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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

July 1st, 2019

Celebrating
the Old Ways in New Times July 2019

Bright
Blessings!

It
is almost Summer Solstice, and I realize I get to pick the topic as
there is no Sabbat next issue!

Well…we
are getting a lot of rain in Central Ohio, and on one hand, my plants
just LOVE it, and it means I do not have to water them. Do those of
you who garden notice that plants prefer being watered by rain than
hose watering?

Mine
do!

So,
on one hand, I cannot really complain, but SO much rain! I remember
some years ago, one June, it rained for nineteen days straight.
NINETEEN. I am seeing stories in the news about flooding taking place
in other towns, and mine does not have flooding issues because we
have the Hoover Dam a few miles away as well as some very well built
and well-maintained sewers in my town.

I’m
feeling pretty thankful for that right now. I’d pack the dog and
cats on my back, and swim away if this place flooded!

While
rain is something people prayed for since as long as we can remember,
flooding is NOT!

FLOODS!!!!!

I can only imagine how people felt in days of yore when there was a flood. Back before electricity and automobiles to drive us to safety, ship in supplies for rebuilding, and before TV forecasts helped alert people to evacuate. Lore exists that flooding was sent from some deity for some reason. The most famous of these stories is the one of Noah and his Ark.

(Woodcut of Noah’s Ark from Anton Koberger’s “German_Bible”)

I
grew up listening to how mad the god of the Hebrews was at humanity,
and decided to destroy them all- except Noah, who pleased him. So, he
warned Noah to build a huge boat for his family, and all the animals,
and go inside. He tried to warn his neighbors anyhow, and they
laughed at him. Well, the story goes, when Noah was done, and his
family and one male and one female of all the animals were safely
inside, the rain started, and it rained so hard, the neighbors begged
to be let into the boat. The door, however, was shut fast, and they
could not let anybody in. For forty days and forty nights, Noah, his
family, and the animals were safe in the ark, and eventually, the
rain stopped, and they were able to go out and start life again. In
the story, their god was sorry for destroying humanity, and sent the
rainbow as a promise he would never destroy humanity with a flood
again.

To
me, it’s always been just another lore story, trying to explain
floods. People believed it an act of a god, not an act of nature.
What I did not know, is this story comes from even OLDER stories from
non-Hebrews, but polytheistic Pagans!

The
Deluge

Experts
call these Deluge Myths, or Flood Myths, and while such stories exist
in Hinduism and ancient Chinese sources, I am going to focus on
Mesopotamian sources.

In The Epic of Gilgamesh, dated to 7th century BC. It tells us that the god Enlil becomes tired of the noise humanity makes, and decides to destroy all of them. But the god Ea, who created human beings out of blood an earth warns the human named Utnapishtim, telling him how to build a great boat so humanity may survive. Bits of this are contained in a marvelous book titled Near Eastern Mythology by John Gray, and here is an excerpt of what Ea told Utnapishtim:

“Give
up possessions, seek thou life.

Forswear
worldly goods and keep the soul alive!

Aboard
the ship, take thou the seed of all living things.

This
ship that thou shalt build,

Her
dimensions shall be to measure.

Equal
shall be her width and her length,

Like
the Apsu that shalt ceil her.”

Then,
after the ship is completed, the story further says:

“With
the first glow of dawn,

A
black cloud rose from the horizon.

Inside
it Adad thunders,

While
Shullat and Hanish go in front,

Moving
as heralds over hill and plain.

Eragal
tears out the posts:

Forth
comes Ninurta and causes the dykes to overflow.

The
Anunnaki lift up their torches,

Setting
the land ablaze with their glare.

Consternation
over Adad reaches to the heavens,

Who
turned to blackness all that had been light.

The
wide land was shattered like a pot:

For
one day the storm wind blew,

Gathering
speed as it blew, submerging the mountains,

Overtaking
the people like battle.”

Clearly
it is not ONE god, but those named working together to make this
great flood destroy life.

Another
myth from Sumeria about a hero king named Ziusudra relates a deluge
as well. The writing is dated to the 17th
century BC, and follows the same basic story-line as the Noah, and
Gligamesh deluge with only a slight differences.

