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Book Review – The Witch’s Book of Mysteries by Devin Hunter

March, 2019

Book Review
The Witch’s Book of Mysteries
by Devin Hunter

The
forward of The Witch’s Book of Mysteries, written by Jason Miller,
jumps right into what the reader can expect from The Witch’s Book
of Mysteries by Devin Hunter.


“What is a Witch? It’s a tricky label. For some people witchcraft
is a religion. If you worship the old Gods and fol
low
a religion like Wicca, then for those people your are a Witch. Other
People focus on the craft part of witchcraft and consider use of folk
magic as the defining
characteristics
of a Witch. If you know the magical properties of herbs, the words of
spells and the use of oils and candles and stones, then you are a
Witch.”….

And,
as Jason aptly states, the definition of what a Witch has all of the
overlays of modern society and traditional practices rolled into one.

This
is the third book by Devin in a systematic approach to introducing
the experienced student to the practices of witchcraft and honing
their skills into becoming a Witch. The first of the books, The
Witch’s Book of Power, explored all that comprises the journey of
developing your power and knowing when and how to tap into it for a
sustainable and effective practice.

The
Second book, The Witch’s Book of Spirits furthered developed the
power of the burgeoning Witch in accessing the world of spirits,
mediumship and all that is of what Devin calls the Familiar Craft.
And, as promised in this third book, The Witch’s Book of Mysteries
coalesces all that has preceded and the reader begins the practice of
working with those of the Sacred Fires, the Grigori, and the
expansion of the practitioners powers to becoming one with all of the
worlds.

This
is not a book for the beginner and demands of the reader a
working-not theoretical-knowledge of witchcraft and all that goes
into claiming the title of Witch. The book is divided into two parts
and each builds upon the other in knowledge and practical
application. Many of the concepts presented are not your traditional
craft practices. Instead, they are a refining and adaption of
concepts that include some techniques and teachings that would have
been designated as disciplines for other paths.

Much like Christopher Orapello and Tara Maguire’s book Besom, Stang & Sword (read the review of this book in our February Issue), these are concepts of the Modern Witch drawing on the best of the old and propelling the seeker into a new form of witchcraft that makes use more cosmic principals.

One
of the best examples of what this new craft encompasses is the
definition and explanation of the a familiar concept, the Witch’s
Sabbat. As Devin points out, this term has come to be associate with
the eight festivals of the Witch’s Wheel of the Year. These being
tied to celebrations of specific times of the year, deities and
experiences largely pulled together and used as such associations by
those of
scholarly works and not necessarily of the craft themselves. Just
this idea makes so much sense if you consider that those we
considered to be practicing witch’s hundreds of years ago would not
necessarily have set aside valuable time and resources to celebrate
in the ways we do today. Even the Deities that may have been
associated with such rites would have been culturally based.

We
learn in this book that the Sabbat is an experience that occurs in
deep trance or while sleeping and requires the Witch have command
over his/her magical form that has the power and ability to move in
its pure form of power onto the plane of the Sabbat. This requires
the development of lucid dreaming, psychic awareness. and as Devin
states regarding the goal…”isn’t
necessarily to leave the body and travel to a different dimension,
but rather to travel through the inner realms of the mind and the
paths of the psyche to get to a different dimension”….
I
found this a telling perspective that emphasizes the reality that
being a Witch is really hard work that demands knowing yourself and a
very mature attitude towards stepping into your power.

Part
Two of “Mysteries” focuses on taking the Witch beyond their scope
of power and realms of working and issues the call to reaching beyond
what is believed of the limitation of form and reach out to those
Spirits and guardians responsible for creation-particularly
ours-itself. These entities move well beyond the archetypal and
anthropomorphic energies of specific Deities, pantheons and the
traditional Gods/Goddesses. The Witch must thoroughly know who they
are in all of their power and rise to stand as co-creators with those
lesser known (and worked with) beings who are of support.

