ideas

The Sober Pagan

December, 2017

Yuletide Sobriety

Who doesn’t party during the holidays? Scrooge? The Grinch?

But when you’re in recovery, holiday parties – whether they are office parties at work, family parties around a table groaning with food and drink or coven Yule rituals with “cakes and ale” – are a challenge, to say the least. What do you do? How do you navigate these chilly, choppy waters?

I’ll be honest with you – I’ve relapsed over the holidays more than once.

It’s so easy to see everyone else – those so-called “normal” people – with drinks in their hands – laughing, happy – and want what they seemingly have. Yeah! Just one drink. How simple that sounds.

Don’t go there.

If you’re like me, it’s never “just one drink” and it’s never that simple. It’s always a night of drunken manic craziness and a morning of migraine suicidal depression. Even if I’m just mildly hungover, I’m so tired I can’t do a thing.

And then, of course, I have to start all over all again.

I don’t work anymore so office parties are a thing of the past but I still have family. Luckily for me, about half of my family are now in some phase of recovery, so there’s lots of sober support there. I don’t have to go to any party that I don’t want to anymore – that’s a perk of being old and ornery.

But – if it’s a case where I have to go to a holiday party, here is the list of ideas I’ve compiled to help me get through the ordeal. Some I’ve heard at meetings, some I’ve read in books, and some I’ve gotten off of various websites. They were on a list in my diary.

  1. Arrive late and leave early. Say you have somewhere else to go, if people ask you why you’re leaving. You’re not lying. You’re going home, right?

  2. Bring a sober friend with you.

  3. Bring a bottle of ginger ale or coke or something else non-alcoholic to drink. Ginger ale mixed with cranberry juice is a fabulous holiday drink.

  4. Remember HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Don’t let yourself get out of balance in any of these areas.

  5. Remember TAMERS – Talk about recovery, Act on recovery, Meditate & minimize stress, Exercise & eat well, Relax, Sleep

  6. Be careful what you eat – lots of cookies, especially, have alcohol in them – my mother makes a killer fruit cake FILLED with booze! One piece and you’ll be wicked buzzed! So be careful!

  7. Go to meetings! Especially if you’re out of town – meetings are different in every city, so it’s always cool to check out that aspect of AA. And everyone loves the out-of-towner.

  8. Get outdoors. No matter what the weather is doing, it’s always good to get outside and walk off whatever emotions you are feeling. Believe me, you are going to feel better! And it’ll work off all those cookies you’re eating!

So please – Have the Happiest Yule Ever and a safe and sober New Year! Brightest Blessings!

Images found on Pinterest with the exception of the picture of the Niagara River Rapids photo © polly macdavid

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About the Author:

 

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

Book Review – Celebrating Wiccan Spirituality: Spells, Sacred Rites, and Folklore for Each Day of the Year by Lady Sabrina

December, 2017

Celebrating Wiccan Spirituality: Spells, Sacred Rites, and Folklore for Each Day of the Year”

by Lady Sabrina

 

 

Published by New Page

Published: 2003

Pages: 319

Available at Amazon and elsewhere in paperback and Kindle editions.

If you’re looking to make your craft a daily part of 2018, this is a book for you. Take a magickal journey through the year with holidays, folklore, festivals and customs from a wide variety of cultures. Some are internal pagan practices while others are secular in nature.

Beginning with January 1, Lady Sabrina covers each day with everything from simple reminders to more elaborate spells and rituals as the wheel of the year turns. It takes advantage of the changing astrological configurations and energies.

After a brief introduction to January, with its magickal theme and correspondences, January 1 starts off with New Year’s Day – the deities associated with it, and instructions for making an amulet to attract happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

January 2 talks about the day set aside in ancient Egypt to honor the goddess Isis, the Queen of Sorcery, the Mother of the Moon and Life of the Nile. The magickal activity presents an Isis Protection Spell.

January 3 explains three things the day is dedicated to: Paris’ patroness St. Genevieve, the dear dance and weather forecasting.

January 4 presents the Sacrifice to the 7 Stars, the day ancient Greeks honored Callisto, the moon Goddess who loved was by Zeus and bore him a son. Wishing to hide her, Zeus changed her into a bear, later shot by emis who placed her among the stars. Instructions for making a willow wand, and a prayer to use it when needing flexibility and accommodation are given that day.

January 5 is the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. In Italy, the 11th day after Christmas is dedicated to the fairy Goddess Befana. In much the same way children now put out stockings on Christmas Eve in the hopes Santa Claus would fill them with gifts, children of long ago would put out stockings in the hopes Befana would fill them with presents while adults would write their wishes on pieces of paper and toss them in the hearth where they catch fire and float up the chimney, granting the petitioner’s wish. The day’s activity is a hearth blessing – incorporating a broom, a length of cord and a white three-wick candle.

For January 6, Lady Sabrina presents King and Queen Buttermilk Clove Cake as a magickal activity to celebrate the Epiphany of Kore from the Greek tradition.