Evidence

I
was able to find an incredible video explaining how the Tigris and
Euphrates region flood every year and how it creates floods that
devastate some years. Basically, there is snow on the mountains
located nearby, and every spring, the snow melts, bringing with it
fertile soil from the mountains, which make the farmlands great for
growing things. Unfortunately, WHEN it happens is not always at the
same time. Furthermore, HOW much water comes is unreliable also.
Sometimes, you get almost no water or silt, and if this happens a few
years in a row, the famine devastates. Other times, just the right
amount of water comes, and it’s fantastic. Other times, WAY too
much water comes, and sweeps away everything in its path, wiping out
homes, farms, and pretty much ‘destroying the world.’ Many
believe the story of the great floods possibly came from such an
event.

Here
is the video you can watch that explains the flooding cycles:

Beyond that, more than one expert in the field is convinced they can find exactly where that great deluge happened that inspired the stories, a researcher named Robert Ballard for one. A retired US Navy Officer, and professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, he is most famously known for his groundbreaking research of the USS Titanic, was convinced he can find where Noah’s flood was. Back in 2012, excited articles ran, stating he found a flooded shoreline, and was looking into that a lot. Nobody has inconclusively proven THE event that triggered all these myths, but one can understand how an entire shoreline being washed away and becoming permanently submerged in a catastrophic event that killed many triggered these stories. Here is one of the articles I read about Ballard and his research on the topic.

So
What Now?

What
does all of this mean to people today? Well…with Global Warming,
rising sea levels due to polar ice cap melting, the easy to see
demise of animals in Polar regions, and the warnings we have gotten
from scientists, I am not convinced we won’t see another great
deluge.

I
hope we won’t, and I am convinced we can prevent it, but we have to
start now, and never let up.

First
off- WHAT is causing it?

Well,
people. Naysayers will claim climate change happens from time to time
anyhow, and refuse to believe humanity has the power to create it,
but science states different. Temperatures are rising and that is
making the ice melt. We are causing it in many ways, one of which is
with our emissions from cars and energy use. While we are not going
to just scrap technology and walk everyplace, or ride wagons or
horses again, we can make a difference.

Instead
of a spell or Sabbat rite, I am including a list of easy ways you can
make a difference. BIG things can be done, and are being done, but
most people don’t know the little things they can do at home that
make a big impact.

As
we are earth based, and worship the great mother, the earth being one
of her embodiments, one of the best ways to worship her is to tend
the earth.

Ten
Small Ways to Fight Climate Change

  1. Reduce
    Trips- Reducing trips will reduce the amount of gas you use, thus
    reducing your emissions. My mom would bunch all the errands into one
    trip and go in a circle from the house, calculating the shortest
    possible trip, thus saving gas. Back then, it was about saving
    money, but it saved the air too. Carpool if you can, and instead of
    long rides places, go for walks in the park or in your neighborhood.
    There are many ways you can reduce trips, and thus save yourself
    from using more fossil fuels.
  2. Use
    less power at home- Shut the lights off in the rooms you are not
    using, and when it is time to buy a new appliance, buy the most
    energy efficient one you can afford. Also, take a look at your
    insulation and windows. Do those need an upgrade? Our sliding glass
    door lets air leak out, and in the next year or two we are getting a
    new one- it is 50 years old, after all, as are the windows!!!!! Our
    insulation was redone last year, making me need to run the
    thermostat way less. We also dress FOR the season, meaning we do not
    crank our heat up to 80 in winter and run around in shorts. I like
    to run the air conditioner cold, and am working to turn it higher.
    We also do what our mothers said and do not “run in and out the
    door” letting the air out!
  3. Plant
    things- Yes. Cultivating the earth keeps it healthy and producing.
    Planting native plants does wonders for your ecosystem, supporting
    insect and animal life. Unless you are allergic, plant as many bee
    and pollinator friendly plants as possible, and grow some fruits,
    herbs, and veggies. It is also a good way to get you closer to
    mother earth and in sync with her seasons. Take good care of your
    plants, and don’t neglect them. This will also get you outdoors
    more, and acclimated to the outside temperature instead of being
    cooped up in a climate controlled box.

