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Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times Review & Interview with Gabiann Marin

March, 2019

March 2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

March
2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

Bright
Blessings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This
Month’s Review

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

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

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

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

Read
on!

The
Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Gabiann Marin Visit:

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

The
Sabbat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New
Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

So,
the self-loathing stops. Now.

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

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

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

The
Working

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

Get
paper, and writing materials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burn
the papers, keeping the summary.

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

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

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

Blessed
Spring, and New Beginnings!

Blessed Be!

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

***

About
the Author:

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

Book of Shadows: As the Wheel Turns

February, 2019

Imbolc
Planned and Explored

February is the month of Brigid, the hearth fires are tended, the seeds are readied for planting, and spell work done in February focuses on purification, growth, and healing. Loving the self is the theme throughout the month of February; after all, how you love your self will teach everyone in your sphere of influence how to love you. This is a time for kindness to be extended inward. In addition, the energies in February are peek for accepting responsibility for past mistakes and forgiving yourself while you make plans for the future.

This month, I focus on spell crafting and making sigils. A sigil is a combination of symbols that are placed together with intent and are fashioned to become the embodiment of your intention. For instance, I may use the Theban Alphabet (aka the Witch’s Runes) to fashion a Sigil for a spell. If you’re not acquainted with the Theban Alphabet, a quick Google® search will lead you to the alphabet easily enough. Here is an example of a Sigil, the word is “Love” and I used the Theban Alphabet and then placed the letters together to represent how the “love” could represent itself in my spell crafting. Sigils have many uses in magical workings and it is my belief that when I make a sigil, all of my intent and purpose in the spell is crafted into the sigil and it facilitates my workings by manifesting a physical thing that I can see and use as a reminder or a representation of the working. The entire process of me devising my own sigil puts my intention into the sigil and the meaning is carried through the work. Some people use Runes, Theban Alphabet, Zodiac Signs, Sacred Symbols, and a myriad of other representations of their intention. Even a “doodle” can be a sigil; I have used “doodles” in sigil work as well. The beauty of the craft is that it is your own and you must walk the path, therefore, I am neither right nor wrong, I simply am being the best person I know how to be, and I use the craft to facilitate that idea until it becomes my practice.

The
month of February is also the month when I plant my seed for the
coming harvests which are Lammas (aka Lughnasadh), Mabon, and
Samhain. I rarely plant more than one seed per harvest because I do
not like to set myself up for failure by taking on too much when I am
working on my own personal evolution. Every year, my seed work
manifests during the dark times, between Samhain and Yule and,
ordinarily, by Yule I would have begun the ascent from the dark days
of self-contemplation with a seed virtually budding and ready for
planting. This year was a bit different for me. I have reduced my
seed work to a short mantra that has volition and purpose and the
intention of the seed work is to write it down on a piece of paper,
plant it in a pot with a bulb of some sort – usually Amaryllis
because they remind me of my mother – and I nurture that seed
daily. Nurturing your seed includes lighting a candle every day,
watering, and speaking the mantra out loud every day in front of the
seed. This not only reinforces your working, but it sets the tone
for the rest of your year. Seed work is always internal work, always
something for my highest and best good, and sometimes it is painful.
The pain is sometimes like that of my youth, when my long bones
ached, and my mother would tell me that someday I would be big and
strong and able to do things that I cannot do as a child. I remind
myself of that in the midst of any pain that seed work can deliver.
I plant the seed on Imbolc (aka Candlemas), February 2, and I tend it
daily.

The Goddess Brigid is a focal Deity for me during the month of February, She tends the hearth fires, and Her aspects encompass healing, poetry, and smith crafting. I usually start to play with making chain mail pieces during the month of February, an homage to Brigid’s forge, this year is a pentacle keychain made from chain mail. Of course, February also celebrates the Chinese New Year, with 2019 being “The Year of the Pig” and there may be messages meant for us to receive from Pig this month. They are extremely intelligent animals and have quirky qualities about them, it’s worth a look into them if you’re one of the people who looks for messages from the animal world

February also celebrates Valentine’s Day, and Brigid shares aspects of healing, childbirth, and unity with this celebration. Perhaps you have experienced a broken heart, Brigid can help to soothe that pain and ease the immediate shock of loss, while other aspects of this Goddess also serve to help is with new relationships and the flames of love that most tend to fan during this celebration. For pregnant Pagans, Brigid is often sought to lend Her energies to mother’s during birth. There is no union more sacred than that of a mother and newborn child

As the light begins to return, the darkness begins to wane and we have planted our seeds and February marks the time of year when tending to seed work is important not only in terms of personal growth, but also in how deeply we plant our seed so that the roots take hold and we experience positive, permanent change for the greater good; not only for ourselves, but for the world in which we interact. On the 19th of February we experience a Full Moon in Virgo and with this super full moon comes energies that are prime for completing tasks, putting order into your world, settling chaos, and maybe even trying to grasp a deeper understanding that we live in an imperfect world and must strive for balance during this time.

