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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

August 1st, 2018

August 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

It has been unusually hot this year, and me, the cats, and my husband are melting! We are thankful for our air conditioner, and we venture out early in the morning or later at night.

The dog is not thrilled, as she likes longer walks, and is immune to extreme weather.

Maybe I will come back as a dog in the next life!

The garden, however, is absolutely thriving. The new rose I planted has tiny red sprouts on it, the cherry tomato is producing abundantly, the marigolds are showing their golden manes proudly, and the zinnias, dear gods, the zinnias are the stars of the garden!

The Wheel of the Year is quickly moving towards first harvest. Already, the days are noticeably shorter, and we are even having a few cool nights. Blackberries, mint, and lavender have already been harvested here, and my cat has diligently been munching on the poor nasturtiums!

First Harvest

Depending on your tradition, you may celebrate Lammas or Lughnassadh. Both celebrate harvests, and celebrate harvest of different things.

In years past, I have written in detail about these ancient harvest celebrations, but this year I am going to focus on a different aspect of the blessings of the Sabbat-respect, and balance.

As we celebrate the things we have begun, and give thanks for the beginnings of what we reap from these sowings, we respectfully acknowledge we did not do it all on our own.

At times, the gods, the spirits, and the ancestors helped, and we give the credit that is due to them. In our rituals, we partake of the powers of these spirits, and also of the land where we draw resources to provide what we need to meet our goals.

In North America, many of us are immigrants from other Nations, and we touch the earth that has been sacred to countless generations of tribal people we do not share genetics with. As Pagans, and magical workers, we pick up on the power of the sacred spaces, and communicate with the spirits, and work with the existing energies.

On one hand, it is very American for non-indigenous people to be fascinated with the indigenous, and have romanticized ideas of their splendor, as if they are a mythical race of beauties. On the other hand, we are still actively benefiting from the forced assimilation, and the Reservation system that keeps indigenous people in poverty today. We do not MEAN such harm, but it is happening.

Then, many in our communities cherry pick what they consider Native American spiritual practices, take Indian names, and declare themselves Indians when they have no proof of ancestry, have had zero exposure to, or participation in Native American communities, and even go so far as to ordain themselves leaders in modern “Native American” groups, and assume they can become instant Indians.

This is called cultural misappropriation, and it is one topic I will pick up later in the article.

Rejuvenation

Healing, and prayers for good health are also part of harvest celebrations. In days past, prayers for enough food were constant, as that was how to ensure survival. Prayers to keep pests off crops, and to keep crops and animals producing were included. Now, we pray for good jobs so we can hit the stores to buy what we need instead of growing our own.

Prayers for good health could be translated as prayers to hold off aging and death- one word for this is rejuvenation.

One of the daily ways we rejuvenate the body is by eating. It is very true that we are what we eat. Food is the first source of medicine for the body, and it either adds or detracts years from our lives.

Pharmaceuticals also can be used to heal the body. We have become more and more aware of the fact that doctors and companies are for-profit, and the side effects from drugs aggressively marketed to the public can cause more harm than good. Furthermore, as we are human beings, and not gods, we are imperfect, and doctors sometimes make mistakes. It is no wonder than many seek out alternative medicine, and mind over matter techniques in hopes the body can heal itself.

Members of our Pagan and New Age communities understand all too well what the medical world refers to as “the placebo affect”. We understand the power of faith to heal. Some even go so far as to believe that if they break their neck, they don’t need to see a doctor, and that all they need to do is order their body to repair itself. We have seen a plethora of news stories where very conservative Xtian parents went to jail for allowing their child to die out of belief medicine is sinful, and their god would heal them if only their faith was strong enough. While we laugh or shake our heads, condemning these Xtians for this, we have plenty of people within our own communities guilty of this same mindset. Many of us fail to see this.

Balance

I cannot tell you how many people have asked me to do a tarot reading to diagnose illness, and I flat out refuse. I am of the mind that prayers, faith, meditation, proper diet and exercise are good for the body, but they do not replace medical intervention when it is necessary. All these things work together, and must be balanced for our health and wellbeing.