  4. Buy
    secondhand- Not only does this save money in the long run, but it
    helps keep things from rotting in the landfills. An added bonus is
    this ensures you are always finding interesting things, and your
    home will be filled with unique conversation pieces!
  5. Donate-
    Don’t throw away the good stuff! It can be somebody else’s
    treasure, raise money for a charitable thrift shop, and keep good
    things from rotting in the landfill.
  6. Reduce-
    They used to ask us all to recycle before discovering the energy
    used to do so causes horrible pollution, and about 1/3 of our
    recycled good rot in landfills or get dumped in the ocean. #4 and #5
    denoted suggestions of how to reuse- but we also have to reduce what
    we use to begin with. If there is less demand for more to be
    produced, that reduces emissions are factories, saves YOU money, is
    a win- win for us all. The main thing people are currently focused
    on is using less single use plastics, but I would go a step further.
    Do you really need to buy that thing on sale when you have two of
    the same at home? If you have plenty of clothes, why are you buying
    more? How many tubes of pink lipstick do you need? Get in the habit
    of living with less in as many ways as possible. It becomes habit
    and spills over into all aspects of your life after a time.

  7. Do
    the local thing- It’s become a cliché saying these days, but it
    is true. Support local businesses as much as possible. Buy goods and
    services that have been produced nearby as often as possible. It’s
    not financially doable for some things- I cannot afford $10 for
    local honey when it would be $4 for the same size honey from the
    grocery, but maybe you can buy tomatoes at the farm stand all summer
    instead of the grocery, or maybe even once or twice. Maybe local
    food is not doable, but hiring a local contractor instead of
    somebody from out of town is. That would mean less gas is used for
    the professional to come do the job. You can also try to get them to
    use local materials if at all possible, and tell everybody in your
    town what good work they do, giving them future references so they
    get hired more.

  8. Do
    the local fun stuff- Like buying local, instead of heading out of
    town for every vacation of long weekend, why not check out the
    goings on in your own community? I worked at a local cavern, and I
    cannot tell you how many customers came in, said how much they loved
    their visit, and said they had lived nearby all their lives and
    never bothered to stop in. BUT they had gone to caves and caverns
    out of town. Why? Unless you live in hometown nowhere, and are dying
    to get out, check out the local scene. My hometown, for example is
    Westerville, Ohio. In my town, all Friday nights in late Spring
    through early Fall has something called Fourth Fridays in the
    historic district where all shops and restaurants have open houses.
    There are street vendors, shows, and art and handmade food and goods
    are everyplace. There is something similar 20 miles away and in
    other towns an hour or two away, but I can go two miles and do it
    all close to home! You would not think such a small town would have
    such fun goings on, but as people like to have fun, most towns
    certainly do.

  9. Share
    what you do- I don’t advocate proselytizing or preaching at
    people, but when everybody is talking about their lifestyle, share
    yours. If there is a program or even a website you know of that
    gives suggestions and resources for how to reduce emissions and
    fight global warming, talk about it when the time is right. Teach
    your children, and friends about it, and keep the good things going.
  10. Vote-
    That’s another cliché piece of advice, but if we vote fpr people
    who have a track record of putting things in action that combat
    global warming, they are going to be in the position to keep doing
    it. Many people I know insist they do this by voting with their
    pocketbook. If they think a company is doing horrible things, they
    don’t buy from them, and they tell everybody else not to buy there
    also. A lot of people boycott Hobby Lobby or Chick Fil A due to
    disagreeing with their values. But that in, and of itself is simply
    not enough. You have to also buy from the people who uphold what you
    DO value. Still, that is simply not enough. As we saw from the
    campaign in the 20th century to “Buy American Made Only”, it did
    not stop companies from sending jobs and manufacturing centers
    overseas anyhow. As many people boycott Chick Fil A and Hobby
    Lobby, they are still open, and nobody can change how the owners and
    CEO’s operate, and none of us can control all the throngs of
    people who agree with them. We must demand through voting
    politically, that our lawmakers create change, and just boycotting
    one store or one product is not going to fix it all. People get
    very angry with me when I say these things, but the issue is not ONE
    store or restaurant. It is a system we have in place which allows
    things like this to happen. We have to dismantle the system instead
    of bitching about one store or one cause. Say you are against slave
    labor and low wages. Do you know how many companies literally use
    it? Nestle, Nike, and Starbucks for a few- and Nestle is responsible
    for approximately 2,000 brands in over 150 countries. Most Americans
    use Nestle goods. They are just one of many corrupt organizations
    that has a lot of things out there drawing business. We have to have
    people in lawmaking who get the power away from companies and
    individuals to make these horrible things happen to begin with.

If you want an idea of how big Nestle is, look at this Wikipedia list– I bet you have some of their products at home!

The earth will be better off
once humanity goes extinct, some of us say! But I don’t know if
that is ever going to happen, so we have to do the best we can to
turn things around as well as we can.

