September, 2016

Merry Meet

September, 2016

mabon

 

                                                  Welcome

 

We have another wonderful issue of PaganPages for you this month featuring two great book reviews…

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In SpellCrafting, Lynn Woike introduces us to The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes and her thoughts on the big book, indeed!

 

stonehenge

 

Susan Morgaine Reviews A lovely photographic journey book, A Year at Stonehenge by James O. Davies

 

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Notes from the Apothecary this month features the Maple and you can learn how to make these lovely Maple Leaf Roses!

Plus much more!!

 

Join us on Facebook  & Twitter!!

Tarot Talk

September, 2016

Time to head back to the Minor Arcana; let’s talk about the Seven of Pentacles this month.

As stated above, the Seven of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. We should remember however that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue; nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

The image on the Seven of Pentacles can give us valuable information regarding the message of this card. The traditional image of the Seven of Pentacles shows a man (occasionally a woman) leaning on a rake or hoe, standing next to a tree or bush in full bloom, covered with Pentacles. The ground around the man and the tree is usually flat, sometimes covered with verdant and well-tended growth. The sky is clear, and there are often mountains in the distance. The man appears strong and in good health, but a bit tired as if he is at the end of a full day filled with hard work. He is not dressed in royal clothes; rather he appears to be “every man.” He appears satisfied with the fruits of his labors.

One easy way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 7, and the suit of Pentacles. These two ingredients could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation.

In the Tarot, the number 7 tells of that period of time when effort and growth are running out of gas, and degeneration or a period of ebbing is approaching. A perfect illustration of this concept is the way it looks when we toss a ball in a high arc; at first, the ball soars upward with power. Soon enough, the upward motion slows, then ceases, and the ball travels parallel to the ground for a bit. Then, inertia begins to affect the trajectory of the ball, and it begins its descent to the ground. The Tarot Seven cards describe possible effects during that period when the ball is traveling parallel to the ground; not enough power to continue growth, but enough to keep degeneration on the sidelines. Often, the Seven cards tell of some pause or assessment that happens as growth (created by the Motion of the Fives and the Harmony of the Sixes) begins to approach the end of its lifespan.

All of the Tarot Sevens offer this pause or slowing of activity. We have the realization of something achieved and the fortitude to stay with that achievement and defend it (Wands), we have the pause that comes with a choice between many seemingly beautiful and desirable offerings, each fraught with hidden peril (Cups), and we have the pause that comes when our mind and our intellect perceives the approach of a change that we believe may not be beneficial (Swords). In the Seven of Pentacles, we experience the pause to assess the readiness for harvest of the fruits of our labors.

The suit of Pentacles (also called Disks or Coins) corresponds with the playing card suit of Diamonds, the cardinal direction of north, and the element of Earth. In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. Like Water, when amassed it has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. Water and Earth bind together to make mud, and a lake is shaped by the Earth that supports it. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change.

The cards of this suit are about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain those physical bodies, including health and exercise. Pentacles cards talk about fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. Pentacles cards can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; they can give information about material manifestations of all kinds. These cards can represent discipline and diligence, and an interest in quality rather than quantity, but they can also indicate the influence of greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to access or be aware of resources.

Astrology is another available tool that can offer further information about our card. The Seven of Pentacles corresponds to Saturn (discipline, responsibility, law and order), when it is in the sign of Taurus (“I have,” sensual, cautious, stubborn).

In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, the leader of the titans, and the founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The planet Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac. In astrology, Saturn is associated with focus, ethics, lofty goals, purpose, career, great achievements, dedication, productiveness, valuable hard lessons learned, balance, and karma (reaping what you have sowed or divine cosmic justice). Saturn can also represent limitations, restrictions, boundaries, and a dose of reality; it is easy to understand this association when we look at the planet and its famous rings. Saturn also represents time, and thus, long-term planning and foresight. The Return of Saturn in the astrological chart is said to mark significant events in a person’s life.

The sun sign of Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is all about reward. Physical pleasures, material goods, and soothing surroundings are all important to a Taurus person; the good life in all its guises is heaven on Earth to those born under this sign. Taurus is a fixed sign, and it represents steady persistence sometimes seen as stubbornness. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, and Bulls are practical and reliable, happy to plod along slowly but surely toward a goal. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, which is why harmony and beauty are so attractive to those born in Taurus. Taurus is a loyal sign as well, and slow to anger, like the element of Earth, Taurus is about strength of body as well as strength of heart.

The planet Saturn shows us where we have limitations to overcome, and the sign of Taurus is related to the Earth and physical manifestation. The energies of Saturn in Taurus challenge us to achieve tangible results in our world, results that are often measured as valid or valuable through the lens of money or material possessions. These Saturn/Taurus energies are about reliability, security, unconditional love, and the ability to hold steadfast to the end of a project. No rushing to a decision here, and once the decision is made, it will most likely hold. Reversing or unbalancing the energies can bring fear, insecurity, possessiveness, an “all or nothing” attitude, an inability to compromise, and an unreasonable attachment to the material world, or to the process at hand. Lots of discipline here, but that can be either a good thing or a not-so-good thing. After all, going down with the sinking ship does not always bring a happy ending.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into the Seven of Wands. All of the Sevens of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the sephira of Netzach (which means “Victory”). Netzach is the seventh sephira, at the bottom of the Pillar of Force (the masculine side of the Tree). When you think about the concept of Victory, you will realize that it tends to bring a bit of inertia into the picture. Often, when we succeed (or think that we have succeeded), we cease focusing on the reason for the conflict and focus instead on maintaining the status quo. Remaining stationary for more than a few moments in a world that always moves forward will create degeneration.