January 7, Saint Distaff’s Day, is an example of an inauspicious day. It was not a saint’s day at all, but a jokingly marked the day women returned to their distaffs of unspun wool.

Days bring spells, prayers, rituals, crafts, details about deities, meditations and other activities as a way to celebrate the day. You can begin any day of any year and reuse the book every year, making for a daily practice.

In the appendixes are suggestions for Sabbat celebrations and six pages dedicated to correspondences, making the book a general reference as well.

Lady Sabrina is an initiated Priestess of the Wiccan religion and the founder of Our Lady Enchantment, a Wiccan seminary. She published three books before this one, including “Reclaiming the Power- The How and Why of Ritual Magic,” and two more after it. Her most recent is “Witch’s Master Grimoire: Encyclopedia of Charms, Spells, Formulas and Magical Rites.”

For Amazon information, click images below.

 

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About the Author:

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

 

Looking into the Eye of the Dragon

March, 2017

 

Dragoneye

 

 

Look into the eye of the Dragon and despair.” – Merlin initiating Morgan la Fey in the film “Excalibur.”

A Druid of my acquaintance put this short dialogue into my hands. He refused absolutely to comment on it, but said I might do with it what I wished. So I am laying it before all of you:

A red-haired lady came to see me the other day. She said she had been having visions of angels, and she told me her visions in great detail. Among other things, she said that they control the weather.

She was a nice lady. I said that I did not doubt that she had had visions of angels. Then she said, “Then you accept my visions?” “I did not say that,” I said.

“Then you doubt my visions?” she said. “Nor that either,” I replied. “ I too have had visions, and so do other people. They do not always agree with each other. But they are all visions, sure enough.”

“Then you don’t think visions are real,” she said. “You don’t really believe in them.” And she stressed the word “really”.

“They are real enough,” I said. “All of this that we are seeing right now is a vision. We have learned how to agree about it, so it is a common vision. But it is a vision just the same, and not necessarily the last word on what is real.”

“Then what is real?” she asked, stressing the word “is”.

“A good question,” I said. “What is all this? If you look with that question in your heart long enough, you will see beyond vision, beyond these scenes of angels, or demons, or what-have-you. You will see what is here. We call that ‘looking into the eye of the dragon.’ But that is only a manner of speaking.”

“What happens then?” she asked.

“When once you look into the eye of the dragon,” I said, “things are never the same, because you are never the same. We say here that to look into the eye of the dragon is to lose the human form and become the dragon. In fact, everything becomes the dragon.”

“But how can everything become a dragon?” she asked, a little nervously perhaps.

“The dragon,” I corrected her. “Not a dragon. The dragon.”

“All right,” she said, a little testily. “the dragon. But how does everything become the dragon?”

“Everything becomes the dragon,” I said, “by virtue of already always having been the dragon.”

“I don’t believe it,” she said. “You tell me my angels aren’t real, and now you want me to accept a dragon – all right, the dragon – as real.”

“It doesn’t make the slightest difference whether you accept it or not,” I said.

“It’s an ugly thought, anyway, looking into the dragon’s eye and becoming the dragon. I’m going back to my angels.”

“That’s right,” I said, “why shouldn’t you? Stick with your angels as long as you can. There isn’t much advantage in seeing things as they are.”

She got up to go, then looked for a moment into my eyes and sat down again.

That was when I knew she’d been telling the truth about her visions.

“Is it – is it fearsome?” she asked.

“It is,” I said, “it is most terrifying. But not in the way you think.”

“How do you know what I’m thinking?”

“You’re thinking it might be dangerous, like a lion. It is not dangerous in that way at all. It can’t threaten you; it can only become you.”

She shivered and said, “I don’t want to become a dragon!”

“If only it were really a matter of becoming a dragon!” I said. “But unfortunately, calling it a dragon is only a way of flapping our gums, of having something to say. In reality, no one can say what it is. It’s here, that’s all.

Spiritual Warrior Woman

February, 2017

As I write this, it is the middle of January, 2017. It is a cold, dreary, overcast day in Massachusetts. A perfect day to journal, to meditate, to contemplate.

warrior1

It is also the week of the inauguration of a president-elect that many, many people feel is repugnant, an insult to the office of President. I must say that I am one of those people. Everything I stand for and believe in runs completely counter to what that man represents.

I have been on my spiritual path for four decades; yes, 40 years. I am a daughter of the Goddess. I love my path. I love my Goddess. I love to meditate; I taught Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to women for years. I taught about the Goddess through the art of belly dance. I am a healer, a Reiki Master and a Crystal Healer. All of this, I did, and do, in the name of the Goddess.

Women, just by the nature of their being, are Warriors. We come into a world that is ready to beat us down simply for being female. We are taught to act a certain way; to be quiet, not loud; dress to look like a lady, not a woman, not a whore; don’t swear; don’t try to get ahead in your job because you will be seen as aggressive, a bitch. We walk down a street and men feel they can say the most disgusting things to us by virtue of the fact that they are men, and we are not. This does not even take into account the physical fear that we deal with on a daily basis, because we are Woman.