As I finish writing this, a
major downpour just finished at my condos, and my cat hid out
someplace until it eased off, then she came home soaking wet to
treats and cuddles. If our home was swept away, where would she have
to come in from the rain? Our pets, children, and all our loved ones
are depending on us to protect them and to prevent disasters from
global warming.

May the rains bless us and be
all we need, but not too much, and may we make it be so.

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

There’s a village one year’s journey from here. And in that village lives a woman with four children. Like any family, all four children are kindred and similar — yet very, very unique. One is a feisty child, with brilliant golden hair, and a natural glow warmer than any other. This child’s name is Summer.
In an entire year, perhaps the 91 days (and nights) of Summer seem to fly by the quickest… When you think of summer, what comes to mind?
Summer is the peak, the pinnacle, the realization of what took root during the Spring. One lesson the seasons teach is that many things in nature grow, mature, and then fade. Imagine yourself old and gray and wise. Look back upon your own life as if it were a single turn of the year. What part of your life was your high point, your “Summer,” your peak? Where did you shine your brightest, glow your hottest?
We too change like the seasons. When Mother Nature puts on Her Summer wardrobe, so do we. Except these wardrobes seem quite opposite. In Summer, the forest grows more thickly covered, while we become less covered. Summer is a season of short sleeves, short pants, short skirts and bare toes. While the trees might wear their thick green coats, we often frolic clad with nothing but the sky! More of our natural selves comes out in the Summer – arms, legs, skin – what we are beneath all those layers of cold Winter clothes can shine forth in the Summer. Maybe we resemble our animal cousins, who also shed much of their fur and feathers in Summer.
Summer’s warmth lets us enjoy a great many simple pleasures. After a cold Winter, the freedom of just being outdoors is a true gift! The increased energy of Summer brings increased activity of all kinds: festivals, vacations, travel. What special Summer gatherings do you look forward to? All the adventure, experiences, learning, worship, fun, freedom, passion, celebration and joy that these festivals offer are the unique gifts of Summer!
Some people say Summer begins near June 21 with the Solstice. To others, it begins on the last day of school, or with the Memorial Day barbecue. Whenever you begin Summer, mark that day as a special spoke in your own private Wheel of the Year. See it as a unique rite of passage. Every year, Summer throws a party – and you’re invited!
Of all the four seasonal quarters, Summer burns the brightest. Remember that some things that burn brightly often burn out quickly. For some, Summer is a time of fleeting temporary moments – a Summer Job, a Summer Fling, a Summer Vacation. What new experiences might you want to try this Summer, even if only for a little while?
Summer’s friendly weather lets us enjoy the great outdoors. Being outside has a plethora of gifts: Sounds, smells, sights, and the touch of the Sun’s golden gloves upon our skin. (Perhaps it is no accident that during Summer, TV programs are all re-runs – nature’s incentive to get off the couch and into the great outdoors!)
In the Summer, we are free to venture out and smell the many roses that weren’t available all Winter long. One way to celebrate the season is to enjoy the fruits and vegetables that only appear during Summer. Where I live, July brings the first taste of a very sweet white corn on the cob, called Silver Queen. It only lasts a few short months, and it’s worth the wait! What seasonal treats does your region offer? Remember that not all seasonal treats grow on trees. Drippy ice cream cones, frozen icy drinks, and even toasted marshmallows are all SummerSpirits. What other experiences do you savor, but can only find in the Summer?
Summer’s Sun nourishes our world with warmth, the same way Mother Earth nourishes us. She takes that solar energy and transforms it into leaves, fruits and grain. Through photosynthesis, plants take in the energy of the Sun. (Remember this the next time you “take in” a salad — the union of both Sun and Earth!) The Earth is much greater than we are, but the Sun is over 100 times larger than the Earth. Perhaps it is the nature of larger things to nourish smaller things that need love and care to survive. What things shine upon you, and what do you shine upon in return?
The Sun’s energy changes the world in only a few short days. Seeds germinate; trees leaf out and the insect world buzzes back to life! Before you know it, it’s Summer.
Summer has a unique energy that makes it different than any other time. What might this unique energy bring especially for you? What type of magic, ritual, or divination might work best for you in Summer? Try brewing an herbal Sun Tea, or maybe starting a candle flame by lighting a match with a magnifying glass. Use the energy of the Sun; feel how it differs from the energy of the cold.
Summer is so hot, we want to cool off. It actually brings us closer to water — whether enjoying a swim, a playful moment with the garden hose, or the feel of our own sultry Summer sweat.
Why is Summer hot? The Earth spins round the Sun like a dancer around a campfire. Because our globe tilts on its axis, one hemisphere faces the Sun directly, while the other half does not. As the Earth makes its yearly orbit around the Sun, one hemisphere has Summer; the other hemisphere has Winter. In Summer, your part of the world faces the Sun and has a more direct connection to its light and heat. What other aspects of life work the same way? Have you ever noticed a special warmth in your life simply by being directly exposed to something or someone quite radiant? What was that like? Would you feel just a little bit colder if that connection became more distant?
Perhaps pondering a simple Suntan can help us understand other parts of life that “shine” upon us. Sun-worshippers expose themselves to the Sun’s glow, and become changed by it. Just enough exposure, and everything’s fine. Too much? Ouch – what a burn! Remember that as you expose yourself to the energy from any person, place or thing around you.
One sunny day this Summer, notice your own shadow. Stare at it; see your own form the way nature sketches it upon the ground. Study its shape, size, curves. Now let your “inner nine-year-old” come out and play. Use your fingers and make shadow-bunny ears, bear claws, or dragon wings. Shift into any shape you desire; take on any quality you wish. Try “casting” (a very magical word indeed!) your shadow across an object you wish to empower with a bit of yourself. Now try it in reverse, standing behind an object whose shadow you wish to empower you. Feel it?
Just like pondering a tan, perhaps pondering a simple shadow can help us understand other parts of life. Ever feel shadowed by something that gets in the way? Ever feel like something blocks you from the light? Just enough shade creates a welcome shelter, like resting under a trusty Oak. Too much of a block can make you feel cut off and underexposed. What things in your life gently protect you from getting fried? What things stand in your way, starving you from what you crave?
Summer brings a few extra hours of daylight, including the longest day of the year. Your use of those extra hours are your own celebration of the season, whether a walk in the park, washing your car, or caring for your garden.
However you celebrate the season, make this year’s Summer something very special!