The Tarot of the Sephiroth Seven of Disks shows a tree growing in a cultivated field that is laden with Disks and a shovel stuck into the ground, indicating a successful application of both tools and resources, reaching maturity, and the successful development of a strong foundation. The Gateway to the Divine Tarot Seven of Coins shows a woman with an empty basket standing amid a field of golden wheat and ripe Coins, ready to begin her harvest. This card offers us rewards after hard work, and it also reminds us that this is just the first opportunity to harvest. Right now the rewards might not live up to our expectations, but there is still work to be done and further rewards to receive. The Seven of Disks in the Thoth Tarot is dark and heavy, almost as if degeneration has already begun. Indeed, Crowley describes the card as being “sunk in sloth” because “all Labour has been abandoned.” Crowley sees the Disks in this card as representing bad money; not the kind we want in our pockets.

The Seven of Pentacles is mostly a good card to see, as long as we see its messages in a realistic way. It tells of pauses and choices and assessments, usually after a period of effort within the physical world This process of assessment can be valuable; if we harvest the fruits of our labor before they are ripe, we may not get the most out of those fruits. Yet if we wait too long, the harvest will go bad and we might lose everything.

The Seven of Pentacles card has a heaviness to it that is very apparent when the card is reversed. The number 7 tells of a pause, the planet of Saturn tells of restriction, the sun sign of Taurus is drawn to the pleasure of the senses and presents a tendency to focus on the physical world, and the suit of Pentacles is mainly secure and still. Even under the best of circumstances, the energies of this card don’t want to budge. When reversed, the idea of pausing to assess before determining the next step has gone awry. We should try to remember that while looking before leaping can be good advice, not being willing to step away from pleasurable situations is not good.

The Seven of Pentacles has an interesting way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. When reversed, we might not be satisfied with what we see, and feel overwhelmed to the point of giving up. When upright, the excitement of viewing hard-won progress can urge us to open ourselves to even more opportunities. The choice is ours in the end!

Spiralled Edges

September, 2016

Spiralled Edges: Do Pagans Have Free Will?

Every time I think I have something figured out about myself, my Pagan practice, or the Gods something invariably happens to make me thing – do I still believe that?

Recently, I’ve been considering the idea of Free Will. Philosophers and religious scholars from every religion have been cussing and discussing it for centuries. Free Will or Pre-Destiny? Do we make the choices in our life, or are out paths laid out for us well in advance of our arrival.

Or, is it somewhere between these two extreme ideas?

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Many years ago, I was talking to a friend (Religion and culture: Hindu) about the subject of Free Will and he shared with me something he had been taught by his father.

Free Will can be compared to a goat tethered to the ground. The goat can freely decide where it will walk, and what grass it wants to eat within the radius allowed by the length of the rope tethering it. Free Will in this example is an illusion, existing only within the limits placed upon the goat.

Likewise, as humans, we have an illusion of Free Will within the limits that have been placed upon us.

When they were young, my children liked the independence of being able to choose what they wore each day. I made my life easier, and gave them an illusion of choice, by limiting their choice. Red shirt or blue shirt, blue shorts or brown. How many of the choices that we make as adults are in their own way just as limited?

My own ponderings on this subject have been triggered as I have explored what it means for me to be a priestess of The Cailleach. For years, I have told people that they always have a choice on which God/s they might serve and how, and on what God/s may be their Patron, whether or not they choose to also dedicate themselves to that Deity. Over the years I have had Patron Gods and I have worked with them, but never had I been called to actually serve as a Priestess. Until now.

I will probably still tell others that they always have a choice, but I am beginning to question what illusions there might be between free will, and planned destinations. How much choice did I really have in agreeing to be a priestess of the Cailleach? Or was I presented with limited choices that ultimately would have led me to where I am now, regardless of which choice I had freely made.

How often as we move through life, thinking that we are exercising our own Free Will, do we discover through hindsight wasn’t quite what we thought. Free Will within the limits placed upon us by circumstance, location, and possibly even a Deity or two.

Over the past few months, She has shown me ways in which She has steered me in my decisions in order to bring me to this point in my life. Seemingly unrelated events, like the creating of my staff over 20 years ago and the move to the UK 18 years ago were each tiny links in a chain. How often, I ask myself, have these not-so coincidental occurrences steered me towards who I am today.

How often have each of us lived under an illusion that we were exercising our free will, never realising that we had been limited in the options we were given?

It is only now, looking backwards through time, that I can see the patterns and the points where The Cailleach had touched me, spoken to me, and guided me on my journey. Hers was the whisper in my ear telling me to select the sapling of a particular tree for my staff instead of a branch on another tree. Hers was the urge in my soul to move further east than I had ever anticipated from my Kansas home when I ended up in London instead of moving west to California. She is the one who led me to study the art of Soul Midwifery so that I may one day work with those who are at the end of their life.

I am still working out just what being a priestess of The Cailleach means. One thing she has made clear though, I am the one, with an occasional nudge from Her, who will be doing the working out. With or without Free Will.

Spiralled image created by Nan using WeaveSilk.com

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2016

Mabon 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox always sneaks up on me. It is August 19, and while our tomato and cucumber harvest is going well, I can hardly believe that in a little over a month, we will be harvesting even more, and we’ll be quickly headed to Samhain!