As a Wiccan, one of the Tenets I follow is the Tennent of The Balanced Life.

This tenet was written about by the illustrious Sybil Leek in her publication The Complete Art of Witchcraft from 1971. If you do not own a copy of this book, you should run right out and get it. I am 75% finished with it, and I am so glad I am reading it. In her chapter “Leading a Balanced Life”, Leek writes how mental, spiritual, and physical well-being are linked. She wrote of the insane pace of life in modern times, and the push to do more, faster, and better, and how it takes a toll on human beings. This impossibly unhealthy lifestyle exhausts, and stresses human beings to the point of physical ailments. Finding peace within oneself in this hectic lifestyle is very crucial. Work leisure, and rest have to be balanced, or the body is thrown off, and gets sick.

One thing I will add to that, is many folk do not touch the earth. Many live in concrete boxes, and operate in asphalt jungles. Going into nature is considered “getting away from things”, or a vacation. Nature should surround us daily. Science has proven that when you touch the earth, it lowers blood pressure, and walks in the woods clear the lungs of the polluted air from cars and smog. Trees eat the carbon dioxide cars and factories emit. The earth breaks down bodies that are decomposing, and uses them to grow plants. The body benefits from fruits and veggies, and some people (not me), swear they feel better consuming only a plant-based diet.

What I am saying is, one of the ills that plagues modern man, and unbalances us is the disconnection we have from the earth.

One of the memes that makes me very angry is the one that shows a photo of a bottle of pills, and says “This is poison” and shows a photo of a nature trail, and says “This is medicine.”

This shows complete lack of compassion for people who need pharmaceuticals, and also shows the individual who has this belief has never experienced a serious illness.

Medical intervention is required for the human body, but is not a substitute for a balanced life. In the same way, the human body, even if balanced, sometimes needs the help of pharmaceuticals to heal, and rejuvenate itself. Leading a Balanced Life allows us to accept the human body is not an entity that can completely restructure itself. Without proper amounts of water, food, medicine, sunlight, exercise, love, industriousness, rest, or oxygen, the body will die. Combining these things perfectly is key, and neglecting any of them, and doing MORE of one other thing fixes nothing.

The One That Got Away

Recently, I was asked to review a film, and I flat out refused to, because it asserted their psychic counselors and meditation coaches completely replaced medical care. This is a dangerous, and unethical claim. These people do not accept medical insurance, and all counseling sessions and classes have to be paid out of pocket. One hour sessions range from $150-$250 each person. A lot of people simply cannot afford that.

To be fair, some attend groups like this because it makes them happy, which reduces stress, and improves immune functioning. This is healing.

However, if you are having a heart attack, don’t just schedule a meditation appointment. You need a doctor.

If you have a contagious infection which is airbourne, and that can kill people, don’t put up a shield to “protect” people. Stay away from people while you are contagious, and take your medication.

Just because you are unaware of something does not mean it does not exist.

Balance of mental tranquility with taking proper care of the human body’s needs must be maintained, or you aren’t healthy.

Now, you do not HAVE to be healthy. I could stand to lose more than a few pounds, myself, so I am not condemning anybody whose health is not perfect. But to be ignorant, and spread that ignorance to gain customers, and endanger their health, by pulling them away from the medical care they need causes so much harm. It is beyond unethical, and I flat out refused to promote the film. I can’t even remember what it is called at this point.

Calling All Earthlings

Having spoken of these things, I was asked to review another film, and I decided to, although I disliked this film greatly. This is a necessary film for those of us in Pagan and New Age communities, as well as those who seek out alternative medicine, because it demonstrates how gullible we truly are when we allow our fantasies to get the better of us.

 

Movie Trailer

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ya_2R-eEI[/embedyt]

 

It is a Carpe Stella Production, and here is the website for the film.

http://www.callingallearthlingsmovie.com/

It was cast as a documentary by director Jonathan Berman, and I appreciate the fact nothing is held back. It touches on the topics of government conspiracy, aliens, the system vs. the individual citizen, cultural misappropriation, modern spirituality, and the spectacular natural scenery will make you want to jump in the car and head out for a road trip in the Mojave Desert.

