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A Spring Equinox Ritual

March 1st, 2019

Here are some words from a Spring Equinox Ritual performed between three witches with a focus on the Morrígan. You could speak the words on your own, or with a group, and you can decorate your sacred space with flowers or appropriate tools, depending on your path. I’ve left out any specific calls or hails, as you can add these as appropriate to your own beliefs. You will need an object or symbol that is important to you at this time of year, a seed, and a pot of soil (per person.)

Spirits of East, creatures of air
Light of the bright morning,
Venus on the horizon
Warm winds chasing chills
Birds singing, anticipating the coming spring.
Be with us now, when light meets dark as equals
And give us humour and grace
To celebrate the coming spring.

Spirits of South, creatures of fire
Heart of the mountain and breath of the volcano
From the centre of the earth to the core of the sun
Keep us alive through the vacuum of space.
Be with us now when light meets dark as equals
And give us inspiration and creativity
To dance into the coming Spring.

Spirits of West, creatures of water
Drop in the ocean and flood in the field
From the heart of the cloud to the blood in our veins
Filling us with dreams and emotion.
Be with us now when light meets dark as equals
And give us wisdom and insight
To flow onward into Spring.

Spirits of North, creatures of Earth
Ant crawling quickly; raven soaring by;
From the tallest mountain to each grain of soil
Grounding us so we can reach for the moon.
Be with us now when light meets dark as equals
And give us courage and strength
To build great things this spring.

Lady of light, Ceridwen stirring her cauldron
Silver web of the moon and golden disc of the returning sun
Remind us of warmth, love and laughter
And the earth coming alive beneath our feet.
As you hear your lover call,
May you also hear the words and deeds
We perform tonight
At this time of equal dark and light.

Great Lord of the Land, Cernunnos the hunter
The thrill of the chase and the pumping blood in the vein
Remind us of challenge, growth and rebirth
And the green returning like an awakening spell.
As you hear your Lady call,
May you also hear the words and deeds
We perform tonight
At this time of equal dark and light.

And to you, spirits unseen
Ancestors from behind the veil
Loved ones from our time and others
And the great woman who binds us all
The heart of the crow
The soul of the Warrior
The mind of the mystic;
Morrigan, wise lady,
Shed your aspect of Crone and join us
As Light meets Dark as Equals.

We gather today at this moment of reflection
The pause in the planet turning
The moment when all suddenly stills
And the greatest magic becomes possible.
You have a symbol that you have chosen for this rite.
Look at the symbol.

What does it mean to you? (a minutes meditation on the chosen object/symbol)
Now speak, and tell us how this object resonates with you.

Each person (or just you, if performing solo) takes a turn speaking about the object they chose; this can be as simple as how it made them feel, or something they want for the coming season, or simply a memory it evoked.

As one, we have spoken our innermost thoughts
As one, we stand now, as we will stand throughout the year
As the sun returns, and we feel the warm hands of Lugh
Kind upon our faces,
Let us remember that we all stand as a little sun
To those in need of warmth.

As a circle, we are un-ending
As a loop, we flow and turn
Now balanced, at this point of equinox, we can move forward or backward.
Let us choose the onward path
Where flowers grow and great trees house the owls
And beauteous nature holds court.
We now choose one thing we wish to nourish throughout this planting season
And we will speak of this again at Beltane,
When Fire reigns and the veil is thin.

Everyone takes a seed and places it in a pot, thinking of that which they wish to grow/nourish/change for the better over the weeks leading up to Beltane. The idea is that the seed will sprout to represent the progress made. We share bread and mead at this point, but do whatever is right for you on your path, or with your tribe.

Every drop of rain
Tickles and delights
Every gasp of air
Fire reignites
Earthed in loam and clay
Reaching for the sky
Sea to East and West
Spirit soaring high
Spring has come again
Shoots burst from the soil
Feeding souls and hearts
With play and merry toil.

Dismiss and say farewell to the elements, the deities, and spirits of place in which ever way is appropriate. Stand in the energy of your sacred space and breathe in the promise of the coming spring.

***

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 Ancestorsand Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Water is Life

Merry meet.

I am among the many pagans who want to support the warriors at Standing Rock. Two sisters in my coven – Debra Cohen and Janet Coffa – wrote a ritual that more than a dozen women chose to
participate in at a Mabon retreat. I’m sharing it below in the hopes that you will use it to enlist the support of others in this important effort.

The protectors, the warriors at Standing Rock represent each and every one of us who understand the need to protect our environment, our multicultural values and the very Earth that supports us.

The statement Water is Lifeis true for every human being and it must be fought for by everyone. The fight must take many forms, from physical presence in places that are immediately threatened to communication with our government and education of those unaware of the impact of inaction.

Standing Rock speaks about clean water, industry greed,
governmental weakness, and the power of money that buys bad
decisions. It also speaks with a vision of potential catastrophe when we fail to consider the future impact of current energy policy. We, our children and our grandchildren have a duty to stand in the face of
intimidation and say NO MORE, YOU SHALL NOT PASS and WE WILL NOT STOP FIGHTING for what is right, just and sacred.

[Invite participants to share their thoughts.]