An especially harsh Winter is forecast for this year. I suppose that is the price some of us in Central Ohio will just have to pay for the fact last year’s Winter was quite mild! I was told the insects were heavier this year as a result of the mild Winter- so the shrieking little girl in me hopes next year’s insect population will be less thick!

I say this, covered in chigger bites from my knees to my toes. Every Lughnassadh that I garden finds me covered in bites and unable to sleep until they heal- which takes at least a month. I spend so much time in the garden, refusing to wear shoes, long pants, or DEET, and would rather struggle for a few weeks than cover up. I guess the bugs figure since I am harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers they feel I grew simply for their consumption, they will just eat me instead!

I always review last year’s article before composing this years to ensure they are not similar- you can read last years here-

http://paganpages.org/content/2015/09/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-11/

– and I was reminded that last year was the very first time I gardened from early Spring, all Summer long, and into Autumnal Equinox. I am pleased to say, this year, I did too!

The difference is that somehow, I failed miserably at radishes this time- but learned to grow cucumbers. We have about a dozen vines prolifically producing as I write this, as well as ten tomato plants, and new sprouts of snap peas- a first harvest of which was quite successful. I am pleased to say our blueberry we planted last year produced so beautifully, we bought another to plant beside it.

We are doing so well with veggies this year because of an agreement with a neighbor across the street. For the past three years, she has allowed us to grow things in her unused garden area. The first year, I planted perennial flowers- which did not come back. So, the next year, we planted lots of radishes and shared with her and a couple other neighbors. This year’s success with monstrous amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes came after amending the soil with a lot of compost and manure, diligent watering, and staking and careful managing of the long, flowering veggie vines. This is also the second year we have used mostly seeds as opposed to greenhouse sprouted plants.

As far as seeds go, marigolds can be planted from last year’s withered blooms, the flower heads opened up to get them, and each tiny seed laid about two inches away from the last. The rest of our seeds, we buy in Winter, usually starting in January or February, and they are gleefully planted after weeks of gawking at them in eager anticipation.

Our Own Harvests

Mabon, or time of Second Harvest is a good time to take stock of all you have accomplished and while some use it as time for review and of setting new goals, I see it as more of a time for building on what has already been done.

For example, one of my friends wants to do a full-house purge. He’s a pack rat and is too ashamed to let people into his house to see. I used to joke with him that I believed he had bodies stacked up from his serial killing sprees- until I caught a view of his back patio- in all of it’s cluttered glory- and I caught a glimpse of the disaster his living room is by peering in through his sliding glass door. There was not a body in sight, of course!

But realistically, he has already started his purge- it began in the front yard. He did quite a bit of the gardening WITH me this year. Any further progress is just building upon that. He is a big reason the garden has done so well. His encouragement was wind in my sails many times, and he even bought supplies and did some of the labor as well. He does not realize how much progress he has already made- but in the next couple of days, he will get back from a trip out of town and see the huge sunflowers that opened by his door while he was away- and I am pretty sure that will drive the message home.

Later on in the article, I will provide a working, but in the meantime, I’d like to share some information about an exciting historical landmark that shares the name with this Sabbat.

The Lochmaben Stone and The Once and Future King

The Lochmaben Stone is the one stone that is still visible of a ring of megalithic stones in Scotland- this one stone weighing ten tons just by itself. Local legend states it is from this stone that King hur drew his sword. Belief in the existence of a historical hur in general as well as him drawing a sword from a stone are worth discussing, and holds far more tradition than many modern folk suspect.

Sarmartians, Romans, and Brits, Oh My!

About him in general, it is speculated that many different warlords formed the basis for the legends about him, some of whom were not even British. One was a Sarmartian, and was named Batraz. The Sarmartians were from a confederation of Iranian peoples who dominated and later adapted the language of the Scythians, who gave us the torcs so cherished by the Celts. Like hur, Batraz had a magical sword of power that he had cast into the waters when he died. There was heavy Sarmatian presence in Britain just before hur was said to have lived. Sarmatians also buried their swords in the roots of trees, or stones where they buried their dead- and it is said Batraz pulled his magical sword from the roots of a tree.

The Sarmatians were there under a Roman military leader named Lucious orious Castus, and it is speculated the Sarmatians brought with them their stories of Batraz, which might have contributed to the hur myths. As you may have guessed, it is also speculated Lucious, whose middle named was orious, was the basis for the name hur as well. It is speculated he may have been guarding Hadrian’s Wall, and his career sent him to Judaea, Macedonia, and Italy as well. By the time he reached Great Britain, he was a good 50-60 years old with quite a track record.

As well as being called “The Once and Future King”, hur was viewed as tied to the land. Legend has it when he fell ill, and the Knights were questing for the Holy Grail, all the land fell ill, and the people suffered. This came from Pre-Christian beliefs about divine kingship. The king was responsible for the people. He both blessed and defended them. If he suffered, both the land and the people suffered.

For a lot of modern Neo-Pagans, the Wheel of the year links the land to the life of the god who is born of the goddess at Yule, and develops, and is killed and returned to the earth with harvest. hur’s myths fit right in with this.

Papa Was a Royal Stone

Backtracking to the topic of the stones, both Scotland and Ireland had sacred stones used in coronation of kings. The Lia Fal, or Stone of Destiny which still stands in Ireland, was supposed to emit a shout when he who was meant to be king put his feet on the stone. It has been damaged a few times, once being back in antiquity by being split in anger by Cuchulainn when it did not choose the man he wanted to be king- and it only emitted the cry twice after that- for Conn of the Hundred Battles and Brian Boru. It was also hit with hammers and painted in recent years, but it still stands.

In Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is housed an ancient Stone of Destiny where kings were placed for coronation. Queen Elizabeth the II is the last monarch crowned on the stone. In the 13th century, it was taken by Edward I and transported to Westminster Abbey in Britain. There, it was installed in a seat , used for coronation of British kings. After townsfolk prevented the crown from giving it back to Scotland close to a century later, it is said monks snuck the real stone away, burying it and replacing it with another. Nobody seems to know if this is true or not.

In 1950, it was stolen by some students, and hidden- but after being returned several months later, it was agreed the stone should return to Scotland. In 1996, was taken to Edinburgh Castle to be kept when not used during coronations.

As far as the god whose name the Lochmaben stone contains, nothing is known of what kind of worship of him took place there, but it is known stones held power, and were the places the kings and leaders were crowned or elected.

The Lochmabon Stone itself was used for various purposes after Christianization. It stood as a boundary marker between England and Scotland, and a landmark where people met for doing business. It was recorded that prisoners between Britain and Scotland were exchanged at the stone in the fourteenth century. A Battle where Scotland crushed the invading English occurred in the Fifteenth century, and in the 1800’s a tenant farmer shifted the stones around, trying to find valuables. In the 1995, a re-erection of the stone was had. And although various other stones that comprised the circle are now below ground, the Lochmabon stone still stands today.

It can be argued the idea of divine kingship hur and the rulers chosen at Lia Fal embodied so well was carried over into feudalism with the concept of the god of Abraham selecting the monarchy. That the king or leader was selected by omens or birth is something few neo-Pagans might submit to in this day and age of voting in leaders although Pre-Christian Pagans swore by it.

Mabon and Maponos

What all of this has to do with Mabon itself goes back to the name of the god whose name the stone takes- it is accepted there was at one time some sort of devotions done to the god Mabon- or Maponos at the Lochmabon Stone because simply because the stone is named after him. A god revered by ancient Gauls in France, and later by Celts in the British Isles, little is known about him, save he was believed to be a son of a mother goddess, who we likewise know little about!

Today’s neo-Pagans often have a second harvest celebration and decorate their altars with leaves, and flowers and fruits of the season. Some have a kind of thanksgiving celebration. However, I have never personally met a devotee of the god Maponos, although I am sure they are out there. So for many, this Sabbat has little, if anything to do with the god whose name it bears.

Although we all know that our neo-Pagan celebrations are neo- or new- I always look to see if I can find what was done in the pre-Christian days. I specifically wanted to see what was harvested at second harvest time.

Pass the Bottle and the Bag of Wheat

What I found was that before Prohibition in the US, Ireland was responsible for 90% of the world’s whiskey at the start of the 20th century! Now, Ireland’s whiskey accounts for just 2% of what is consumed and has only seven whiskey breweries. A lot of breweries went out of business due to Prohibition.

Whiskey is made using a yeast distilled mash of cereal grains, which may include any of the following- barley, corn, rye, or wheat. The sources I found indicated Irish whiskey is only made using barley. Barley is harvested in mid-July, and it takes years for the barley whiskey to age before it is ready to be consumed. So the barley harvest is not what would be celebrated Mabon time.

Wheat, however, is harvested in September, and despite the modern dislike of all things glutinous- wheat has been a staple in Europe for centuries. It stores well, and grows very well in Ireland, I discovered. So well, as a matter of fact, it is said Irish wheat growers have a leg up on wheat farmers in other Nations. It is said the weather there is best for the wheat. I found that pre Christian Pagan devotees released bags of flour from the newly harvested batch to the wind as gifts to the gods and in thanks for a successful harvest.

Many neo Pagans celebrate the equinox as a thanksgiving and for saying goodbye to long Summer days. I have never found that a good thing- some of us are tired from Fall through mid Spring- so I admit, Mabon is not a favorite of mine. But a lot of people look forward to the cooling days, and view the coming Winter as time to rest and die back with the earth.

Taking all the things I have read over in the past few days into account, the suggested working this time will include taking stock of our own personal power through the accomplishments of the harvests in each of our lives. Like our once and future king, we are the kings and queens of our own worlds. Our people- loved ones- and land…yards and work lives- reflect how we are doing. If we suffer, they suffer. Likewise, if we thrive, so do they. Some harvest celebrations will find us feeling we have accomplished more than others- but all in all, what we HAVE done is what needs to be celebrated.

Saoirse’s 2016 Mabon Working

Like most of my suggested rites, invite everybody over and have a potluck. Before the ritual begins, set a gorgeous table with all the things that makes you think of Fall Equinox time. Use whatever seasonal decorations you desire- or if you just don’t decorate- line the table with the food only, and that will look plenty festive enough!

I like to use a great free Sabbat decoration come Fall time… LEAVES! I stuff jars and vases full of branches of leaves and scatter leaves from outside EVERYWHERE, even the floor! You can sweep them right out the door and vacuum up any particles left behind. If you think about this, fallen leaves are the perfect symbol of the Sabbat. The trees have produced all they are going to and are now changing colors as they die back, and nothing looks prettier.

Also, if it is affordable, buy a bottle of Irish whiskey to use in this ritual. You can have a little something from the motherland right in your home anywhere on earth for Mabon that way!

To prepare for the ritual, come with a story. It should be a story of some accomplishment of yours- the proudest moment for you this harvest season. For some, it will be they got a new job. For others, it will be figuring out how to fix the plumbing. For others, it will be overcoming the urge to honk at people in traffic- thus defeating your own road rage!

