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Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

June 1st, 2019

June
2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

Bright
Blessings!

I
write this on the 18 of May, and it is above 80 degrees, and feels
and smells like Summertime already! I can hardly believe how fast the
Wheel of the Year is turning!

I
could write a lot about which plants are doing what, but I thought it
would be better to show you. I decided I would focus on planting as
much on the patio as possible this year, and you can see that is
going very well. Raised beds are a great favorite of mine! I proudly
share my photos.

In
the front, you can see things are JUST beginning. I put in seeds,
some of which have sprouted, and I am excited to see them come along!
I bought more seeds also. I am not done planting yet! By this time
next month, it will be Summer Solstice, and the plants will be even
bigger, the days even longer, and the weather, even warmer.

Summer Solstice

For
many, Summer Solstice is about festivals, cookouts, and road trips.

Not
for those who practice the Old Ways, though. It falls when day is
longest, and night is shortest, and it celebrates the sun at the
height of its power. To emulate that, traditionally, in the British
Isles, bonfires burn day and night in some places to give more power
and strength to the sun. Torchlight processions, to further give the
sun power can be seen to this day, although most celebrants are
Xtianized and just do the rituals as matter of tradition.

Golowan

One
thing I will focus on is the festival of Golowan, which is well done,
and well attended.

Here is a link to one of the event listings: GolowanFestival.org

Here
is a video where you can see how much fun everybody is having! Here
you hear the marching band, and see the street dancing. I partook of
similar observances for a different celebration in Mexico. Let me
tell you, nothing is quite as much fun as a street procession and
dance!

These
are their versions of St. John’s Eve celebrations. Catholic
tradition has it that St John was born 6 months before Jesus, so his
feast day is right at 6 months before Christmas. So from June 21-June
30, various towns have a Golowan at Midsummer.

Historically,
Golowan had been outlawed due to so many fires being used, and the
increasing price of insurance being a strain on townships. But that
all changed in 1991 when Penzance in the UK resurrected it. Other
towns followed suit, and it’s now a major cultural celebration
again.

Things
you will see besides the street dancing and music include amazing
food, costumes, and a form of costumed beast called the Penglaz, or
‘Obby Oss’. Winter celebrations see a similar costumed performer
toting along a horse’s skull on a pole, and the name “Obby Oss”
supposedly means hobby horse.

This
is done because there is much revivalism currently. People have
decided to reclaim old folk traditions for themselves. Our culture
makes us who we are, and many never forget that. Here is a video of
the Obby Oss! This is a night procession complete with band and
torches. It’s so beautiful! Note the reveler joining in on his or
her scooter!

Many
Neo Pagan celebrations in the States include outdoor ritual, and
potlucking someplace nice like a yard or park. As few of us rely on
our own gardens or farms for our food, the significance of giving the
sun power so it can make things grow is not on the forefront of our
minds for the most part. Like the Golowan celebrations, it’s about
joy, frolicking, and gathering in good weather.

But,
if you are like me, and you are a plant lover, Summer is what you
dream of and look forward to on cold days. While doing your garden,
you plan next year’s, and you are always gathering supplies from
soil to seeds, and learning all you can to improve.

Another
thing we, as Pagans work to cultivate, is our knowledge base. I would
like to share with you a very good book , a bit of info about the
author, and a free link to read the whole publication online as my
Summer Solstice gift to you!

Magick
Without Tears

When
my Priest assigned this book, I rolled my eyes. I have a lot of
respect for Aleister Crowley, aka The Wickedest Man Alive aka The
Beast! But I am not Ceremonial Magician, and I have no plans to be. I
prefer to focus more on ancient history than modern things, and I’d
rather read about something the Vikings did than something a man
wrote close to a century ago.

I
always do what Lord Shadow says, and I always learn why he wants me
to do what he does.

In
this particular case, I read a great book which not only defined a
lot of things in Crowley’s words, but this revealed an intimate
portrait of Crowley, himself.

The
book was not a book perse when it was first written, but a collection
of letters he wrote to his student. In the Forward to the Hermetic
Library’s free online link to the book, Karl J Germer tells us
Crowley met a gal in 1943 who wanted to learn from him, and he sent a
series of letters to her. He saved many letters, and they were
published together as Magick Without Tears after his death.

The
free link where you can read the whole thing is here:

Free Copy

If
you prefer an actual book you can hold in your hands to read, I
recommend buying it here:

Magick Without Tears on Amazon

The
book was first published in 1954, and the beloved publishers
Llewellyn did another edition in 1973. Two other editions, one in
1982, and finally one edited by the illustrious Israel Regardie was
published in 1991.

Who
Crowley was specifically, in the simplest of terms was a highly
influential occultist who believed it was his responsibility to bring
us all into what he called the Aeon of Horus.

Born
in 1875 to Plymouth Brethren Xtians, Crowley was blessed with their
wealth, and used it to promote his religion, Thelema, and travel
around the World.

Thelema
specifically taught magic, mysticism, and magick, which is anything
you do to conform with your Higher Will. The Higher Will is much more
than the mundane will. It makes you YOU, and that which is your basic
purpose to being. From what I have been told, anything can be magick,
even taking a shower, if it goes towards your goal. The spelling
“magick” , however, is used by a lot of mainstream authors and
groups to denote anything besides parlor tricks, and is not the
proper use of the spelling at all.

“Do
what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Crowley wrote.
Meaning that everything you do in life ought to go towards your
Higher Will. Or as Lord Shadow says “It doesn’t mean do whatever
the hell you want to!” It is also where Wicca gets “the “Do
what thou wilt” from “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.”

Crowley
is actually responsible to some extent for Wicca in general. We all
know Uncle Gerald Gardner was highly influenced by the writings of
Margaret Alice Murray, taking her word for it that the witch trials
were persecution of the Pre Xtian Pagan religions in Europe. What
many don’t know is Gardner claimed he got a charter from Crowley to
start a Ceremonial Magic temple, and we will never know whether that
was one of Uncle Gerald’s tall tales or not.