As in everything, we all do what we can, as we can. It is our
responsibility to share our ideas and support each other in our efforts. These are some ideas about sending support to Standing Rock:

Send donations

Contact legislators

Attend a vigil in support of Standing Rock

Use social media to education and share information

[Participants took turns stating one thing they would do in the name of the warriors at Standing Rock. Each was then blessed with water of determination – in our case it was rain water collected during a
thunderstorm that carried the essence of the power needed in the struggle. Fingers were dipped in the water and touched to the feet, then each hand and then the throat with the following words.]

Bless these feet so they can walk the walk.

Bless these hands to do the heavy lifting.

Bless this to speak truth and defiance to power.

WE ARE CHANGE!

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Full Moon Rise

 

 

 

Merry meet.

An eclectic group of women in my area have been getting together for as many full moons as possible these past two year. One of our favorite traditions grew out of our coven – to gather at a small public beach that does not close at sunset. We bring blankets, camp chairs and food, and set up where we see the sun set behind the cottages and then watch the moon rise in the east over the water.

 

 

 

We do it as often as possible when the full moon falls on a weekend during warm weather. The most recent time was June 9, which happened to be the Strawberry Moon.

 

 

 

 

 

An informal, impromptu ritual included directional candles set up on a blanket and a fertility goddess. We chanted. One woman bought her singing bowl to bring us all into harmony. We all raised strawberries to the moon along with our petitions and gratitude.

 

 

 

 

There was raucous laughter and deep silence, and conversations both magickal and mundane. We dipped our toes in the ocean under the moon. We hugged and kissed and allowed our wild women selves to come out.

Perhaps these photos of that night will prompt you to have an equally awesome and awe-filled experience.

 

 

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times September 2018

Autumnal Equinox

Bright Blessings,

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox!

We are thankful the weather is cooling off. Some of us nearly suffocate when it is so hot, but it’s also sad that Summer plants are winding down.

I got a head start and threw some mums in pots, and am eyeing more at garden aisles at local shops. I put my radishes in the soil five days ago, and they have already emerged tall and strong!

Next, garden cleanup begins! I have mint, zinnias, black eyed susans, echinacea, and a huge tomato plant that will need cleaned up by winter, and I start that this week. I have large areas of these plants, so it is imperative I do little bits at a time. I have learned over the years that working with plants is done best a little bit here and there almost every day. I see so many people saving all their yard work up for ONE day every month or so, and some complain bitterly about it.

As with all things in life, doing things in moderation in the garden is beneficial! This way, you also get to enjoy the seasons regularly, as opposed to feeling that touching the earth is a chore and a burden.

Besides that, being out there regularly with your plants means you are fully aware of what is going on with them. As we are aware of the poisons of modern chemicals, and how it is killing this planet, the best way to ensure you can manage pests with organic methods is to inspect the plants often. If daily is not possible, at least three times per week is helpful.

Not being aware of the goings on of the plants and the organisms that are interacting with them is one of the main ways a garden can fail. Catch the issues fast, and fix them faster!

The Autumn

As the wheel is turning, the days cool, the nights come sooner, and the sun rises later. It reminds us to enjoy the warmth and growing season for as long as we can, because the cold winter and short days are just around the corner.

Autumnal Equinox falls on the 23 of September this year, and on that day, the day and night are both equal, about 12 hours each. Already I miss the longer days thinking of it!

At Autumn Equinox, Pagans often celebrate a Thanksgiving and the focus is on seasonal food and fellowship.., and I really like this idea.

It gives opportunity to do so before the responsibilities with blood kin and the conventional Winter Holidays rolls around. It also gives opportunity to do this gathering out if doors before it’s just too cold.

It is considered by some to be a time to complete unfinished business before winter comes. This is actually a good idea because just around the corner are the conventional holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. There will be little time between running to and from shopping and festivities to do anything else.

Pagans further have Samhain, and Yule to add in to those other holidays. Busy busy busy!

Depending on where you live, snow may start fairly soon, and getting places is not as easy as it is during the warmer months.

For some, it is a time to reflect on the harvest or things accomplished during the growing season.

Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks

This month’s film falls in with that theme.

It’s called Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks, and here is its official trailer:

The film follows the death of illustrious doctors, both named Dr. Brinks who were a married couple. They were considered by many to be perfect people, and were touted as living saints with an almost cult-like following by some.

Unfortunately, some people who are married to their careers allow their family life to suffer. Not only did the parents fail to be close with their children, but they somehow managed to belittle, and shame their kids for not rising to greatness in the way they, themselves did.

The film begins with their son and daughter fighting bitterly following their parents funeral, and trying to squeeze a tiny bit of inheritance out of the parents who basically discarded them in favor of their careers.

The film shows how the adult children feel their own lives are lacking, and shows how both kids deny their own grief because they felt they lost their parents long ago, so their death is irrelevant. Why mourn somebody who basically dropped you?

Their son chastises his sister mercilessly, and she retaliates, and they even wrestle and scream at one another. Grief hits both kids when they least expect it, and in ways they struggle with.

It turns out, the parents were not the great saints they made people believe they were. Their perfect personas were a front for a horrible secret. Not only were they bad parents, but they were just bad people.