No accomplishment is too small, but let there be a twist in how this is done. Amplify the story to some heroic level. For example- a friend was selected to be the one who chases geese off of her place of businesses property. When she told us about a bloody battle in which she emerged victorious- she started by saying she stealthily inched out the front door with her mighty broom in hand, and looked the largest geese in the bunch in the eye and said “You have slept your LAST peaceful night, goose!” Realistically, all she did was charge at them and scatter them a couple of times until they flew away. Yet to hear her tell it, the battle was a major military excursion, and will go down in the annals of history as the time the Great Anna defeated the Gang of the Filthy Tailfeathers.

In our culture, we are encouraged to tear ourselves down, hate our bodies, downplay our accomplishments, and then everybody wonders why our self-esteem is so low and depression levels are so high in this country! At this Sabbat, we are going to reverse this, at least for our dinner. I suggest a Mabon Bragfest Dinner where everybody takes a turn bragging about some major accomplishment before the food is blessed and everybody feasts.

I highly suggest beginning by first blessing and opening the bottle of whiskey, giving some as offering to the gods, and then passing it from person to person and having everybody take a sip to get nice and warm.

Next, begin the storytelling. Each person will first pour a bit out to the gods, as the gods come first, then take a sip themselves, tell their story of esteem, and pass the bottle to the next person. If your party does not want to drink alcohol, grab some amazing sparkling juice or fresh cider. Remember that you can always give the gods the whiskey, even if you prefer non-alcoholic beverages yourself.

While I understand modern people cannot do all just as the ancients did, these ARE still ancient gods. Many are used to getting whole herds of animals or even human being sacrificed to them as well as caches of bronze, gold, silver, and whatnot. To just give this god a little sip of apple cider or juice or milk or something seems like little effort, and is a far cry from what they are used to. Give em’ the whiskey!

Make sure that after each person has told their story of mighty accomplishment, everybody cheers and claps riotously- the whiskey should help with this. Not only are we tooting our own horn, but we are encouraging and tooting each other’s horns!

To bless the food, once everybody has spoken, join hands, or do a group hug in a circle around the table and say something like,

Lady and Lord, we thank you for this second harvest and for all of the beautiful things we have brought into our lives. Accept the offerings of all good things we have done, and all good things we plan to do and build up our strengths, and let us build one another up.

We have enjoyed another harvest together, and a third is yet to come as the days shorten, and the nights cool and lengthen. Thank you for all we have been blessed with, and for all the blessings we have bestowed upon one another. We are the sons and daughters of the gods of the Old Ways. Let us never hunger. Let us never thirst, and let us never wither or weaken before our time to join our brethren in the Summerlands comes. So Mote it Be.”

Then feast and have wonderful fellowship.

Blessed Mabon.

Blessed Be.

Mabon Correspondences

September, 2016

MAY-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon or MAH-bawn, – Lesser Sabbat

Fall/Autumn Equinox, September 21-23

Michaelmas (September 25th, Christian), Second Harvest Festival, Witches’ Thanksgiving, Harvest Home (Anglo-Celtic), Feast of Avalon, Wine Harvest, Festival of Dionysus, Cornucopia, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Chung Chiu (China), Night of the Hunter, Alban Elfed “The Light of the Water”(Caledonii/ Druidic-celebrates Lord of the Mysteries), Winter Finding (Teutonic, from Equinox ’til Winter Night or Nordic New Year, Oct 15th.)

Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life. May your Mabon be memorable, and your hearts and spirits be filled to overflowing!

Purpose: Second harvest festival, new wine pressing/making preparation for winter and Samhain, rest after labor, Pagan day of Thanksgiving, honoring the spirit world, celebration of wine.

Dynamics/Meaning: death of the God, assumption of the Crone, balance of light and dark; increase of darkness, grape harvest, completion of the harvest.

Essence: Beauty, joy; fullness of life, harvest of the year’s desires, strength; laughter; power; prosperity, equality, balance, appreciation, harvest, protection, wealth, security, self-confidence, reincarnation.

Symbolism of Mabon: Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance.

Symbols of Mabon: wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.

Tools, Symbols & Decorations: Indian corn, red fruits, autumn flowers, red poppies, hazelnuts, garlands, grains especially wheat stalks, and colorful, fallen leaves, acorns, pine & cypress cones, oak sprigs, pomegranate, statue/or figure to represent the Mother Goddess, mabon wreath, vine, grapes, gourd, cornucopia/horns of plenty, burial cairns, apples, marigolds, harvested crops, burial cairns, rattles, the Mysteries, sun wheel, all harvest symbols.

Herbs & Plants: Acorn, aster, benzoin, cedar, ferns, grains, hazel, honeysuckle, hops, ivy, marigold, milkweed, mums, myrrh, oak leaf, passionflower, pine, rose, sage, solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables.

Foods of Mabon: Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, cornbread, wheat products, grains, berries, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, sasssafras, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale, & cider.

Incense & Oils of Mabon: Pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss, & sage.

Colors/Candles of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, deep gold, green, orange, scarlet, all autumn colors, purple, blue, violet, & indigo.

Stones of Mabon: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, yellow agates, carnelian, yellow topaz, & amethyst.

Customs: Offerings to land, preparing for cold weather, bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands (Druidic), eating seasonal fruit, leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walk wild places & forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine,picking ripe produce, stalk bundling; fishing,. on the closest full moon (Harvest Moon) harvesting corps by moonlight.

