better than say, fifty years ago, I know from experience that the goal of “keeping a child with the parent” is not always a good one. Fortunately, my brother’s grandparents were granted custody of him when he was in high school. I was not so lucky.

Mom’s family tried to intervene when I was in high school- and of course the State decided it was best for mom to keep me with her! I survived, but my emotional wellbeing did not. By the time I was in my early 20’s, I was a very angry young woman.

Just before I moved, I was old enough to understand certain things were not okay, and I had started putting my foot down. By this time, mom’s self-medicating of her mental illness drove her into dangerous parts of town, with a gun in the car, so she could buy narcotics. We could have been killed one night. I moved out that very night after attempts to reason with her resulted in her threatening to “bash my mouth in” . I told her if she hit me, she would never see me again. As I packed my things, she exclaimed, “But I didn’t hit you!” She could never understand that her behavior was not okay.

Immediately, she faked a suicide attempt, having all her sisters who lived in town, her mom, AND our Catholic Priest run to the hospital at 2 A.M. because they were so scared they would lose her.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I had no idea who to talk with, and our Priest was not trained in mental health counseling. I was, thankfully in college and loved to read. I sought out self-help books, and spoke with a counselor.

I got absolutely no support from mom’s family when I needed it most. Some of mom’s family made a choice to chew me out, feeling it defended mom- who they KNEW was severely abusive- because they were parents themselves, and were terrified at the thought of their own children turning against them. “You will understand someday when you are a mother”, I was told. They believed a child should honor their parents- and take care of their parents- even while the parent was jeopardizing their child’s life.

I had no personal rights to be a basket case in some family member’s opinions. I was failing to forgive, and how would I feel if god did not forgive me? I was cussed out and yelled at, and if I saw a family member in public, there was never a “How are you”, there was only a “ Have you gone to see your mother?” I was chastized by church members who recited scripture verses-because they believed mom when she cried and told them I had abandoned her because I did not want to take care of her.

What they did not know is that nobody could take care of my mother until control of the pills was handed to the professionals!

It felt like nobody could accept that my own sanity depended on being away from my perpetrator. They could not accept that my healing was more important than giving mom what she wanted. This response from blood relatives and church members compounded the pain and hurt I felt. I found out that family members were aware of almost everything that had gone on, and they did not care. They expected me to take it regardless. I finally cut off all communication with all of mom’s relatives and did not go back for years.

Luckily, I did meet plenty of other survivors of similar situations. I discovered that while I had previously thought my story was rare- it was not unusual in the least.

The Ugly Facts

According to The National Children’s Alliance, 47 States reported that 3.1 million children received services from some Children’s Services agency in just 2013. It was reported that not quite 80% of the fatalities of children caused by abuse or neglect was perpetrated by the kid’s parent or parents. More can be read at this link.

http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse

This just shows that child abuse is very widespread!

Right now, I am learning about schizophrenia- as I have a family member who suffers from it. A book I recommend was written for adult kids of sufferers. Not only is information about the book here, but an interview with the author is included that you can read as well at this link.

http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/005387.html

Also, I found a really good article about psychosocial outcomes for adult children of mentally ill adults.

https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/782/docs/psychosocial_outcomes_for_adult_children.pdf

I am not saying that all mentally ill parents abuse their kids. Plenty don’t. I am saying that some do, and their kids need support the same way the parents need healing.

Instead of a ritual or spellwork, I will include some suggestions for how to be supportive of children of mentally ill parents- both non-abusive parents as well as abusive ones. Also included is how to be supportive of your ill loved one, and some things to keep in mind. You can always do protective magic or light a candle or pray for people suffering. I don’t think that ever hurts.

Prayer and spellwork creates change- but it is not enough sometimes. In all circumstances, the more you can do physically, the more successful your endeavor to create change will be!