As Brigid’s month comes to a close, we must be mindful of tending the seeds that we have planted so that our harvest is well tended, our fields well-watered, and that we take the time, on a daily basis, to check in with our spiritual wellness, physical presence, and emotional stability. February is not just a month of exchanging cards and chocolates with our lovers. February is a month of self-awareness and love of the self. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself well. Remember, how you love and treat yourself teaches those around you how to love and treat you. So be kind to yourself.

As
a Pagan and a Witch who works in a professional setting, I carry my
working Book of Shadows with me to work and everywhere else that I
go. I am often referring to it throughout the busy work day or it
may even be open on my desk for quick reference. Sometimes, people
carry with them a certain vibe or they become negative or speak in a
negative manner. When this happens in front of me, I like to dispel
the negative energy as quickly as I am able. Because I am out and
about and not in my home, I cannot smudge in my office, I cannot use
my bell to dispense the negativity, nor would it be professional to
cleanse the area with dance and fire. However, I have found an
answer to all of the negativity that could potentially linger and
that is by placing themed shaker cards in my working Book of Shadows.
They are beautiful, easy to keep accessible, and they work like a
dream! All I do is remove the shaker card from my working Book of
Shadows, take a long look at the beauty in my hands, center myself,
and give that shaker card a few shakes and before the last bit of
glitter settles…calm and peace is restored. My shaker cards are
commissioned by my friend, Suzy Meza, and she makes these fantastic
cards to order. As I will do with each and every month, the
resources, shop and group links can be found at the end of the
article.

RESOURCES:

MAMBI®
CHP Extension Packs:

https://www.meandmybigideas.com

CHP
Custom Cover & Foiled Pentacle Stickers by Claire McNamee:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BubsLovesBubba

Custom
Shaker Cards by Suzy Meza:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/gichiscraftcorner

February
Monthly and Weekly Stickers by Shirley Lenhard are free at the Pagan
Plannertarium:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/217392179039705/

February
Cover Page – Shoot for the Stars – Recollections®
“Constellations” paper pad & Miscellaneous Washi tapes:

Available
at Michael’s and other craft retailers

***

About
the Author:

Shirley
Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives
in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the
legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the
University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her
best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has
created the Facebook group “Pagan
Plannertarium
” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans
to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers
and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and
The Peace Paper.

3 Pagans and a Cat Monthly Feature

February, 2019

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

In this highly informative & entertaining podcast, three family members embroiled in wildly divergent traditions gather in one room to discuss, debate, and flat-out argue about their magical, mythical, and mundane lives, all for our education and pleasure.

***

Each Month… we will share the previous month’s episodes with you from their site to help keep you up-to-date with their impressive podcast. While there, don’t forget to listen to this month’s as well, we wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!

January 2019 Podcasts

Episode 28: Fire Festival – Imbolc: You thought Car, Gwyn, and Ode had said all they had to say on the subject of holidays, but lo: they’re back for another year of talking at each other about the deeper significance of fire festivals and cross quarters, starting with Imbolc. Are there things yet to learn about Brigid, lambing season, and the start of spring? …well, listen and find out, what do I look like, a prophet?

Episode 29: Liminal 2 – Electrical Boogaloo: Car, Gwyn, and Ode are back for another round of discussion and strong opinions about the role of gender and sexuality in paganism, including a discussion of queer deities, fertility outside heteronormativity, and the deliberateness of inclusion.

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

Episode 8: Building Your Book – Dedication: Car, Gwyn, and Ode continue the Building Your Book series by talking about dedicating your book (and yourself), cleansing (or not cleansing) your book, and magical methods for protecting your book from prying eyes.