What
we DO know is he founded Wicca, promoted it, and became the first
face of it.

He
borrowed more than the “Do what thou wilt” from Crowley.

For
example- Magical tools used in Thelema include a circle drawn on the
ground to operate within, a dagger, grimoires, wands, and pentacles.
Gardner stated his practice was old pre Xtian, but nothing like any
of this has been found in archaeological digs within temples or
sacred sites. It’s all found in Thelema, and Gardner was highly
influenced by Crowley.

It
is entirely fair to say without Crowley, there would have been no
Wicca, even though he was not an active participant in hand crafting
it.

Earlier,
I stated much of who Crowley was is revealed in these personal
letters. For example, one can tell he fussed over his students, but
expected them to do further reading. For example, in chapter XXXIV,
The Tao, he refers to The Book of the Law, which he expected her to
have a copy of, and full knowledge of, He writes, “ The
Book of the Law

states the doctrine of Tao very succinctly: “…thou hast no right
but to do thy will.  Do that, and no other shall say nay. 
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of
result, is every way perfect.” (AL I, 42-44)” Further evidence he
expected her to know much, as well as grab her books he fully
expected her to have on hand is farther down in this chapter, when
he writes of other topics to use as an example. He writes, “ You
are familiar with the Four Powers of the Sphinx, attributed by the
Adepts of old time to their Four Elements.  Air is to Know,
Scire; Fire is to Will, Velle; Water is to Dare, Audere; and Earth is
to Keep Silence, Tacere.  But now that a fifth Element, spirit,
is generally recognized in the Qabalah, I have deemed it proper to
add a Fifth Power corresponding: to Go, Ire.  (Book
of Thoth
,
p. 275)

In
other sections, you can see Crowley’s beliefs, which influenced
what he did. For example, in chapter number XIX, titled “The Act of
Truth”, here is what Crowley says to do:

“Analysed,
it is to make the assumption that something which seems very wrong is
actually all right, that an eager wish is an accomplished fact. a
reasonable anxiety, entirely unfounded—and to act accordingly.

For
instance, I’m in some desolate place, dependent for my food supply on
a weekly messenger. If he is a day late, it is awkward; if two, it
means hardship; if three, serious risk. One is naturally anxious as
the day approaches; perhaps the weather, or some similar snag, makes
it likely that he will be late. From one cause or another, I have
rather exceeded my ration. There is nothing I can do about it,
materially.

The
sensible course of action is to draw in my horns, live on the
minimun, necessary to life, which
involves cutting the day’s work down to almost nothing
,
and hope for the best, expecting the worst.

But
there is a Magical mode of procedure. You say to yourself: I am here
to do this Work in accordance with my true Will. The Gods have got to
see to it that I’m not baulked by any blinking messenger. (But take
care They don’t overhear you; They might mistake it for Hybris, or
presumption.  Do it all in the Sign of Silence, under the aegis
of Harpocrates, the “Lord of Defence and Protection”; be careful
to assume his God-form, as standing on two crocodiles. Then you
increase your consumption, and at the same time put in a whole lot of
extra Work. If you perform this “Act of Truth” properly, with
genuine
conviction that nothing can go wrong, your messenger will arrive a
day early, and bring an extra large supply. “

I
have been told there were times Crowley had spent all of his money,
and could not afford to buy pen , ink, and paper, so it is obvious
this, like any spellwork or magical or magickal operation has to be
done properly and with much forethought. All I am saying is when I
was at my lowest anxiety, I not only had friends nearby to help
comfort me, but I KEPT on telling myself “Everything is fine. It is
all okay. “ I was a basketcase, but I made it through. I used this
magical operation to get through.

Sometimes,
we literally tell ourselves the absolute worst, and just have to tell
ourselves the best to get through whatever we are dealing with. This
worked for me.

Crowley’s
eccentricity also comes through in a chapter that has been written
off as complete baloney by experts. He was said to have thought very
highly of himself, and been quite flamboyant. It showed in chapter
number V- The Universe 0=2 Equation.

He
writes:

“Q.
Ah, but what we started to do was discover the meaning of Nothing
It is not correct to write it simply as 0; for that 0 implies an
index 01,
or 0{2},
or 0n.
And if our Nothing is to be absolute Nothing, then there is not only
no figure, but no index either. So we must write it as 00.

What
is the value of this expression? We proceed as before; divide.

00
= 0n-n
= 0n
÷ 0n
= (0n
÷ 1) × (1 ÷ 0n).
Of course 0n
÷ 1 remains 0; but 1 ÷ 0{n} = ?.

That
is, we have a clash of the “infinitely great” with the
“infinitely small;” that knocks out the “infinity” (and
Advaitism with it!) and leaves us with an indeterminate but finite
number of utter variety. That is: 00
can only be interpreted as “The Universe that we know.”

R.
So much for one demonstration. Some people have found fault with the
algebra; but the logical Equivalent is precisely parallel.”

I
am sorry, but Crowley does not provide good mathematics here, as was
even stated in footnotes, where it was called “bogus math”.

I
joked to my Priest that Crowley must have been tripping on one of the
drugs he was not ashamed to say he used, and indeed, his COPD and
asthma was treated with heroin, which he was likely using at the time
he wrote this letter.

As
Neo Pagans, we are blessed today with a plethora of publications
available in libraries, bookstores, and for free online. Back in
Crowley’s day, the knowledge truly was more “hidden”, and you
really had to look hard to find it, spend a lot more money than we do
today, and keep it quiet what you were participating in.

Today,
enjoy this amazing book free on the Internet at the link I provided.

Saoirse’s Summer Solstice Celebration

I
always include a working in my articles.