The
bibliography and recommended reading at the end of the book
exemplifies the care and thought that went into this book and, more
importantly supports Devin’s encouragement to learn as much as you
can about as much as you can to truly be informed in your own
practice.

The
Witch’s Book of Mysteries is a valuable resource to the advanced
practitioner regardless of the form your witchcraft may take. In
fact, whether you consider yourself a witch or not, the information
and way in which it has been compiled is well worth reading. This is
the craft that will move into the next generation of and with that
statement, you will hopefully see the durability and strength of a
power that is organically a creative and universal energy.

To
hear more from Devin about his practices, Tradition and more:

The
Modern Witch Podcast

modernwitch.podbean.com

The Witch’s Book of Mysteries on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Robin
Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She
is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The
Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s
Written in the Stars

Astrology

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry
of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening
the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A
Year With Gaia on Amazon

The
Eternal Cord

Temple
of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous
Devotions

The
Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A
Collection of Esoteric Writings

The
Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning
the Parts of SELF

The
Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings
on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping
with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights
of Devotion

A
Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings
for the Year

Her
books are available on Amazon
 or
on this website
 and
her Blogs
 can
be found at
Robin
Fennelly
 

Follow
Robin
 on
Instagram & Facebook.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

October, 2018

Dzivaguru

(Photo Credit: patientenbetelligung.info)

 

This Mother Earth Goddess was of the Shona-speaking Korekore peoples of Zimbabwe.

She was the Goddess of Earth and the Darkness of Night. It was She who controlled the clouds and the rain, and the pools and the streams.

Dzivaguru was kind and compassionate toward her people. She brought the rain, and with the help of her two beautiful, golden Sunbirds, She brought the sun. Because of Her, Her land was fruitful and abundant.

She lived in a palace which was on an ancient lake. She walked freely, and often, amongst her meadows and forests, drinking from her magical cornucopia, which brought Her everything She could ever wish for.

There came a time when the Sky God’s son, Nosenga, became jealous of Her land and Her wealth. He wanted all that She had and so, decided to just take it from Her.

Dzivaguru was smart, however, and knew his plans, and so concealed all of Her wealth and lands in fog to conceal it. He used a magic ribbon to see and was able to finally find Her palace.

She tried to flee but he set a trap for Her by trapping Her two beautiful Sunbirds, bringing the

sunshine.

(Photo Credit: Offbeat Mythology Wiki)

 

Dzivaguru was angered by Nosenga’s actions. He had Her Sunbirds and he took Her lands. She left, but not before taking Her lake, and with it, Her control over the waters and the rain.

She cursed him, saying that his worship would be short-lived and that because he stole Her birds, that the sun would never set and the lands would be parched and cracked because She would not bring the rains. Thus, She disappeared. To this day, Her people still call out to her for rain.

(Photo Credit: medium.com)

 

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

My Name is Isis (Volume 4)

Celebrating Samhain with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

October, 2018

 

Family/Ancestor Memorial

 

Celebrating the Life and Death of deceased love ones with a new tradition.
The Moment your Love one has their Final breath you will miss them, then grief will set in its common to have 7 stages of grieving. Some deaths are quick and sudden, other’s, a long slow process. Death has been with us since the beginning of time. We’re born, we grow, maybe have a family of our own, then reach old age. We pass on to the next journey in life.  

The spirits of other worlds can come and go anytime with enough energy. Others wait till the veil between both worlds are thin then they can burst through. Around Mabon/Autumn equinox & Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve. There are other times spirits can move freely during the year like Beltane and Midsummer eve.

I grew up a weird combination of Irish/Scottish and Salvadoran. My father was white Irish/Scottish and mother was from El Salvador.  Growing up my dad was older he was a quiet man, didn’t speak much. But he was always into the paranormal. My mother was open with Spanish Catholic traditions. She was gifted. She told me of spirits appearing in her life and how they affect things and those around. My father adopted her 6 children from there and brought them to the USA. Life in El Salvador, deep down there, was beautiful jungle and countryside, coffee, plantains and other types of farm land. Where she was from you could see more primal life force spirit still worshiped with New Christian Gods. The Native Indians of her lands had traditions handed down.