The man who has been elected to the highest office in the US is the personification of what a woman fears, what a woman hates; he triggers us with his misogyny and predatory sexism. He is the type of man who brings out the Warrior in a certain type of woman.

There are those, women included, that feel that you cannot fight for what you believe, stand up for your principles, and still be a feminine woman. Not only that, but fighting back is the “dark side” of the spiritual coin. Who wants to go to the dark side? I do, and many are there right along with me.

Politically speaking, to some, this week feels like Darkness personified. Many fear the path the world, in general, and the US, specifically, seems to be traveling. Many different communities are feeling afraid, confused as to what their future will hold.

So, yes, it is dark. But it does not make me weak. It makes me strong

Yes, it is dark. We should look that dark right in the face and confront it.

Yes, it is dark, but cliche as it is, you cannot have the light without the dark.

As women, we have all spent time in the darkness, whether by choice as it was dictated by our spiritual path, or because we fell into the darkness due to life’s circumstances. But whatever reason we were there, alone, in the dark, whether we embraced it or fought it, we learned from it. Take the knowledge, the wisdom that you have acquired on your path and apply it to what is in front of you. What have you learned in the darkness that you can bring into the light?

Maybe the country, the world, is seeking the magic that we, as women, hold. Maybe, we were born for this time, this reason, to fight the darkness that threatens to overcome.

These are the times that our faith in the Goddess comes to the fore. We may see what is happening and feel helpless and/or hopeless. But we are neither. We have faith, which makes us strong. We are women with an inbred indomitable Warrior spirit. As women, we become warriors in the fight for what is right and what is good.

So, for myself, I will take the dark and use it to fuel the flame that brings the light to the fight. I will be a Warrior. A Beautiful, Spiritual Woman Warrior!

warrior2

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

November, 2016

Samhain 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Samhain is upon us! Many of y0u had your celebrations in the past week, and some of you will have yours this week.

Thanks to the wizardry of Jennifer, our editor, here at Pagan Pages, I can post links to past Samhain articles here if you’d like to look over them.

Here is 2015’s Samhain article:

http://paganpages.org/content/2015/10/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-12/

And here’s the article for 2014’s Samhain article:

http://paganpages.org/content/2014/10/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-2/

Both articles explore some history and pre-Christian practices.

This year’s Samhain article is going to specifically focus on something that is quite controversial in some of our communities- the revelry some engage in.

Apparently, right now, there are angry Witches and Pagans stating that Halloween Witch costumes discriminate against us and that “we are not a stereotype.”

Of course we aren’t.

Still, this argument is unfounded. In Western Civilization today, nobody in their right mind believes we have green skin, fly on brooms, and have orgies with the Biblical Satan. Those who are not in their right minds, who believe all this need our prayers for healing, not our wrath and indignation. People whose mental faculties cause them to believe such ridiculous things are not to blame for the genetic disorders they have, and it’s not spiritual to condemn them or hate them for this.

When Gardner was creating Wicca, and “reclaimed” the word Witch, he was under the false assumption that the Inquisitors documented certain things during torture induced confessions that held truth. Few today agree with this, and while we may use the words like “Coven” , hold the number thirteen to be sacred, and worship a Horned God, we understand these are neo, or new practices that were created from what people thought was done in Pre-Christian times.

Archaeology tells us different. People belonged to organized temples and groves, and had hierarchical clergy just like Christian churches today do. While some had goddess traditions, like the devotees of the Goddess Diana, today’s neo-Pagan Goddess traditions combine various ideas from what we believe to be ancient practices custom tailored to today’s devotees.

Our cultural practices won’t allow us to have the animal slaughtering at harvest time to be part of the practices at Sabbats, unless we live on farms. Parading around ancient sites and standing stones isn’t happening in North America. We don’t have the need to feast on the fresh harvest and bust our butts storing the rest for winter. We have refrigeration and can get fresh produce year round!

So Sabbats take on a different meaning for us than they did in Pre-Christian times.

Truthfully, my recent ancestors I venerate at Samhain were Christians, so they won’t get mad at me if I don’t do a fancy ritual that some person from antiquity would recognize. We did funerals and no other memorials in my family.

I gather with other Pagans I circle with, but truthfully, most of the reason I host a Samhain, or join one somebody else is hosting is for fellowship and to have fun.

Many of us joke Halloween is when we can buy proper décor for our homes.

For those who decorate altars with skulls, this is a good time of year for shopping for supplies.

Since the dead communicate with the living very strongly during this time, it’s a good time to both give them gifts, and for divination, asking them for messages and guidance.

The foods of the season are enjoyed by many.

Some love the cooling weather and enjoy a short break from the Summer gardening before doing cleanup and planting Spring bulbs.