***


author bio:


Link (Anthony)

6538 Collins Avenue,

#255 Miami Beach, FL 33141

USA


[email protected]


People often ask me why I chose the name Link. One important lesson for me this time around is to understand how all things "interconnect" — like noodles in the same cosmic broth. (Okay, I also wanted a really simple name that would not raise eye-brows in a mundane setting. Something like RunningBuffaloMoonFeather just doesn’t fit me…)


Most of my writing focuses on how ordinary parts of everyday life can be sacred and magical. Being ordinary makes them no less special! I try to erase the lines that separate spirituality from the rest of life. I don’t spend too much time in elaborate ritual, but rather see nearly every action as a magical event, from slicing an apple to licking an envelope. I often encourage readers to not blindly follow traditional spoon-fed teachings, but to discover what feels right for themselves, and for the moment. The most important Book we could ever find is written deep within ourselves, and within nature — and every day we turn a new page!


I grew up in a small suburban NJ town, the youngest child of two hard-working parents. I survived 12 years of Catholic school, which helped shape my "everyday" spiritual views (With the nuns of Saint Mary’s School, everything was a religious experience – from lunch to recess to taking tests and doing homework.) While I shed much of what I learned there, I think a few things stuck.


I began learning about alternative religion, divination and magic in the mid-1970’s, but did not really become active in the Craft until 1993 (what I call reaching "Spiritual Puberty"). My first teacher was a dear friend and neighbor, a Gardnerian 3rd Degree, who was killed in a car accident in 1984. (Great guy, lousy driver…) In 1993 I became a member of a small Tradition with only a few members spread out around the US. This gave me the opportunity to spend time with/learn from elders well-recognized in the Community. I have also been a member of Covenant of the Goddess, Pagan Federation International, Earth Spirit, Circle Network, Free Spirit Alliance, Pagan Federation International and ADF. I am legally certified as clergy with both Covenant of the Goddess and ULC (for whatever that means). My work has been published in many places throughout the US, plus Canada, England, Ireland, Holland and Australia.


Jobwise, I have worked for/with large international telecommunications companies since 1984. (Again, a lesson in how things connect…) I hold a bachelors degree in Communications/Journalism, and a masters degree in business and government policy. I moved from New Jersey to Miami Beach, Florida on August 1, 2001 and enjoy Miami’s internationally diverse culture, with a Latin spice!