It is shown how one man’s claim that an alien, who he said was over 700 years old taught him rejuvenation techniques for the body, were so well received that the site is still in use today, many years after his death.

Today, you can visit the site, and the team who operate there will book your event, and you can pay $100 plus per person to have a sound bath therapy, which is lying comfortably and enjoying a nice concert of various singing bowls being played. The building is called the Integretron, and the acoustics in the place are awesome. If you can’t make the trip or afford the fee, you can purchase a CD for $15 plus shipping and handling fees.

Various individuals claiming UFO sightings and encounters are also interviewed.

A grandiose story is presented by some of George Van Tassel’s friends and followers of his valiant attempts to create a sanctuary of healing, as ascribed by said alien. They also allege that his attempts to generate wireless electricity were thwarted by the government, and it is suggested the government killed him in the process.

A couple of professors speaking of history and social patterns of alien enthusiasts are interviewed as well, so it’s not like the documentary is 100% one sided. We get to hear from people who say it’s complete balderdash, although almost every speaker is very convinced it’s all true.

The longer we exist, the larger we find out the universe actually is, and we discover more galaxies we previously had not known about. It’s clear we are not the only lifeforms in the solar systems. However, the probability of an alien appearing only to a few select “chosen few” is highly unlikely, and it is asserted in the film by a couple of “Futurists” that aliens appear only to a select few because humanity is not ready yet for contact.

It is also to be noted the site the Integratron is near, Giant Rock, is close by Fort Irwin National Training Center which is a major training facility for the US military. Yes, they have air craft, and it is said they do experiments with new technology there. I wonder how many so-called UFO sightings were actually people observing military aircraft, and exercises? How much of it was actually illusions caused by the crippling desert heat? How much of this is belief creating illusions, and makes some ascribe mundane things to fantastical occurrences?

The thing that stood out to me most of all was how many people kept insisting Giant Rock is positioned on a vortex of great power, and the ancient Native Americans held the place very sacred.

An elder and tribal historian of the Morongo Indians, Ernest Siva, was interviewed for a very short time, disappointingly short- after all- this is supposedly an ancient sacred indigenous site. I strongly feel that he, and other indigenous people, as opposed to New Age business people, and alien enthusiasts should have been given more importance in this. As my hearing is not great, and the website that had the link I reviewed has no subtitles, I was unable to hear much of what he said. He spoke of a tribal story that his people came from another place. I was not sure where the filmmakers were going with that.

I decided to reach out to Mr. Siva, and see what I could learn from him. After a few e-mails, communication completely stopped before deadline, and I was unable to complete the interview.

Cultural Misappropriation Versus Cultural Exchange

One huge issue in our Pagan and New Age communities is misappropriation of Native American culture. How many groups, shops, or New Age or Pagan businesses have we all visited where non Native Americans are selling services based on what was sacred to ancient Native Americans?

I wonder how indigenous people feel about the fact the Reservation system both physically removed indigenous people from their sacred spaces, but also assimilated them into a completely different religion that does not hold such things scared.

Generations of their families journeyed to places like Giant Rock for sacred observances, and very distinctive ways of communicating with the spirits and divinities there were developed over long periods of time. The spirits and divinities got used to that communication at places like Giant Rock, and when places of commerce for the conquerors moves in and takes over, this communication ceases. As noted before, some people are still awake and aware of the voices of those spirits, however, we do not belong to the cultures of people who venerated them, and while we may benefit an adrenaline rush from communication, our methods and intentions are not always respectful.

One individual interviewed for the documentary turned out to be a “medicine woman” who is a blonde haired, blue eyed individual, so I did a bit of research. While I have met plenty of tribal people who are not dark skinned, or are not 100% this or that tribe, I am always suspicious of a very bohemian behaving New Agey white person who claims they are some form of shaman or medicine person. Most especially when I see all their followers are paying clients, and/or their website lists no tribal affiliations, and they list fees for services. It’s not tribal medicine, it’s a business.