This
month, in the spirit of Crowley, who was VERY true to himself, and
the revelry at Golowan, I want you to hit a festival or other
gathering when the weather is nice and eat, drink, dance, sing, and
be merry. That’s what it is all about. The sacredness of BEING
amidst the others who are happy to be alive and groove with the
beautiful weather is celebration enough. I can’t think of any
better way to connect to the old gods, the old ways, and the earth,
than to just be out in it having a good time doing what makes you
happiest.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoicest, 
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. 
Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, 
power and compassion, honor and humility, 
mirth and reverence within you. “

Blessed
Solstice.

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.

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. 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

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times for December 2018

Bright Blessings!

Some of us count the start of Winter with Samhain, and we were lucky that we had a warm beginning of Winter here in Central Ohio. One night in Early November though, surrounded by the glory of fall colors in the leaves of the many trees I live amongst, I was out walking the dog, and I felt a chill, and the silence that had fallen upon the body of Mother Earth told me the Cailleach was here.

My husband swears up and down Winter is not here until Solstice time, but I feel her moving across the land, and in my bones and joints. She’s here!

Soon, Yule will be upon us, or Winter Solstice, whichever you celebrate.

For many years, I have completely removed myself from the traditional American holiday processions. I simply don’t have the time, money, or patience for the craziness. Aside from a meal, a ritual, and a gift for my husband, I don’t do a thing anymore because I am so exhausted from doing Christmas professionally for over a decade. I also have a lot of friends, and cannot afford to buy for all of them, so I don’t buy for anybody. I have not sent holiday cards in close to fifteen years.

For some odd reason, this year, I bought a box of cards to send. I might not send many, and might just send them to my husband’s immediate family. The whole thing made me think, and wonder about how our tradition of gifts got started? I know it originated in Pagan times, but I wanted to look further into the practice.

Speaking of things that can be given as gifts, first, I’d like to review a new product I think many of you would love.

 

Megge on Audio

I had the privilege of reviewing Megge of Burydown, and interviewing author Rebecca Kightlinger earlier this year. The link to the article and review of the book can be found here:

http://paganpages.org/content/2018/04/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-38/

Luckily, Kightlinger contacted me last month and offered the opportunity to review her book, Megge of Burydown on Audible, a product found through Amazon.

I have never been one for books on tape because I am hard of hearing, but I figured I would give this a go because I like Kightlinger and I love doing reviews.

I, of course, rely very heavily on reading lips in conversations, and use closed captioning/subtitles when watching films, but the speech was clear. My husband, who has normal hearing, said the sound was crisp and perfect. The narration was very good, and I can see why people love these products.

This is the perfect gift because you can have the link for this sent to an ipad or cell phone, and take it anywhere you go. This is perfect for road trips, the commute to and from work, and even in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school. It is also perfect because you can plug your headphones in, and listen on walks places, lunch breaks, while shopping, or anywhere you want to go.

This is the perfect product to give as a gift for the holidays to yourself or anybody on your gift list!

Here is the link so you may purchase Kightlinger’s book on Audible.

https://www.audible.com/search?keywords=megge+of+burydown&ref=a_hp_t1_header_search

 

Presents were Wrapped by the Chimney

So why DO we do gifts during holiday time? I have always questioned it. Especially with the mainstream faiths. It is supposed to be a religious holiday, and for many people, it is all about buying things and attending parties, it seems.

Well, surprisingly, there are different reasons given.

Some Xtians say they give gifts in remembrance of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh given by the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Some say it is in honor of St. Nicholas, who they believe was morphed into Santa Claus.

Gift giving this time of year predates that. Think back to old Roman times

 

IO- Saturnalia!

 

 

Saturnalia ran from December 17-December 23, and honored the Roman god Saturn. He was the god of agriculture and time, and the event had originally begun as a single day, and they decided to expand on a good thing, and keep the fun going.

Saturn was the god of many things, including agriculture, and Saturnalia was considered both a time to give thanks for harvest and sowing, and a time to reflect on what was considered a golden era- when Saturn ruled. He was overthrown, and kept bound as he was seen as having capacity to be very cruel. During the festival, his bounds were taken off, freeing him for the celebrations.

Ironically, our gift giving might stem from gifts given during Saturnalia, but our style of doing so in no way resembles Saturnalian gifts.

The gifts given by them were sometimes gag gifts, and sometimes candles known as cerei, to signify the strengthening sun. They also gave something referred to as Sigillaria- which was wax or terracotta figurines. Mentioned by Macrobious in the fifth century in his publication Saturnalia, one speaker in the book says sigillaria are substitutes for human sacrifice victims, and another speaker states they are playthings for kids. It is speculated there was a time human sacrifices were made, and that practice was replaced by animal sacrifice, and the figurines.

The word Sigillaria refers to the last day of Saturnalia, the gifts given, and the word sigillarius referred to the crafts persons/ vendors who made and sold the Sigillaria. The vendors set up temporary tables and vendors booths and sold their wares for four days. This sounds just like the crafts fairs and street fairs we have today!

Money was also given to servants by their employers, and this was sometimes used to buy offerings to give at the Temple of Saturn. Today, we have holiday bonuses, and can thank the Ancient Romans for starting that practice.

The employers would also reverse roles, and host dinners for their employees.

Notice I am not referring to them as masters and slaves, as many are overly fond of when referring to ancient Pagans. I have been wondering just WHO cooked the foods, and catered the parties that could become lavish? I highly doubt the employers who had chefs year round became overnight chefs themselves.

I picture people running around for days before the dinners, getting things done in advance, and then paying people to cater those parties for them. Furthermore, recall, at one time, the festival was for a day, then it was extended to three days, and finally five days. Can you imagine people who never cooked or cleaned or did a thing for themselves all year would magically become Betty Crocker for five days? They had some form of help somehow, I am thinking.

Today, we have something similar. While schools and places of business are closed for the day of the holiday, food service staff still work the day of all around the world.