Fun? I enjoy good food and good wine, bad humor, camping, gardening, traveling, almost anything Brazilian, the Ocean, SciFi, and sleeping late at least once a week.

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from Wikipedia.

***

About the Author:

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

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

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

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

Midwinter and Christmas Spirit Magic

 

(Image from http://visitstonehenge.com/)

As nearly everyone knows, light seeds of what will manifest during the coming year, are sent by the spirit world down Arthur’s sword of light to the base of everyone’s spine on Midwinter dawn. I can usually feel a sizzling at the base of my spine that day, when I first step out of my little cottage into the daylight. But there’s much more that follows after, which no one at all seems to recognize. As a light healer, reading energies, it’s easy for me to see these. And so, this month, I want to write about what I’ve observed over many years. Those Arthurian light seeds of the year ahead settle down into the energetic soil of everyone’s womb (both men and women have inner female and male structures inside in light), where they remain for three days, while the Goddess decides the exact form and timing the new impulses of light will take over the year to come. The dark cosmic sea, keeper of all things unborn, floods every person’s abdomen as well. One could call it the unconscious, for it is.

Always, there’s one central thrust of growth for each person over the year to come, growth that will involve facing specific fears or outer challenges meant to build a brand new part of the self within. This new gift or talent is always divine, a small piece of each person’s self-of-light or highest destiny that will eventually emerge during everyone’s final lifetime on earth. This divine self was seeded into us at the very moment of our creation into light, long, long, ago, on the Creator Sun, the highest light structure in the seventh heaven, so say my druid guides. You could think of this new self-of-light that grows into fulness each year as each person’s own divine child of that cycle, too. That’s how my guides speak of it, anyway. Our own divine qualities always reflect the Creators, too, the White Tara and Oghama, Goddess and God.

So, after three days in the cosmic sea, the first structures of the year’s divine child emerge from everyone’s abdominal unconscious and move into each person’s high heart or thymus. The thymus is the inner child heart, where our divine children anchor in most strongly. This happens on Christmas dawn. This child within looks like an infant-of-light, and I find this time most magical, for I can always feel the soft loving-kindness essence of the divine children filling my spirit on that morning. Even amid the bustle of cooking for visiting relatives, I try to find a few moments of quiet to sense what this impulse of growth for the year ahead may bring for me. And this divine infant is one of twelve parts of our inner spirits that everyone has, all twelve with specific vibrations, regencies of the spirit, and directives in life. You could call these twelve parts of everyone’s spirit their personality, too. These twelve parts of our inner spirits exactly match the twelve gods and goddesses of the Creator Sun as well.

And always this emergence of the divine child inside everyone releases a bright beam of hope, a ray of clear diamond light. It will see that, during this first druid moon of the year, the Birch moon, some memory or long-cherished desire will be brought to each person’s attention. This is the first hint of what will manifest for each of us at the end of the coming year, something we’ve long wished for. And this promise of fulfillment stirs up desire from our depths to face and heal whatever fears may be in its way, so this dream will definitely come to be at the end of the year.

Over the year ahead then, this impulse get fleshed out as we push against the thorns and briars in our paths. On Imbolc, the little girl part of each person’s spirit emerges from this abdominal sea. On the Vernal Equinox, the toddler boy emerges. Then the feminine virgin on Bealtaine, the masculine virgin at Midsummer. The inner god and goddess are active during the Oak (May/June) and Apple (July/August) moons, not the solstice/equinox/cross-quarter-day festivals. The inner mother part of our spirits arises at Lughnasa, the inner father at the Autumnal Equinox, the feminine grandmother at Samhein, and finally, the inner grandfather at Midwinter. This is when our new divine part of self is finally complete, fully born into all twelve parts of our inner selves-of-light. It’s the realization of our sweet dream of the year before.

May your own divine child for the year to come be utterly miraculous, bringing an end to want, perhaps, a special destiny, a love like no other. I always hope for the beginning of real peace, unity between peoples, an end to war and privation in the places of most intense global suffering. But these are dreams that will take us all to achieve. For now, it’s enough to feel that sword of light and let it lead you all year long. Let’s walk this road together into the awakening of everyone’s divinity, all of us a shining star in our own personal areas of endeavor. May this season of magic be the very best you’ve ever had!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to Arthurian Fulfillment on Amazon

Winter Solstice Meditation

(Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash)

The Winter Solstice has been a time of celebration, merriment, and relaxation across cultures for millennia. The shift into winter has always brought a turning inwards for myself. The change from Sagittarius to Capricorn is a great way to use this energy for forward movement, instead of downward spiral. This is a great meditation for the Solstice, the couple of days before or after, or whenever you need a boost of inspiration and drive. If you are solitary and prefer to listen to the meditation, you will find that option below.