Where
Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

Their
Website: http://www.3pagansandacat.com

Their
Twitter: https://twitter.com/3_Pagans

Their
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3PaaC

Their
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0GJacu9SUzuumXJNNUZwQ

Their
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/2/collection/oCWVXE

Remember

You
can always support your favorite podcasts with a donation.
Every bit helps to keep them
going.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer
Wright
is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She
founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to
share and learn without judgment. There are too many important things
to her and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2019

( Bringer of Light for Imbolc Limited Edition Print by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Arts on etsy. )

February 1, 2

Other Names:
Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g)
(Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc,
Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An
Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid
(Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus
(Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals &
Mythical Beings
:
Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin,
sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones:
Amethyst, garnet, onyx,
turquoise.

Incense/Oil:
Jasmine, rosemary,
frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh,
and wisteria, apricot, carnation.

Colors/Candles:
Brown, pink, red, orange,
white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.

Tools,Symbols, &
Decorations:
White
flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s
cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron
full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk,
birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container, evergreens,
homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle anointed in
oil (see above)can be used to symbolize the
renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.

Goddesses:
Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia,
Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek),
Branwen(Manx-Welsh).

Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros (Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).

Essence:
Conception, initiation,
insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath
of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.

Meaning:
First stirring of Mother
Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.

Purpose:
Honoring the Virgin Goddess,
festival of the Maiden/Light.

Rituals &
Magicks:
Cleansing;
purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification,
initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming
Brigid, feast of milk & bread.

Customs:
Lighting candles, seeking
omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor
planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn;
hearth re-lighting.

Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.

Herbs:
Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin,
celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.

Element:
Earth

Gender:
Female

Threshold:
Midnight

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2019

Celebrating
the Old Ways in New Times For Imbolc February 2019

Bright
Blessings!

Oh
my, did the Winter Hag hit us last night. In Central Ohio we got I
don’t know how many inches of snow- which would be fine- except we
got solid ice underneath it first. I can’t walk my dog in certain
parts of the grass or we will slide away!

The
plows, salt trucks, and sidewalk clearing is in full swing. I only
had to shovel my front stoop, as a neighbor shoveled the walk before
our helpers got here. Not bad, but I am aching all over- as it’s
only 8 degrees, and my body revolts against the cold.

There
is ice frozen inside of our vintage 1970 windows, and I am wearing
double layers and sitting under a blanket, as is the dog.

The
cats are sound asleep, and while I have a cup of hot mint with black
tea, my husband has started his coffee ritual. We all know what that
means. Nothing happens before coffee!

There
is beef stew cooked already for supper, and we will probably make
some tacos as well. I am sore, exhausted, and I know it’s due to
the cold.

I
am one of THOSE people. This weather has knocked me out.

I
am more than in the mindset to think about Spring. I’m thankful we
are close to another turning of the Wheel, and I look forward to when
I can hear more birds singing, and I can see the thaw, and the
wildflowers poking through the forest floor.

Imbolc

Possibly
one of my least favorite Sabbats- because it is bloody cold, Imbolc
is both a blessing, and just another stepping stone moving us towards
warmer days, and the growing season.

Halfway
between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, it was traditionally
celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Mann. In a nutshell,
the animals would be lactating, or producing milk, so people had a
feast, thanked their gods, and had a good old time.

So,
it was, and is a seasonal harvest type celebration, but it was so
much more than that.

It
was celebrating the goddess Brigid.

Ceremony
was used to ask her to come into the home to bless and protect the
people and livestock. Beds so she could accept hospitality would be
laid for her, and special foods set out. Everybody wanted the goddess
to come into their home and protect them and guide them into the
coming Spring.

Winter
is a scary time. Even today, ice can knock out electricity, and what
if you can’t even afford electricity? It’s cold! Reports of the
poor and homeless freezing to death are in the news every Winter.
Imagine how much scarier it used to be hundreds of years ago, and how
grateful people were for both the milk, and the thaw which heralded
the fact Spring would indeed come. The Wheel was and is turning
again, and people are very very happy about that.

The
Winter Hag

But
while Brigid might be a goddess of light and life, some would say in
Winter, she is her hag aspect.

She
goes by different names depending on what part of the British Isles
she is being talked about. For some, she’s Beira, and she washes
her plaid on the Loch until it is pure white, and she spreads it upon
the land, making snow. For some, she is called the Cailleach.

