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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

July, 2019

Celebrating
the Old Ways in New Times July 2019

Bright
Blessings!

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

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

Mine
do!

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

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

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

FLOODS!!!!!

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

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

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

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

The
Deluge

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

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

“Give
up possessions, seek thou life.

Forswear
worldly goods and keep the soul alive!

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

This
ship that thou shalt build,

Her
dimensions shall be to measure.

Equal
shall be her width and her length,

Like
the Apsu that shalt ceil her.”

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

“With
the first glow of dawn,

A
black cloud rose from the horizon.

Inside
it Adad thunders,

While
Shullat and Hanish go in front,

Moving
as heralds over hill and plain.

Eragal
tears out the posts:

Forth
comes Ninurta and causes the dykes to overflow.

The
Anunnaki lift up their torches,

Setting
the land ablaze with their glare.

Consternation
over Adad reaches to the heavens,

Who
turned to blackness all that had been light.

The
wide land was shattered like a pot:

For
one day the storm wind blew,

Gathering
speed as it blew, submerging the mountains,

Overtaking
the people like battle.”

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

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

Evidence

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

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

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

So
What Now?

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

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

First
off- WHAT is causing it?

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

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

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

Ten
Small Ways to Fight Climate Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!

***

About
the Author:

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

The Kitchen Witch

August, 2018

Absolutely The Best Pasta Salad In the World

My family usually has some kind of reunion each summer – one side gathering here and the other side gathering there – and for the last twenty-odd years, I have been bringing “my” pasta salad to every family picnic. It doesn’t even have an official name – it’s just “Polly’s Pasta Salad” – and everyone loves it. But it’s not really my salad. Like everything else I make, it’s a recipe I got from someone else and then I tweaked it – again and again – until it settled into the form it has today.

It’s funny. I don’t even use a recipe to make this salad nowadays – I have it memorized and I “do” it off the top of my head. So I was quite surprised to see my own recipe in my own handwriting with my own notes. I had forgotten a few things.

One, I haven’t called this salad “Italian Pasta Salad” in years. I just call it “My Pasta Salad” like it’s the only pasta salad in the entire world and everyone knows what I am talking about! Also I was amazed to see that I had written down to rinse the pasta after cooking. Did I ever do that? I absolutely never do that now. I do like seeing how I added the additional ingredients along the side – I prefer cherry tomatoes to grape or sundried – but I have also used Campari tomatoes, quartered.

 

The salad itself was adapted – as it says on the page from my personal cookbook – from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. This is one of my very favorite cookbooks. All of Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks are fabulous. It doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian or not, you are going to find great recipes in these books! And they are visually beautiful. The recipes are hand-lettered by Katzen and she does all the drawings, too. I personally can’t draw to save my life – unless we are talking about the crudest stick figures – so I have the greatest admiration for Katzen’s talents.

But again, I was amazed when I looked at the original recipe. Did I ever make it the way she wrote it? I don’t remember ever using shell pasta – I have always used rotini. And I have never – and I repeat never – used vinegar or any other herbs or spices when dressing the hot pasta. I have never used anything but extra-virgin olive oil. And Parmesan cheese in the dressing mix! I am absolutely sure that I have never included that – although honestly, it’s not a half-bad idea and one I’m going to try next time. Why not? It might really rock. But I’m looking at all this and wondering – my copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is a revised edition. Was it different in the original edition – the one from which I copied the recipe? I messaged my friend who owns the original cookbook, and he confirmed that in the original edition, the hot pasta is marinated in nothing other but extra-virgin olive oil. I wonder what prompted Katzen to make the change?

Anyway – none of rambling changes how I make the salad now or how totally fabulous this salad is. But you have to follow instructions. Like certain spells – you can change some of the items you need and it won’t change the workings of the spell – in fact, it might make it work even better, since it’ll personalize the spell. For this salad, you can change certain vegetables – you can leave out the meat and the cheese if you want a vegan salad – but you have to prepare the pasta exactly as the recipe says – and you have to use fresh herbs. I will confess – I have made this salad with dried herbs and you can get away with dried parsley if you have to. But you are short-changing yourself if you don’t have fresh basil. If you don’t have basil in your garden, buy it at the store. But it’s an integral part of the flavor of this salad.

First start a pot to boil on your stove. When it comes to a full boil, pour a pound box of rotini pasta into it and stir it well.

Pasta cooks by moving, so you want to give it a stir once in a while during the cooking process. This is a great opportunity for circle magic. If it’s the waxing moon, stir clockwise and recite out loud everything that you wish to bring into your life. Say affirmations. If it’s during the waning moon, stir widdershins and chant the things you want to remove from your world. Remember that now is always the best time for magic!

When the pasta is almost soft, drain in a strainer.

BUT DO NOT RINSE. I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. The pasta must be hot to absorb the olive oil. Put the drained pasta in a bowl and pour a third of a cup of extra virgin olive oil over the hot pasta and mix it well. Doesn’t it smell heavenly? Let it sit for a half an hour or so to cool. I usually put it in the fridge for twenty minutes or so after that to chill down a little more.

After the pasta is chilled and it’s absorbed the olive oil, start adding your vegetables. If you want, blanch the broccoli – it’s not necessary but it gives it a brighter green color. Just remember to shock it with ice cold water as soon as the water comes to a boil to stop the cooking process so that the broccoli remains crunchy.

Add the green pepper, the red pepper, the grape tomatoes (all I could get this time around), the olives and the artichoke hearts. Or whatever vegetables you wish to add.

At this point, you could stop – you have a perfectly good salad right here. And if you are vegetarian or vegan, omit the pepperoni or the mozzarella. But if you are making this for omnivores, add the meat and the cheese.

I usually slice the pepperoni in about a half a millimeter-sized slices and then quarter the slices. Naturally, a few slices get popped into my mouth!