She calls herself Valerie Brightheart, and she, like any clergy person facilitates weddings, but also something called snuggle parties.

While I do not know if it was Valerie and her business shown in this video clip from An Idiot Abroad, you can watch it as an example of cuddle/snuggle parties. I have no knowledge of this being a Native American practice.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCf4UlZ22p4[/embedyt]

Valerie’s church is the Oklevueha Native American Church of Soncco Wasi Home of the Heart. To be a member, all you have to do is fill out and send them a form, pay the fee, and you too can belong to this church. You have to commit to use only Native American medicines like Marijuana, peyote, and ayahuasca. I don’t know if that means onsite, or in general. You can pay a $200 lifetime membership fee if you are not Native American. If you are actually Native American, your lifetime fee is $30. If you are a Veteran and are Native American, your lifetime fee is a mere $20.

One thing I will point out is the people practicing on these so-called sacred Native American spaces are non-Native Americans. That is okay in many instances, because tribe does not necessarily go by just birth and race. People marry into tribes, and very few people today can boast 100% ancestry to one single race. Even within Native American families who claim to be all one tribe, over time, tribes have combined, and different families had babies together. So, to assert you can only have a certain DNA to be tribal is ludicrous. The issue is the fascination many non-tribal people have with actual tribal people, and the desire to play Indian for fun outside of the childhood playground is highly disrespectful.

To further make money by impersonating an Indian, or to move into a sacred space using it for income, and drum up public interest because “It was sacred to ancient Indians” is unethical.

Communication with Other People’s Ancestors

On one hand, who owns the ancient power places? Who owns the spirits, and who has the right to speak with them, and tell people what they say back? Does race and ancestry decide that, or do the spirits just want their voices heard, and connection with the living, even if it is not their own descendants?

A Heathen man I once spoke to was perplexed by the idea of churches and sanctuaries. “All the earth is sacred”, he told me. There is great truth in this. But has Giant Rock, and the Integratron become a place that is being poached by white business owners, and like the Black Hills, has it been taken from the indigenous who ought to have it back immediately?

The filmmakers don’t seem to think so. They cast this as a sacred place of healing, where you may contact with other lifeforms, as a place of love, healing, peace, and a place that is greatly misunderstood by the mainstream.

This film is very important for those in the Pagan and New Age communities to watch to remind us that magic is not supernatural, but natural. It harmonizes with the laws of the Universe, science being one reality. We cannot fly on brooms. We cannot turn into cats. We cannot live forever.

We can, however, fly in airplanes, have pet cats, or dress up as a cat in a costume, and we can improve our health, and increase our life expectancy by living a balanced life.

My Neighbors

I am blessed to live next door to some good earth loving folks. It’s a mother and father, and two adorable boys. The mother and her mom are Shawnee. I was able to reach out to them and discuss topics this film raised.

The mother’s mother, Kossia said Native American practices developed in distinctive ways, and it is necessary to use them properly if you want them to work. My Priest has said this same thing many times.

Her daughter, Speaks with Trees, said her concern is not so much that somebody who is not racially Native American sells things used in Native American practices. She said sometimes it is actually easier to go through non-Native business owners to get the herbs and stones she needs to practice. The issue is the fact that Native American people are struggling to have decent places to be together. Many Reservations are not ideal.

On Reservations, households are significantly more likely to have no electricity, no running water, improper sewage removal, incomplete kitchens, and no phones. The public high school graduation rate for Native Americans is lower than any other racial group in the US. The suicide rate of Native American youths is higher than for any other racial group in the US. The unemployment rates are higher. This is devastating poverty.

Speaks with Trees said an issue is that Native American people, who have been forced off land, are struggling to even survive. She said, “If you steal something from somebody, do you give it back? If you harm somebody, and it causes harm to generations of their family, how do you rectify that?”

The Dakota Pipeline is just one sign it’s not being rectified.