For this year’s working, I’m going to include some suggested fun activities to add to your Sabbat celebrations after ritual. Some of these are things I did or saw others do when we had family night open house at Halloween when I worked in Nursing Homes. Other things are things friends and me did at Sabbats we hosted.

I hope you enjoy my list!

Saoirse’s Suggested Samhain Revelry Activities

Kids stuff

  1. Have a costume contest where every contestant gets a first prize for something. Like, “cutest costume” or “scariest monster.”
  2. Have goody bags that do not have candy for free giveaway. Diabetes and allergies dictate not all kids can eat all the same foods. Their parents will thank you for thinking of this.
  3. Actually have them bob for apples. If you do not want to risk spreading germs, instead of having apples in water for them all to try to grab with their teeth, have one apple per child suspended from the ceiling or tree branches and whoever gets their apple first wins!
  4. Fill a baby pool with sand, and bury little gifts in it. Have sandbox shovels, and let the kids “dig for treasure.”
  5. Have the kids all color Halloween themed coloring pages, and present them as gifts to the gods or to decorate the altar with.
  6. Have the children light a candle for a deceased family member, and leave a little gift for them on the altar.
  7. Take the kids on a “spooky trail walk” after dark dressed in costume with flashlights at a local metro park. Do this with a group with lots of parents, of course!
  8. Have the kids make peanut butter and birdseed gifts for the nature spirits, or leave various food items wildlife would enjoy for the Sidhe. Leave this someplace where you know it will be eaten, not leaving any trash behind.
  9. Have a Halloween gathering where each child brings their favorite Halloween themed book and have them take turns reading them to each other.
  10. Take the kids to a cemetery to do trash pickup in honor of the dead. Starting them at a young age with such things raises both environmental awareness and teaches them cemeteries are not scary.

Adult Sabbat Revelry

  1. Instead of a cemetery cleanup, take your friends to a cemetery that is old if you’ve never done this before. The beauty of the old gravestones will blow you away if you have not seen it before. Take cigarettes or flowers as offerings for the dead, and see if any of them speak to you.
  2. Take friends to a Celtic Rock Concert and go in costume. The year I did this with a friend was absolutely the most surprisingly fun time I ever had. It’s not specifically Pagan, but it’s ancestral music, and that counts!
  3. Do an adult Halloween candy exchange. Make it even more fun, and have everybody bring their favorite ingredients for cocktails as well.
  4. Do an outing to a pumpkin farm, eat the yummies they offer, and go on the hayride. Nobody is ever too grown up to enjoy this. City folks seem to especially enjoy getting out to these locations.
  5. Find a local Fall Foliage train ride and go. We did this for the first time a few weeks ago, and we really enjoyed it.
  6. Host or co-facilitate with somebody else a divination night and potluck it. This will go over so well that everybody will want this again!
  7. Like costume contests for the kids, have one for the adults. You are never too old to enjoy this.
  8. Have an all weekend slumber party and watch as many spooky movies as you can. Have everybody bring food and drinks to share.
  9. Instead of fancy centerpieces when decorating tables, scatter party favors and candy in the center of the tables. Tell everybody there better not be ONE thing left in the middle of those tables! They will happily oblige you, and you won’t have to clean up or pack away any decorations.
  10. Buy a few nice party gifts for giveaway. Put a sticker on the bottom of a few plates to denote who gets the gifts. Then have everybody look on the bottom of their plates to discover who wins!

Of course, having the sacred observations will still happen when you add a little revelry and fun to your gatherings. Sabbats may be for worship, but they are for enjoying gathering with one another as well.

May your Samhain be blessed and fun.

Blessed Be.

Aromatic Life

October, 2016

Apples

apple

 

Apple Magick is very popular on Samhain. Whether you are trying to divine who your next lover will be or paying tribute to an ancestor, apples abound on this holiday.

Here are a few ways to bring apples into your home for the holidays….

  • Burn Apple Blossom incense in your workings, on your altar, or to give the room a nice smell.
  • Eat some apples.  They have wonderful health benefits.  You can read some of what those are here.
  • Make a new wand using the branch of an apple tree.
  • Use them in your recipes for a Samhain meal.
  • A Simmer Pot is a great and easy way to make your house smell like Autumn with apples.  Here is what you do:

apples

 

In a pot on a low simmering heat or in a crockpot on low with the cover off bring the following to a simmer:

5 Cups of Water

1 Apple Cut in Half

3-4 Cinnamon Sticks

From here you can add anything else that pleases your senses, such as, orange peels, cardamom, cloves, etc…

This concoction can simmer, watched, for a few hours.

Enjoy the beautiful Aroma!

 

 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

October, 2016

Party Favors

witchcraft

Merry meet.

For a Samhain event last year, I made party favors, copying an idea I found on Pinterest that came from Mug Pie Studio’s blogspot.

You will need:

paper in desired colors (I used purple, white, green and orange.)
small plastic bags (I used 3×4-inch craft bags with a ziplock I found on eBay.)
chocolate chips
Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
candy corn
miniature marshmallows
a stapler

I designed labels, six to a page that was held horizontally – Monster Scabs, Ghost Poop, Witch Warts and Jack O’lantern Teeth – printed, cut and folded them.