Beira
uses her hammer to make mountains and valleys, and uses her staff to
make it cold and wintry. She rules from November 1- Samhain, to
Beltaine- May 1, and she is VERY resistant to give over her rule to
Brigid, who rules from May 1- to November 1. Some even say she gives
power to Brigid as early as Imbolc although some say it’s as late
as Beltaine. Some say the early Spring snows are Beira’s way of
trying to stay in power!

In
many ways these stories express human beings way of trying to explain
seasons before modern science, but in many ways, they express the
duality of our own lives as well.

Light and Dark

Who
among us has never been a vivacious, lively person one moment, only
to endure a period of personal darkness, tragedy, or illness? Just
like the goddess.

As
for many of us the goddess IS the earth, these stories speak to us.
When it’s the warmer seasons, the goddess- aka earth- produces
abundantly. Like in our own lives, when all is well and we are at our
best, we are more capable, and get more done successfully. Likewise,
when we are sick, suffering, sad, or just upset, we are not at our
best, and fall fallow- like the earth, or the goddess in Winter.

As
my memory is not what it used to be, and I have done a LOT of reading
over the years, I cannot pinpoint exactly what stories express what I
am about to share.

But
I have read many stories about people hearing a knock at their door
in the night, and an old hag asks hospitality, sometimes just to warm
herself at their fire. In the stories, it turns out this is no
ordinary old woman, but either a powerful witch who blesses the
family if they are kind to her, or curses them if they are unkind. In
some stories, it’s the goddess coming for a bit of comfort.

The
moral of these stories is not so much to try and be rewarded for all
the good we do, but to remember those who are struggling, who need
our help.

Also,
you never know who somebody who looks to be a down and out old bag of
nothing actually is. Everybody is important and deserves comfort and
alleviation of suffering. Let us never forget there will come a day
when we, too may be that pitiful creature begging for hospitality.

The
Living Saint

One
of my personal heroes was Mother Theresa, who, to me, was a living
embodiment of the goddess. At a young age, she chose to work with the
poorest of the poor because she felt her god called her. Her Sisters
in Calcutta are world famous for their compassion and determination
to grant comfort and love to those who the World seems to have
forgotten.

I
used to read her books and just cry. She told stories about people
being carried in off the street with nothing. These people were
sometimes actively dying. Some of the people could only be given a
bed to lie in until they crossed the veil. Sometimes, their bodies
were not only filthy, but infested with vermin. The sisters would
patiently pick the worms off the people’s bodies, and thank their
god for the opportunity to “tend to Jesus in a distressing
disguise.”

They
drew this belief from the scriptures where it is said ‘I
can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or
sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me.’

Mother
Theresa wrote about tending the body of Christ, HER god. She said by
doing for others, you touched, blessed, and tended the body of her
god.

NEVER
turn away the Goddess

I
saw the Goddess in her Winter Hag form at a grocery store this week.
She was in a “Distressing Disguise”.

She
was sitting by the door, waiting to be picked up, as many elderly
people do- and she had her nose and mouth wrapped, and her hands
tucked into the sleeves of her coat. I could see she had on no
gloves.

I
asked if she would like a pair of gloves. She said yes. I put my
gloves on her. I had initially walked past her, but something told
me not to. She was cold, she was alone, and I did not have time to
stay, but I had a pair of gloves to give her. I helped her into the
gloves, and she thanked me. As I walked away, I could feel chills,
and not because it was cold. I told my husband “That was The
Goddess.”

She
was old, bent over, decrepit, cold, and suffering. She needed a
little comfort.

Was
she a celestial spirit? No. She was merely a human being, but women
are the physical embodiment of the Goddess in the same way people are
the physical embodiment of the body of the Xtian god for people like
Mother Theresa.

Instead
of a Sabbat ritual, I have a suggestion, a plea actually. Would you
be able to find the time to tend to the body of the goddess in her
distress? Can you welcome the hag into your home and heart, and
celebrate her in her struggles as well as glorifying her in all her
splendor?

Saoirse’s
Imbolc Working

Keep
this as a regular practice, not just something to do for Sabbat. This
is not a ritual, but is a set of things to keep in mind. We all need
one another and sometimes forget, or don’t know how to ask for what
we need.