I cut the mozzarella into half-inch cubes. I snacked on quite of few of them, too! I love cheese!

At this point I realized that I needed a bigger bowl. I wasn’t going to be able to mix the cheese in without spilling out the rest of the salad! Oops! Luckily I have one really large wooden bowl, made for salads.

The next thing is to made the rest of the dressing. I generally just add the red wine vinegar and the rest of olive oil “by eye” but for purposes of this article, I measured the vinegar:

For seasonings, I add garlic powder, garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, either fresh chopped parsley or dried parsley or freshly chopped basil. For the basil, what I usually do is take several leaves and cut them into little pieces with a pair of scissors. You really want fresh basil for this salad. If you can get fresh parsley, that’s so much velvet but fresh basil is paramount.

Mix the red wine vinegar, additional olive oil, and seasonings into the salad and stir well. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and chill at least several hours – overnight is better. You want to stir it every once in a while. Stirring keeps the magic alive.

My recipe reads that it serves 4-6 people but that depends on individual appetites and what else is being served at the picnic or reunion. I have taken this salad to Yule parties and Superbowl parties as well – it’s a hit wherever I bring it.

So here is the recipe. Try it and love it – I guarantee you will!

Absolutely The Best Pasta Salad In the World”

One 1-lb box of rotini pasta

2/3 cup olive oil, divided

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Broccoli crowns, blanched

Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

1 can small black olives

1 can quartered artichoke hearts

1 stick pepperoni, sliced & quartered

One 1-lb block of mozzarella, cut into half-inch cubes

Seasonings: garlic powder, garlic salt, pepper, fresh parsley & fresh basil

Cook the pasta in boiling water until almost soft. Drain. DO NOT RINSE. Put the pasta into a bowl & pour 1/3 cup olive oil over it & mix well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients and chill at least an hour or overnight. The longer you chill it, the better it tastes.

References

Katzen, Mollie. ion.The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: New Revised Edit Berkley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1995.

The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest (Mollie Katzen’s Classic Cooking (Paperback))

 

***

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.

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

July, 2018

July 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I write this on the Summer Solstice, and Summer Seems to have hit early, with record breaking highs for the month of May here in my hometown, and all the sudden this week, the rain has cooled things to the high 70’s and low 80’s temperature-wise.

I am sure you know that the plants are loving it!

June and July are not only amazing months for us gardeners, but June, itself is LGBT Pride month. We had the Stonewall Columbus (Ohio) Pride Parade in downtown this past weekend, and for the first year in nine years, I had zero involvement. My guys also did not march, as the gentleman I passed it onto had to work.

Last year’s parade got National coverage as a group protested WITHIN the parade, halting the line, and being arrested on the spot. It resulted in anger from the people arrested, and the resignation of about a dozen Parade organizers.

It divided the community, and resulted in a lot of fights. Some believe the protesters were treated unfairly, others believe the protesters were out of line, and got what they deserved.

To my knowledge, however, there were no similar incidents at this year’s Pride.

The gay rights movement has been a lot of things over the decades, and quiet is not one of them. Many believe that to make an impact, you have to make a strong statement.

To A More Perfect Union

While I was unable to secure the interview I normally do when I preview a current film, I decided to go ahead and review this one anyways because it is such a crucial work focusing not only on the battle for gay civil rights, but traces the steps taken in a major victory in the legal system.

Here is their website, including a trailer you may watch.

https://perfectunionfilm.com/#home

To a More Perfect Union”, directed by Donna Zaccaro is a mesmerizing documentary that follows the life and love of Edith Windsor, who met partner, and later, wife, Thea in 1963. They became engaged in 1967, and could not legally marry until they 2007, and had to go to Canada to do so.

The film chronicles the gay civil rights movement in the US starting in the 1950’s up to modern times, including the famous 1969 police raid of Stonewall Inn in NYC. They fought back. Demonstrations lasted for five days, and Pride parades were started soon after.

Excerpts from the 1967 CBS special, “The Homosexuals” was shared on the film, and if is shown that in 1965, close to 3,000 homosexuals were arrested for being who they were, and homosexuality was classed as a mental illness, as well as a crime.

Fast forward to the 1980’s when AIDS first hit. Celebrities like Rock Hudson became spokespersons, and the community organized to demand research to learn to prevent, and cure AIDS.

Clinton’s famous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed in 1992.

In 1996, a bill to “protect marriage” or the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) , ensuring marriage was between one man and one woman was passed.

Sadly, Thea died, and widow Edie was forced to pay an estate tax to keep the property she and Thea owned together- since the United States did not recognize their marriage as legally legitimate.

She sued the government. She won.

In 2011, Obama stated DOMA was unconstitutional. One by one, more lawmakers started speaking against it, individual judges struck it down, and even Bill Clinton, who was in office when it was passed, said it was time to undo it.

Decades of work by LGBT activists and lawmakers were able to undo it in 2015, and the Supreme Court proclaimed “same sex couples may exercise their fundamental right to marry in all states. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

Edie Windsor crossed the veil September 12, 2017, but she lived to see all the hard work pay off. This extraordinary woman, who lived an extraordinary life, and helped create beautiful changes in this world, will always be remembered and celebrated.

The work is far from over today. We have a President who is anti a lot of things, anti-gay being one of them. His team has already removed the White House LGBT page. Not only has vice President Mike Pence tried multiple times to pass legislation against gay marriage, but tried to make those seeking same sex marriage licenses be charged with a crime. He further tried to take funding from AIDS research and put it into funding conversion therapy.

The fight is not, and it may never be over.

If you want to watch this amazing documentary, nab tissues, and be prepared to be enlightened. I look forward to more films from this team.