The son and daughter are able, with this shocking revelation, to pick themselves up, forgiving themselves of their imperfections, and repair their relationship with one another.

The Hidden Truth

The occult lesson this film teaches us is that belief does not always reflect reality, nor does it create it.

Our Pagan and New Age communities often want to teach us that we control all in our realities with the power of our will and belief, and yet that’s simply not how the world works.

Like being unaware of pests or diseases that can decimate your plants, the kids in Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks were completely unaware of the awful things their parents did. Everybody is unaware of these things, but they happen anyways.

Once the truth comes to light, we can either crumble, or pick ourselves up, and move forward, towards improvement.

Hidden truths still affect things.

Besides this, we oftentimes lie to ourselves, and we make it impossible to function in reality. We cannot imagine the world to be as we want it, and conjure that based on wishful thinking. We have to live in harmony with the way things actually are. We CAN change some things, but of the things we cannot change, being in denial is crippling, and hinders us as magical practitioners.

In the film, the Brinks kids were lied to, and they further lied to themselves. It held them both back from believing the beauty in themselves, and it pitted them against each other.

The truth was told, and poof! The spell was broken!

This was not a favorite film of mine, and truthfully, I don’t enjoy films that use sex and nudity to excite viewers, but it’s not a bad film due to the lesson it teaches. It moves a bit slowly for my taste, and relies very heavily on “cool” modern things and images to try to engage middle-aged folk who still want to live as they did in their 20’s. Both characters try too hard to act carefree, cool, and younger than they actually are. They want to be without responsibilities, but it turns out both of them are actually very reliable people, and in the end, they show they can count on each other. However, I really believe the over trying of the Brinks kids was just another illusion they maintained to make themselves feel better, and it’s very appropriate.

More on The Equinox

How this ties in with the Sabbat is at the time of harvest, we may find we are in a place in our lives we just don’t expect, or we may have some new revelation that has us reeling from the shock of it. I have written a ritual in years past for celebrating the unexpected harvests, that are a wonderful blessing we did not expect to get!

But what about when something not good happens we had not expected…something that is really not a blessing? Or what if it MIGHT turn into one with time, but we are just not thrilled with it?

What then?

How do we accept the way things are, and move forward?

The answer is to do a ritual breaking of our illusions, as a rite of passage, and ask for guidance. When hard work towards something falls apart, it can be beyond disheartening, and for some, ritual workings can aid in moving forward to the first step in the right direction.

An end of the old way of being at harvest time celebrates and honors where you have been, and serves to thank the gods for revealing what is to come. Sometimes, we harvest hard truths that are painful. We may ask “Why me, gods?” We can be in denial and mourning, and a time of processing this pain if crucial for processing change for some. The energy of the season can help with your process of accepting what is, and moving into what you actually DID harvest, and that is a new way of being.

Fall Equinox Moving Forward Ritual

This will be a three-step ritual and will entail travel. It does not need to be far, it just needs to entail walking away from the old, and going into the new, forward in the direction that you need to. You can even just walk from one end of the room to the next if it is appropriate, or you can do a trip if you like.

You will begin with either a new pair of shoes or a new pair of socks to take along.

You will start out with the old shoes or socks you wear when you set out, and end by leaving the old pair someplace, changing into the new pair, and leaving them behind to symbolize discarding the old illusions, which created the wrong way of being.

You will custom tailor this to yourself based on the basic structure.

What you need to do is three things

  1. Pick a starting place that represents where you were back when you still believed what was false. At this point, you should be in acceptance of whatever has changed, and the fact you have to adapt. If you want to say some words, or do a prayer, you can, but you don’t have to. An example would be. “I stand here where I was once in darkness, and I step away, moving towards the truth. I leave behind all illusions , and misconceptions here, and pray to my gods/esses for the guidance. The only way is forward. So Be It.” Leave some sort of a gift for the powers that be. Next, you move towards a middle location on your journey. You will be wearing your old shoes or socks, and take with you the new pair.
  2. Your second location will be a representation of the process of the change. You will next go there as the halfway point. This should be a place you find comforting where you can return in times when you need to recuperate and catch your breath. If you want to say some words, you can say something like.“ This is a place of light, healing, and growth. This is a place that will comfort me in the changes that are to come. I draw strength here, and renewed, move towards my new truth. Let this place be healing, and strengthening in times I am afraid, weak, or reluctant to keep moving forward. Let this place bless these shoes/socks that I will wear to carry me. The only way is forward. So Be It” Take the new shoes and socks, and lay them on the ground, and let the energies for this safe place soak in for a bit before leaving. Leave another gift for the powers that be.
  3. Choose a location that represents the new way of being and embracing of the new truth. If you would like to say some words, as you change, go ahead and say something like “ The truth is harder than the illusions, but living by illusions is unacceptable. Let this be as a reminder to me of how far from the darkness I have come, and he way forward in the light will be difficult at times, but nothing is better than freedom to walk in the truth. May my gods/esses bless and guide me. I will not go back. (Take off the shoes or socks, and put the new pair on) The only way is forward. So Be It.” Throw away the old pair of shoes and socks.