Times may have changed, but how much have humans changed?

So, I write that employers hosted for employees.

Gift giving was a big part of the holiday, and although we do our gift giving differently, we can thank the Ancient Romans for this tradition for the winter holidays.

 

Today

Today, many feel stress and strain to give gifts, some statistics state some people spend around $1,000 for all the gifts they give. Economically, retail establishments market and sell things for Xmas as early as Samhain, or even beforehand, and the day after Thanksgiving begins a mad dash of insanity while people fight, scream, and plow their way through the holiday.

Actually…some shops start their Black Friday sales the day OF Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving this year, before our guests arrived, just for the heck of it, we went to Wal Mart at about 3:45 P.M. There were not a ton of shoppers, but there was a ton of staff. They had set up massive amounts of displays of things they had covered with plastic. I asked if they were getting set up for tomorrow. They said no, that the sale started at 6 P.M. TODAY. I jokingly told them to try not to get trampled, and they did not laugh. My husband said “Let’s get out of here!”

We joked about it at dinner later, and friends informed me that Black Friday sales are basically a conspiracy. I was told they set out things they had in the back they had not been able to sell. They said prices had been marked up right before Black Friday, and dropped to the original price that had not been inflated. They also told me they set out older merch they want to clear out so they can bring in new items. I was told you do not save money at Black Friday sales, and you are not getting anything worth fighting the crowds for.

I did a bit of reading. Stores also create an illusion of scarcity, which makes people FIGHT each other for an item. A store might be out of an item, but it is because they deliberately understock of something they believe a LOT of people want, and this is so they can spike the price, based on supply and demand. One of my favorite holiday films is based on this. Jingle All the Way with Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger is about two dads in a battle to get the last of a certain toy for their kids, and the ridiculous, hilarious messes they get themselves into- all because they both failed to plan ahead to buy their kids gift in advance.

If you wait until AFTER Christmas, you will get a better price because they slash the inflated prices. You might save yourself the trouble of lines at stores, and just nab gift cards for everybody.

A lot of people refuse to give money or gift cards at holiday time, and I have literally been told this- because they take pride in filling up the underside of the tree with gifts, and they enjoy watching their loved ones rip open presents, and exclaim how much they love what has been bought for them. Parents often use it as a sign of wealth and to give themselves a pat on the back for what great providers they are. This is no longer about taking care of your family, but it is a way of making yourself feel good. It’s also a way to compare yourself with others and measure whether you feel you are coming out ahead of everybody else.

Need I remind people just how very much waste we have in our landfills right now, and how polluted we have made Mother Earth? Even just not using all that packaging waste from one time uses at holiday time would drastically reduce waste.

I cannot tell you how many children cry because mom and dad did not buy them what they wanted for the holiday, and how many people save money year-round to buy things they feel will make their loved ones pleased. My Granny, for example gathered gifts all year, and stashed them in a box in her closet. She kept Christmas wrap on hand, and would wrap the gifts and label them the minute she got them home. It would be 99 degrees and Summertime outside, and Granny was nabbing and wrapping Christmas gifts.

All of these things have created an unhealthy expectation and a sense of entitlement for us culturally. Due to this, and various other reasons, some people do not give gifts for the winter holiday.

For example, some Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some Pentecostals do not give or receive Christmas gifts. I have been told Jehovah’s Witnesses also do not celebrate Halloween, and this is due to their understanding it is a Pagan holiday. I had thought perhaps the Amish do not give gifts, but indeed they do! I read that they tend to give more simple gifts, however, and the practice of children setting out a special plate for their parents to fill with nuts and goodies observed. The article I read said parents will give toys their kids want, but it’s not like the toys we have for non-Amish mainstream American kids in stores. They do the handmade toys, and games.

 

Alternative Giving Solutions

I know this is easy for me to say – because I don’t have children. However, ask anybody who knows me, and they will tell you that I can be a cold-hearted bitch, and I don’t bend to peer pressure. I realize those of you who have kids and families who place demands on you will suffer immensely if you rock the boat, and don’t buy them what they expect you to.

Again, I say, yes, it is easy for me to say, but it wasn’t always so. I slowly distanced myself from the holiday expectations, and you can too, if you decide to. Instead of a ritual, I will include some alternative gift giving suggestions, and talk about my very special, late great Aunt Wanda!

 

Aunt Wanda’s Way

My Aunt Wanda was a strong, and shining influence on me, and the older I get, the more I realize just how much she shaped me.

A member of her local Eagles club, and onetime President of that chapter, she worked her tail off gathering and distributing food around Thanksgiving and Christmas to needy families. She would load her cars trunk up, and she and her best friend Ruthie would do drop offs at residences together.

One year, when mom and I were struggling financially, they showed up with a whole trunk full of food just for us. I have never forgotten this.

If you want to get into the spirit of giving during the holidays, instead of dropping hundreds or thousands on spoiling kids, friends, or family members who already have all they need, why not contribute to some cause that reaches out to those who need help? Here are a few suggestions.