Back to the Garden

July is going to bring much harvest of our herbs and hopefully, tomatoes. As I have worked to cultivate the patio garden, shifting from emphasis on the front where we get more sun, I have discovered tomatoes just don’t thrive as there is lower light than they need. Every year, I learn more. Last year, for example, I learned that you have to fertilize hardcore EVERY year, because if you grow a LOT of cucumbers and tomatoes one year, and fertilize afterwards just a little? You don’t get many plants the next year.

I have also learned that my back likes me better if I plant more on the patio and less out front, as it is a lot less work.

That is the mundane.

I also decided to learn a bit of plant protection and about non-chemical ways to protect plants. These are tips you can use for the suggested magical working for this month.

Magical Plant Protection

This year, a couple roses were simply decimated by some insect or another, and poison ivy enveloped a bush. I resorted to chemicals to kill the poison ivy and insects, and this means I cannot use the roses this year to cook with or make tea.

I had used the dish soap remedy for quite some time, and it just wasn’t getting it. I had to pull nearly every single leaf off the rosebush, and the poor rose looks like the insects won this time.

So, I wanted to see what people in days of yore did back before chemicals.

Many magical people use charms and blessings, and while people from centuries ago did all of that, they also understood that was not quite enough! One good predatory attack, and your crops were gone. An entire family or village could starve due to this!

Some non-chemical things they used, which we can too, included :

  1. Scarecrows- They help drive away birds that would munch the crops, but just putting one in the ground would not do. Scarecrows had to be treated properly or they would not work. They required clothing, as well as a nice hat to keep them cool in the sun. It was unacceptable for somebody to wear the scarecrow’s clothes, or very bad things would happen to the wearer! If you did not clothe your scarecrow properly, your crops would not grow!

  2. Artificial owls- These help deter critters who are fearful an owl will eat them.

  3. Shiny things to reflect the sun- These spook birds, and help send them away. Gazing balls are a good example, which are also supposed to drive evil away.

  4. Evil Eye amulets- Like gazing balls, there are amulets and other trinkets used to keep the evil eye away. Some believe envy from somebody who has the power of evil eye will make everything in your garden die. Another way to avert this is to share plants and your harvest with neighbors.

  5. Dogs- Not just for protecting sheep, man’s best friend will chase away birds and other critters who would munch your plants.

  6. Lady bugs- They eat some of the bad pests, helping keep plants healthy.

  7. Chickens- They love worms, caterpillars, maggots, and etc. A friend told me you don’t just want to let your chickens loose in the plants, as they peck, dig, and pull up roots. However, their very presence on the property helps cut down your pest population in general. And you get their eggs!!!!!

  8. Plant things that deter pests- Some plants that help include nasturtiums, marigolds, mint, lavender, citronella, wormwood, borage, and mums.

  9. Some natural pesticides include- Salt on slugs and snails, soapy water on June bugs, and diatomaceous earth. I also hand pick grubs out, and smash them, and do the same with june bugs.

  10. Have garden gnomes- They bring good luck to gardens. Feed your garden gnomes, and put a saucer of milk out for them daily, or you will have some bad luck. They will aid in security of the home and garden, as well as help do some chores , and make sure the plants grow. If you don’t do this, they will move things around where you cannot find them, and your garden will not grow.

Plant Lore and Practical Magic

Then there is a bit of plant lore that can be kept in mind for further success in plants!

  1. Never pick foxglove blooms. It upsets the fairies.

  2. Ask a plant for it’s permission before you transplant it, or it will die.

  3. Some believe plants will not thrive unless stolen! So, people gifting plants put them down and walk away so the recipient may “steal” them!

  4. It is considered bad luck to thank people for plants as well.

  5. Roses promise love and romance. No wonder people give their sweethearts roses! Give those roses to people you pledge love to, but they are not allowed to thank you!

  6. Rusty nails or iron objects in the garden when seeds are planted help them grow.

  7. Many have their gardens planted with beneficial herbs for healing as well as cooking. Different plants have different meanings. A quick google search will turn up multiple pages sharing plant lore. I find I always like to have mint, for example, and I don’t ever want to be without it. I love it for the smell and flavor, but it is also reputed to keep mice and flies away. It helps with upset stomach, and helps wake you up. It also dries well, and produces so much, and I love sharing it.

  8. Companion planting- This cannot be stressed enough. Plant things together that help one another grow. Perhaps most famous is the three sisters garden of corn , beans, and squash. The cornstalks provide structure for the beans to grow up. The beans put necessary nitrogen in the soil, benefiting all three plants. The squashes big leaves shade the soil, keeping it cool, and help prevent weeds.

  9. Make sure you out the right plant in the right spot. The soil has to be correct, the amount of sun it gets has to be correct, and most of all, you have to make sure you are capable of taking care of said plant. This is very mundane, but 100% necessary.

  10. Love your plants. It has been proven in many studies that plants that are showered with love produce better. This has been shown in studies where people fussed at plants, saying ugly things to them, and others, said supportive, loving things to different plants. The plants spoken lovingly to thrived, and the others died.

May your July be blessed. May your plants grow well, and may you enjoy the long days, warm weather, and the love of those around you, just as you are.

Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

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

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

July, 2018

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

 

I have come again to sit in the closet with you and share in our circle of thoughts, ideas, knowledge, & secrets in solidarity. I am very excited to be here again with you! This time in my Carpet Bag I’ve brought none other than a seasonal favorite for us all, Flowers!! What could be more beautiful, witchy, yet mundane then those? Everyone can use them, and we sure as heck need them!

Many beautiful plants bloom through spring and summer into fall. If you are not a gardener and did not plant your own, that is fine, there are many home improvement shops with bright blooming flowers and local nurseries, as well. You can easily move these flowers into your own pots to make them even more lovely.

Before we delve deeper into the meanings of plants let’s go into the way we can display these beauties. These are normal, everyday displays that do not bring attention to the witch.

 

Flower Window Boxes & Planters

(Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash)

 

Now a Flower Window Box or Planters can be anything from a small box on your balcony filled with fragrant herbs to a potted plant on your window sill blooming with something bright and fragrant. Remember it is the room you have. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. It just has to be right for you!