May your new change in light of the truth bring only good things. If there are difficulties in the transition, may you have the strength, and love and support of others to weather the struggles. May your new life with the new reality be the best life you have had yet, and may things get better and better.

Blessed Equinox.

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.

 

Yule Ritual

 

Merry meet.

Below is a Yule ritual written for a group, which can easily be modified to be done as a solitary. Read through, making note of what to gather and how to set it up.

The altar can be a candle on the floor, or raised up in the center on a small table.

Traditional colors for altar cloths are gold, silver, red, green and white.

SET UP:

Set up your altar with seasonal botanicals, directional candles.

Designate a place for guests to put coats and, if desired, shoes

Arrange so that before people enter the ritual space they can place their cares and woes in a burden basket or other receptacle (a lidded casserole dish or cookie jar, a purse that snaps shut, a box) and then step forward and be cleansed with smoke. (A cauldron can be placed where guests can waft the smoke themselves, or a person can be designated to smudge others after being smudged themselves)

Find a seat and listen to soft music

High Priestess:

We gather tonight in perfect love and perfect trust to celebrate the winter solstice. On this longest night of the year, let us accept Yule’s gifts of quiet and dark. For a long moment, everything pauses. There is a stillness that settles over the land. A stillness for which there are no words. Darkness rules. Tonight we will sit in this darkness that precedes the light’s rebirth.

Take a moment to get here, to feel the surroundings and the welcome with which this place greets you.

I’m going to ring chimes three times. As we all align ourselves with its vibrations, we will meld as a group.

Ring three times, letting each ring fade to silence before doing the next. High Priestess says:

Be here now.

As we cast our circle, see it as an equator, then see the ring flip up and over to become a sphere, pushing the energy to the exterior of this building.

With thumbs facing left, begin by using your left hand to take the right hand of the person to your left and say:

Hand to hand, I cast this circle

Each person does the same. When the circle is complete, the High Priestess says:

See our arms making a circle. With each breath, strengthen the circle. Now, imagine it to be like an equator, and spin the circle up, over and down so that it creates a sphere. Now push that sphere out to encompass this room. Keep breathing, and enlarge the sphere so that it fills this whole unit and extend outside the walls, and into the basement below. Now, see the outer skin of this sphere become soft and foggy, smoky, like a mist rising from a lake in the early morning. When we leave, we will walk though that foggy edge as we reenter the mundane world.

Take another three breaths … and know we are between the worlds. May all we do tonight be for the highest good and greatest joy of all.

Sing “There Is No Time” by Kellianna” three times.

There is no time but now, there is no place but here,
In the sacred we do stand, in a circle hand in hand.

High Priestess:

Let us summon the spirits of the four quarters. We’ll start facing north because winter begins with the quarter of the wheel associated with earth.

Person calling North:

Mother Earth, barren trees now decorate the land that has sustained us. In this restful moment, let us find safety and stability. Hail and welcome.

Place greens such as mistletoe, holly and pine boughs on the altar, on the north side of the candle.

Person calling East:

Brother Air, I listen for the cold winds from your winter wings, but tonight all is still. In this quiet darkness, help us find inspiration. Hail and welcome.

Light incense, or place a feather, bells or other representation of East on the altar.

Person calling South:

Father Sun, source of fire, here in the night, awaiting your
return, we ask that the memory of your warmth temper our spirit. Hail and welcome.

Place pieces of lava or other symbol of fire such as chili peppers or coffee beans on the south side of the altar.

Person calling West:

Sister Water, your snow and ice have covered our world.
Beneath this blanket, let our emotions find healing and renewal. Hail and welcome.

Place a container of water from melted snow, a Yule rain or other source, or a representation of water on the west side of the altar.

Person calling center:

We stand in the center, spirit in body and know we are divine. Spirit is a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, between body and soul. Guide us as we walk in both worlds. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of spirit, perhaps a crystal or a butterfly in the center.

Person calling the crones:

Queen of Winter Cailleach Bheur (kall yeck burr), Dark Mother Demeter (da meet her), Keeper of the Cauldron Cerridwen, Kali, Mother Holle (hell her), Nicneven (nick na vin), The Morrigan (more’ a gain) – we welcome you crones and ask you to help us transition as you transform to the maiden giving birth to the sun. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of crone – a bone, a cauldron, a crescent moon, owl, wolf, crow or raven. – in the center.

Person calling the sun:

Father Sun, Winter King, the Sage, Apollo, Ra, Horus, Ravi, Shamash – we welcome you to our circle. You are reborn tonight, bringing light, bringing life. You demonstrate the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of the sun god – gold, a representation of the sun, a baby Oak King – in the center.

High Priestess, in her customary way, invites people to put their names in the circle. If desired, she allows people to put other names in the circle for blessings and energy.

There is a magic in all the seasons. Winter’s magic is the most concise, most dense. It is diamond magic, cold and brilliant, focused and precise.

Each season also has its own wisdom, but winter’s wisdom includes them all. Everything is clear. What is invisible in growing times becomes plain in the starkness of winter. From winter, you can remember spring, summer and fall by the patterns they’ve left behind.

There is not yet a call to begin again. Beginnings will come soon enough. This is the fallow time. This is the time of rest. The waiting brings both strength and vulnerability.