We
get caught up in our own lives and are busy with what we specifically
are doing and sometimes forget about the people who are not directly
IN our presence. Let’s face it, adulting is exhausting sometimes.
It’s not easy to remember everything. Try to train yourself to keep
an eye out for those who need your help. You can begin with a prayer
like this:

“Great
Goddess, she from who all life came, and to who we all return, Open
my eyes. Open my heart. Open my awareness to those who need me. I am
easily distracted by my own life. Don’t let me miss the call, or
misunderstand signs. Use me as your hands, that I may do all the
things you see fit. Use my voice to be your words so I may be as
comfort for those who are hurting. Use my arms to be your warm
embrace. Open my heart so I may take people in who feel nobody loves
them. Use me as your vessel that I may be a living embodiment of you.
So be it.”

  1. Set
    an intention to keep tabs on those who are sick, isolated,
    depressed, sad, grieving, old, or just alone. This extends to your
    loved ones who are overworked and do not have time for a social life
    as well. People who are easily forgotten because they are not nearby
    are the ones who need to be checked up on the most.

  2. Remember
    that YOU are sometimes the one who needs care or help. Do NOT
    hesitate to ask for what you need. We are in one another’s lives,
    and together, life is better. Be compassionate and patient with
    yourself. If you feel frustrated with yourself for whatever you are
    struggling with, ask yourself if you would be harsh with somebody
    ELSE struggling with this? Of course you wouldn’t! Remember to be
    healing, patient, and loving to yourself as well as others.

  3. Holiday
    time is especially difficult for those who are alone or struggling
    somehow. They feel like a third wheel at gatherings, and may forego
    attending for not only that, but if they cannot afford to
    contribute, they may feel embarrassed. Think of ways to make them
    feel comfortable coming, and reassure them.
  4. You
    may need to arrange transportation and take somebody home early.
    People who struggle may not be physically capable of staying the
    whole time. Make sure they know that is okay and they won’t be
    stuck trying to be presentable when they need to leave early.
  5. On
    the other hand- be understanding if they just need to skip out.
    Don’t make them feel attendance is mandatory. Let them do what
    they can do.

  6. Learn
    to listen. I cannot tell you how many family members of sick or
    elderly people I have heard spout off about “I JUST don’t
    understand Mom/Grandma/Aunt Ethel/ etc…” and literally complain
    about how said family member has some sort of struggle THEY don’t
    have, so they have no clue why ANYBODY does. As if said family
    member is willfully doing this to themselves, and is a GREAT
    inconvenience to the “normal” people. Learn compassion and
    empathy, or leave the care to somebody who has some. That is all.

  7. Make
    quality time with the goddess in distress. Don’t just go do
    errands and or appointments, aka “good deeds” or “duty”.
    While all of that is important, do not forget your goddess needs to
    be treated as a normal person and she wants to spend time with you.
    Have a cup of coffee and birdwatch together. Go for lunch. Go feed
    the ducks, or hit the movies. Enjoying life should not be forgotten
    just because the goddess is in distress!
  8. Don’t
    just do good deeds for the goddess in distress when it is socially
    acceptable to do so- like birthdays or Sabbats, or mainstream
    holidays. People need love and care year round, not just when you
    get a reminder because of the time of year it is.
  9. Give
    her gifts. I don’t just mean candles or incense lit on your altar.
    I mean give things to human beings who are struggling. Say you have
    an elderly neighbor who used to grow tomatoes, but can’t anymore.
    Give her some of yours from your garden as often as possible. Say
    you have a disabled neighbor who likes to go to the park. Take them.
    Say there is an old decrepit neighborhood stray cat. Give it treats,
    food, shelter, love, and take it to the Vet …unless you can find a
    way to have it adopted, of course!
  10. Never
    stop looking for a way to venerate the goddess through the lives of
    her creatures. There are opportunities constantly. Keep your eyes
    and ears open. Ask for guidance regularly, and then just remain open
    to her call and vice.

May
Imbolc bring new beginnings for you. May the weather be gentle, and
the Winter Hag spare you in the days before she becomes Brigid. May
the goddess appear before you in her splendor, and may you be aware,
and know what to do to help when she is reaching out to you in a
distressing disguise.

Blessed
Imbolc.

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
.

Lick the Sky

February, 2019

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Lick the sky
Those fiery stripes
Must surely be
As sweet as sunrise ice.

The blackbird nods
Tail bouncing on the wall
Of a run down council house.
The Honda Prelude that
Cuts me up
Is a square assed snap chat
Of the past
And the wind turbine
Crazy in the cruel bite
Of winter’s last stand
Is a bright spark of
Future hope.

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Grasp the earth
Bulbs tickling my cheek
With first new shoots
Reach out with great
Goddess hands
Surround the sky
And lick.