Kossia pointed out that intent matters. There are a lot of sacred places where Native Americans don’t have the capacity to use as such anymore. HOW you use the site, and WHY you are there matters.

She also pointed out that there are over 500 distinct Native American groups known, and that does not even include the groups who were not identified by whoever identified the other 500 some. This reminds us that when discussing “Native American spirituality”, the differences are so diverse, we cannot in any way lump them all into one set of practices.

All of these things both ladies said are important to keep in mind when visiting a site sacred to the ancient indigenous Americans. It is also important to keep in mind when attending pow wows, and learning spiritual practices ascribed to Americas indigenous tribal people.

While spirit transcends race, some of us are not Indians. We should find out about who the people we buy goods and services actually are, and check their credentials. Non-Indians impersonating Indians are plentiful, and we don’t need to enable that.

We need not segregate or do only what our ancestors did. Traditions in, and of themselves are living things, which change. Talks with Trees pointed out most of us have lots of different kinds of ancestry, and almost nobody has just one kind. Kossia spoke of the importance of working together, and learning from each other. She also said intent matters. To want to learn is called cultural exchange. We have always migrated, and we learn new things from our new friends who we move in near. We share knowledge and wisdom. Respect is the key.

This Month’s Working

Instead of a traditional Lammas or Lughnassadh working, I’d like to talk about what to do when you detect energy or sacred power at a site you are unfamiliar with, and want to do a working there.

Some people would say to completely avoid working with energy you do not know of. Just because you feel something does not mean you should connect with it.

Many magicians will tell you that spirits can lie, and do, and I have spoken with more than one individual that warns of spirit parasites that possess human beings.

If you are like me, and you are going to communicate despite what people think might go wrong, I can’t criticize you for that.

Technically, to be a witch, or any form of magician, you have to be able to move energy, and some would say, ANY energy you come across. This does not mean you don’t reach out to somebody else for help sometimes. This just means you need to practice reading energies so you can feel what they are, what they do, and whether or not they are best avoided.

There are going to be times you hit the park, find a nice, secluded area, and want to cast circle or do a working, and there are already energies there. Typically, you either banish them, and set up your own energies, or work with and experience what is already there.

I have a different suggestion.

Move them aside temporarily. It is almost like saying “Excuse me for a minute, and let me borrow this space, and then I will go on my way.”

This is the working I will include here. This can be used at any time, and anyplace. Members of all traditions can use this, and it does not entail veneration of any deity. This is respectful of the energies and spirits of a place, but allow you a clean slate to work with before your working begins.

Setting Energy Aside

Stop and ground yourself for a moment before you begin. Then quietly walk around the area you intend to clear. Open your mind to what energies and spirits are there, and pay attention to any messages you get.

Have you got a very string spirit who does not want its space tampered with? Is the whole energy of the place off, and it would take many sessions of clearing to clean it? Did something traumatic happen here, and the imprinting from it will overwhelm you, compromising the possible success of your working? You may decide to move elsewhere. That is okay. Always gauge the space first to see what it is you are moving aside.

If you do, indeed decide to use this space, you don’t need any tools like incense or magic words.

You just need to take deep breaths, and move your hands from the ground up to the sky, as if you are pulling energy, and sending it upward, and gently away.

You will feel with your own energy when you nab the end piece of the energy, and you just gather it up, and release it, with the intent it will stay gone until you finish. Walk the whole space in a circle, doing this same operation. You will be able to feel when it is done. Ensure the whole time, you keep your own energy to yourself, and do not absorb any of the energy you are moving from the site.

You don’t need to call the energies back after you finish. If the energy wants to, it will settle back into place on its own.

That’s it.

Simple, isn’t it?

This can be used anytime you go someplace where you want to lift some energy out. Say you are about to have a meeting in the board room where there was just a heated exchange, and you want the tone light, and stress-free. You can take that energy from previous meeting, and send it off.

If your kids have been spastic all day, and you have sent them off with an auntie for the evening, to have an adult cocktail party in the living area, you can use this operation to send that ty energy off for a more relaxing atmosphere.