April’s Suggestions

  1. Accept what is happening and that it is not okay- Sticking up for victims who cannot protect themselves can be scary. The abuser might be your sibling, parent, best friend, or even YOUR child abusing their kids. Taking their side based on concern it would strain relations for YOU if you tell them they are wrong makes you just as guilty of abuse as the abuser. Not only are you encouraging them to continue, but you might even be helping abuse the victim more. Telling the victim to get over it, that things are really not that bad, or the like means you are not only enabling the abuser, but you become an abuser as well. No matter how much you may like or love an abuser, that does not make it okay for them to be abusive.
  2. Get involved- I will never forget the scene in The Divine Secrets of The Yaya Sisterhood where one of the ladies said “It was the belief that you didn’t interfere with other people’s kids”. Then there is the quote- “It takes a village to raise a child. “ It really does. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Refusal to get treatment absolutely is. Sometimes, people are trying to recover, but they are struggling to afford medications or counseling, or they relapse, it is time to “butt in” and get involved. It is not butting in or interfering at all when you are stepping in to help where help is needed.
  3. Don’t be afraid- Do not be afraid of upsetting your mentally ill loved one by preventing them from causing harm. If your ill loved one is insulted or indignant that you would “come between” them and their kids, and they do not feel what they are doing is wrong- when clearly, everybody can see it is- oftentimes, all hell breaks loose and you are in for World War III. That’s okay. Be assured the more they rage and attack, the more material the law has against them if it comes down to it.
  4. Be ready to take action- You might have to physically remove animals or another human being from their home. You may have to file police charges against them. You may have to testify in a court of law against your loved one. They may hate you forever for this- and other loved ones may take sides against you. I promise that is every bit worth it to be a victim’s advocate, and to stop the pain.
  5. Stick to your guns- Retaliation is not uncommon when you have been the one to stop an abuser. Do not allow whatever they threaten you with or do against you to get you to relent. Can you imagine how much worse it is for the victim than it is for you to be trapped by this person?
  6. Listen and validate- The #1 misconception is that you must CONDEMN your loved one for whatever hardship they have created. You absolutely do not have to. But you can admit it was hurtful to the people who suffered. Validation is the #1 thing some victims need most. That what happened to them was not okay and they are right to hurt. You may be the one hurting. Listen to yourself. Be considerate of your needs. If you need to skip a visit when your ill loved one is being especially excruciating- skip the visit, and tell them you will absolutely come when the behavior stops.
  7. Accept that intentions and results may be entirely different- Another famous quote from The Divine Secrets of The Yaya Sisterhood is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Accept that maybe the mentally ill loved one did not mean any harm- but somehow harm was still done. Some things are not okay, even if the person cannot help it. But if they cannot help it, expecting them to choose differently makes no sense. They may mean well, but their actions don’t cause things to go well. Even though you might not hold it against them, it is still okay to keep your loved one from causing harm.
  8. Explain without attacking – Obviously, the goal is to maintain happy relationships- not to assign guilt. Compassionately explaining to the mentally ill loved one how a certain behavior causes pain, and what could be done instead might help foster positive change. Yelling and scolding will make them feel misunderstoo. They will shut down and be defensive. However, there comes a time when it really does not matter if the loved one gets defensive if you point out what needs to change- most especially if their behavior is causing bad problems, and they are capable of choosing different. Yup, it’s their fault! In this event, attacking still does not help. Still explain your point calmly.
  9. Accept when you can’t help- Some people literally refuse to be helped. I am reminded of another quote, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Adults, most especially don’t like being told what to do. Your hands might be tied because of some circumstance. I mean, you cannot hold a gun to somebody’s head and force them to stop a behavior. You may have to wait until your loved one hits rock bottom before you can step in. Sometimes, we are not qualified to help a loved one and a professional is. The turning point in my relationship with my mom was the day I called a crisis hotline, absolutely hysterical. I felt so guilty and ashamed for failing to take good care of my mother, I told the operator! The operator listened compassionately, and then told me I was not the one to take care of my mother. She told me mom needed professional caretaking 24/7 and trying to do so by myself was preventing mom from getting the help she really needed. Now, of course, when I took the operators advice, that caused issues as well- but it was every bit worth it. Without me, mom’s family had to step in. They told her she HAD to get either in-home care or go to a facility. She verbally attacked some of them, saying they owed it to her to take care of her- and they simply said they could not do it. Mom was then forced to get proper in-home care until she could no longer stay home, and was transferred- against her will, of course- to a very good assisted living facility. Despite her years of fighting it, she absolutely loved the place, and so did we!