 

(Photo by Artur Aleksanian on Unsplash)

 

If you have a small garden outside you can put your Plants & Herbs in movable Planters and Pots to keep them safe from weather, making them easier to move about. Then, you can, also, move your scents about.

 

Along a Fragrant Path

(Photo by Felicia D’Ascanio on Unsplash)

 

If you have a pathway around your house, maybe leading to your backyard, or from your driveway, placing flowers along each side makes a fragrant walkway.

 

Bowers & Hedges

 

(Pink Rose Bower)

 

Now if you like a bit more drama You can go for something like this, a Bower. They are quite stunning. They don’t scream witch either, just gardener. A nice fragrant hedge adds to the party, too.

 

The Magick of Plants

Now let’s get into the magick of some plants. This is where our fun begins. While everyone is admiring your beautiful garden you are thinking inside what all those uses are for those beauties.

 

Some of the More Fragrant Flower I Have Found to Have Around Are:

 

Sweet Pea: It attracts friends & Allies. It draws the loyalty & affections of others to you.

 

 

Heliotrope: Brings cheerfulness, gaiety, prosperity, & protection. Use in rituals of Drawing Down the Sun or in magickal workings requiring strengthening of the solar aspects of the self. Place under your pillow to induce prophetic dreams. It is said that if you sleep with fresh heliotrope under your pillow, you will dream of the person that has been stolen from your home. Other Names for Heliotrope: Turnsole & Cherry Pie

 

 


Tulip: Because of the many colors and parts of Tulips, they can be used in many parts of magick. Here is a good link to some information Tulip Magic Legend and Folklore at Thought Co.

 

Geranium: For overcoming negative thoughts & attitudes, lifting spirits, promoting protection & happiness. Repels insects. Balances mind and body.

 


Hyacinth: It promotes peace of mind and peaceful sleep. Also, attracts love, luck, & good fortune. Named for Hiakinthos, Greek God of homosexual love, this is the patron herb for gay men. Guards against nightmares when used as an oil, burned as incense, or included in dream pillows. Carry in amulet or sachet to ease grief or the pain of childbirth.

 


Freesia: Used in spells for love, peace, lust, pheromones, harmony, comfort.

 


Datura: Datura is also known as jimsonweed and you can find some incredible information on Tess Whitehurst’s Site Live Your Magic.

 


Lavender: It’s magickal uses include love, protection, healing, sleep, purification, and peace. It promotes healing from depression. Great in sleep pillows and bath spells. Believed to preserve chastity when mixed with rosemary. Burn the flowers to induce sleep and rest, then scatter the ashes around the home to bring peace and harmony. Use in love spells and sachets, especially those to attract men. Also known as, Spke, Nardus, Elf Leaf, & Nard.

 

Rose: Magickal uses include divine love, close friendships, domestic peace/happiness, and lasting relationships. Great for use in incense, potpourri or bath magick. Place around sprains and dark bruises to help them heal faster.

 

Narcissus: Calms vibrations and promotes harmony, tranquility, and peace of mind. Also known as, Asphodel, Daffy Down Lily, Fleur de Coucou, Goose Leek, Lent Lily, & Porillon.

 


Violet: It calms the nerves, draws prophetic dreams and visions, stimulates creativity, and promotes peace & tranquility. Violet leaf provides protection from all evil. Violet crowns are said to cure headaches and bring sleep. Carry or give to newly married couples or new baby & mother to bring luck to the bearer. Keep a spray of violets on the altar to enhance night magick. Wear the leaves in a green sachet to help heal wounds and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse. Also called: Sweet Violet, Blue Violet, & Wild Violet.

 

Lily of the Valley: Is soothing, calming, draws peace and tranquility, and repels negativity. Assists in empowering happiness and mental powers. Use in magickal workings to stop harassment. Married couples should plant Lily of the Valley in their first garden to promote longevity of the marriage. Note: Poisonous, use with caution. Also know as, Jacob’s Ladder, Male Lily, Our Lady’s Tears, Ladder-to-Heaven, May Lily, Constancy.

 

Wisteria: It raises vibrations, promotes psychic opening, overcomes obstacles, and draws prosperity.

 

Lilac: Wisdom, memory, good luck and spiritual aid. Also called: Common Lilac.

 

Peony: For protection from hexes and jinxes. Good luck, good fortune, prosperity, and business success. Hang in the home or car for protection. Used to attract faeries. Use in rituals to cure or reduce lunacy. Warning: While the flowers & petals have the positive qualities listed, the seed is called ‘Jumby Bean’ and is known for promoting dissension and strife.

 

 

Honeysuckle: It draws money, success, and quick abundance; Aids persuasiveness and confidence, sharpens intuition. Ring green candles with honeysuckle flowers or use honeysuckle in charms & sachets to attract money. Crush the flowers and rub into the forehead to enhance psychic powers. Also Called: Woodbine, Jin Yin Hua, Dutch Honeysuckle, Goat’s Leaf.

 

Jasmine: It’s uses include snakebite and divination; good for charging quartz crystals. Use in sachets and spells to draw spiritual love and attract a soul mate. Carry or burn the flowers to draw wealth and money. Use in dream pillows to induce sleep or burn in the bedroom to bring prophetic dreams. Helps to promote new, innovative ideas. Also Called: Pikake, Ysmyn, Jessamin, Moonlight on the Grove

 

Now remember, these are just a few!! There are so many flowers out there with magickal uses, those without scents, like ferns for instance!!! They are good for mental clarity, cleansing, purification, and dispelling negativity. Keep them in your room where studying is done to help concentration. Burn a sprig of fern before an exam. Use in sachets and amulets for powerful auric protection. Now did you know that???