When winter comes, we withdraw into the deepest spaces of our inner selves. As the world sleeps, its energy, like yours, turns within. Your inner sight expands. There is much to see beyond appearances. It is bone time. Nothing is hidden. With your winter eyes, let yourself see everything.

This is a time of reflection, insight, visions and wisdom. In the velvet dark are the secrets we keep from ourselves … one of those secrets is who we really are. Find that you hidden in the darkness.

It may appear we are resting, but in winter we are creating a new universe within ourselves, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, secretly feeding that which needs to thrive. With calm deliberateness, we know what to save and bring into the next season.

When we blow out these candles, feel yourself in this deep, dark space, the place from which all is born. Feel the warmth and safety of this womb on this cold night. This place of darkness is the source of life. Feel that energy waiting, still, quiet, for life to begin. That is the energy of the dark. This is the time of before.

That energy is within you. Sit with it. Be the dark from which all things will come. Be the dark that holds the coiled sleeping snake, the crocus bulb frozen in the ground. All life has moved to the center, hidden in the darkness. In this space, feel the energy of all that is yet to be.

Winter is not all about death, it’s also about reflection and insight, and reconnecting to the source deep within the dark. One day in the not too distant future, the dance will begin again. Let that knowledge be a comfort to you, but do not call for it. For now is not its time.

We need the dark to balance the light. Honor its presence.
Offer gratitude for the power it gives us to dream our deep sleep awake.

I will signal when there are 5 minutes left in the meditation

Extinguish candle

Start timer

Give 5-minute notice with rattle, bell or drum

High Priestess:

Welcome back. Take a moment to get here.

We’re going to pass the talking stick so that all who wish may share their thoughts or experiences in sacred space.

High Priestess:

Grounding eliminates the excess energy you may have accumulated during a ritual or other working. Take time now to breath three slow, deep breaths as you imagine the energy you do not need draining out of your body, out of your fingers and your feet. Offer it to the earth below.

Food also helps us ground.

Present cakes and ale, speaking only to say

May you never hunger / Nor you

May you never thirst / Nor you

 

High Priestess:

We are drawing to the end. As we prepare to release the elements, I will light this candle from the spirit candle. We will pass out candles and a drip guard. You’ll take them both home with you.

I thank each of you for bringing the gift of yourself to this circle, for adding your energy to the magic of tonight. Let us bring a piece of this quiet calm with us as we return to our mundane lives that we may walk in peace.

After we light the candles, we’ll sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night” twice. Then, I ask that you to gather your things, attend to your needs and leave … all in silence … as we return to the mundane world.

Releasing the Crones

Crones we thank you for showing us how to die and be reborn. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Releasing the Sun

Father Sun, on this deepest dark night, we welcome back your light. Blessed Be.

Releasing Water

Sister Water, thank you for your presence, love and healing. Blessed Be.

Releasing Fire

Father Sun, source of fire, thank you for your warmth and passion. Blessed Be.

Releasing Air

Brother Air, thank you for your presence and your inspiration.
Blessed Be.

Releasing Earth

Mother Earth, thank you for your presence as we leave grounded and renewed. Blessed Be.

High Priestess: Begin by lighting the candle of the person to your left, saying:

May you embrace the return of the light.

Sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night”

And merry part. And merry meet again.

NOTE: This ritual draws heavily on the poem “The Winter Woman” from “Seasons of the Witch: poetry & Songs to the Goddess” by Patricia Monaghan and Arctic Siren Singers

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

March 2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

March
2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

Bright
Blessings!

I
cannot tell you how excited I am that it is almost the Spring
Equinox! To prepare, I assembled a precut garden box today, and have
been diligently bagging up the dead leaves from last fall I spread
over the garden beds I already have. I never buy mulch that way! Once
the thaw starts, I dig out the leaves, and just throw them away.

While
I joyously begin celebrating Spring at Imbolc, the fact I can see the
green fingers of garden bulbs pushing up out of the earth reminds me
the growing season is set to begin very soon. I am buying seeds left
and right, and soon, we will start stockpiling the pea gravel and
soil for the new garden bed!

The
undesirable parts of things like cleanup, spending money on supplies,
and lifting and carrying heavy things must be performed to benefit
from the beauty of the victory garden we covet. I, for one, hate the
sight of worms, and have ever since I was a child. I, however know
that without those blind wrigglers, my garden will not grow, and if I
don’t see them, I know something is very wrong.

Like
the garden, our lives are made up of all sorts of things. Things we
like, and things we dislike. More than that, we also like and dislike
things about specifically our own selves.

Turn
on the television, and you can almost always find a makeover show, or
some type of advertisement for a service or product that will
completely transform you, supposedly getting rid of some aspect of
yourself you loathe. Our culture supports that self-loathing, as they
use it as excuse to earn money from us.

Now,
I am not saying we ought to forego improving ourselves. What I am
saying is that all of us have something we CANNOT change about
ourselves that we imagine to be some monstrosity. Some hate the shape
of their feet, the sound of their voice, the fact their hair is
naturally curly or straight. Some hate having an adams apple, and
some think their neck is too long or short. Some want to get rid of
freckles, or bleach their skin which they imagine is too dark. Almost
all of us have demonized some aspect of ourselves we simply cannot
help.