Activities of Mabon: Making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, adorning burial sites with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have passed over.

Spellworkings and Rituals of Mabon: Protection, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance. Celtic Festival of the Vine, prosperity rituals, introspection, rituals which enact the elderly aspects of both Goddess & God, past life recall.

Animals/Mythical beings: Dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, eagle, birds of prey, salmon & goat, Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaur, Cyclops, Andamans and Gulons.

Goddesses: Modron (Welsh), Bona Dea, Land Mother, Aging & Harvest Dieties: the Triple Goddess-Mother aspect, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan (Welsh- Cornish), Snake Woman (aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona (roman), the Muses (greek)

Gods: Mabon ap Modron (Welsh), Sky Father, The Green Man, Wine Gods, Aging Gods, John Barley Corn , the Wicker-Man, the Corn Man, Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei (Japanese), Thor, Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek) & all wine Deities

Element: Water ‘

Threshold: Evening

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

September, 2016

 

Mabon Kitchen Magic

Merry meet.

You have to eat something, so why not make it magical to celebrate the second harvest? It could be a dessert, something for cakes and ale, dinner or a feast. Making it yourself makes it thrifty, and allows you to infuse it with your intentions.

Whatever the food is for, apples are a Mabon staple in any form: applesauce, apple butter, baked apple chips, baked apples with caramel sauce, apple cake, apple and acorn or butternut squash soup, apple muffins, apple pie, apple pound cake, apple fritters, applesauce cake, apple crisp, apple cider doughnuts, apple cobbler or Waldorf salad.

Where I live, the last of the summer squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are harvested, making ratatouille another good Mabon food.

Wild mushrooms are generally plentiful in September. Beans, beets and corn are also in season in many places. Pomegranates – which are part of the Persephone story – make for another Mabon food.

The winter squashes such as butternut and acorn are traditional this time of year, and lend themselves to roasting, stuffing, mashing and baking. They are good for making soups and casseroles, too. Pie pumpkins can be used in the same recipes, in addition to making pies, of course.

I found a paleo pumpkin pancake recipe by Paleo Grubs that I’m going to try at our Mabon retreat this year.

It calls for combining 1/2 cup well-drained pureed pumpkin, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons almond flour and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The caramel sauce that goes with it is made by boiling 1/8 cup coconut milk, 1 1/2 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon coconut oil until it thickens, then adding 1/2 tablespoon chopped walnuts and mixing well.

I found another recipe I plan to make at  wickedspatula.com. Its DIY Autumn herbal Tea Blend could just be the best of the season in a mug. The recipe calls for 1 part each of chicory, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns and star anise; 2 parts ginger and 3 parts crushed cinnamon. Store in an airtight glass container. Use 2 teaspoons per cup of water. Steep for 5 minutes.

Although Mabon is considered the witch’s Thanksgiving, the one food that is difficult to secure – at least in my neck of the woods – is cranberries. The fresh ones don’t start showing up in grocery stores until sometime toward the end of October. I learned to buy two bags at the end of the holiday season in January and freeze them in case I want them.

To bless your Mabon food, “A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book,” by Ceisiwr Serith offers this simple sentence, “I offer to the gods [or goddess] of the dark season this fruit of the light.”

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

September, 2016

Creating your own Pantheon

Witchcraft

Merry meet.

The Greeks, Romans, Celts, Norse, Egyptians, Mayans and other ancient civilizations had a plethora of deities that helped with a host of specific conditions related to daily life. There were gods of war, fire and the sea, and goddesses of agriculture, wisdom and the hunt.

While most religions now demand worship of only one god, it remains customary for pagans to pick and choose among the many pantheons. This column suggests a third option – to create your own gods and goddesses.

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In 2005, I participated in a goddess swap that broadened my horizons when I realized that in addition to existing deities, I could make up new ones. Participants produced goddesses that filled a need. There was the Goddess of Bad Hair Days, Goddess of World Peace and Goddess of the Sacred Fire Within. ists created trading cards depicting goddesses for children, day dreams, the shadow moon and sex. I made the Goddess of Lost Items and the Goddess of Laughter.

The exercise helped me realize that given our own divine nature, we are free to craft deities and let them lend their energy to spells and rituals. While those in this column are represented on paper, you could also make them from clay, fabric, wood or any of a number of representative objects such as a garden statue, a Barbie doll dressed in ritual garb or a butter fly used to depict the Goddess of Transformation.

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As the need arises to seek assistance, be creative.

For instance, if you seek help with communication, financial gain, commerce or travel, you could call on the Roman god Mercury or his Greek equivalent, Hermes, or you could give birth to Zetta.

Few people build shrines, makes offerings or holds festivals to honor Mercury or Hermes these days, but we do have something of a modern equivalent: the Apple Stores, built by Steve Jobs. They are places of commerce to which people travel to worship communication devices, all of which have large amounts of digital information measured in bytes. First it was kilo-, then mega- and giga-; now were up to counting terabytes. It wont be long before we reach zettabytes, so I think Zetta would be a wonderful name for the Goddess of Technology. She would be someone you could pray to when your phone gets wet, your computer spontaneously switches to the blue screen of death or your tablet wont stay charged. When prayed to daily, this goddess also remembers login information.

I dont know if the Babylonians or the Incas had need of a central nervous system stimulant, but its clear our civilization does, to the point people are physically dependent on caffeine. You cant drive two miles in most directions without being able to get coffee at a drive-through window. One of these places has even adopted the Goddess Caffeina as its logo. You see her on every cup, wearing a crown topped with a star. Known to some as Our Lady of Latte, she imparts energy to the tired and clarity to the fog-brained.