This opened a door for many of my mother family and relatives to come here to the USA. For a new way of life to support those down in El Salvador or those here. I know my parents home was a portal, so many have come and gone they felt safe and loved mostly. Here I can’t count the times my mother would get anxious feelings and would call late to El Salvador. We would find out a relative was very sick or passed away. My mom would send money, light a candle, pray to certain saints and the virgin de Guadalupe for support. She used herbs for relatives in need here within our home to help heal them. There were many stories of my mom helping others.

Other times in my parents home spirit might make it self known banging on window, cold breezes moving things, or they would just appear sitting on the couch in the living room. When a relative passed away, she would use the bedroom or kitchen corner by the sink and light 7 day candle, put a photo, glass of water and maybe sometimes she would put some sweet bread.  She said the spirit will need a place to come replenish their energy, to feed from so they could continue their journey to pass messages, or visit living relatives.

For me being Wiccan, being Celtic, I remembered reading about dumbsuppers, to open your door to spirits and ancestors of your family. Share your meal with them. My mother did similar traditions from her home. They would celebrate Dia de Finados, dearly departed. They would make flower arrangements or wreaths to go in the cemetery (tombs above ground). They cleaned tombs, decorated them with flowers and spent the day there. Growing up after my dad died in 1992 we would go to the cemetery and put flowers on my dad’s grave, some on grandparents graves and we’d bring big colorful blankets, food and since we could park 12 feet away, we’d have music playing. Then say prayers for them to bless them. Then talk about the moments we shared with the deceased. Which we continue to do now that my mom has passed on.

With Samhain approaching I wanted to share my story and maybe some ideas to consider. When working with spirits of loved ones, you want them to find their place of rest be it heaven, Summerland, over rainbow bridge, or an other eternal resting place. Look to other articles and books about other resting places. I’ll mentioned a few later to consider. Combine, adapt, create your own unique way to honor departed loved ones or ancestors. Share photos, meals, memories they loved. Write them down in your journal everything you can remember. Don’t be surprised if a spirit makes itself known in your presence.

Do a divination with tarot cards, pendulum, or my favorite crystal scrying to gain wisdom or guidance at this moment in life or the beginning of the new year.

I find a cheap battery candle from the dollar store to light on the altar with the photos of love ones who passed on. I use the battery activated candles to be safe in case my active toddler tries to climb up on my altar or one of my cats get too curious.


Decorate your altar with mementos, flowers, incense, favorite gemstones, even some sweet treat to enjoy, and maybe a glass of their favorite drink. Ask your Patron Goddess or God to bless them in time of rest.

After Samhain if you still sense the presence of departed loved ones, here is a Goddess that lent me help move them to their more appropriate  place: I asked Hekate to help me move my older, playful, black Dog Cholee to her resting  place. She would not leave. She’d been lingering  around our home and back yard for over a week. When working with any Goddess or God Be Respectful,  Give an Offering for their help.

 

Finally I wanted to share a few boxes from my boutique, these boxes are a Memorial for your Dearly Departed Love Ones and Pet/Familiar. We provide Spirit Votives, 4 Gemstones for Crystal Healing – Grieving, and 1 twin soul crystal point, and ideas to celebrate their life in remembrance. We will be adding more items for  Samhain Inspired Memorial Gifts. Blessings of love and light – Norma

Psycho Pomps – Those whom guide the dead to the afterlife:


Valkyries – Norse

Banshees

Hounds of Annwn – Celtic

Hekate

Persephone

Hades

Hermes

Iris

Charon

Charos – Greek

Agwe

Sirene

the Barons -Voodu

For information on celebrating Samhain with the dearly departed and other customs look to the following books:


The pagan book of Halloween -Gerina Dunwich
Halloween -Silver Ravenwolf
Llewellyn Sabbats Alamanc -(Any Year will do)

For More spirit ,Goddess, Gods to help with the deceased, a good book is:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses -Judika Illes

***

About the Author:


Norma Clark I’m Wiccan, My style follows my spiritual path, and what comes to mind.. I live in a small rural town, Paris, Idaho. I share my life With my
Wiccan husband, 2 hyper Children, and gang of critters. I love to create new designs by looking at nature, cultural ideas for my Jewelry and create unique Metaphysical items. COME Sit For A  Spell or Two , And See the Magick of Forevrgoddessboutique

Book Review: Pagan Portals – Rhiannon, Divine Queen of the Celtic Britons by Jhenah Telyndru

June, 2018

Book Review

Pagan Portals: Rhiannon, Divine Queen of the Celtic Britons

by Jhenah Telyndru

There is knowledge, and there is wisdom; one comes from the mind and the other from the heart and soul. Jhenah Telyndru has both of these in abundance.

As the founder and Morgen of the Sisterhood of Avalon, Ms. Telyndru’s love for her subject comes through in every page and word.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Archeology and a Master’s in Celtic Studies, her knowledge has been attained through years of study.

“Rhiannon” is well-researched via many avenues, i.e. etymology, story-telling, mythology and literature. Rhiannon’s connections to other Goddesses such as Epona, Morrigan and the Matronae (Divine Mothers) is explained in the earlier parts of the book.

While Rhiannon, herself, is not identified as a Goddess in history, this does not stop many women from around the world from worshiping her as such, and the whys and hows of her divinity and sovereignty are explored within the pages of this wonderful book. Ms. Telyndru draws in each reader as she shares her own insight and wisdom, and helps us to more fully come to know Rhiannon.

For those who know nothing of Rhiannon, this is the perfect introduction. To those who know of her and yearn to learn more, this book is a stepping-stone to knowing her more fully and deeply, how to understand her and use her stories on our own journey to Sovereignty. We can begin to learn how to build and deepen our own relationship with her, through the use of shrines, altars, offerings, her symbols and meditative trance journeys.

Allow Jhenah Telyndru to guide you in your journey to Rhiannon.

(Disclaimer: While it in no way deters from my recommendation of this book to all, it bears mentioning that I am proud to be a member of The Sisterhood of Avalon – SM)

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

My Name is Isis: The Egyptian Goddess

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2018

May 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Here in Central Ohio, the Cailleach continues to rule, reminding Brigid she is still queen for now. Many of my non-Pagan friends are complaining up and down, saying winter needs to go. I say give the Cailleach her time, we will all be whining we are too hot soon enough!

Soon, Beltaine will be upon us. If you have read my past articles, you know I love to plan a gathering for Beltaine. It’s been a year, or has it been two, or has it been three???? Since I have hosted a Beltaine gathering?

I will be honest. Sabbats, for me, just are not that special when I’m alone for them.

It’s all about the fellowship, and doing ritual for me.

 

The folk- the Wicca, or Soul Kin

A simple internet search for “The need for religious kin” turned up nothing. I read a few articles about mankind’s need to have companionship, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals because we feel most understood and validated by them than the people less like us.

I did not find the references to share to support the point I want to make, so I’m just going to make it myself.

Many of us find we feel the presence of whoever we worship best in the presence of other worshipers. A Xtian I once knew referred to it as “sanctification within the community.” As we become the hands, voices, and deeds of our gods, we feel their physical presence through circling with others.

In magical traditions, group magic raises more energy than magic worked alone.

I got so used to doing everything with a group, when I stopped doing so, I felt completely alone. My health and mobility dictated I had to do so, and not only did I stop hosting, or going to other people’s rituals, but I also stopped working. Then I stopped driving. Then, I went some months without leaving the house many days.