Bags were filled about half to two-thirds of the way with the chips, marshmallows, candy corn and cereal – and sealed.

The directions from Mud Pie Studio suggested that the zipper part of the bags remain at the bottom for easy opening, but I thought it looked neater by stapling the label to hide the zipper end.

Prepare for compliments.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2016

Mabon 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox always sneaks up on me. It is August 19, and while our tomato and cucumber harvest is going well, I can hardly believe that in a little over a month, we will be harvesting even more, and we’ll be quickly headed to Samhain!

An especially harsh Winter is forecast for this year. I suppose that is the price some of us in Central Ohio will just have to pay for the fact last year’s Winter was quite mild! I was told the insects were heavier this year as a result of the mild Winter- so the shrieking little girl in me hopes next year’s insect population will be less thick!

I say this, covered in chigger bites from my knees to my toes. Every Lughnassadh that I garden finds me covered in bites and unable to sleep until they heal- which takes at least a month. I spend so much time in the garden, refusing to wear shoes, long pants, or DEET, and would rather struggle for a few weeks than cover up. I guess the bugs figure since I am harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers they feel I grew simply for their consumption, they will just eat me instead!

I always review last year’s article before composing this years to ensure they are not similar- you can read last years here-

http://paganpages.org/content/2015/09/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-11/

– and I was reminded that last year was the very first time I gardened from early Spring, all Summer long, and into Autumnal Equinox. I am pleased to say, this year, I did too!

The difference is that somehow, I failed miserably at radishes this time- but learned to grow cucumbers. We have about a dozen vines prolifically producing as I write this, as well as ten tomato plants, and new sprouts of snap peas- a first harvest of which was quite successful. I am pleased to say our blueberry we planted last year produced so beautifully, we bought another to plant beside it.

We are doing so well with veggies this year because of an agreement with a neighbor across the street. For the past three years, she has allowed us to grow things in her unused garden area. The first year, I planted perennial flowers- which did not come back. So, the next year, we planted lots of radishes and shared with her and a couple other neighbors. This year’s success with monstrous amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes came after amending the soil with a lot of compost and manure, diligent watering, and staking and careful managing of the long, flowering veggie vines. This is also the second year we have used mostly seeds as opposed to greenhouse sprouted plants.

As far as seeds go, marigolds can be planted from last year’s withered blooms, the flower heads opened up to get them, and each tiny seed laid about two inches away from the last. The rest of our seeds, we buy in Winter, usually starting in January or February, and they are gleefully planted after weeks of gawking at them in eager anticipation.

Our Own Harvests

Mabon, or time of Second Harvest is a good time to take stock of all you have accomplished and while some use it as time for review and of setting new goals, I see it as more of a time for building on what has already been done.

For example, one of my friends wants to do a full-house purge. He’s a pack rat and is too ashamed to let people into his house to see. I used to joke with him that I believed he had bodies stacked up from his serial killing sprees- until I caught a view of his back patio- in all of it’s cluttered glory- and I caught a glimpse of the disaster his living room is by peering in through his sliding glass door. There was not a body in sight, of course!

But realistically, he has already started his purge- it began in the front yard. He did quite a bit of the gardening WITH me this year. Any further progress is just building upon that. He is a big reason the garden has done so well. His encouragement was wind in my sails many times, and he even bought supplies and did some of the labor as well. He does not realize how much progress he has already made- but in the next couple of days, he will get back from a trip out of town and see the huge sunflowers that opened by his door while he was away- and I am pretty sure that will drive the message home.

Later on in the article, I will provide a working, but in the meantime, I’d like to share some information about an exciting historical landmark that shares the name with this Sabbat.

The Lochmaben Stone and The Once and Future King

The Lochmaben Stone is the one stone that is still visible of a ring of megalithic stones in Scotland- this one stone weighing ten tons just by itself. Local legend states it is from this stone that King hur drew his sword. Belief in the existence of a historical hur in general as well as him drawing a sword from a stone are worth discussing, and holds far more tradition than many modern folk suspect.

Sarmartians, Romans, and Brits, Oh My!

About him in general, it is speculated that many different warlords formed the basis for the legends about him, some of whom were not even British. One was a Sarmartian, and was named Batraz. The Sarmartians were from a confederation of Iranian peoples who dominated and later adapted the language of the Scythians, who gave us the torcs so cherished by the Celts. Like hur, Batraz had a magical sword of power that he had cast into the waters when he died. There was heavy Sarmatian presence in Britain just before hur was said to have lived. Sarmatians also buried their swords in the roots of trees, or stones where they buried their dead- and it is said Batraz pulled his magical sword from the roots of a tree.