If you cried your eyes out in your car after being stood up by a date, use this to get all that sadness out of the car.

The sky is the limit to what this technique can be used for.

Blessed energy working.

Blessed First Harvest.

Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lughnasadh (Loo-nas-ah)/Lammas

(Lughnasadh ‘s Pentacle – Harvest Magic – Lugh’s Protection handcrafted by YabYum from the shop PaganOdana on Etsy.)

 

Major Sabbat (High Holiday) – Fire Festival August 1, 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Element: Fire

Gender: Female

Notes from the Apothecary: Sunflower

 

Despite being used by many Pagans as a symbol of the Summer Solstice, the bright and bold sunflower actually flowers a little later, in the deep heart of summer, during July and August. When the lazy, hot days take over, before the light starts to wane, these great, golden faces nod towards their namesake, spreading sunshine wherever they grow.

Sunflowers range from small, cheeky bright yellow flowers to towering golden giants, yellow and black, resembling great, mutant bumblebees on stalks. There are darks ones, pale ones and even some that seem almost black or purple.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Sunflowers are pretty easy to grow, and the seeds are often given to kids to encourage them to enjoy gardening. Competitions to see who can grow the tallest sunflower are common, and watching the plants soar skywards in the warmer months is a prize in itself.

Although they are named for their resemblance to the sun, sunflowers do actually need a sunny spot to achieve their full potential, along with some well drained soil and good compost. Many sunflowers can be grown for their seeds, which are nutritious and tasty when toasted. The seeds are cultivated commercially for their oil, which is used for so many culinary purposes it would take the whole article to list them here! Sunflower oil is a healthier alternative to many fats, even some types of olive oil. It’s fairly neutral in flavour, which makes it widely popular as it can be used in a diverse range of cuisines. Across Eastern Europe, a crumbly version of the sweet halva is made from a sort of sunflower butter.

 

The Apothecary

Mrs Grieve tells us that the seeds of the sunflower have diuretic properties, meaning they help us pass water more frequently, which can be useful to flush out our kidneys if combined with drinking lots of water. It’s important to remember that when using any diuretic, some important minerals and vitamins can be lost, particularly potassium. Dandelion is a great way to remedy this.

The seeds have also been used as an expectorant, and this application helps with bronchial, larynx and pulmonary issues including whooping cough. Grieve recommends making a medicine with 6oz sugar and 6oz gin! After that much gin, I’m fairly certain that whatever the ailment, you will begin to feel somewhat better… or simply not care that you feel ill!

In other cultures, sunflowers were used to help with snakebites.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Klytie, the Okeanid nymph of Greek mythology, fell in love with either Helios or Apollo (Sol, the Sun), but was forsaken for her sister, Leukothoe. After watching the sun and pining for a time, she was transformed into a flower that followed the sun. Originally, this was the heliotrope, but in modern retellings, due to folklore that states that the sunflower follows the sun throughout the sky, Klytie has become the nymph who transformed into the sunflower. This makes the sunflower a little tragic, a symbol of unrequited love, and a reminder to let go of that which does not serve us.

Sunflower oil is one of the few foods that was historically permitted throughout lent, symbolising fasting, spiritual cleansing and self-discipline.

In a very literal sense, the sunflower represents the sun, and therefore fire, south, passion, love and creativity. Use the petals or whole flowers to decorate the southern aspect of your altar or sacred space. They make a useful offering or decoration at Lughnasadh or Lammas (1st August or thereabouts, depending on your tradition), as not only do they represent the sun at its height, but the harvest, food, wealth and well-being.

Cunningham tells us that sunflower seeds have been used by women who wish to conceive, and also as a protection charm against smallpox. Considering smallpox was eradicated many years ago, this use could be expanded to a general health charm, or a general protection charm, perhaps when combined with other magical elements. Cunningham also states that cutting a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, will cause the wish to come true before the next sunset, if the wish is not ‘too grand’. This is a touch vague, but reminds us to be down to earth, realistic, and that sometimes we need to make our own wishes come true!