If you want to find out which of the friends and friendly acquaintances feel you are important to their lives, drop off the map, and you will find most all of them forget all about you. They easily replace you with other people who are conveniently wherever they are, and you may as well have never met them.

So, for those of us who have fallen off the map from the Pagan community, a Sabbat, which used to be the highlight of our lives, is just another day.

 

Embracing Aloneness

From my Catholic days, I remember something Mother Theresa said :

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Now, I have already said I experience my gods through others. Examples of that are when somebody is acting as an oracle, and guidance from the goddess comes. Another example is when we are doing a fund raiser together for a good cause. This is the gods using us to help one another. Yet another example is when you need emotional support, and another human being embodies the compassion of the goddess.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working with others, that we have little to no time on our own. This was true for me for many years.

I heard the voices of my gods spoken without human tongues. They visited me in dreams, in waking, in nature, and in the gut instincts I got.

Whenever I asked for communication, they answered. It’s not like I had NEVER spoken with them on my own. It just became habit that I spoke with them in the presence of others.

I spent so many Sabbats and gatherings in the company of others, I began to hear only that particular method of communication from them.

However, I’ve been like this for a while now, and I have made some realizations. My gods have not fallen silent. I just had to listen differently, and I made some realizations about how solitude can bring communication with them.

 

In the Silence of the Heart

I have learned something I never could have before when I was always busy, always surrounded with people, always planning, organizing, working, and always moving.

How to truly be still. How to be truly silent. How to be truly alone.

And how to be comfortable with that.

Most within our circles take time to do the form of meditation where you sit, do nothing, try not to move at all, and try to make your mind blank.

That is not what I am talking about.

Can you be completely alone for many hours or days at a time, go no place, see nobody, and do very little besides the necessary?

Can you endure tedium? Being unnecessary to everybody? No contact from large amounts of people for long periods of days, weeks, or months?

Can you live for a time, basically being as a hermit? Away from the hustle and bustle of life, the influence of society, and the expectations of others?

I am not saying I think everybody should just hole up and do so forever.

Let’s explore first, what a hermit is…

 

The Hermit

We have all seen the Hermit Card in Tarot decks. He turns up quite a lot for us. He represents going into ourselves, to search our souls, or retreating into solitude for a time. Depending on who you speak to, reversed can represent isolation and loneliness, or it can represent coming out of solitude.

Historically, some of the most famous hermits have been very religious. Christians still cloister some of their orders of nuns and priests, away from society. It is believed this withdrawal from society cultivates a closer relationship with the divine by some.

In the middle ages, it was not uncommon for hermits to build huts into the side of the church, and be ceremoniously bricked up permanently. They relied on the charity of people going to church to bring them food and necessities, and they enjoyed a window into the church where they could hear liturgy. These people were called anchorites, and people visited them for advice, as they were believed to have dedicated their lives to communing with their god and the angels full-time, and were considered very wise.

One of the magickal workings to discover one’s True Self, and the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema entails months of a hermit like existence, and devotion to prayer and magical operations. The solitude allows for removal from distractions and interference of others.

In the quest for enlightenment, the Buddha became an aesthetic, withdrawing to be a hermit for a time.

Monasteries in many different religions have a structured life of prayer, ascribed exercise, a specific diet, a uniform, or habit, and life away from he mainstream society in general. Devotees may be called to take vows of silence, or chastity as well. I refer to this as cloistering, and cloistered life away from society supposedly gets you more in touch with who you are, and what is important.

It’s not for everybody.

My life has been semi cloistered for over three years now, and there are times I wonder how I lived a lifestyle of constant noise and crowds. I have learned a different side of reality.