 

Creating Your Own Flowers

There are ways to bring flowers into the home for those of us allergic to flowers, without green thumbs, or who just like to craft. If you are not allergic and are just like to create or lack a green thumb you can add essential oils to the following creations.

I have found many crafty ways on the net to create flowers and I am happy to share the following with you:

 

How to Make Lavender Flowers from Crepe Paper

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw2I6-gNoUc[/embedyt]

 

Simple Realistic Hydrangea

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOfLEhJsFpk[/embedyt]

 

How to Make Crepe Paper Rose

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvDfs6XYu_8[/embedyt]

 

There are so many more tutorials on YouTube for different types & sizes of flowers made from a variety of different materials. You can really have some run.

 

How to Incorporate Flowers Into Your Craft

This is the easy part. Flowers can be brought into your craft in many simple ways that will not bring attention to the witch. You can simply wear one in your hair. I’m not even talking about the headband crowns that are popular these days, but a single one behind the ear is fine. Say, a simple violet to calm the nerves.

 

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

There is nothing wrong with a vase of fresh cut flowers or even planted flowers around the home.

How about a nice bowl of floral pot potpourri?

Sachets for your drawers & closets?

There are garden/seed growing kits in stores made for specific reasons. This one gives you all you need to grow yourself lavender and then turn it into a facial scrub! How relaxing is that for a nice Witch Spa Day!

 

All of these can be mixed into mojo bags and witchy doings. It’s all in the eye of the Magick Maker.

 

Until Next Time…

I bid you farewell for now in this aromatic jungle of ideas.

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.

Summer Solstice/Litha Correspondences

June, 2018

(Midsummer/Litha Sabbat Holiday Card made by Leanne Peters of artandalittlemagic on Etsy & Allison Joanne of Pandora’s Box in Norwich, CT)

 

 

Also known as Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Date

June 21/22

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Goddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

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

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

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

A TON of poison ivy!

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Solstice Anyways?

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

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

 

Stonehenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are never going to have the whole story.

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

 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzehiIHcwJs[/embedyt]

 

 

The Solstice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

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

Notes from the Apothecary

May, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Honeysuckle

What a sweet name, conjuring images of bees and summer and jewel like flowers dripping with nectar, while butterflies gorge themselves on the sugary goodness. According to sacredwicca.com, honeysuckle is a Beltane flower, which makes sense as I remember the intricate blooms beginning to open in my grandparents’ yard around this time of year. We would sit in the pale English sun drinking in the smell of the nectar and the gently, bustling hum of honeybees. This exotic looking but fairly common plant holds a great deal of nostalgia for me, and the connection to my recent ancestors makes it an appropriate choice to write about at this other time when the veil is thin; Beltane, the opposite side of the wheel to Samhain, when the fae and their kin are strongest.

The Kitchen Garden…

Eat the Weeds tells us that honeysuckle is ‘iffy for foragers’, basically meaning that it’s one of those plants that has so many varieties, some of which are edible, some of which are not and some of which are downright poisonous. Because of this, if you are planning on cultivating honeysuckle for eating, you should ensure you absolutely know what variety you are growing. Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, has leaves that can be boiled and eaten, and the flowers are so sweet and delicious they are enjoyed like candy. Lonicera villosa, or waterberry, has edible berries, but is often confused with variants which are not so tasty or even bad for you.

The upshot of this is, don’t eat any part of the honeysuckle plant unless you are one hundred percent sure that you have an edible variety. If in doubt, just don’t. Don’t be disappointed about the dubious edibility of this beautiful plant though. There are many great reasons to have a honeysuckle plant in your garden. As a climbing plant, it’s often used to hide unsightly walls or old fences, replacing urban grimness with nature’s treasure. As well as this, it attracts bees and butterflies, essential pollinators, filling your garden with colour and sound. This in will attract birds, and bats in some climates, so honeysuckle is a great addition to any wildlife garden.

Some species can be invasive, so it’s recommended to keep it away from fruit trees and the like as it can literally use their trunks as ladders to climb, which is not so healthy for your poor fruit trees. But with some liberal pruning when needed, honeysuckle is a beautiful, practical plant which brings a sweet fragrance and a splash of summer colour to any garden.

The Apothecary…

Mrs Grieve, in her Modern Herbal, tells us that there are over 100 species of honeysuckle but that only a dozen or so are used medicinally. She tells us that the fruits have emiticocathartic properties, a word which is not common in modern usage but presumably means honeysuckle berries can be used both as an emetic and a cathartic. Emetics cause the body to expel toxins, either by vomiting or defecating, and cathartic work solely on accelerating defecation. This sounds pretty grim, but emetics are often used if the patient is known to have ingested something toxic which needs to be expelled quickly. Of course, the berries cause vomiting because they themselves are toxic (some varieties; see above) so shouldn’t be consumed at all, really.

Other traditional remedies include using honeysuckle leaves or flowers as a diuretic, to ease asthmas, and to help with cramps and even bad skin.

The Witch’s Kitchen…

Honeysuckle is a climbing plant, and reminds us that we have to start at the bottom and work our way up. It is a symbol of perseverance, determination and hard work. Rev. Carol A. Ingle tells us that the plant is associated with the tarot card, The Chariot, allowing you to focus on having discernment, authority and mastery of any task at hand. She also recommends the use of honeysuckle in good luck spells and also bending others to your will. The plant is also great for protection magic.

Culpepper claimed it was a ‘herb of Mercury’. This plant, therefore, is often used in money magic, to attract wealth or new opportunities leading to better prosperity, such as luck for a new job interview. Mercury is also all about clear communication, so meditating on honeysuckle can allow you to open up your mind to allow the words you need to say to someone to come to the fore.