 

Home and Hearth

If you wish to know the truth of a situation, meditate upon the image of a sunflower, or on an actual plant, either outside or in a pot in your house or sacred space. The sunflower represents an open face, total honesty; revealing all aspects of a situation. If you are able to, cut one of the flowers (with permission, never steal flowers and never cut wild-flowers) and when you go to bed that night, place the flower under your bed, all the while focusing on the situation you wish to know the truth of. Make sure that before you go to bed that night, you put a note pad and pen on your bedside table. You should dream of the situation, and the dream should tell you the truth of the situation. As soon as you awake, write down as many details of the dream as you can remember. If you do it immediately, you will remember more detail, so don’t delay!

Use the details in the dream to establish the truth of your situation. If it makes no sense even after this, it means the truth has been hidden for a reason, and you need to let it go.

 

I Never Knew…

Sunflowers have been used for thousands of years to make dyes for fabrics, in colours ranging from the expected orange and yellow, to brilliant blue!

 

Image credits: Sunflower (Helianthus L.) by Pudelek via Wikimedia Commons; Blütenstand (tellerförmiger Korb) einer Sonnenblume (Helianthus annuus) in Balve-Eisborn by Asio otus via Wikimedia Commons; Photograph showing a field of sun flowers and a sun spot by Thomas Quaritsch via Wikimedia Commons.

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

 

 

 

 

This Pathworking is meant to connect us with the deeper meaning of the First Harvest of Lammas. We have sown the seeds of our will and making at Ostara, nurtured and tended to their needs; seen them in bloom at Litha and are now ready to reap what has grown and is viable to sustain in the darkness that lay in the winter months ahead.

For the most effective use of this pathworking I would suggest reading it through once to set-up the initial energetic connections. Then, take some time to record the pathworking, reading it in your natural voice. Be sure to offer up timed silence in the recording for those areas marked as a pause. A brief pause would be approximately 4-5 minutes and a longer pause would be 15-20 minutes. Taking these additional steps, creates an even deeper level of connection and as you listen to the sound of your own voice you will respond in a way that opens additional pathways. May your journey of this harvest be blessed with a cornucopia of bounty.

The Horn of Plenty”

Take a few deep breaths, filling your lungs as you inhale and gently breathing out in release as you exhale. Allow your body to rest comfortably on the surface on which you are sitting. You should feel no tension or strain in any part of your body. Gently breathe into any area that feels tense or is holding unwanted energy, allowing it to slip away as you exhale into a more relaxed state of being. Allow your breathing pattern to establish its own rhythm and take note of the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Acknowledge a deeper feeling of relaxation with each exhalation…brief pause.

Turn your focus now to the space behind your closed lids and create an inner screen upon which various images may be projected. This is your gateway into a meditative state of peace, calm and tranquility. A fine mist of indigo blue energy fills the screen, pulsating with particles of light and energy. You are drawn to it and in your mind’s eye you see the projected image of yourself approach the center of this screen and gently step through. You emerge at the edge of a wooded forest. It is dusk and the sky is ablaze; bathed in reds and oranges that cast a serene glow on all it touches. The smell of autumn is in the air and the leaves of the trees are a palette of reds, browns and golden shades. This is the time of the first harvest. The time when that which was seeded in the Spring, and lovingly nurtured throughout the Summer is ready to be gathered and drawn inwards to nourish and sustain in the winter months ahead. You walk forward on a narrow path between the trees and each step forward produces the sound of crackling leaves echoing from tree to tree. A gentle breeze carries the scent of apples, pumpkin pie, corn pudding and bread baking. You pause in movement forward and take a moment to enjoy the aromas and sounds that surround you…brief pause.