But
we are not monstrosities in any way. We simply misunderstand these
parts of ourselves, and radical self-acceptance is the only solution.
What better time for that than the Spring Equinox, which is often
used to get rid of the old and bring in the new? Instead of throwing
out some part of ourselves, why not change our way of thinking
instead?

This
Month’s Review

To
fit with this theme. I lucked into an interview with Gabiann Marin,
author of the awesome book, Monsters and Creatures. I
found the book to be well written, well researched, and an easy read.
Of course, she could not include ALL monsters and creatures from all
of time in the book, but she packed in quite a lot into the neat 196
pages.

From
the Basilisk to Zombies, Marin draws readers into the fascinating
world of creatures, and provides more than just lore. She includes
historical anecdotes, and education about real phenomenon.

I highly recommend the book, and it can be had through this link.

Not
only was I fortunate enough to review this good book, but I got to
interview the amazing Gabiann Marin!

Read
on!

The
Interview

Saoirse
– First, let me say, I was impressed with your book Monsters and
Creatures. I never know what to expect from a reference book on
creatures- and I was thrilled because I found your book very well
researched.

You
packed so very much good information into it. How long did it take
you to gather all of that in formation, and what was the process for
research you used? What background in research do you have, and what
is your philosophy about educating your readers as an author? 

Gabiann
Thank you.  The research part
was quite interesting.  I have grown up with many of the
creatures in the book in so far as I have loved and read mythology
and fantasy and history since I was a small child.  In fact the
very first book I bought for myself (at the age of seven)  was
The natural history of the vampire by Anthony Masters and I still
have that book. So I guess it took a lifetime to gather all the
information. 

The
greater challenge was how to get all the information I wanted to talk
about into such a small book.  I didn’t want it to just be a
dictionary of fantastic beasts.  I’m a writer and the power of
all these creatures are in their stories and I wanted to be able to
share that… Give a context of these creatures in history and
psychology and society.  

I
have been a professional writer for a long time as well as an
academic, so I read widely and have a pretty varied interest and
abundant curiosity in just about everything – so I
find researching information pretty easy. 

The
process for this book was really to decide what monsters and
creatures I wanted to include.  The publisher was pretty adamant
the popular ones were included… Which I agreed with… But
I was also intent on introducing readers to more unusual and lesser
known creatures and tell their stories too. 

Saoirse
– What made you decide to write about this topic, specifically? This
appears more like a long-term interest in these beings turned into a
good book to share what you have learned with others. Am I right? 

Gabiann
– Yes.  I love animals and the natural world and am fascinated
in how we, as humans, connect to and understand nature. 
I have always believed the stories of monsters and creatures are some
of the most potent and informative ways that we express our love and
fear of the world around us. 

Saoirse
– As I am Pagan, I know a lot of people who embrace belief in human
connection with supernatural beings. One friend said these
“creatures” may be nothing more than manifestation of
spirit people perceive so well, they mistake them for flesh! While we
know about logical explanations like- manatees can be mistaken for
mermaids, etc- what is your take on the theory my friend presented? 

Gabiann
– I have a rather unique perspective on people’s belief systems and
how they engage with the mystical, the natural and the
supernatural… And that is that however someone perceives these
creatures – as real or imagined, as pyschological manifestations
or as historical creatures… They are probably right. 

We
manifest our understanding of the world and ourselves through the
stories we tell and that shapes how we treat each other and the world
around us.  Spirit reaches us through story, symbol and
myth.  

If
your friend perceives spirit as a unicorn or a dragon.. Then
that is how spirit presents itself to her.  She is using these
stories exactly how they were meant to be used – for her to step
beyond the human condition and understand the world beyond herself. 

Saoirse
– I want to know all about you! Tell me about your writing in
general, and beyond that, YOU in general? What made you decide to
write? What else are you good at? What projects are you working on,
and what else is in the workings? 

Gabiann
– That’s a big topic… Where
do I start? 

I
suppose I have always been a writer, I wrote my first short story at
the age of eight and won my first literary prize when I was
fourteen.  I became a professional writer when I started
University.  I was originally going to be a vet but ended up at
the last minute studying writing instead. My mum was surprisingly OK
with this!  

I
started my professional writing life writing film and theatre reviews
and then actual plays.  I worked as a corporate copywriter for a
few years but realised it was a bit soul destroying so shifted over
and became a writer for charities and causes I believed in… Like
Amnesty International, The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace.  

I
also wrote for Australian television for a few years but it was a
hard road back then with very little Australian content being made.
So in 2000 I began writing children’s books.  In 2003 I
wrote a book for young readers about a child in Australian
Immigration detention called A True Person, which won a few
international awards but most importantly was the first book in
Australia to tackle that issue.

I
still write social justice material in fiction form but moved into
editing and writing non fiction after leaving an academic job in
2016.

Currently
I am dividing my time between teaching writing and film at
University, while editing and writing non-fiction, original and
adapted film scripts and completing a fantasy fiction book about
Medusa.