 

Saoirse’s Simple Holiday Gift-Giving Suggestions

  1. Contribute money, items, or your time to a local community organization that gives to those in need. Food, clothing, and home goods are accepted year-round at many sites, and your local city offices can be reached for information if you have no idea who to contact. Gently used items can be donated as well. It’s never a bad time to go through your things and purge every last thing you cannot use that is in decent condition, and donate it someplace. Your house will be cleaner, and somebody else will benefit from what you are no longer using.
  2. Volunteer to work the holiday if your work site allows it. It will give the day off to somebody else who wants the day with family. This is an added bonus if your family annoys the tar out of you, AND you often get time-and-a-half pay! Volunteer to do so early, so you can get out of a family gathering without getting yelled at if needs be! You’re welcome.
  3. Have a White Elephant Gift Exchange. A hilarious article about the rules is provided at this link. You don’t have to do White Elephant’s only at holiday time, and I have done this at “Unbirthday” parties, and everybody has a ball. A spending limit is often set, and sometimes, people have a gag gift be the theme.

https://www.whiteelephantrules.com/

  1. For those who do not have family to gather with – or simply do not want to gather with family – have a friend gathering. I always say friends are the family we choose.
  2. Some people I know adopt a family for holiday time and give things to them. You can also sponsor an animal at an animal shelter, or a zoo for an annual fee.
  3. You can anonymously pay towards somebody’s debt. You can pay off the balance on a child’s overdue lunch account. You can offer money towards somebody’s doctor bill without knowing whose bill it is. You can prepay at a restaurant towards whoever the staff feels is needy. I know how some feel about mainstream churches, but truthfully, many of them do amazing community work. You could always call them and ask what debts some of their members need help with.
  4. OR, you could contact your local Pagan, New Age, or Metaphysical shop, and ask if they accept cash donations.
  5. Leave food outdoors for wildlife. Not all birds migrate to warmer places, and not all animals hibernate. Suet, birdseed, corn on the cob, a salt lick, or even water you ensure does not freeze will be a huge help for the animals during the meager winter months.
  6. On a more self-nurturing note – take the money you would have spent on presents for people who do not need them, and apply towards a bill or debt of your own. If you have neither that need paying down, put the money in a savings account, your 401K, or to buy some investment that will multiply!
  7. Pick one person who you know that gets very little company, and spend time with them. Make it a point to do this regularly instead of just doing a holiday visit

The biggest issue with the “giving season” is it lasts for under two months, and people tend to forget to keep the spirit of giving alive the other ten months of the year!

 

Blessings for your Winter Solstice time holiday, however you celebrate. May the spirit of giving be with you year-round, and the light of the love of your family and friends always warm your heart and days.

Blessed Solstice.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Bright Blessings!

We have “sprung forward”, and are rejoicing that the daylight hours are longer. Some of us are STILL adjusting to the time change, however happy we are about it. Spring officially starts in four days from the time I am writing this, and many have already had their Sabbat celebrations for it.

Like many others, I am coming out of hibernating with the warmer, longer days. My energy levels have increased, and my mood is more enthusiastic. I have been a LOT more busy, and that means that I have forgotten to pace myself. As a result, I have had a couple days when absolutely nothing got done, and I sat around a whole lot.

One thing that has gotten done is massive patio cleanup, and hand fertilizing of the raised garden bed we built some years ago. I have carefully crumbled eggshells, cut up fruit peels, and thrown in both tea grinds, and used coffee grinds.

I am glad I live in modern times and get to “cheat” and throw in store bought soils as well. Soon, peas will be planted in the beds, and after those are spent, pretty flowers, all of which I have seeds for already!

Spring is a big deal at our house!

In Nature, everything is sprouting, and the snowdrops are already glittering through last fall’s dead leaves, on the forest floor. Daffodils are about to sprout, and our crocuses came up first, and soon, fritillaries will follow suit.

Birdsong has returned, and gets louder daily. Squirrels, and bunnies are jumping all over the place, reminding us of how very alive the Earth is. I’ve even seen a couple of mosquitoes already!

Everything in creation from plants, to animals, and even people , are seemingly awakening from Winter’s deep sleep, and are raring to get out in the sunshine and enjoy life!

Some of us spend time outdoors, gardening, and “grooving with Nature”, as my Priest puts it, but are more into the arts. We create, we dance, we enjoy music and theatre. Many of us LOVE to read! What is better than a nice book, and a hot cuppa’ in a cozy room with Spring light streaming in?

Those who are prolific readers are in for a real treat!

A new book was published recently, and let me tell you, it’s an exquisite read.

It’s called Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), which is part of The Bury Down Chronicles by Rebecca Kightlinger and is set in Thirteenth Century Cornwall, England. It is magical, chock full of mystery, the Old Ways, and Family Traditions. This book draws you in immediately, and Kightlinger’s descriptive narrative voice is so deep, you actually FEEL like you are THERE, watching in person. The firelight flickering in the darkness is so well detailed, you can almost smell the woodsmoke, and the faces of the women are so well described, you can almost reach out and touch them. You need this book, like , yesterday. Step into Bury Down with Kightlinger’s book.

 

 

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Kightlinger via emails, for an in depth, very intimate interview, in which she speaks not only of her book, but her own background, and women’s issues.

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

And next enjoy the interview! Afterwards, this month’s working will be provided below.

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

Saoirse (S)– Bright Blessings, Rebecca. First, tell me a bit about yourself and your work!

 

Rebecca Kightlinger (R)My book, Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), is about the daughter of a midwife in medieval Cornwall. Megge’s mother and aunt– a healer and a seer, respectively—each hold an ancient grimoire that they must pass down to their daughters, who will then become their apprentices. The books are companion tomes that together enable the women to harness the knowledge and wisdom of every previous heir to the books. They are able to query these ancestors in order to learn the secrets that enable them to serve the people of their village. The problem is that although Megge wants nothing more than to become a woman of Bury Down and be truly a part of her family, she is frightened of her mother’s book. When the time comes for her to accept it, she refuses. 

The stakes are very high for Megge’s mother, so she and Megge’s aunts must bring Megge to accept her charge and assume her role as a woman of Bury Down.

The themes are the desire to belong while being unable or unwilling to do the one thing that will make you a part of the group; the desire to find and follow your own path despite pressure to follow one laid down for you; and the closeness that can unite two people of different generations, the younger being able to learn from the elder, who brings wisdom and unconditional love.