You begin walking forward again and are drawn to a light just ahead. You step into a small clearing and see a thatched roof cottage a few yards in front of you. A curl of smoke spirals upwards from the chimney and the glow of amber colored light can be seen through the windows. Instinctively you are drawn to this place. A sense of familiarity fills your being and you step up onto the porch. Pumpkins, gourds and tied bales of hale adorn the entryway. The thick scent of fragrant wood burning in the hearth, and the front door slightly ajar beckons you to come in. You reach out and gently push the oaken door open. The inner room is small, yet inviting with amber colored hues, tabletop baskets of apples and a crackling fireplace filling the panorama of view. Take some time to look around. Engage all of your senses and drink in the sights, smells and sounds as you make yourself at home in this cozy cottage…longer pause.

As you continue with your exploration your eyes come to rest on a wicker basket shaped as a Horn of Plenty. It sits on a small wooden side table and contains within small scrolls of parchment, rolled and bound by an earthy green ribbon. You are curious about the contents contained within the Horn and what meaning they may hold for you. In keeping with the warmth and welcome you have felt from the time of stepping into this place you reach out and take one of the scrolls from the Horn. You gently unroll it and see what has been gifted to you. The scroll may contain an image, words or vision of a seen past or yet to come. Its contents will be in the form to which you are most connected. Regardless of the form, its intent and meaning hold the promise of a Full and Abundant harvest of all that has been nurtured and tended to this point of ripeness and readiness for taking up. This represents that which is both a gift to yourself and in turn will become a gift you share with all you meet. Holding your scroll you move to sit in a rocking chair just in front of the fireplace. As you gaze into the flickering and dancing flames you see the images of all the positive actions you have taken this year. All of the successes of those seeds of new beginnings planted and the ripe, lush fruit that has come to full harvest. Take some time to reflect on these bountiful positive qualities that are expressions of your highest, most fruitful SELF…longer pause.

Some time passes and the flames in the hearth begin to diminish. You see that the scroll you were holding in your hand is no longer there and acknowledge that all of its information has been imprinted within. You now understand that you are the scroll itself and those actions, efforts and creations you produce are all held within your Being. All that is needed to sustain you through the future turns of the Wheel grows within. You have only to make the request to your Higher Self to release these gifts and the harvest of your own Horn of Plenty is available at all times. You have received all that is needed at this time and you once again stand. Looking at the beauty of the room surrounding you there is a quiet acknowledgment that this is now your private space to which you may return at anytime.

Your gaze is caught once again by the Horn of Plenty, and to your surprise in the place of the scrolls the hollow of the Horn has become a cornucopia filled with fruit, squash, corn, apples and nuts. The small table is filled to overflowing with all the bounty of the Harvest and somehow you know that this abundance reflects the many images you found within your own basket of plenty. You smile knowingly as you walk towards the door; gently push it open and once again step out into the forest. The sky is now lit by the brilliance of a honey gold sunset. The velvet of the night sky is minutes away and the hush and serene promise of a restful evening are just ahead. You pause a moment and stand looking at the sun as its last strands of light disappear beneath the rim of trees. As the darkness begins to envelope you, the veil of blue mist forms just in front of you.

You step through and once again return to the place of your inner screen; seeing the form of yourself stepping through. You feel the calm re-entry into this space as the screen gently fades and your focus of your consciousness returns to your breath and its serene rhythm. There is much information that you received on your journey and you know that the days and weeks head will reveal more; but for now you offer up gratitude for all that has been received. Allow yourself to slowly and gently shift your awareness and return to the physicality of sitting in this space. Each inhalation brings awareness to the feel of your body resting in chair or on floor. Returning to awareness of the gentle rise and fall of your breath. And, when you are ready gently flutter your eyes open and be fully present here and now.

Brightest Blessings

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Lughnassadh 2015 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does it mean to harvest?

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

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

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

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

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

What is Lughnasadh?

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

It all started in Ireland.

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

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

Back to the origins of this wonderful Sabbat!

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

Funerary processions, lawmaking, and handfastings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Athletics

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

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

Bull sacrifice and Harvest sacrifice

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

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

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

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

Merchants

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

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

Holy Wells and Healing

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

Reaping your own Harvest

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

Lughnasadh 2015 First Harvest Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be.

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

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