Named Féithleann in Irish, the plant is also known as the Irish Vine, so if you work with the Celtic Tree Calendar, honeysuckle is a great substitute for vine. Please note, I find the Celtic tree Calendar a thoroughly modern construct, as there is no evidence the Iron Age Celts followed a year split up into tree-based months, however it is a lovely construct and one that clearly means a great deal to many people. The magic of trees and plants cannot be disputed, and if this is a way that some practitioners connect with that magic, I have no problem with that. As long as it’s clear that it is not a reconstruction of what our Celtic ancestors followed it is inspired by their reverence for trees and plants, which in itself is a lovely idea.

Home and Hearth…

Irish folklore states that honeysuckle around the door of a home will prevent a witch from entering. Of course, the protective nature of the plant is actually that it will prevent negative energies from entering your house, so this is still great advice!

Bring honeysuckle flowers from your garden into the house to attract money. Keep the flowers in water, then as they start to wilt, immediately discard them, either in your compost disposal or in the eastern side of your garden if possible, to represent the manifestation of your desires.

I Never Knew…

Honeysuckle is much enjoyed by livestock, including chicken and goats. Indeed, the Latin name for one species, lonicera caprifolium, comes from the Latin for ‘goat’s leaf’.

Image credits: Lonicera x heckrottii ‘Gold Flame’ by Wouter Hagens, public domain; Lonicera caprifolium by Sten at Danish Wikipedia; Lonicera nigra by Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin (1727-1817), public domain.

***

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.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

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WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

July, 2017

Sun Philter

 

 

Merry meet.

In reading “The herbal Alchemist’s Handbook” by Karen Harrison (that is reviewed in this issue), I came across directions for a philter – an infusion of herbs that is charged with intentions and the energies of the moon or the sun. With the Summer Solstice approaching, I chose to create one with the energy of the sun.

 

 

In her book, she says to gather calendula, Saint John’s Wort, chamomile and juniper berries, and at sunrise, put a teaspoon of each in a chalice, cauldron or bowl that can hold 16 ounces. As they are added, she directs you to focus on the healing properties they offer, such as chamomile for serenity and Saint John’s wort for confidence. A sun gemstone – sunstone, diamond or gold topaz – could also be added.

The directions continued, having you meditate on health, energy and vitality as you direct your breath over the mixture, then pour in 12 ounces of spring or distilled water, stirring deosil while charging it with intention. Place the container in the sun and the next morning, strain it and pour into a sterilized container; store in the refrigerator. To use, she tells you to add a tablespoon to a cup of herbal tea when you think you are getting sick or if you are feeling fatigued. It can also be used as a wash to hasten the healing of burns, cuts, bites or sprains.

Using Harrison’s directions as a guide, I did some research and came up with a longer list of botanicals that are said to contain sun energy. Some of them, in addition to hers, are ash, birch, buttercup bush, cinnamon, hibiscus, hops, marigold, rue, peony, saffron, sunflower and walnuts.

On Midsummer’s Eve, I gathered up as many as I had on hand – in varying quantities – and put them in a glass mason jar. I then put 12 ounces of filtered water in a larger mason jar. Just as the sun rose, I held them up to the first rays, poured the herbs into the water and swirled them around deosil while infusing them with healing intentions. The jar sat on my windowsill until mid-day when I took it out to my garden with me. While I planted and weeded and harvested herbs for the protection bundle I make every Summer Solstice to hang above my door, the jar sat in the sun, absorbing warmth as well as light. It then went back on my south-facing windowsill until sunset, when I went to a spot not far from home and held it up to catch the last rays of the longest day before the sun dipped behind the hills and trees.

 

 

It was after midnight when I was moved to strain the contents into a quart mason jar. There were approximately 10 ounces of liquid. I felt guided to fill the jar, adding approximately another 10 ounces of filtered water and 10 ounces of vodka to stabilize it, making something similar to the flower essences I’ve made before. While my intent was to keep the jar on the counter, it ended up in the refrigerator.

I added a tablespoon to an oversized mug of herbal tea and could sense the warmth, strength and power of the sun.

There’s still plenty of summer sun left should you decide to brew a batch for yourself.

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

August, 2016

Bright Blessings!
We are in-between Sabbats and I had thought that perhaps I’d write a very Wiccan article about a Moon phase or something. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I’d like to write about something the Summer months brings that we are all both blessed and plagued by. That is… H-E-A-T.
Summer is in full swing- the Solstice just behind us- and while the days might be getting shorter, they WILL be getting hotter!
This weekend was a scorcher for us here in Columbus, Ohio, and the heat really got to me. It was easy for me to escape into air conditioned spaces and drink lots of cold and iced drinks to cool off. Now that I am getting older, I don’t handle heat like I used to. In my 20’s, I spent most every weekend outdoors at either some nature trail or at an outdoor festival for twelve plus hours daily. These days, I just can’t handle it. These days, I am very much a woman comfortable in modern, artificially simulated environments although I love to escape into nature and to do my gardening.
While researching for this article, I started to think- back in earlier times, our ancestors did not have climate control as we know it. As a matter of fact, air conditioning itself as we now know it was not invented until after electricity, with the first electrical air conditioning being invented in 1902. Large scale residential air conditioning began in 1920, not quite 100 years ago.
This led me to wonder how people survived for so long without our modern air conditioning. I did a little research and was surprised to find the answer was not toughness or being “used to the heat”. I admit, that made me feel a little better about myself! The way they braved the heat is that people have always used some form of climate control and cooling in the hot months!
Many of the techniques are lost knowledge to many of us because of our lifestyles today and the fact we have little to no prompting to remind us of days gone by. Unless somebody tell you things, or unless you are a history buff, you might not know how easily people managed to get by and cool themselves, and you might not know the most interesting thing is they have been doing so for centuries!
Instead of a working, I will be listing how people in different parts of the world used to keep cool without electricity, and how some of these can be used for tips for us in modern days.
Without further adieu…I give you my climate controlled tour through history, beginning with…