  1. I realized I did too much- Society pushes us so hard, demanding we do MORE, buy MORE, ARE MORE. We are never enough, and we constantly have to prove we are worthy of simply existing. I found out that is wrong. Our worth as living creatures can certainly be diminished if we are terrible people who do terrible things, but our worth is not proven by our worldly accomplishments, and I discovered that because I just could not accomplish the volume of things I once did anymore. By nature, humanity is quite competitive, but that can become toxic and unconstructive. Sometimes, we struggle to do SO much, the quality of our work suffers. Quality trumps quantity, I found.
  2. What I do does not create who I am- I was told this by a very talented psychic long ago. The things we do change every so often, and often, we suffer identity crisis as the tasks and jobs we complete transition. We are not our jobs or our accomplishments. We are people, not actions, or things.
  3. In stillness comes peace- I had initially misinterpreted it as boredom. The silence was deafening. Now, TOO much noise overwhelms me, be it sound noise, or visual noise.
  4. I leaned to slow down- Not only do I no longer focus on quantity over quality, but I realize speed does not make things any better. Oh, there are going to be times tight deadlines loom, but times when they don’t, slow down, and enjoy the process.
  5. In the quest to do more, faster, we forget one another- We leave behind our loved ones, and neglect the time we should be spending with them. I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with who get to middle age and beyond, and state they regret NOT spending more time with loved ones than they have. If the focus is on DOING things, instead of moments with loved ones? That is all our life becomes.
  6. I have time for things I said I wanted to do for years- Since leaving the house and working was not on the front burner anymore, I found time to pick up art again. I stepped away from it when I graduated college, and both painting and writing was literally abandoned, as I focused my time on career. I did study music for some years, but I never excelled in music. The written word, and art were my first loves, and I do both again now.
  7. I learned things about myself- I used to be high energy, high accomplishment rate, and never sat still. That did not provide the opportunity for me to pay attention to myself. I discovered I work best with no noise, visual, or otherwise. Before, I was in jobs where I had zero privacy to work, and my productivity drops in that setting. I think most people’s does. I discovered I don’t give myself credit, and people had been urging me to do so for years. I discovered I prefer a small, intimate friend group, rather than moving from group to group. I also discovered I’m not materialistic, which surprised me as much as I love “things.”
  8. I do not miss the loud, busyness- At all.
  9. A lot of people envy me- I have had so many say they wish they “did not have to” leave the house. On one hand, I point out it can be horribly isolating sometimes, and I tell them to be careful what they wish for. I am a very productive, self-starter, and a lot of people NEED a schedule to leave the house, or they just sit and rot. I always find things to stay busy, and a lot of people cannot endure boredom, solitude, or lack of excitement. A lot of people who envy me could not endure this.
  10. I am online more- Lots more. I do communicate with people all day long through social media and texting. I read and research more as well.

I am not saying everybody should cloister, or semi cloister. I am saying, the Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others are onto something in their assertion solitude can bring you closer to the divine, because it changes the way you think about yourself, the world, and life in general.

Personally, my concentration is better. I focus on the important things now. I read and study more. I have slowed down, which makes it easier for me to notice things. I pay attention to people and experiences more now as opposed to things, and tasks. I do not compare myself to others as much, being as competitive as I used to be.

All of these things create more connection with the self, and it is within us our connection with the divine lives.

Solitude can be used as torture. Prisoners in solitary confinement don’t benefit from it. The sick who are shut-ins or whose impairments keep them from communicating certainly don’t benefit either.

It seems religious hermits live as such only temporarily, or in such a way they are still able to connect with others. Monks have a community away from society, but they do so in groups, and they have each other. The public comes to them for religious guidance as well. I have already mentioned the medieval Xtian hermits whose huts were bricked into the church, and they saw and visited with people often. They just never left. The Buddha was a hermit for a time, but not for very long.

Human beings need one another, for certain, but sometimes, we need time alone, to retreat into ourselves to find the aspect of the divine we cannot experience with other people. This alone time has to be balanced with time with other people, or else it is not good for us.