  10. Accept that maybe you can’t be around your loved one for a time- And that perhaps other people can’t either. Our loved ones endure the things we endure right along with us. There are times when we are each other’s strength, and times when we are broken by our loved ones and have to step away. We are only able to endure what we are capable of. Do not shame somebody for being unable to endure a loved one’s mental illness.
  11. Do not allow your mentally ill loved one access to certain things- If your mentally ill loved one steals money, don’t let them have access to your money. They can’t steal it if it is inaccessible to them. If your mentally ill loved one is legally allowed to drive, but their road rage terrifies you- do not get in the car with them when they are driving and do not allow them to drive your car. You might not be able to prevent them from causing a wreck, but that does not mean you have to be involved.
  12. Reach out- I know from experience how isolating it can feel to have a mentally ill family member. I looked around at my peers and saw the stability in their homes, and it seemed like I was the only one with a sick parent. I was wrong. Reaching out, reading, and talking with other people who were either mentally ill and doing all they could to live good lives, or survive the mental illness of a loved one helped me to understand that mom and I were not abnormal. We were not wrong. We were okay. Reaching out is the #1 thing that saved me.
  13. Mental illness is not shameful, and not a choice- I always say nobody ever wakes up one day and says to themselves, “You know, I have a good life. I am in good health. I love my job, and my loved ones. But you know what? I think I want to give all that up and be miserable. Yeah, I want to see what that is like! “ Mental illness is just like any other form of illness. It happens. Sometimes, we can fix it, and sometimes, we can’t. There is nasty discrimination against mentally ill people. I have never understood that. It’s not like we get mad and shame people who have asthma or a broken bone. So why shame people struggling with another disease they did not choose?
  14. Learn- If you , or if somebody you love struggles with mental illness- lifelong education is best. New advances in medicine and counseling are announced all the time. There is always a chance something can make life better and easier.
  15. Forgiveness of other people is not crucial-forgiveness of yourself is mandatory- The worst thing you can do is tell somebody who was a victim of abuse is to hurry up and forgive their perpetrator already. Many religious people believe a god/ess forgives, so people have to as well. BUT- those adherents conveniently forget the myths point that gods only forgive if the person is sorry, and the behavior has stopped. Few gods/esses will put up with bullshit! And even if in a religious story a god or goddess forgave somebody who was not sorry, I still don’t expect anybody else to. So why use religion as a basis to say human beings should? And I have to say, even if somebody is sorry and has changed, you still don’t have to forgive them if you don’t feel ready to. And you NEVER have to. You are not holding yourself back from some enlightenment or a place in paradise if you don’t forgive. Also, even if you DO forgive and move on from events- that does not mean that you have to welcome the person who hurt you back into your life. Ever. There will be a lot of people trying to push you into forgiveness and forgetting- and they won’t care if your perpetrator starts hurting you again. Do what is best for you, no matter what others say. For those who are aware of what their illness causes them to do- I really don’t have sympathy for abusers- so if you really are an abuser- piss off if you haven’t already been repelled by this article- but if you are a non-abusive person trying your best- you have to forgive yourself. If you don’t, you will not consider yourself worthy of getting better. Then you cannot treat your loved ones better. Forgiving the fact you are imperfect and make mistakes i9s not optional- it is mandatory.
  16. Know that we are all in this together- If you have been abused- you don’t have to be stuck with your abuser forever. But if you are ill, your loved ones depend on you to do all you can to feel good and be well. They WANT you around. They stay with you in bad times, and look forward to the good times.
  17. Giving up is not an option- If you suffer from mental illness- guess what? You are one of millions who does. The human body is so complex, that unlimited things can go wrong! Sometimes, your mental illness lies to you and convinces you that all hope is gone. But there are so many others struggling with the same things you are. Each sufferer is different, but so many suffer with the very things you do. Help and understanding is out there.
  18. Resources are out there- Your hometown has specific resources. Two I am listing here are Nationwide, and you can contact them.
  1. Mental Health America