Mother Ireland
I lucked into an amazing article that showed the Celtic Round Houses that dated to the Iron Age. The houses were made of natural materials. How many of you spend as much time as possible near trees and gardens in hot weather? You can feel the difference in how much cooler this makes it than when you are just exposed in full sunlight without the plants. They also used wattle and daub, which is a woven reed coated in clay and manure, a similar method used in constructing adobe homes. Brick, clay, and stone floors and walls are cooler and block heat better than simple wooden homes. The roofs are also domed and high, because heat rises, and the roofs were vented to allow both heat and smoke from fires out. These structures were also practical for winter and for helping stay warm. You wanted your home to be sort of like a thermos- it kept things hot or cold as needed. Here is the link I found that shows amazing photographs to one sites well reconstructed Round Houses.
http://resourcesforhistory.com/Celtic_round_houses.htm

Skara Brae
One of the best examples of architecture to beat the heat and the cold is right on the Orkney Islands in Mother Scotland. Dating back to the late Neolithic period, it is estimated it was inhabited for about 600 years. Skara Brae, is a perfect example of working smarter, not harder to live comfortably. While, in my opinion, interconnected homes sound like a bad idea for privacy reasons and for germ control, it was one of the very best ways people worked cooperatively to live well. Like a modern basement, these homes were built underground to utilize the earth’s perfect climate control. The homes were also constructed of stone, which was both durable, and insulated against heat very well. The settlement was so well-built, that after being abandoned, then buried in earth for 4,000 years, the stones and walls are still quite intact. I’m ready to move in today! Here is a link to one of the websites if you want to learn more.
http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/skarabrae/
Ancient Rome
What would a discussion of ancient technology be without including a tidbit about Ancient Rome? The Romans, known for knowledge and groundbreaking innovations had pipes built in the walls of the homes that ran cold water for cooling. They also paid to have snow hauled and stored in structures that were built underground to keep it cold and frozen. They visited baths to cool off as well. It was indicated in the article I will share that the richer classes had more access to these things, of course, with ice and snow being sold at a higher price than wine.
http://www.thelocal.it/20150701/how-to-keep-cool-like-an-ancient-roman
Egypt
It gets pretty hot in Egypt. So home construction is crucial for survival. Homes were built of mud bricks or granite for the rich classes, and courtyards where gardens could be planted to help beautify and stave off heat were added as well. The more rows of bricks you had in your house, the better insulated against the heat it was. Clothing was also designed with weather in mind. Linen is famous for helping the wearer keep cooler in heat, and Egyptians are the ones who invented it, making it out of flax. The rooftop was used as another story for many homes, and people slept outdoors on the roof to catch the breeze at night. Much cooking was also done out of doors to keep from heating up the house when it was hot. A really interesting article about Ancient Egyptian homes in general is worth sharing. Enjoy.
http://www.historyonthenet.com/egyptians/housing.htm
China
In many ways, the people of China lead the world when it comes to inventions and innovations. I was especially impressed with their methods of keeping cool in hot weather. They built rooms in their homes that were strategically placed to allow a fan that harnessed the power of water to cool the room. Like the Romans, they also stored ice and snow for Summer use. They also used metal containers to store ice to chill their wine. Furniture could be made of stone as opposed to cushions that retain heat, and porcelain pillows, which sound painful, but kept cool were also used. I found the most awesome article to share about China’s cooling technologies.
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/936685.shtml
The Victorians
While I love learning about many different peoples, I admit, one of my favorite historical period is the Victorian British and American one. Whenever I enter a home built in that period, I always want to stay. We used to think I just liked the look of it- but I have come to believe it is due to the use of space and how well air flows in the homes. They DO have a lot of my favorite things in them- besides great décor, of course!
*Stone and earthen dug out basements- Not only used to store foods , these underground spaces were a good place to escape to in extreme heat. They would likewise be opened up to allow the cool air to circulate into the upper floors.
*Large windows with differing openings for conducting airflow- Upper latches could be open in the daytime to let heat out, and closed at night so lower latches would allow cool night air in.
*Shades and blinds- The darker it is, the cooler it is. While in wintertime, letting the sunlight in will warm a room, in Summer, you wanted to keep the light out so as not to raise temperatures. Awnings on the sides of the house built over windows also helped shade the windows, and stones set decoratively around window openings helped with that too.
*Home décor fabrics- Clear back to the days of early America, people would switch out heavy winter curtains and heavy fabrics lining canopy beds with white, light ones to help keep insects out and allow nighttime breezes in come Summertime. For some reason white also releases heat, where dark colors retain heat. That is why you see light colors being fashionable in Summer, and dark ones being fashionable in winter.
*Ice creams, cold drinks, and icehouses- Like more ancient people, Victorians cut ice out of lakes and rivers, and hauled and stored snow and the ice in specially built above and below ground stone structures that kept the ice cold. Later in Victorian times, decorative iceboxes for inside the home were built. There were openings built into the side of the house so the ice delivery man could just slide the ice block right into the apparatus. Ice creams were a big deal, and trips to the pharmacy for iced drinks and ice creams were common social outings. After coca cola was invented, people would go to have a cold coke- and this was back in the day when an average person just had ONE or less serving of this a day- and each serving was about seven ounces comparable to today’s whopping 20 ounce servings several times per day.
*Ye Olde Front Porch- Sleeping outside on the front porch after spending quite a bit of time socializing out there to catch the breeze was common practice. When I was a kid, I thought front porches were for playing on outside to keep out of the rain. It turns out front porches were a huge part of how people survived heat. Lucky people could afford a house with a big wraparound porch as well!
*Wet sheets and sitting still- An interesting technique employed by people all around the world was to just wet down blankets and sheets to sleep under or sit between. Children would play in the grass in-between wet sheets pinned to clotheslines, and the wet sheets could go under the sleeping person as well as above them. Sleeping with your feet out from under the sheets helped as well. Doing as little as possible in the heat and saying still helped too.
*Trees and gardens- Trees to shade the home and plants that retain water and cool the ground help immensely. They created their own earthly paradise and kept cool in the process.