The Sarmatians were there under a Roman military leader named Lucious orious Castus, and it is speculated the Sarmatians brought with them their stories of Batraz, which might have contributed to the hur myths. As you may have guessed, it is also speculated Lucious, whose middle named was orious, was the basis for the name hur as well. It is speculated he may have been guarding Hadrian’s Wall, and his career sent him to Judaea, Macedonia, and Italy as well. By the time he reached Great Britain, he was a good 50-60 years old with quite a track record.

As well as being called “The Once and Future King”, hur was viewed as tied to the land. Legend has it when he fell ill, and the Knights were questing for the Holy Grail, all the land fell ill, and the people suffered. This came from Pre-Christian beliefs about divine kingship. The king was responsible for the people. He both blessed and defended them. If he suffered, both the land and the people suffered.

For a lot of modern Neo-Pagans, the Wheel of the year links the land to the life of the god who is born of the goddess at Yule, and develops, and is killed and returned to the earth with harvest. hur’s myths fit right in with this.

Papa Was a Royal Stone

Backtracking to the topic of the stones, both Scotland and Ireland had sacred stones used in coronation of kings. The Lia Fal, or Stone of Destiny which still stands in Ireland, was supposed to emit a shout when he who was meant to be king put his feet on the stone. It has been damaged a few times, once being back in antiquity by being split in anger by Cuchulainn when it did not choose the man he wanted to be king- and it only emitted the cry twice after that- for Conn of the Hundred Battles and Brian Boru. It was also hit with hammers and painted in recent years, but it still stands.

In Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is housed an ancient Stone of Destiny where kings were placed for coronation. Queen Elizabeth the II is the last monarch crowned on the stone. In the 13th century, it was taken by Edward I and transported to Westminster Abbey in Britain. There, it was installed in a seat , used for coronation of British kings. After townsfolk prevented the crown from giving it back to Scotland close to a century later, it is said monks snuck the real stone away, burying it and replacing it with another. Nobody seems to know if this is true or not.

In 1950, it was stolen by some students, and hidden- but after being returned several months later, it was agreed the stone should return to Scotland. In 1996, was taken to Edinburgh Castle to be kept when not used during coronations.

As far as the god whose name the Lochmaben stone contains, nothing is known of what kind of worship of him took place there, but it is known stones held power, and were the places the kings and leaders were crowned or elected.

The Lochmabon Stone itself was used for various purposes after Christianization. It stood as a boundary marker between England and Scotland, and a landmark where people met for doing business. It was recorded that prisoners between Britain and Scotland were exchanged at the stone in the fourteenth century. A Battle where Scotland crushed the invading English occurred in the Fifteenth century, and in the 1800’s a tenant farmer shifted the stones around, trying to find valuables. In the 1995, a re-erection of the stone was had. And although various other stones that comprised the circle are now below ground, the Lochmabon stone still stands today.

It can be argued the idea of divine kingship hur and the rulers chosen at Lia Fal embodied so well was carried over into feudalism with the concept of the god of Abraham selecting the monarchy. That the king or leader was selected by omens or birth is something few neo-Pagans might submit to in this day and age of voting in leaders although Pre-Christian Pagans swore by it.

Mabon and Maponos

What all of this has to do with Mabon itself goes back to the name of the god whose name the stone takes- it is accepted there was at one time some sort of devotions done to the god Mabon- or Maponos at the Lochmabon Stone because simply because the stone is named after him. A god revered by ancient Gauls in France, and later by Celts in the British Isles, little is known about him, save he was believed to be a son of a mother goddess, who we likewise know little about!

Today’s neo-Pagans often have a second harvest celebration and decorate their altars with leaves, and flowers and fruits of the season. Some have a kind of thanksgiving celebration. However, I have never personally met a devotee of the god Maponos, although I am sure they are out there. So for many, this Sabbat has little, if anything to do with the god whose name it bears.

Although we all know that our neo-Pagan celebrations are neo- or new- I always look to see if I can find what was done in the pre-Christian days. I specifically wanted to see what was harvested at second harvest time.

Pass the Bottle and the Bag of Wheat

What I found was that before Prohibition in the US, Ireland was responsible for 90% of the world’s whiskey at the start of the 20th century! Now, Ireland’s whiskey accounts for just 2% of what is consumed and has only seven whiskey breweries. A lot of breweries went out of business due to Prohibition.

Whiskey is made using a yeast distilled mash of cereal grains, which may include any of the following- barley, corn, rye, or wheat. The sources I found indicated Irish whiskey is only made using barley. Barley is harvested in mid-July, and it takes years for the barley whiskey to age before it is ready to be consumed. So the barley harvest is not what would be celebrated Mabon time.

Wheat, however, is harvested in September, and despite the modern dislike of all things glutinous- wheat has been a staple in Europe for centuries. It stores well, and grows very well in Ireland, I discovered. So well, as a matter of fact, it is said Irish wheat growers have a leg up on wheat farmers in other Nations. It is said the weather there is best for the wheat. I found that pre Christian Pagan devotees released bags of flour from the newly harvested batch to the wind as gifts to the gods and in thanks for a successful harvest.