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

This site has searches for affiliates by zip code and or City and State. Your local health department or area of family Services can point you where you need to go. Also, a quick non emergency call to your local police to request for the number for your crisis center will hook you up with the type operator who got the ball rolling for help for my mother. Police are getting a bad rap right now- because the bad job the lousy ones do makes all of them look bad. Truthfully, police work does not pay THAT well, and many of the folks in the force are just decent people.

  1. For the loved ones of mentally ill people- your local hospital or mental health facility often has free support groups. You can make a few calls and see what your hometown has to offer.

Also, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has support. Here is their link.

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers

Now, if you LIKE NAMI on Facebook, a slew of other pages appears that you can follow. The Facebook link is provided on their Internet Page.

There is a plethora of resources out there because mental health is so important. Together, we can make a difference!

  1. May you be healed- May your gods and guides reach into you and pull out all your sorrows. If you need medical care, may you be brought to the best care there is and may you be able to afford it. If no cure exists, may it come about very soon. May you be surrounded by family and friends who are part of your healing, and when the time comes, may you be part of theirs! So mote it be!

Blessed Be!

 

Witches Soul Work

March, 2016

Witches Soul Work: The High Priestess is Not Your Girlfriend

Doreen

(Picture is Gardnerian HPS Doreen Valiente. For more about Doreen see: http://www.doreenvaliente.com/)

When I first met my High Priestess (HPS) Lady Rhiannon we were taking a course on-line together and sometimes got together for lunch. We became friends and later co-taught a class together. About a year later she invited me to join her Coven. I had studied Wicca for ten years at that point; a lot of reading and studying on line or by correspondence. I had also joined a Reclaiming women’s circle for a while and an Eclectic Witches Circle that was really a peer study group. I felt that studying under a ‘real’ HPS would be an important step for me and was very glad of the opportunity.

I remember my first Circle at her place in the forest, how exciting it was to drive into the country, park the car and walk to the sacred grove hidden within the trees. She greeted me warmly and my training in her Tradition started. She had already been a HPS for twenty years and I wanted to know what she knew! I noticed that within the Circle she seemed different; her energy was stronger and more vibrant and when she recited the Charge and called the Goddess her face shone and changed. She wasn’t just my friend anymore, she was my teacher.

This concept was easy for me to understand as a student of martial arts. My teacher in Ninjutsu was my friend until we stepped onto the mat. In the dojo he was the Sensei (Master) and we were attentive and respectful. What he was teaching us was precious and important as well as dangerous! So I knew how to switch my own hat from friend to student. In the Coven I had to do that as well but it was a little more difficult. A Coven is not a therapy or support group although we do support each other on our spiritual journeys. The friendships in Coven are not based on mundane parameters such as age, gender or hobbies but are connections at a soul level called in Gaelic ‘anam cara’ (soul friend). My HPS was now my spiritual guide, my soul friend, leading me deeper into the mysteries of my own spirituality. I couldn’t take off the Seeker hat outside the Circle because the training didn’t end when the Sabbat ended. My life had changed and so had my relationship with her.

One of the things my Sensei used to say is ‘don’t bring your stuff onto the mat’; in other words leave your ordinary problems outside and come onto the mat with a clear mind and ready to train. It was not always easy to do that! The same thing applies in Coven; we clear our minds and enter a level of consciousness that opens us to spiritual and magickal experiences. A true HPS brings the energy of the Goddess into the Circle, holds the energy and is able to feel where everyone is at during the ritual or magickal working. It’s not an easy task and takes many years of apprenticeship and practice with her own teacher. But I wanted what she had and I was willing to listen, be respectful and give up my friend hat for a while.

I have seen this become a problem in our Coven and other Covens especially when new Seekers meet the HPS before she becomes their priestess and teacher. They are attracted to her strength, wisdom, and spiritual glow; they want to be her friend! So they join the Coven and then find themselves in a different relationship. Some Seekers make the switch easily but others get angry; they want the HPS to treat them differently than the rest of the group like a teacher’s pet. They want to get together outside of Coven and hang out; they don’t want things to change. The HPS is not your girlfriend and understanding her role as teacher and spiritual mentor is also about giving up your ego. If you want to truly learn the Craft with a bona fide teacher you have to be humble. She doesn’t need to teach you! There are a lot of people who will never have the great fortune to study face to face with a trained Elder of the Craft.