Saoirse
– Tell me about your personal spiritual path, and if it influenced
your work on this topic.

Gabiann
– I am Wicca and have been since I was quite young, however I am
more a pagan in the classic sense, in that I believe there is a
natural force which guides the world and creates and determines
life. I believe we need to understand and respect this
force… Which currently as a global entity we are not doing.

All
of my work has, in some way, reflected my belief that people are part
of – not in conflict with – the natural world.  And the natural
world is actually supernatural, in that it contains spirit as well as
material things.  This is hardly controversial, as literally
everyone in the known history of humankind has believed a
version of this – yet for some reason mankind have been
intent on focusing on the differences in this belief and killing each
other over how we individually choose to understand and express that
spiritual essence .  To me spirit is nature herself…
Everything in it is amazing.  It contains things which we are
only just beginning to understand. 

I
don’t follow any organized religion because I believe that most of
them limit us into hatred and division with both ourselves and the
other beings we share this planet with.  But I have a huge
respect for most religious people who are just trying to find ways to
connect with the bigger sense of power around them.  I believe
that when we are in contact with the natural world… Go beyond
the realms of mankind’s selfishness, greed and violence, we
can connect to that
spirit. But
honestly I do not think we as humans are the most important things on
this planet.  Not the single or indeed the main focus of any
spiritual force which may exist.  The trees and the rocks and
the mountains have watched us rise and they will watch us fall. 
Creatures we can barely imagine have roamed this earth thousands of
years before we were even conceived of.. And other creatures
will no doubt walk across our fossilized bones.  And that is a
good thing.  Nature is immortal. So the smallness and pettiness
of humanity and our need to find meaning and place has always
underpinned my work.  As well as a commitment to kindness,
justice and understanding … Towards each other and all
beings. 

Saoirse
– Have you had any personal encounters with creatures or spirits you
would like to share?

Gabiann
– I think there is magic in the world, and spirit… particularly
animal spirits, can help you find your way to that magic.

When
I was in my twenties I had a very hard time. As I believe most
young women in their twenties do in a world that is constantly
telling us that as females we are simply not good enough, pretty
enough, smart
enough. Then one night I had this amazing dream of two tigers who
embraced me when I thought they were going to rip me apart. 

I
woke up realizing that I was worthy and strong and loved.  I
still believe today they were manifestations of spirit telling me to
stop worrying about all the silliness around me and understand that
my purpose… the purpose for all of us,  was simply to
be a good person. Once I realized that, life became much clearer
for me and I was able to follow a path that wasn’t so concerned about
whether I fitted in with the very narrow ideology of being a
compliant, acceptable, quiet woman. Which I certainly am
not!  And rather tell stories and be part of the world in a way
that expanded, not limited my and other creatures existence.

I
am still very spiritual and have engaged with spirit in many ways
since then.  But I remember that dream so clearly even now. 
It’s why I became a pagan and a feminist. 

Monsters
and Creatures, as well as its companion book – Gods and
Goddesses, was written as an introduction into the history of
humankind’s need to use story and myth to understand the world. 
They are small books but I hope they pack a punch and give people a
bit of an insight into what unites us – which is story… and what
defines us – which is how we understand the world around us.  

They
are both written to be fun, informative and easy to read and I
really hope people engage with them.  Our continuing fascination
with supernatural creatures is one of the many things that unite us
as people.  And sharing these stories is the best way to create
connections between us across time and cultures.  

I
am happy to engage with readers but have a limited social media
profile as I find the online world to be somewhat mean-spirited and
focused on conflict.  I have a facebook authors page and an
Amazon Author’s page through which I am happy to engage with those
wanting more information about me. 

If
you are interested in getting a copy of any of my books they are
widely available through Amazon as well as most good book stores.  

Saoirse
– What is your FAVORITE Monster/Creature you included in your book,
and why? Any encounters, dreams, or visions of/with it/them?

Gabiann
– This is a bit like asking me to choose a favourite child! 

All
of them are my favourite in different ways. I love the more unusual
ones like the Japanese Yokai because they are just so quirky and,
although they can be a bit nasty, they are essentially just really
cool, interesting little creatures who don’t bother anyone and just
hang about doing their own thing. 

Researching
the book I found the bird-like creatures the most fascinating as
they were probably the ones I knew the least about. Again they are
usually positive, kind creatures who help rather than harm us. 

But
I guess if I had to pick a favourite it would have to be Medusa. She
resonates about the power of women and her story is one of injustice.
She was never a monster, just someone who was trying to live her
life. She only harmed those who attacked her and she was a victim of
one of the most heinous and cowardly acts in all of mythology. It is
impossible, I think, to see the story of Medusa as anything but a
parable about male violence against women and the hatred of the
established patriarchy of strong independent females. For that reason
she probably resonates the strongest. 

I
am actually writing a fiction book about her – its a crime caper
comedy believe it or not!  

For more information on Gabiann Marin Visit:

Gabiann’s Linkedin Profile
Her Author Page on Facebook you can follow.
Her Amazon Author Page.

The
Sabbat

The
Sabbat this month is Spring Equinox, known by many Pagans as Ostara.
Many take Bede and the Grimm’s word for it that Ostara was a
Germanic goddess who had a hare as companion and eggs were auspicious
to her.