Many neo Pagans celebrate the equinox as a thanksgiving and for saying goodbye to long Summer days. I have never found that a good thing- some of us are tired from Fall through mid Spring- so I admit, Mabon is not a favorite of mine. But a lot of people look forward to the cooling days, and view the coming Winter as time to rest and die back with the earth.

Taking all the things I have read over in the past few days into account, the suggested working this time will include taking stock of our own personal power through the accomplishments of the harvests in each of our lives. Like our once and future king, we are the kings and queens of our own worlds. Our people- loved ones- and land…yards and work lives- reflect how we are doing. If we suffer, they suffer. Likewise, if we thrive, so do they. Some harvest celebrations will find us feeling we have accomplished more than others- but all in all, what we HAVE done is what needs to be celebrated.

Saoirse’s 2016 Mabon Working

Like most of my suggested rites, invite everybody over and have a potluck. Before the ritual begins, set a gorgeous table with all the things that makes you think of Fall Equinox time. Use whatever seasonal decorations you desire- or if you just don’t decorate- line the table with the food only, and that will look plenty festive enough!

I like to use a great free Sabbat decoration come Fall time… LEAVES! I stuff jars and vases full of branches of leaves and scatter leaves from outside EVERYWHERE, even the floor! You can sweep them right out the door and vacuum up any particles left behind. If you think about this, fallen leaves are the perfect symbol of the Sabbat. The trees have produced all they are going to and are now changing colors as they die back, and nothing looks prettier.

Also, if it is affordable, buy a bottle of Irish whiskey to use in this ritual. You can have a little something from the motherland right in your home anywhere on earth for Mabon that way!

To prepare for the ritual, come with a story. It should be a story of some accomplishment of yours- the proudest moment for you this harvest season. For some, it will be they got a new job. For others, it will be figuring out how to fix the plumbing. For others, it will be overcoming the urge to honk at people in traffic- thus defeating your own road rage!

No accomplishment is too small, but let there be a twist in how this is done. Amplify the story to some heroic level. For example- a friend was selected to be the one who chases geese off of her place of businesses property. When she told us about a bloody battle in which she emerged victorious- she started by saying she stealthily inched out the front door with her mighty broom in hand, and looked the largest geese in the bunch in the eye and said “You have slept your LAST peaceful night, goose!” Realistically, all she did was charge at them and scatter them a couple of times until they flew away. Yet to hear her tell it, the battle was a major military excursion, and will go down in the annals of history as the time the Great Anna defeated the Gang of the Filthy Tailfeathers.

In our culture, we are encouraged to tear ourselves down, hate our bodies, downplay our accomplishments, and then everybody wonders why our self-esteem is so low and depression levels are so high in this country! At this Sabbat, we are going to reverse this, at least for our dinner. I suggest a Mabon Bragfest Dinner where everybody takes a turn bragging about some major accomplishment before the food is blessed and everybody feasts.

I highly suggest beginning by first blessing and opening the bottle of whiskey, giving some as offering to the gods, and then passing it from person to person and having everybody take a sip to get nice and warm.

Next, begin the storytelling. Each person will first pour a bit out to the gods, as the gods come first, then take a sip themselves, tell their story of esteem, and pass the bottle to the next person. If your party does not want to drink alcohol, grab some amazing sparkling juice or fresh cider. Remember that you can always give the gods the whiskey, even if you prefer non-alcoholic beverages yourself.

While I understand modern people cannot do all just as the ancients did, these ARE still ancient gods. Many are used to getting whole herds of animals or even human being sacrificed to them as well as caches of bronze, gold, silver, and whatnot. To just give this god a little sip of apple cider or juice or milk or something seems like little effort, and is a far cry from what they are used to. Give em’ the whiskey!

Make sure that after each person has told their story of mighty accomplishment, everybody cheers and claps riotously- the whiskey should help with this. Not only are we tooting our own horn, but we are encouraging and tooting each other’s horns!

To bless the food, once everybody has spoken, join hands, or do a group hug in a circle around the table and say something like,

Lady and Lord, we thank you for this second harvest and for all of the beautiful things we have brought into our lives. Accept the offerings of all good things we have done, and all good things we plan to do and build up our strengths, and let us build one another up.

We have enjoyed another harvest together, and a third is yet to come as the days shorten, and the nights cool and lengthen. Thank you for all we have been blessed with, and for all the blessings we have bestowed upon one another. We are the sons and daughters of the gods of the Old Ways. Let us never hunger. Let us never thirst, and let us never wither or weaken before our time to join our brethren in the Summerlands comes. So Mote it Be.”

Then feast and have wonderful fellowship.

Blessed Mabon.

Blessed Be.

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

September, 2016

 

Mabon Kitchen Magic

Merry meet.

You have to eat something, so why not make it magical to celebrate the second harvest? It could be a dessert, something for cakes and ale, dinner or a feast. Making it yourself makes it thrifty, and allows you to infuse it with your intentions.