Six years later when I was given Third Degree Initiation and become a HPS myself in her Tradition she said: “Now I am no longer your teacher, I am your sister!” I was very honoured to hear her say that but I responded: “You will always be my HPS.” In some ways she does feel like an older sister to me and I love her, but I never went back to just being her friend. Our relationship has become something much deeper at a soul level and I consider myself very lucky to have had that experience.

 

Spiralled Edges

March, 2016

Spiralled Edges – What Makes a Crone?

Mid-February I celebrated by 50th birthday, a full half century of living. As I have moved towards this mark, I have turned my thoughts to who I am and what I want to be in my life. Now more than ever I face my own mortality as I have realised I most likely have more years behind me than in front of me.

I am okay with this. I am ready to take my place as an elder, as a crone, both in the Pagan community and in the world at large.

Who am I to self-proclaim: I am an Elder!

Is it age alone, or something more that makes one an Elder? What makes a crone, I ask myself.

So, I look to see what others have said on the subject…

  • A crone is a woman who has past her 50th, or 55th, or 60th year.
  • A crone is a woman who has gone through menopause.
  • A crone is a woman who has grandchildren.
  • An elder is someone with X number years of experience.
  • An elder has wisdom.

And, I ask myself, do I fit these definitions? Can I declare myself to be a village elder/crone or is this yet another title of respect that should rightly be bestowed by the community?

For the most part, yes. I’m post-menopausal. I have over 20 years’ experience as a healer and Pagan witch. I have just hit my 50th year of life. No grandchildren yet. And no village/community/coven group to bestow a title upon me. Wisdom? If finally understanding that there is no magical age upon which one finally knows and understands all, and accepting this with patience and confidence counts as wisdom, then yes I have it.

I am a crone and I wear this title along with my head of grey hair as a crown of honour. It is an honorific that I have earned and I have been working towards for many years.

Now that I am accepting and wearing my crown many idiosyncrasies from my past are finally making sense. Mother Goddess, Modron moving away and telling me that Her time as my Patron Goddess has come to an end. Brigid making herself known as a Patron Goddess, but saying as well that She is not the one I will be following. The blue-faced mask of Mareninka which I created over 15 years ago. The hag stones collected and carefully kept for just as long. Blue-faced Kali being on the periphery of my work as a critical care nurse 20 years ago, but not showing up again as I begin doing my life work as a Soul Midwife and facilitator of healing for women. The beautiful owl butterfly, merging owl with butterfly as a symbol of transformation, wisdom, and the healing work I am now doing. And always over everything as awareness of a great, ancient crone who is both awe-some (to be filled with awe) and terrifying and has been setting me challenges to be met for more years than I was aware.

In the past week, as I contemplated this article and also a ceremony to mark this rite of passage in my own life, She made Herself known to me clearly, and I realised She had been speaking to me all along. Accepting my role as crone also means accepting the mantle of being Her Priestess. (While I have had Patron Gods and Goddesses, I have never been called to dedicate myself to the service of one in particular. – Until now.)

I am speaking of the Crone of crones, the ancient Hag of the British Isles, The Cailleach.

I find that I am excited about what the future may hold for me in my waning years. And excited about where my practice and work as a Priestess of The Cailleach may take me.

Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Rowan

rowan1

 

Image: ‘Flying’ Rowan at Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire, UK. Copyright Chris Gunns 2006 via Wikimedia, some rights reserved.

As well as what we traditionally think of as herbs, every apothecary should be stocked with some other items. I’ve already spoken about bulbs such as garlic, and spices like cinnamon. Now I’d like to move on to the largest of our green cousins; the trees.

I’ve chosen the Rowan, or mountain ash, as my first tree to explore as it is well known as a sacred and magical plant in many different cultures. I am most familiar with the Celtic tales of the Rowan tree, as it is a path of Celtic Witchcraft I follow. However, my favourite tale about the Rowan is actually from Greek mythology: that it grew from the blood of the eagle sent to retrieve the chalice of Hebe. This is why the leaves are the shape of feathers, and the berries (usually) blood red.