I think we need a goddess of weight loss. A deity with the power to negate the calories in chocolate, transform a craving for potato chips into a desire for broccoli and make your favorite pair of jeans still fit. Someone like Calorieena, a gluten-free, bacon-loving Paleo Warrior. Organic vegetables, wild berries and clothing that is now too big would be offerings left on the altar of this guardian of releasing that which weighed us down.

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I often need a Goddess to Find Lost Items. I call her Findderina. She knows the location of every missing object even before you know its lost, and then she produces it right before your eyes with the polite but urgent prompt, Show me (whatever it is youre looking for)” repeated until you have it back, or “By the power of three times three, let me see, let me see.” You can also call to Findderina with the words, “By the power of three, bring (whatever it is) to me. As I will, so mote it be.

I dont know about you, but I often need help remembering a word. That word. The word that if I manage to get out of my brain, gets stuck on the tip of my tongue. The one hovering on the edge of my consciousness, mocking me. That word. A goddess who could produce that word might be called Thesauri, and she would be most revered by the older and wiser among us.

I know I also need help dealing with the opinions of many I encounter on social media during political campaigns. I find myself resorting to sarcasm, which is not particularly helpful, even when done with humor. Now, if there was a god who could intervene in such instances, the world might be a better place. The Great Sarcasmo, perhaps? Or, maybe Sarcasi?

Since Christopher was dethroned as the patron saint of travelers, we have needed someone to sit on our dashboards and watch over us. Someone who could get us where we wanted to go. A deity with maps and coordinates and the ability to recalculate. I think such a god might be called Geepeaesse. Hed be a god with contact information and live traffic reports. Hes have the ability to turn red lights green, keep tires from deflating and gas tanks from running dry.

Geepeaesses twin is Rodezen, the God of Tranquil Travel. He is the one I find myself needing to call on every time a driver pulls an idiot move anywhere near me.

There are glamour spells, so it seems theres no reason we cant have a Glamour Goddess that can insure the last two articles of clean clothing suitable for the office coordinate. She can gloss over the look your face gets when you havent had enough sleep in three nights and tame even the worst bad hair day.

I’ve needed deities to bring rain during this hot, dry summer and to help me move past fear. I hope you’ll use the comment section to share the gods and goddesses you plan for your pantheon.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

MagickalArts

September, 2016

This month the Magickals has an offering of flash fiction. Enjoy!

Tessie’s Gift

magickalarts

Tessie was a sprite. Not just any sprite, mind you but one who could craft the most pleasant of magicks. Her magick was one of bestowing gifts to those who would otherwise remain in need and despair. She was able to command all of the elements; something quite unusual as all of the other sprites were only able to weave their magick with one. Her favorite magick was gently coaxing the winds to do her bidding and she loved watching a golden haired child named Sasha dancing with the gentle breezes Tessie created in the fields.

 

Sasha was a gentle and sweet child whose life was filled with sorrow and pain. Her parents had never wanted her; a fact they made known to her every day. She was scolded for being too quiet and beaten for making too much noise. She ate what was left of the scraps that had been fed first to the cows and pigs as their selling and butchering was the source of the parent’s livelihood.  Even Sasha’s clothing was made from the remnants of old burlap feed bags.

 

Despite the hardships and unloving home Sasha was grateful for what was given to her and snuggled in closely each night, stroking and speaking softly to the animals whose home she shared. Her most treasured companion was a pig named Piper. She told Piper all of her secrets and he grunted happily as she sang him to sleep each night. It had been Tessie who had long ago whispered into Piper’s ear and told him to look after Sasha because she needed to be loved more than anything.

 

One cold morning, Sasha awoke to see Piper being taken off to the slaughterhouse. She begged her Mother and pleaded with her Father, tears streaming down her face and body shivering from the cold. Both pushed her aside and told her she would have no supper that evening for creating such a fuss. Her heart had been broken.   

 

That night Tessie stole into the pens and found Sasha sobbing and sitting alone in the space where her beloved Piper had been. Tessie called out to Sasha and the sobbing momentarily stopped as Sasha looked around. Tessie breathed out a gentle burst of air stirring the dirt up towards Sasha’s tear streaked face and Sasha’s eyes widened in seeing this tiny sprite.  She lowered her head for a closer look and smiled returning Tessie’s loving gaze.

 

Tessie told Sasha that she had been watching her for some time and that such a sweet and gentle child should have a loving home and parents. Sasha said that it was not so bad and that her parents tried as best they could. Tessie told Sasha that she knew of a family that would love and cherish her and as a gift for her kindness, the guardian of the dancing winds would take her to a new home. Sasha’s eyes lit up in excitement and she told Tessie that she would gladly go because this would make it so much easier for her real parents if she were not always underfoot.

 

And, so that night it was agreed that the sprite who could craft the most pleasant of magicks would take Sasha to the loving home she deserved. Tessie told Sasha to lay down and placed an enchanted flower in her hand. Sasha yawned and fell into a heavy and deep sleep.

 

Tessie called to the guardians of the winds and bid them come to her. The air thickened and a gentle woosh of wind spiraled around Tessie. She whispered into the very center of the wind and watched as the sleeping Sasha was gently lifted upwards. Tessie spoke softly to the winds and with each word Sasha was lifted higher, still soundly sleeping and gently cradled in a pocket of airy bedding.