Whatever the food is for, apples are a Mabon staple in any form: applesauce, apple butter, baked apple chips, baked apples with caramel sauce, apple cake, apple and acorn or butternut squash soup, apple muffins, apple pie, apple pound cake, apple fritters, applesauce cake, apple crisp, apple cider doughnuts, apple cobbler or Waldorf salad.

Where I live, the last of the summer squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are harvested, making ratatouille another good Mabon food.

Wild mushrooms are generally plentiful in September. Beans, beets and corn are also in season in many places. Pomegranates – which are part of the Persephone story – make for another Mabon food.

The winter squashes such as butternut and acorn are traditional this time of year, and lend themselves to roasting, stuffing, mashing and baking. They are good for making soups and casseroles, too. Pie pumpkins can be used in the same recipes, in addition to making pies, of course.

I found a paleo pumpkin pancake recipe by Paleo Grubs that I’m going to try at our Mabon retreat this year.

It calls for combining 1/2 cup well-drained pureed pumpkin, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons almond flour and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The caramel sauce that goes with it is made by boiling 1/8 cup coconut milk, 1 1/2 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon coconut oil until it thickens, then adding 1/2 tablespoon chopped walnuts and mixing well.

I found another recipe I plan to make at  wickedspatula.com. Its DIY Autumn herbal Tea Blend could just be the best of the season in a mug. The recipe calls for 1 part each of chicory, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns and star anise; 2 parts ginger and 3 parts crushed cinnamon. Store in an airtight glass container. Use 2 teaspoons per cup of water. Steep for 5 minutes.

Although Mabon is considered the witch’s Thanksgiving, the one food that is difficult to secure – at least in my neck of the woods – is cranberries. The fresh ones don’t start showing up in grocery stores until sometime toward the end of October. I learned to buy two bags at the end of the holiday season in January and freeze them in case I want them.

To bless your Mabon food, “A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book,” by Ceisiwr Serith offers this simple sentence, “I offer to the gods [or goddess] of the dark season this fruit of the light.”

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Seeing the Signs

September, 2016

divination on Pinterest

Long ago, before the Internet, if you wanted to know about a certain subject, you went to the library. Perhaps you started out with an Encyclopedia – Encyclopedia America or Encyclopedia Britannica, generally – also as we got older, we were taught how to use the card catalog and how to research our subject in a more adult manner.

Of course, people still use the library and they still use the catalog for research, although it’s now computerized – the card catalog is generally a thing of the past. But nowadays, when people want to research a subject, they go to the Internet first, and generally they Google whatever it is they are researching – maybe they use Yahoo or Bing – but unlike the early days of the Internet when there were dozens of search engines, now there are just a few – and most of them are powered by Google.

I don’t want to turn this into an anti-Google diatribe but the problem with Google is that after you do a little research on it, you tend to see the same things over and over again. Which kind of defeats the purpose of research. I mean – I already saw that. Yesterday and the day before that and last week, too. I want to see something new.

If any of you have ever visited my poetry blog, “no commas” at http://www.crystalapplequeen.wordpress.com, then you know that I have been working on a series of poems based on the images of the Tarot. Not only I have been writing poems but I have been making collages for each card – admittedly rather crude and even childish at times, but I enjoy making them and it’s not like I’m trying to put together an actual deck for divination. They’re just illustrations for my poems. But before I work on a particular card, I go to the Internet and search out images to help trip my brain into creativity. Since I tend to see the same things over and over again on Google, I started using Pinterest for ideas.

I am sure many of you – if not most of you – are acquainted with Pinterest. It was launched in March 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp. I remember getting my invitation to it and not really understanding what it was all about. But I soon caught on. Pinterest is a fabulous tool for getting ideas for almost anything at all – from engagement parties to that special recipe for Thanksgiving dinner to how to clean an annoying oil spot off a beige rug to vintage pictures of your home town. And once you start collecting – it’s like a digital scrap book – you’re given ideas for more collecting – boards and other collectors to follow – so in a very short time, you can have so many ideas for whatever you’re working on that it can be quite overwhelming.

So what does this have to do with divination? Well – on my own Pinterest page, I have two boards, one for Tarot and Oracle Cards, and another for divination. The Tarot and Oracle Card board I’ve had for a couple of years now but the divination board is brand new. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to create a board like this before! Last night I was looking for examples of the Star card for a new poem and I stumbled on pictures of crystals and how to use them and I thought – gee, this is really fabulous. Naturally I wanted to save it, so I created the board. And “pinned” it – and so far, 42 other wonderful ideas for divination!

seeingthesigns

Looking for things to pin, with Radar

I will still be visiting my local library and using books for reference – I am quite old-fashioned that way. But I love technology and believe that it can only aid us in our quest for knowledge – whether we are researching a subject for school or things more esoteric for ourselves.

And if you see me on Pinterest, friend me! I am always ready to make new friends. Merry Meet!

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