The Kitchen Garden

‘But you can’t eat Rowan!’, I hear some of you cry. Well, OK, I don’t recommend it for the novice, but you can actually make a rather nice jelly out of the berries. You mustn’t eat the berries raw, and even when cooked it’s only the juice or the decoction of the fruit we want. Like rosehips, rowan berries have tiny fibres inside that are extremely irritant to our inner tubes, so they are not for chewing on!

If you boil them up though, breaking them up slightly as they soften, then strain the liquid through muslin, the resulting ‘juice’ has a unique flavour that pairs very well with a pectin high fruit such as apples or pears.

The Apothecary

Our old friend Mrs Grieve tells us that both the bark and the berries have medicinal properties. She advises that a decoction of the bark may be given for diarrhoea and that it is also effective against vaginal infections. The ripe berries, she says, are useful for sore throats and inflamed tonsils. Again, I would warn against eating the berries due to the irritant nature of the seeds. I presume Mrs Grieve means for you to make an infusion of the berries, and strain it well.

Rowan berries are also astringent which may make them useful against haemorrhoids.

Rowan wood has been carried as a charm against rheumatism and the berries hung in a house to ward off flu. Although there’s no evidence to back up the medical claims here, the magical protectiveness of the tree is superb so perhaps this is where the healing comes from in these instances.

Day to Day use

Rowan wood is dense and tough and as such is used for staffs, staves and walking sticks. In Finland, it is used in farm tools and horse drawn sleds.

The berries are also used in dyeing. The berries themselves contain the tannins which help the dye ‘set’, and when combined with the bark produce a dye which stains black. I can’t imagine any item of clothing more potent than a cloak or robe dyed black with rowan.

The Witch’s Kitchen

One of the plus points of Rowan is that any witch can use all parts of the tree; the leaves, the wood, the bark, the roots, the flowers and the berries.

The wood makes an excellent wand, although of course don’t destroy any trees in order to find your perfect piece. Rowan trees are quite small generally and won’t be happy about having huge chunks torn off them. I tend to look for lucky windfalls after a gale. Rowan wood is an excellent protective wood, and wards off energies that seek to harm you. A rowan wand would make an excellent tool for cleansing and consecrating, especially a sacred space. The wood can also be carved, so you can personalise your creation without difficulty if you have the talent.

The leaves have several uses. The type of leaf is ‘pinnate’, meaning ‘like a feather’. They remind us of the feathers of the eagle in Greek mythology, and so represent air and the realm of birds. They also symbolise courage, fighting for what is yours and retrieving lost items. They also symbolise earth (being part of a tree) and balance; just look at the symmetrical imagery in each leaf stem.

The flowers also represent balance as they are hermaphroditic, meaning each flower is both male and female. It is self-contained and independent. The flowers are white, the colour of creatures beyond the veil, contrasting with the fruit which is generally bright red, the visceral colour of our flesh and blood existence.

The bark is an ancient medicine and as such can symbolise knowledge, wisdom and healing. Grind it into an incense or place pieces on an altar to magnify the power of healing magic.

The root is not widely used, but as a sacred tree that fell from the heavens to earth, the root symbolises the link between earth and sky, and we can go further and understand that as the root draws water from the earth into the tree, it is a link between earth, water and sky. It is reminiscent of the great world tree, Yggdrasil, in that it links all the realms, although Yggdrasil is a true ash, rather than a mountain ash.

To complete the elemental quartet, the berries are our fire source. They are strongly associated with the sun, and so fire and the south. They remind us of passion, especially the passion to fight for what we believe in. They are attraction, desire, hunger and hunger fulfilled. They are the fruition of hopes and dreams. They are the driving force of ambition.

Overall, all parts of the rowan tree will protect you and reflect negativity and unwanted magical advances.

Throughout Celtic mythology the rowan tree is used again and again as a portent of magic or misdeed. The chariot of Mug Ruith, the blind druid of Munster, had axles made of rowan wood. Beguiling lips were described as ‘red as rowan berries’ in Togail Bruidne Dá Derga. In The Siege of Knocklong, the druid Cith Rua tells Cormac a druidic fire must be made with rowan sticks. These are a tiny selection of the many references throughout what remains of the Celtic tales. If you need any convincing of the magic of the rowan tree, these stories are definitely the place to look.