 

The next morning, Sasha stretched and yawned opening sleep filled eyes.  The bedding underneath was soft and smelled of freshly washed linen. Light streamed in through sparkling clean windows lighting up a lavender painted room. She sat up, looking around in disbelief and her eye was drawn to the single periwinkle colored Forget-Me-Not on the pillow next to her. Carefully, she picked it up and vowed that she would never forget Tessie and her gift.  She brought the flower up to her nose and gently inhaled its sweetness as the sound of a loving voice called her downstairs for breakfast. And, what of Tessie? Her story is just beginning.

The Kitchen Witch

September, 2016

 

Cooking in a Small Area

 

I just moved into a new apartment. I am not quite where I want to be, nor is the apartment what I really wanted. But it’s okay for now. I like the city in which I am living – Lowell, Massachusetts – which has a lot of beautiful old buildings and historic places to explore and photograph. I eventually want to find a place nearer to the ocean.

My main problem with this place is the kitchen – or the lack of a kitchen.

kitchen1

The “Kitchen”

There are so few cupboards that I didn’t even unpack most of my dishes. And I have my baking supplies – my flour, sugars, sodas and salts – in a Coleman cooler – while my herbs and spices and decorating sugars are in two Tidy Cat containers!

kitchen2

Where I keep my baking supplies & herbs & spices.

I accidentally left my beautiful wood cutting boards back in Buffalo, so I am now using a small plastic apple-shaped one that was previously just a decoration. But I wouldn’t have room for them on these tiny counters anyway! I honestly don’t think this kitchen is meant for cooking in at all. It’s meant for reheating take-out and perhaps making a quick cup of coffee in the morning. I live right downtown so there’s any number of restaurants to choose from for eating out every night of the week, if your wallet can handle that. But – mine can’t!

So I do have to cook. Because I can’t afford to eat out more than a few times a month and I love cooking! And I love to bake. Even without anyone in my own household to bake for, I will bake. I’ll take cookies down to the rental office and give them to the office personal – I have worked in plenty of offices and I know that cookies are always welcome (and cursed!).

So for the next year – since I signed a lease – The Kitchen Witch will be exploring ways to cook in a tiny space – with no counter space – with just a few tools – being as efficient as possible. Preparation will be the key.

This month’s recipe is a re-imagining of the classic Toll House cookie. Instead of using chocolate chips, I used peanut M & M’s. Before adding them, I cut a tiny hole in the bag and crushed them up. You can use a rolling pin for this but if you have kids helping you out in the kitchen, I suggest getting a small hammer and letting them hit the bag with the hammer. It’s a lot of fun for them – what kid doesn’t like to smash things with a hammer? I admit – I used my hammer too!

The key to cooking in a small place is having everything out and ready before you start. For me, that means clearing off my desk because that’s the only place I have to work.

kitchen3

Candy Cookies

Sift together: 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Cream together: 1 cup (2 sticks) very soft butter

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

Beat: 2 eggs & add to creamed mixture

Add: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add: flour mixture

Add: crushed peanut M&M’s

Drop walnut-sized balls onto a greased baking sheet & bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

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These are addictively good!! I took a plate down to the ladies in the rental office and was told I could bring them cookies anytime I want.

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Which

is a very good thing.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

September, 2016

 

Book Review:“The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes

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Merry meet.

Some books stand the test of time and I find myself returning to them time and time again. “The Big Book of Practical Spells” is one of those books, in part because it’s in its third incarnation. In 2001, it was published as “Earth Mother Magic” and again in 2007 as “Pure Magic.” It was Judika Illes’ first published book.

Into it, she poured all her working knowledge of magic, making it a comprehensive reference book for those new to the path as well as for those with experience. The first part covers working with the earth, a glossary of magical vocabulary, a primer on the elements, supplies and more. Part Two discusses magic allies such as animal totems, ancestors, crystals, botanicals, altars and dreams. The last section has spells for 16 different situations including protection, psychic enhancement, fertility, money and healing.

The book serves as a basic reference with solid, accurate, practical information, making magic accessible to everyone.

It has been around longer than I’ve consciously been a witch, and I’ve referred to it along the way. Like many others, I learned much of what I know about paganism and witchcraft through books. Starting out, their quality is especially important because you have no other frame of reference. I appreciated the introduction this book gave to many aspects of magic. It was also important to me to learn early on that there was no one right way to practice magic, and that its most important elements were the desire and focused energy I brought to it.

Illes explains that magic in its purest form is a dialogue between you and the earth. “Magic is your birthright,” she states. Then she offers straightforward, easy steps to working with energies and magical allies.

Can’t decide which psychic enhancement spell or which luck spell is most suited or most powerful? Illes’ sound advice, given in the introduction to the section on spells is, “Read through them and see which ones call to you.”

Looking through the latest book, published in June 2106, I found it still had things to teach me. For instance, I did not know that copper is a purely positive metal, that it’s sacred in some cultures, or that it stimulates romance and healing.

On Amazon, Illes’ page reads, “When I was six, my older sister brought home a deck of tarot cards. I took one look at them and fell in love. Around the same time, I heard (and loved) the Rolling Stones’ version of Benny Spellman’s song, ‘Fortune Teller.’ Either or both of those experiences may have been what started my career. I have been a student of metaphysics and the magical arts ever since.”

The Big Book of Practical Spells” is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her other books include, “Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells,” “Encyclopedia of Spirits,” “Encyclopedia of Witch Craft,” “The Fantastic and Forgotten,” and “Magic When You Need It.”

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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