What about when you could not be home inside?
Besides dressing differently in Summertime, or moving from well-constructed building to well-constructed building, what could people do to keep cool in Summertime? Realistically, we know not everybody could just sit still at home in a cool dark room until Falltime. Crops had to be tended, as did livestock, and non agricultural business and travel had to take place as well. What were things people could do to help themselves while venturing out into the heat that people today can do as well?
*Stay hydrated- I know- sounds cliché, right? But heat is an easy way to get dehydrated. Drink a lot of water and eat moisture rich fruits and veggies in the heat. While they SAY cold drinks make the body’s metabolism work HARDER and to drink room temperature liquids, everybody knows you feel better on a hot day with a cold drink.
*Move from building to building if you have to- It is the ONLY way I survived the ONE Summer I spent in Phoenix. I drove my air conditioned car from place to place. So did everybody else. I will add that Phoenix and similar environments never supported large populations at any time in history. Air Conditioning and mechanical transportation has made that all possible. People stay inside as much as possible in the hottest months, and in the cooler months, do more out of doors.
*Be a night thing- For me, the only way to garden when the heat is bothering me is to do so once the sun has gone down. As a matter-of fact, my neighbor and I planted flowers last night at 10 P.M. by battery operated flashlights because it was too hot to do so earlier in the day. People in history found it fashionable to go out at nighttime as opposed to daytime because the weather was much more comfortable. That still works today.
*EAT MORE SMART STUFF!- Besides cold drinks and ice creams, eat cold raw, whole fruits and veggies as opposed to hot, cooked foods. Also, reduce or cut the amount of sugary and caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you.
*Go green and go for a dip- It’s always cooler in the woods or on the water. Visit your local metroparks and walk the forest trails as well as visiting local caves and caverns for fun outings to beat the heat. Hit the waterparks and pools and lakes and ponds as well. Maybe you can’t go swimming, or doing those trails just won’t work out for you, but doing as ancient people, and having gardens and trees nearby your home or just hosing off a little bit will be a huge help.
*Take breaks and get some shade- In days of yore, people worked from sunup to sundown in fields. Unless they had a masochist of a site boss, people would take breaks and get out of the heat of the sun for a time all day on and off. Even if you are not working in the heat, but just walking around in it, you need breaks too. It used to be fashionable for ladies to carry parasols, and a lot of gals still do to this day. Sunglasses can help shield your eyes and sunscreen will help shield your skin. I also highly recommend not doing as a lot of people prefer- and wearing flimsy flip flops when doing a lot of walking. Wear supportive shoes or you will get tired more easily.
*Conserve energy- The key to doing things without wearing down or overheating in the hot weather is to conserve energy. Hydrating, wearing protective clothing and products, catching some shade, taking sit down breaks, and venturing out after dark are helpful ways to make sure you enjoy Summer as much as possible while being at risk as little as possible to get overheated or exhausted.

I hope Summer is enjoyable for you in all its splendor and glory. I hope the warm days, festivals, and growing season brings many good times and productivity.
Blessed Summer.
Blessed Be!

Aromatic Life

June, 2016

A few tips to get us through the Sunny Summer!

 

For Summer Colds & Stuffy Noses
Try placing 1-2 drops of Eucalyptus on a cotton ball and tuck inside your pillowcase.
For children or the elderly use Eucalyptus Smithi as the other is too harsh.

 

A Summer Cooling Recipe

With the hot summer months ahead a great recipe to try is a Peppermint and Tea Tree foot lotion.
Cooling Peppermint and the antibacterial, antifungal properties of Tea Tree make this a great summer treat. Take 8oz. of any unscented lotion, add 20 drops Peppermint, 20 drops Tea Tree and 20 drops of Rosemary essential Oil. Blend in a measuring cup and pour into a bottle.
Use as needed to revive tired feet. This blend will be energizing so you may not want to
use it to close to bedtime.

 

Deodorant Body Splash:

Vinegar–4 oz
Vodka–3 teaspoons
Grapefruit–9 drops
Lavender–5 drops
Lemon–6 drops
Peppermint–3 drops
Rosemary–4 drops
Sage–6 drops

Add to 2 cups purified water. Blend the oils together, add them to the vodka, and shake well. Let settle for half an hour, then add the vinegar and shake well. Pour mixture into 2 cups purified water and shake well. Finally, pass the liquid through a paper coffee filter. The longer you leave the essential oils in the vodka and vinegar mix before adding to the water, the stronger the scent will be.

 

Romantic Glowing Shells

Create Bergamot-scented candles that will glow all evening. Collect then thoroughly rinse seashells and add tea lights, removing out tins. Melt paraffin wax and carefully fill the seashells. Add two
to three drops of Bergamot oil to the wax, while it is still soft and melted. The fragrance will rise with the heat of the flame. Other essential oils may be used.

 

For Summer Colds with Chest Congestion

Try a steam inhalation with essential oil of Green Myrtle.  A good expectorant for respiratory complaints.

 

 

Pamper Your Feet this Summer

Regular foot massage benefits the whole body.
Here are some ideas for blends to help refresh
those tired and sometimes swollen feet.

3 drops Lavender
2 drops Chamomile
10 ml or 1/3 oz carrier oil

or
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Peppermint
in 10 ml carrier oil

If you stand on your feet all day here is
a treatment to help with swelling and circulation.
1 drop Cypress
1 drop Lavender

add to a bowl of warm water to which about 12 smooth
round pebbles have been added.

Roll the soles of your feet slowly over the pebbles
for a few minutes, then dry your feet

 

 

Summer First Aid

Keep a blend of Lavender and Tea Tree on hand
for First Aid this summer. It’s more effective
than either of the oils used alone.

 

 

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