***

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

Post Solstice Blues

January, 2019

The
longest day

Was
wild

Was
fun

With
number one

My
precious son

Who
charms

And
smiles

And
plays

And
whiles

Away
the day

That
stretches

Until
the very fabric

Of
dusk is

Thin

Like
ancient parchment

On
which is scribed

The
secrets of

The
universe

Then
waking post solstice:

Rain
and gloom and

Fog
and doom and

Mundane
madness

Mot,
plug faulty,

Purse
empty

Child
grumpy

Bed
lumpy; weak cup of tea…

A
headache grows

And
blows the beauty

Out
of mind

But
stay, and pray;

What
is that stray

Beam
of beauty

Falling
through my curtain?

Lugh’s
promise: Balor’s gaze.

A
vow of brighter days.

I
smile, and blues are fading

In
the haze.

Copyright
24th June 2015

Image credit: This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

***

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

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times

December, 2018

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mind, Body, Soul- Winter Solstice with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

December, 2018

Mind, Body, Soul- Winter Solstice with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

A Witchy Approach For a Spiritual Llife, Magickal or Non

 

Hello, I’m Norma Clark from Forevrgoddess Boutique. This is my little article about finding Mind, Body, and Soul – during the Winter Solstice Season, using a witchy approach for spiritual life or a non magickal approach.

Winter solstice or the return of the sun, was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors. Yule is called Winter Solstice Dec 21, Mother night. At Yule the Goddess Shows her Life-In-Death aspect. In this season she is the white Lady Queen of Cold darkness. This is her moment of giving birth to the child of promise who brings back the light and warmth of her kingdom.

Sometimes in this world we’re so busy ( school, work, family, etc). We forget to take a little bit of time for ourselves, self-care or personal time. We’re here to help you: ground, center, recharge, and refocus on good things in life, feel positive and healing energy.

 

Greet the Day

Each of us have different paths that keep us busy every day, we’re either rushing to school or work, getting kids up & ready for day. We might have a little bit of time before our day begins. Rise early and greet the sun, give thanks to solar Gods/Goddess for blessing a new day, even if you wake to Snow or Rain it’s the Goddesses time for rest to prepare earth for it’s next phase of the seasonal circle. Look for beauty in any weather. Begin your day as usual washing your face, brushing teeth or even taking a shower.

 

Start Your Day… Crystal or Gemstone Meditation

Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and grab a crystal or gemstone of your choice. Try to sit by a window, look at the world around you, even if it’s your backyard. Feel the light fill the room. Put your coffee or tea down pick up & hold your gemstone or crystal of choice. Take 3 deep breathes in and out. Look at your stone or crystal, if there is sunlight let the sunlight shine on the stone; see the color highlights shown by the sun. Close your eyes while holding the stone, think of the healing properties of the stone (rose quartz: love, comfort. Smoky quartz: protection, grounding, dispels negativity. Selenite connects with angelic realm and relieves stress. Amethyst inner peace, serenity, etc… We provided the meanings of your stones with healing info.) Feel the loving energy come thru the stone and up your arm into your heart. See the positive change and blessings this stone has to offer. Try to focus on this energy for 10 minutes if possible. Even if you’re having a bad morning, or sleepless night before try to connect with the stone.

Take a few deep breathes again while focusing on the energy of the stone coming up your arm to your heart. You may feel warm and fuzzy or energized; take a moment to enjoy the feeling. Think about the things you must do today, don’t stress just see you doing them with positive love and light. See each task complete. Greet those you love or encounter with a smile and friendly “Hello”. Even if they don’t respond back smile knowing you’ve greet the day in a positive way. Slowly come back to your body, open your eyes and start your day.

If there is extra time, light some favorite incense, say a morning prayer to your patron Gods and Goddesses. If you have a sunny day go to somewhere in your yard where you won’t be disturb for 10-15 minutes and feel the sun. If it’s a cold day, dress warmly if you have snow, step into the snow, feel and hear the crunch and coldness around your toes. Bend down if standing and rub the snow with your hands try to reconnect with the Earth Goddess.

If you’re stressed, see yourself like a tree with roots even through the deep snow, imagine going down to sleeping grass and finally dirt where mother earth is. Push down all the negative energy, thoughts, anger, frustrations into ground. Once done feel the loving soothing energy come up from below, raise your hands above to the sun and sky welcome positive sun rays and warmth into your body grounding, recharging, refocus your mind set it to positive thoughts. If you’re still holding your stone, enjoy the healing energy. Come back into your body and listen to birds chirping or sounds of the day beginning. Go inside and begin your day. Consider doing yoga and basic stretches.