Home and Hearth

rowan2

 

Image: Rowanberries and leaves in Helsinki Finland. Copyright Jonik, 2004 via Wikimedia.

At or around the autumn equinox, use a handful of rowan berries instead of a candle as your focus of meditation. If you pick them yourself, thank the tree and always leave a few berries for the birds to find. As well as feeding the birds, this helps spread the seeds so there will always be more Rowan trees.

Relax, and breathe normally. Focus on the berries and let their image fill your mind. Other thoughts will come and go. This is normal, don’t try not to think other thoughts as this is counterproductive. Just let the thoughts slide through your mind and either dismiss them or agree to return to them later.

If you find your eyes sliding shut, try visualise the berries in your mind. Remember their vivid colour, their perfect form and their smooth skin. Try to recall any flaws or pocks, and notice how this only makes them more gorgeous and vibrant.

As you dwell on the image of the berries, you may find other images popping into your head. Follow these images wherever they may take you.

When you leave the meditative state, breathe normally for a while, drink some water, and make a record of the images and thoughts that came to you. These will normally be of significance moving into the darker part of the year, and if you can’t interpret them right now, you will usually find clarity will come by Samhain. In times of stress, close your eyes and remember the perfect, round globes of the berries and how you felt when you were focused on them. Allow this peace and stillness to fill you, and push out the anxiety and worry.

I Never Knew…

Rowan berries apparently make an excellent wine! I look forward to testing this theory later in the year… Watch this space!

Tink about It

March, 2016

About Foofur and Familiars

17 years ago I spent quite some time in the local pet shelter. I was a member of the foundation board and the local SPCA, but I also worked in the shelter itself, cleaning the kennels and everything else that needed to be done. One day a little dog was brought in for surrender with just another lame excuse. His name was Bambi and he was a crossbreed Jack Russell / Welsh Corgi, just 8 weeks ‘old’. It was love on first sight for both of us. I instantly loved the little bundle of joy that almost fitted on one hand. We were meant to be together. The name Bambi didn’t fit him, so one of my co-workers suggested Foofur and that was perfect. My husband and I had just lost our previous dog, a Bernese Mountaindog. We both love large dogs, but somehow I couldn’t help but love this little Corgi dude… It took me a lot of effort and persuasive power, but Foofur came home with us and we never had any regrets.

As he was our only dog at the time, he was raised by the cats in our household. He took over some feline behaviour like sitting in the window sill and washing habits. Foofur’s favourite place wasn’t fixed, he was happiest when he was around me. Even when I meditated he was sleeping in my lap and didn’t move until I did. I took him almost everywhere I went. In the car he sat next to me on the passenger seat as my co-pilot. He often went with me to witchy events, weekends with my craft systers, etc. Everyone loved him. He could get along with every living creature, be it human, canine, feline or otherwise… he loved them all. At one of these events someone asked me if Foofur was my ‘familiar’. I had heard of the word before, but didn’t know the exact meaning. I thought it just meant ‘a witch’s companion’ so I said yes.

Foo

 

Foofur, around 3 years old

As always with your beloved pets you hope they’ll live forever, but we all know they don’t… Foofur got older and got some infirmities of old age. He could handle those, but we knew he was living in borrowed time. As one of his infirmities got worse that would be the beginning of the end. He got slower and lost some weight, but he was still the lovely little dog he always was and we still loved each other to pieces. We got some extra years together, but last year in June I had to let him go… I still miss him so much and I’m crying when I’m writing this. I love and loved all of our pets very dearly, but Foofur always had a special place in my heart and he still does. I know he hasn’t left me. I sometimes feel him on my feet at night, like I did when he was alive. I feel his presence and I still talk to him. Someone told me she felt his presence at my left shoulder. After all this years, again someone suggested he might be my familiar. So I decided to look it up a bit.