Unfortunately,
no evidence that this was a goddess exists in imagery or writings
prior to Bede.

But
since writings can be lost, and many passed traditions on orally,
there is a chance this is true. It may also be true that Xtianity
absorbed the Pagan rites to Ostara in their Easter practices.

One thing that is NOT true is the ridiculous meme claiming Ishtar was the goddess Ostara because the name is similar to Easter. Ishtar was never venerated in the British Isles, and ancient British pagans had no knowledge of her whatsoever. Xtians converting British Pagans did not adapt Middle Eastern Pagan practice either.

If
Ostara was a goddess, she was, as Grimm, and Bede say, Germanic.

Both
Ostara and Easter are celebrated with the new life of the Earth, and
new spiritual life for worshippers in mind.

But
while Xtians think of it as their god rising from the grave, and
Pagans think of it in earth based terms, another way to look at it is
rebirth of way of thinking.

New
Life

Earlier
in the article, I spoke of the things we loathe about ourselves that
are things we cannot control.

Examples
I shared were of physical things we might not like, but have no
ability to change. Other examples include things such as the presence
of depression that is being treated as well as possible, but is a
lifelong condition, memory problems after stroke, inability to digest
a favorite food anymore, inability due to medical reasons to have
kids, or even being divorced when you did not choose to be.

My
challenge this time is to think of that thing which you cannot
change- and forgive yourself for it.

Believe
me, I do not say this lightly, as I have things I am upset with
myself for. I say things like “I am sorry for the way I am” and
“I wish you did not have to deal with the fact I have X problem.”

This
is perhaps the least productive thing we do as human beings. In
essence, we punish ourselves for something we have no control over.

We
make ourselves out to be guilty, when in fact, if we could change
whatever it is we hate about ourselves, we absolutely would.

So,
the self-loathing stops. Now.

It’s
going to take a conscious effort to undo your counter productive way
of thinking about yourself, and replacing that with forgiveness, and
amping up the self-love, and it’s one a one time, “fling a spell
and forget it” thing. It will take a different amount of time for
each person, and you may have to tweak the working to suit yourself.

I
want you to know that you are a perfect reflection of the creator,
and what WE think of as flaws are sometimes just things our culture
spits at. We have to train our minds to resist this cultural
poisoning, which is basically abuse, and VERY toxic. We have to
sometimes be the goddess or the father god for ourselves, and know
better than the crap we are told.

This
working entails giving a gift to yourself. You are worth it! This is
done in parts. How far apart you space the parts is up to you.

The
Working

To
start, get a plain white candle and a small receptacle to burn paper
in.

Get
paper, and writing materials.

Part
1
– You are going to sit down and write a letter to yourself.

You
are going to make it as long as you like. Go into great detail about
the thing you loathe about yourself and go ahead and cry out how much
you wish you could change things. It is okay to type and print out
the letter if you’d prefer not to hand write it. Include in the
letter why you understand you can’t change this. Say all you want
to about it and how you feel about it. Just get it all out. You don’t
even have to have one sitting be the whole letter. It can be as long
or as short of a letter as you want. It can even be just a paragraph
or less long.

Part
2
– Then you are going to write your goal for changing thinking.
You are going to have to really think about what thinking you need to
discard, but also what thinking you need to replace it with. Then,
you need to decide what action after the change of thinking you are
going to take. Be as detailed or as vague as asking your goddess or
god for guidance.

Part
3
– Have your initial letter, and then your other papers which
list your goals and planned changes, have your receptacle to burn in
, and light the candle. You can do this at your altar if you want to,
but you can even do this outdoors, or over the kitchen sink, or stove
if you prefer. Do this at the place where you are most comfortable
burning papers.

Read
your letter aloud to yourself. Let it all sink in, and as you are
reading, feel how crucial it is you let this self-loathing go. Then
read the second papers, and truly tell yourself that you are going to
lay aside the old way of thinking, and start the new way of thinking.

When
you have read it all, take one more sheet of paper, and write out a
very short summary of everything on the papers.

Burn
the papers, keeping the summary.

As
the papers burn say, “Out with the old, in with the new, I am the
goddess/god, and I am whole and perfect. So Mote It Be.”

Once
the papers have burned, release the ashes to the wind, and let your
candle burn all the way down. Clean your area up, and place your
summary somewhere you can look at it to remind yourself of all the
things you wrote. Because, remember, this is a long-term change, not
something you are going to release and forget. We have to make
conscious efforts to transform, most especially our way of thinking.
There is no “putting it out there to the Universe to manifest”.
We are going to do this ourselves, for a permanent change.

Part
4- Gift yourself something representing the change you are making. If
you hate your feet, get regular pedicures or start wearing shoes you
really love but thought you could not wear on “those” feet. If
you are upset you did not reach a goal, and the opportunity is gone,
celebrate a goal you DID make. If you are upset you have a chronic
condition that is never going to go away, pamper yourself somehow and
reassure yourself you are not to blame.

Blessed
Spring, and New Beginnings!

Blessed Be!

Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends (The Supernatural Series) on Amazon

***

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
.

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