 

Dressing For the Day

As you get dressed think to wear the best colors for the day that help color magick and energy:

Monday: White

Tuesday: Red

Wednesday: Purple

Thursday: Blue

Friday: Green

Saturday: Black

Sunday: Yellow.

Though don’t be stuck with the list provided. There are many colors of the rainbow to wear and enchant the color of your clothing. ( Llewellyn.com & The Witches Date book or Calendar always has each day of the week for the whole year with info and what color to wear.) There is much to learn about color magick and how to apply it to your life and magickal side. If you have gemstones pendants wear them to compliment the outfit or for specific needs at the moment or for extra protection from city life or daily errands you might encounter.

 

Vitamins … Skin Care

Consider taking a multi vitamin, and herbal supplements. If you are sluggish in the morning from restlessness or medicine, consider looking into taking ginseng. There are few that have various ginsengs combined that can be beneficial to body and mind. One a day if possible helps energy and eventually, after a long day, helps you sleep. Gingko biloba, CQ 10  and Glucosamine with MsM are known for good overall health and rejuvenation of body and mind. One of each vitamin a day & you may see and feel changes. For a more youthful appearance consider taking collagen herbal supplements. They help fill fine lines and wrinkles. I use Reserveage Collagen replenish with Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. Read their reviews. I love my vitamins and have been using them for several months. It does turn back the clock a bit. Feel free to shop around and find what fits your budget sometimes pharmacy and supermarket vitamins and herbal supplements are on sale so pick up a few on sale. Stock up. I do all the time. LOL. Take a look on amazon.com, also.

Consider using natural products for your face like: face wash, facial lotions etc… I use Andalou naturals, I can find in health food store on sale or amazon.com. They have fruit & stem cells science products. I use sensitive skin, not harsh, not heavy. I love all their products. I found their trail size to be a great price and great as starter kits.

 

Eating

Find something filling and wholesome. Eat fruit if possible or have a protein bar. Be sure to have a well balanced breakfast. As you are about to take a nibble thank the Goddess or Gods for this meal, it doesn’t hurt to give them an offering even if it’s just lighting a candle for a few minutes as you eat or light a stick of incense. As you eat, sit by a window, look up and the sky, see the clouds, sun, moon, stars, try to find 5 things you’re grateful for and thank the Goddesses or Gods with what they have shown or provided you with, even if it’s a job, a warm bed, food on table, bills paid.

 

Going Out Into the World

As you go outside to work, errands, school, etc…take a moment to ground and center again, focus and visualize blue light, a shield, protecting you as you go into the world. To keep negative energy, negative feelings, and negative people away. Try to think of having a wonderful day. There are many blessings to see happening all around us. Be grateful for simple things. Say thank you if someone holds the door for you, or gives you a seat on bus or subway.

 

Other Self Care Thoughts & Ideas

If possible go for 20-30 min walk around the block or park for 3 days a week. It’s a great way to help get in shape, get your heart pumping, and gives you endorphins to make you feel good.

Create a blessing journal to write your thoughts in and the things you are grateful that the goddess / Gods have blessed you with like; your home, family and life. Even if they seems little or silly it’s okay. If you do it often you can look differently at a rainy or sad day. It might even calm your moods by looking at the brighter side of life.

Go get a massage. Look for local massage therapy school that might offer discounts for massages given by students.

Sit in the Sun for 20 mins. Wear sunscreen if needed, especially in the winter the sun reflects off the snow you still get sunburned as my husband does. Feel the warmth of the sun. Recharge, feel all the solar power banishing the negative, frustration, & sad thoughts. Think on the bright side of life.

Take a moment to reconnect, go to a safe place, park, woods, sea shore, stream, etc… Take caution. Be safe, sometimes water currents can be high or frozen on river banks, don’t go out on top of frozen lakes for safety reasons. You can fall in. If you are in a warmer climate area, take your shoes off feel the grass, dirt, sand beneath your feet. Feel the wind in your hair, close your eye hear the calls of natures. Even if you’re in a big city, find a safe spot and reconnect. Meditate even if it’s 10 minutes, breathe in love, harmony, light, exhale negative emotions, sadness, frustration. Ask the Goddess for guidance, tell her what you need help with. Like Gods, the Goddess, is the very essence of everything. She is part of us all, she has so many names. Look up a specific goddess you’ve chosen, look closely to your type of belief (Celtic, Hindu, European, African, Asian, there no wrong or right goddess for you.)