What is a familiar? That looks like an easy question, but the answers are multiple and diverse… Most common is a definition like ‘a familiar is a magic-user’s spiritual helper manifest in animal form’ or something similar. Some people use the words totem, power animal and spirit animal synonymously with the word familiar, but that doesn’t seem right. Sometimes they overlap or can be the same animal, but that’s more often the exception than the rule. Many see familiars as common household pets with an extra twist. They seem to have special powers and a way to communicate with the witch without words. Although the black cat is most well-known as a familiar, it can also be a dog, hare, ferret, raven, owl, or any other animal for that matter. Some sources take the definition a bit broader to include humans or human form, and spiritual entities. There are many stories in folklore about familiars, familiar spirits and the like. It is very possible that familiars are a twisted and demonised form of the Roman ‘lar familiaris’ , a family guardian spirit kept safe as a small statue in the ‘Lararium’, a shrine often close to the hearth. Among Australian Aborigines the medicine man sends his familiar spirit (his assistant totem, spirit-dog, spirit-child or whatever the form may be) to gather information. While this is occurring, the man himself is in a state of receptivity, in sleep or trance. During the English Civil War, the Royalist general Prince Rupert was in the habit of taking his large poodle dog named Boye into battle with him. Throughout the war the dog was greatly feared among the Parliamentarian forces and credited with supernatural powers. As noted by Morgan, the dog was apparently considered a kind of familiar. At the end of the war the dog was shot, allegedly with a silver bullet.These are just a few examples, there is much more interesting information to be found. I’ll list some sources under this article.
Charles Baudelaire, the famous French poet, seemed to believe in familiars. In his poem ’Le Chat’ (The Cat, 1857) he writes about it. 

(Top: original, Bottom: translation by Roy Campbell)

C’est l’esprit familier du lieu;

Il juge, il préside, il inspire

Toutes choses dans son empire;

peut-être est-il fée, est-il dieu?

 

Familiar Lar of where I stay,

He rules, presides, inspires and teaches

All things to which his empire reaches.

Perhaps he is a god, or fay.

 

When researching familiars, one undoubtedly encounters the name of Margaret Murray and her book ‘The Witch Cult in Western Europe’ (1921), in which she devotes a thorough chapter to familiars. It’s a very interesting read, I can definitely recommend it. She is responsible for much of the modern scholarship on the witch’s familiar. Her work delved into the variation of the familiar found in witchcraft practices. Many of the sources she relied on were trial records and demonological texts from early to modern England.

Using her studies into the role of witchcraft and magic in Britain during the Early Modern period as a starting point, historian Emma Wilby examined the relationship that familiar spirits allegedly had with the witches and cunning-folk in this period.


So the research field about familiars varies from folklore to hearsay and speculation to scientific scholarship to literature, and back and forth again. It is researched in many ways. And the truth? I don’t know whether that really exists or not. I guess it’s what you believe in, to whom you’d want to listen. Is Foofur my familiar? I still like to think so and in a way I see him like that so yes, for me it’s true!

Blessings

 

Foo2

 

Foofur
February 12, 1999 – June 2, 2015

Sources and more to explore:

 

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a budget

March, 2016

Cinnamon

Cinnamonum verum

Merry meet.

Some items used in magic can be expensive, but there are plenty of other ingredients and objects that require little money. Cinnamon is one of those magical ingredients that is cheap, versatile and common enough to be sitting in your spice rack.

You can burn cinnamon either in stick form, or powdered and added to a mix thats burned on a piece of charcoal. Use it to purify individuals, objects or spaces. You can also roll a candle in cinnamon and then burn it.

Steeping it into tea results in an infusion that can heighten psychic awareness and clairvoyance, making it good to drink before divination. Burning some while doing a reading or a meditation has also been suggested.

Sprinkling cinnamon around a space will protect it. So will placing cinnamon sticks on windows and above doors. Another option for protecting a doorway is to make a sachet or mojo bag with cinnamon to hang over the entryway.

Cinnamon is also used to attract good luck, love, money, passion, prosperity and success. It can bring wisdom, tranquility and healing.

Keep cinnamon sticks in with your tarot cards and runes, as well as with your other divination tools.

Burn cinnamon oil in a diffuser to attract prosperity, clients and business.

Bless it and add it to the batter when baking desserts to inspire romance.

Ive also heard that it will bring spice to the bedroom when attached to the bottom of the bed or, I would think, put between the mattress and the boxspring. Kama Sutra oils are made with cinnamon.

Cinnamon sticks can also be used for wands, as is or embellished.

With so many possible magical uses, please tell us some of yours.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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