Find a comfortable position where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and feel where you are making contact with the ground. Feel a root come down from your feet or the base of your spine and burrow into the cold soil below. Feel the hibernating animals all around you, tucked in for the winter. Let the safety of the earth enfold you as you let go and fall deeper into yourself and the arms of Mother Earth.

You are in a winter field at night. You see a centaur, half man, half horse emerge from the tree line. He approaches you with eyes that are both wise and wild and smiles a confident and knowing smile.

“Where is your passion leading you next?” he asks as he takes off his quiver of arrows and hands them down to you.

What comes to your mind first? Do you embrace it or doubt it? Let other passions arise and be aware of your ego’s reaction to them. Does intuition or fear hold you back from any? Are some on fire, already filling you with excitement at their prospect?

See each arrow as a potential direction that you can explore, and choose the one that is singing loudest to your heart. As you pull it from the quiver, the arrow-head bursts into flame. The centaur smiles at you again and he hands you his bow, pointing off to the distant mountains and says, “Take your aim and fire.”

You notch the arrow and pull the bow back. You take a deep breath as you aim towards the mountains and as you exhale you let the arrow loose. You both watch it zoom across the darkened landscape until it hits high up on a mountain.

The centaur nods in approval and reaches his hand down to you saying, “Jump on, let’s go get it!”. You swing up onto his back and he takes off at lighting speed in the direction of the fire you lit on the mountain.

You are full of excitement and elation as you gallop across the land at an amazing speed. You keep your eyes on the blaze and you feel your passion growing as you near it. How does it feel to run unwaveringly to your dream?

Sooner than you thought possible, you’re at the base of the mountain. You notice a goat standing on a rock next to the path that leads up the mountain. The centaur turns to you and says, “This is as far as I can take you, he’ll show you the rest of the way. Remember your excitement when the path gets challenging. The view from the top is worth the work.” You slide down from his back and approach the gruff mountain goat, who with barely any acknowledgment, turns abruptly, jumping from his perch and trotting up the rock path ahead.

You take a deep breath as you gaze up the path. You see high above you the flickering of the flame you lit. How do you feel standing at the base of the mountain, looking up to where you long to be? Honor that feeling, and then start your ascent.

The path quickly becomes very steep. You’re thankful for the mountain goat leading you. He finds a way over any challenge, taking only a second to assess the situation and then calmly finding a solution. Any resistance you were feeling melts away as you take on his determination, finding a way up or around any difficult terrain you encounter. Anytime exhaustion begins to creep in, you shift your gaze from the path in front of you, to the glow above and you remember the excitement you felt rushing towards that blaze, when anything seemed possible.

You’re keeping pace with the mountain goat now, and where he seemed serious at first, you now see through his determination to the joy that is rising as the fire gets brighter and brighter as you climb. He is proud of the work you’ve done and so are you. You find yourself smiling as the warmth of self-confidence rises up through your solar plexus, up through your heart and fills your whole being. As you bask in that glow, you crest a peak and see your fire burning right in front of you. Feel the exuberance of success! You’ve made it! Take a moment to sit with the fire, giving gratitude, releasing any fears, and receiving any messages.

When you are ready, you shift your gaze from the fire to the horizon and notice that dawn is breaking. The sun has returned and the long night has ended. Feel the first rays hit your face and take that warmth and the warmth of the fire into your heart. Feel it grow and expand in your chest. Know that it will keep you warm through the cold months ahead as the sun, and you, get stronger and stronger each day.

Take a deep breath and feel the ground beneath you. Wiggle your fingers and toes, feeling yourself come back to your body. Keeping your eyes closed, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug. Feel the warmth that is still glowing in your heart. Take a deep breath, release your arms, and open your eyes, knowing that you’re ready to take on anything to reach your dream.

***

About the Author:

Rebecca Coates is a Tarot reader, massage therapist and fire dancer. She has been in a coven for the past two years and is about to embark on a journey around the United States and is looking to meet other witches and lovers of magic. Visit beckycoateslmt.com to connect with her.

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