Look at our boutique: find a new candle, incense or smudge blend to set the mood and feel the positive energy about you. Look at any of your gemstones, be inspired to learn more about them and their healing energy. Here’s a link to my boutique.

Look for any books by Judy Hall she write “crystal bible” and more books.

Buy a water bottle with a fruit strainer so you can add chopped fruit inside and enjoy them together. The perfect detox and fresh new approach to drinking water.

Go to Yuletide Craft Faires, look fun home décor or a sweet treat to bring home that is available to sample for the season.

Look to Pinterest. Consider trying a dinner recipe. There are so many to choose from. Consider a new dessert to enjoy with family and friends. Oreo poke with vanilla ice cream is my favorite.

Light a candle or a stick of incense. Say a prayer to your patron Gods or Goddesses. Talk to them they do listen, and may guide you to a higher purpose. Talk to elementals & Faeries. I used both of the Brian Froud faery oracle cards. I love the detailed art work and after using them for a while I didn’t feel alone. When I do a reading to see what lessons I need to learn or just for some fun, my cards come to life, I feel faery presences within my living room and home. You might hear: giggles, twinkling of bells, feel little breezes within your home (movement of plants leaves or your hair when no window is open), watch your pets they will clue you in if something is in your home with you. Remember try not to have a lot of iron within their sights some are offended, always thank them and give an offering for their knowledge and presence.

Try to be Kind to yourself, as well as others. What you do or send out will come back 3x, try to remember that. Find the positive side of things.

Take walks with winter changing in your wooded area feel the cool crisp air. Collect fallen branches of spruce or pine and make a wreath or a beautiful door hanging, Altar piece, or decorate somewhere within the home.

Make Air Dry Clay Ornaments. Use rubber stamps, metal charms, or cookie cutters and stamp out shapes to design then place them on your altar to dry. Write with colored marker or paint a design or in one word what your thankful for. Poke a hole through it, tie a string and hang it where you can see it everyday. As you paint and create the ornament consider working a magick charm into it. Paint on dry clay or carve into the clay before it dries.

Create memories with family and friends and bake Winter/ Yule sugar cookies. Talk about what you are grateful for or just spend time with them. Have a Cookie decorating party! (Our Sabbat Yuletide and any other Wiccan sabbats cookie cutter and recipe box set is available check the boutique Yuletide ritual blessings)

Reflect during this time of year what Winter Solstice/Yule and Holiday season means to you, finding balance within one’s life (work, family, school, children, etc.) and what goals you want to set for this month December and continue on New year and January – go to Sleigh riding in snow, drink Spiced Hot coco – I like Mexican Aztec hot coco just add a half teaspoon or less of Cayenne pepper powder to pot of Hot coco.

Be with friends and family, share sweet goodies, Collect Apples or Oranges. Do some Yuletide crafts with Family and Friends. Look on Pinterest.com for ideas. Go to Yuletide Festivals. Enjoy the fruits, nuts, and favorite foods we enjoy this time of year. Did someone say “peppermint” Nothing to big, just Go, enjoy the Beauty of Winter!

 

If you wish to learn more about unique, one of kind – Mind, Body Soul Box sets, we have a variety for you to select from:

Moon/ Celestite

Crystal Quartz Heart

Strawberry Moon Lotus

Amethyst Cluster- Inner Peace

Quartz Cluster – Positive Thought and Energy

and our newest boxes and gifts for the Winter Solstice

Each box is made to order; each gemstone is handpicked and combined for perfect harmony with your home, sacred space or altar. We provide unique worksheets to help plan a goal for the month of December and beyond, & ideas on how to find the magickal side of life.

Look to Forevrgoddess Boutique, MIND BODY SOUL section to purchase boxes or for more info.

Come browse Forevrgoddess Boutique for unique Yuletide gifts, for sabbats rituals and Box sets, handmade ornaments, adorable handmade jewelry, and some much more!!

Yule Correspondences

December, 2018

(Primitive Witch Hat Tree Topper, “Winter”, by Loren Morris of PrimWitchery on Etsy.)

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:
yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:
cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:
bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

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