I was an obstetrician gynecologist for many years; but in  2010, a serious injury to my right hand brought that work to an abrupt end. It was then that I started writing fiction. One day in 2011, when I was writing another story, letting scenes play out in my mind and describing them on paper, I saw not New York City or Amsterdam, where that story was set, but a pastoral scene: a grassy hill where sheep were grazing and a girl dressed in rough, heavy woolens was sitting on a big rock at the top of the hill. The girl seemed to look right at me and said, “When you’re done with those Dutch people, I want to go next.” And when I had finished the other story, she showed up again and just started telling me about her life and the lives of her ancestors. At the time, I knew very little about Cornwall and even less about the middle ages. But Megge spoke to me clearly, and with humor, showing me the scenes, and I felt this was something very real, though I had never before experienced anything quite like it.

Having been a visitor to Lily Dale spiritualist community many times, I called a medium, Jackie Avis, to talk to her about it. We had a telephone visit, and even before we started to talk about Megge, Jackie said she was seeing near me a big, very old book with a heavy wooden cover carved with symbols. She perfectly described The Book of Seasons, the book Megge was so afraid of. Our long conversation set my mind at ease, making me comfortable inviting Megge into my life. 

I knew that in order to tell this story well, I would need some serious writing skills, so I applied to The University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Poet Annie Finch was the director, and we spoke by phone. It was she who accepted me into the program.

In the summer of 2013, I went to Cornwall to visit the place I thought might be the region Megge had described as home. Arriving at Botelet Manor, where I was staying, was an incredible experience. Everything Megge described was right there. There is even a house on the manor that had been there during Megge’s day. The remains of Bury Down hillfort, built thousands of years ago, stood at the site Megge had described as the healer’s grove, where women came for healings at night. The church, the village location, and the castle were all as I had seen as she spoke.

Writing this book has been the most rewarding experience, and I hope this comes through in the book. 

 

S- I will add, I am a psychic advisor/seer/reader, or whatever people choose to call me also. I am thrilled you spoke with a seer! I refer to this as a gift of spirit, as do many others. I feel we all have gifts of spirit including, speaking with the dead, healing, comforting the grieving, ability to use prayer to intervene in other’s lives, etc. What are your personal beliefs and views about oracles/seers?  Do you feel you have gifts of spirit, and if so, what are they? It sounds like a spirit showed up and told you her story! Is that right? What is your spiritual path, and how does that influence your writing of this book, and your writing in general?

 

R- My mother and great-grandmother had strong spiritual gifts, and it may have been their openness to spiritual communication that has enabled me to accept this communication without fear, judgment, or censure. Like you, I think we all have the ability to perceive the presence of some who are now, as Megge says, in the ether. I sometimes feel my mother or father very near and have had communication of a sort with my mom through dreams after she passed. She told us in her final days that she would “stay nearby as long as possible” to comfort us after she passed, and when she did, I felt her spirit in the room with us for a good long time. It was a sense of joy I’ve never forgotten. 

I believe strongly in the power of intention and prayer, and I know that people’s needs are somehow made clear to the person who can help. I’ve been in that situation many times as a physician, and I know it’s true.

Is Megge a spirit? I can’t say. All I know is that when I’m ready to write, she seems to come and take me through her story. I don’t see or hear her with my senses, but her words come through me onto the page along with scenes as clear as any you’d see in a movie. And the only time this happens is when I’m at my typewriter or keyboard, ready to write. Her home, her village, and all the people in her world are just as vivid and consistent as anything in this world. 

I don’t know what my spiritual path is or where it is leading. One thing for sure is that my daily life is much more solitary that it ever was, and this feels right. It’s not lonely or boring in any way. The writer’s life seems to suit me now, where it would have been wrong for me before this. I used to have a busy practice, which I loved, and I worked with and taught some wonderful, caring, skilled, intelligent people. My patients, mostly middle-aged and elderly women for the last ten years of my practice, were smart, canny, funny, and insightful. I loved being their doctor. I remember talking to a lot of them about matters of the spirit, and I saw that as we all got older we seemed more in touch with it. It stopped seeming like something outside ourselves and became a source of both comfort and, well, interest, for lack of a better word. As I and my patients and friends began to experience more of the spiritual, we began to talk more openly about it and realized that we were having many of the same experiences. 

Other authors, I’ve learned, experience a similar kind of communication in their writing. One young man related in a lecture that when he sat down to write, he would close his eyes and see his narrator arrive at the door and ring the bell. He would let her in, and she would tell him her story. At a recent book-signing event, I asked the author how he invented his characters, and he kind of laughed and shook his head. “They just show up,” he said. “They do whatever they want. I had no control over this story.” Other writers have no idea what this means. They construct charts and plot points and have the beginning, middle, and end mapped out before they even start their story. Many search newspapers for inspiration or ideas, or capture snippets of conversation that they write down and build a story around. That sounds harder to me, more cognitive, but is probably a more efficient use of writing time!

For me, the cognitive part begins after a scene is down. I research the era and place–I visited the place Megge described–and cut and splice scenes, sometimes changing names or details where needed. But I don’t change the overarching story. I stay true to what I’m seeing so the story can continue to move forward. It may sound funny, but I want my narrators to trust me. I want the narrators who are waiting in the wings to tell their stories to know that I won’t mess with them too much. 

It feels like there are countless narrators/spirits out there waiting to tell their stories and searching for someone who can “hear” them. Is this how we return to the living world? Through a storyteller? Is this why many stories somehow just ring true? I can’t say. The first novel I wrote was narrated by an entire town. I had asked my husband for a manual typewriter for Christmas one year. He bought me an Olivetti, and I sat down at it for the first time ever and had no idea what to write. So I closed my eyes and thought, “Who has the story?” And in seconds, probably thirty or forty people showed up in my mind’s eye, all looking like working-class people and farmers from the 1930s, and all jostling to be the one to tell the story. It seemed they had all come back to tell their part of a horrific event that involved all of them but that that none of them knew the whole story of. Each one ended up telling his or her part, often interrupting each other and correcting details. Every night, at 8 pm, I sat down to write. For an entire year. And the whole story came out, all the details that had been kept secret. When it was done, those narrators disappeared. I’ve not heard from them again. One day, when Megge’s story is done, I’ll go back to that one. I hope I will have developed the skills by then to tell it well.

And this is probably much more than you wanted to hear! But it is unusual for me to be able to relate this kind of information about myself and my writing to someone who will understand and not judge. I’ll be very interested to learn if others have this experience and how they deal with it. How it first started and how they reacted. To me, it felt natural, inviting. I’ve never questioned it, and I hope it never stops

 

S- As somebody with a medical background, how does the past misunderstanding of illness, combined with superstition strike you? What do you have to say about it? Have you ever seen similar attitudes in today’s world?

 

R- There have always been and probably always will be superstitions about illness. Back in the Middle Ages, when so little was known about the body in health or illness, it’s understandable that people would confuse association with causality. The scientific method hadn’t yet been designed to distinguish between the two. So, when a patient made a spontaneous recovery from illness after taking a remedy or submitting to bloodletting, charms, or prayers, the association of that treatment with recovery meant that it must have worked! Word went out, and the treatment became more widely used.

My feeling is that even today there are treatments that work but whose mechanism of action we don’t understand despite considerable scientific research. Additionally, there are many treatments and remedies that might be beneficial but that will never be adequately studied simply because no one has a sufficient stake in the results of controlled, double-blind studies. And if the research might show that the product doesn’t work, it’s a gamble. For this reason, some approaches that are considered “superstitious” or “magical” may never be scientifically proven safe and effective, even if they are. 

But, while superstitions in healing can sometimes result in harm, I’m less concerned about that than I am about people harnessing the power of superstition to do ill to the most vulnerable in society. We saw this in Megge’s story just as many have seen throughout history: the most powerful in society using both superstition and strong beliefs against the most vulnerable.

In the worst cases, superstitions are thinly-veiled excuses for committing violent acts. In The Midwife and the Witch, author Thomas Forbes cites “the crowing hen.” From the time of Aristotle until as recently as the late 1800s, a female showing masculine characteristics or behaving “like a man” (i.e., talking) was said to foretell doom. Often, this resulted in the death of the offender.

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

A German proverb prescribed punishment for both hens and women who would dare make their voices heard:

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

So, to my mind, the danger of superstition is not so much that the superstition itself will directly harm the believer, it is that others often use the power of belief to control and punish. In the case of Megge and the midwives in her life, someone uses both religious dogma and fanciful beliefs as an excuse to harm both women and children. 

 

S- Attending University in Maine placed you in New England- not horribly far from Salem, Mass. where one of the most famous accounts of witch scare happened. Have you studied this much, or have any insight into it? 

 

R- I’ve studied witch trials from all over the world and in different eras. When I first started looking into the history of this horror, I went to the Cornell University special manuscripts library and studied some original trial transcripts. 

I came away with a picture of ordinary women being tried, often tortured, and put to death after having been accused of witchcraft, sometimes by her neighbors, and often out of fear or retribution. The accusations rarely made sense, and the atmosphere of misogyny and hatred was almost palpable in these documents. Those who controlled communities engaged in witch trials needed a scapegoat for their rage and to control those in their jurisdiction, and this was often either the most vulnerable member of the community or the outsider.

Midwives were often targets of accusations, especially in the Middle Ages, as they treated the most frequently maligned portion of the population–women–and they often did so through techniques and remedies outside the understanding of the medical and religious communities. This made them suspect, and suspicion made them victims.

 

S- Magic is all around us, and in many forms. Your ladies in your book understand this, and practice well. They understand the power of blood bonds, as well as adoptive family bonds. They understand the power of women working together in a man’s world. They understand the power of working in generations. Today’s neo-practitioners are 50/50 in love or hate with this idea. Some shun it, and recognize no elders, believing they are born very powerful and don’t want anybody telling them how to practice. Some like me value our elders, who are passing our craft on to us. This is more ancient, and what the women of Bury Down are doing. I see value in both, personally. In your historic readings, what have you read about passing traditions down? About mentors and students? About family traditions? What examples can you share from history?

 

R- Nearly every profession, skilled trade, and educational or spiritual community relies on one generation teaching the next through both formal, didactic education and mentorship or apprenticeship. The alternative to being thought by someone more skilled or educated is to be an autodidact. People will dispute this, but while I understand that many of us possess innate talents and gifts that we can develop to some extent on our own, I think raw talent needs shaping from the outside, otherwise one’s learning tends to center on readings and teachings that substantiate our own theories and biases rather than challenging or questioning them with an eye to dispelling misconceptions, arriving at a truth, and honing our skills. 

Living by and passing down traditions is documented in religious, cultural, medical, artistic, and every other societal group or profession I can think of. While there are many short-lived splinter groups organized and led by one person, religion and spiritual traditions probably provide the most universal example of laws, rules, mores, and history transmitted to children through their parents, their schools, and their religious/spiritual leaders and teachers, with didactic learning supplemented by sometimes very intimate, inter-generational mentorship in the home. This is documented throughout history in religious texts and in literature ranging from The Iliad to the Mists of Avalon and The Red Tent

Another example of passing down traditions is the oral, storytelling or bardic tradition strikingly manifest in The Mabinogion, a suite of eleven Welsh prose tales passed through generations by storytellers (another profession whose practitioners learned from masters from the preceding generation).

Finally, witchcraft and magic have a long tradition of being practiced by those who draw on ancient knowledge coupled with the skill and insight of a master practitioner. In preparing the manuscript of Megge of Bury Down, I studied numerous grimoires including Picatrix, a compilation of works from the ancient, the medieval and the Renaissance eras, which urges its readers and students to learn from sages: “The wise who are endowed by nature with intelligence never cease nor neglect to seek and inquire that they might learn and understand the secrets of the sages, who sealed them up in their books and wrote them in hidden words, that the aforesaid might search them out by careful investigation until they attain what they desire…” [The Picatrix, Trans. Greer, John Michael, and Warnock, Christopher. Adocentyn Press, 2010, 61.] 

While I am neither witch nor magician, I see in the writings about spiritual practice the value of sages, of teachers, of mentorship. This is the basis of Megge’s story and path. She seeks and finds mentors throughout her life; and this, I believe, is what many people have always intuitively known they’ve needed, have sought throughout history, and continue to seek.

 

S- What that we have not discussed would you like included in my article, please?

 

R- Megge of Bury Down is the story of a young girl growing up in another time and place. It is historical in that it takes place in the past. But it is not really about the history. It is magical realism in that Megge’s family is charged with passing down two grimoires whose power preserves the spirits of their ancestors. But it is not about the genre of magical realism. 

The historical research and the literary technique here serve story: the story of a girl growing up in a family of women. A girl who wants to be one with the mystical women she admires but whose fear and misconceptions keep her apart. A girl who must find the courage to look past her fears to a terrible truth and find a new path. It is about the love, the traditions, and the teaching that unite generations. It is about the women of Bury Down, but it is mainly about unbreakable bonds, crafted over lifetimes, that precede us into each life, sustain us as we find and do the work we came to do, and then guide us into the next. 

 

Many thanks, Rebecca for this amazing interview! Blessed Be!

 

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This Month’s Working

Our next Sabbat after this is published is Beltaine. For the first time in years, I am not hosting!

I’m also not planning to attend Sabbat anybody else hosts!

What will I do with myself for Beltaine this year?”, I wondered.

I thought on it, and was inspired by some things I saw, and decided to send out an appeal to other women to do a One Month Challenge with me instead of a one-time Sabbat rite.

In Wicca Beltaine, May traditions crown a May King and May Queen, and they represent the Goddess and God in ritual, blessing everybody, and bringing life, growth, and in some traditions, sexuality to the people in the ritual.

There are a lot of “Sabbat Pagans” who attend Sabbat, and seemingly forget they are Pagans until the next gathering.

What can I say? It saves time for some folks.

Not everybody has the time, or ability to do lengthy daily, or even weekly devotions. It is easy to assume that we do, but the truth is, for some people, it’s just not happening, and it’s not in any way a choice.

What I thought of was a way to, for 30 days, bless other women, and ourselves, thus blessing, venerating, and adorning the Goddess in each of us women. Collectively, then, we adorn the Mother Goddess through the bodies , hearts , and souls of her daughters, the Earthly representations of her.

The topics brought up in the interview, specifically of abuse of women, and children made me think of an ugly truth. We often focus on abuse men direct at women, and completely ignore the toxic competitiveness we have with one another.
“That bitch thinks she is something, doesn’t she? I’m prettier than her!” Instead of “You go girl! Shake that tailfeather!” We sometimes become jealous that another woman has pride, and we are afraid if she is proud, she will take away the good things about us. Instead, we need to ALL root for one another.

It is not a competition- we should ALL want to help each other succeed.

I see examples of women who are not fat at all get attacked online, and called fat by women who are obviously jealous. Why does this happen? Because we think we don’t look as attractive? Because we would rather she be physically ill and bulimic or anorexic than comfortable in her skin, and healthy?

And why do we make fun of the “scrawny” girls? Maybe they DO have an illness, but this does not mean they should shroud themselves away, unfit to be seen.

Why do we place unfair demands on mothers? If they work, they are accused of putting career before family. If they are stay at home moms, they are accused of being ambitionless freeloaders. If they are tired, and not all made up fancy from keeping up with kids, we accuse them of “letting themselves go”. If they do not want children, they are accused of refusing the “responsibility” of being moms. If they have a lot of kids, we ridicule them, calling them breeders, sluts, and baby factories.

These harsh words do not just come from men. They oftentimes come from other women.

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

Without Further adieu, I would like to share my working with you.

If you would like to, do this working with me.

 

Saoirse’s Solitary 30 Day Adornment of the Goddess/Crowning of the May Queen

For thirty days, do these three things. If you forget a day, oh well, nobody will know!

You may journal every day what you do if you like, but you don’t have to.

  1. For 30 days, give an honest compliment to one woman per day. Build another woman up with your words. Words are mouth magic, and we create whatever we want to with them. Use your words every day to build one woman up to bless, and adorn the Goddess.
  2. Reach out to one woman in the next 30 days, and do something nice for her that will make a difference in her life. It can be small, or great. Maybe you know a lonely woman who loves coffee. Dedicate one day every other week from now on to sitting down to coffee with her. Say you know a woman who is trying to eat healthier. Encourage her, and share recipes with her if she would like that. Say your neighbor loves plants, but says she has no time to garden this year. Gift her with a hanging basket, and offer to help keep it watered if she needs it. What you do to make a difference in one woman’s life can be a great thing or a small thing, but it will make a huge impact.
  3. Finally, do not forget the Goddess in you. It might be easy to do something good for others, but not yourself. It’s time to do one of the kindest things for yourself.

We are often our own biggest, and harshest critics, and while yes, others may tear us down, we sometimes internalize toxic voices, and tear ourselves down worse than anybody else.

Think of something you really find frustrating about yourself. This can be something as simple as age spots on your skin, or something big like, having panic attacks. This is to be a thing that always bothers you. Something you are upset with yourself about.

Now, you are to start forgiving yourself of whatever this is.

This is going to be the most difficult part of the challenge, and it will last beyond 30 days. It may entail deprogramming, tears, or the resurfacing of past aches, but it’s very important.

While we can easily see the Goddess in others, and nurture that, we also need to see the Goddess in ourselves, and nurture that as well.

Enjoy the Spring, Beltaine and being the Goddess you are.

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

 

 

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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