Each person has their own level of time they need alone, and with others. Too much, and it’s bad, not enough, and it’s just as bad.

For Beltaine Working, I’d like to recommend how to find ways to have more alone time for scared workings.

I know it can be difficult. My friends who are parents and or have careers can attest to this. There have been times in my own life when I worked, sometimes two jobs, that the only time I had to myself was when I fell asleep, or was getting ready to leave for the day, or just getting in! I probably sound like somebody who has no place dictating to busy people how to carve out quiet, alone time!

I don’t assume everybody can find that alone time daily. As I said, I’ve been there! So what I am going to do is offer suggestions for sneaking in a few minutes here and there. This can be time to do ritual, devotions, or just sit quietly for a few minutes on a break from work or classes. It does not have to be large blocks of time set aside, but I will share some ways you can include quiet, alone time in even the busiest schedule for a LITTLE bit of that peace if that is all you can get

 

Saoirse’s Suggestions for Quiet Sacred Time

  1. When everybody else is asleep- Some of my friends who have kids swear this is the only time they get to themselves. That time is often filled with chores, paying bills, and or showering. It also, sometimes eats into their sleep time. Any spare second of time you get when it is crazy busy that NOBODY else is in the room with you can be gold! If all you get a chance to do is light a small candle or stick of incense, so be it, but it is your time.
  2. Short Mantras- Everybody loves time to relax, unwind, and sit in silence to meditate, but not everybody has the time. Even if you have time, there are days when everything is just so crazy and hectic, you simply cannot focus enough to truly meditate. Some people can do so no matter what! But for those who lack the time or ability to focus, short mantras, or sayings that are meaningful can help. One for me is the reminder “I create all that I am , and all that I will be.” Each of us needs little reminders for support all the time, and when we cannot read or meditate to reset our minds, personal sayings can supply some relief.
  3. A Weekly Hour- Is there a day of the week you can get a solid hour with very little deviation? Say you do two classes per week and have an hour and a half between them all. Can you head to a quiet spot during that break, and have your “Quiet Hour”? I have even known some people to utilize the time they commute to and from work as their quiet time with books on tape of sacred readings, or even spiritual music. Go to your car for lunch if the breakroom is busy and noisy. It might not last an hour, but a few quiet moments count.
  4. Lighting the Candles before bed- This is one thing my mother did. We had a low table in the hallway, and on it, she put a white tablecloth, and a single red taper candle. We would kneel before it to say our prayers together at night right before bed. I was small, and she was a single working mom, so I can’t imagine this nightly ritual lasted for more than a few minutes. We prayed, she blew out the candle, and we headed to bed!
  5. Go outside, touch the earth- This is a big one for me. I have always felt best with outdoor time as often as possible. Now that I have a dog, of course, that is multiple times per day! Most especially for those who follow an earth-based path, time touching the earth, or just breathing in the sweet perfumes of her air are crucial to us. Some suggest walking barefoot on the earth spiritually grounds one. I have never found that true for myself, as my feet hurt, but some people swear by it.
  6. Have a pouch, pile, stash, or stack of whatever helps- I used to keep a small bowl of crystals by my desk at a very stressful job. I would hold the crystals to help calm myself. Carry these things in your car, in your bag, wallet, or even on your person as jewelry. I have known some people to have things tattooed onto themselves that serve this purpose.
  7. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Foods and drinks nourish the body, which has been called the temple of the spirit. If you are not properly hydrated or your nutrients are off, you are going to feel awful. Good tasting things, also, help make you feel happy. Joy is not THE goal for spirituality, but it can help keep you going.
  8. Maintain Self-Care- Do things for yourself. I am not talking about a bite of chocolate or a bubble bath. Do that anyhow. I am talking about respecting your body’s limitations, and not jeopardizing your health. Maybe that means shutting the TV off early and hitting the sack, or being absent from a social gathering because you are just spent. Things like this can give much provided time without stimulation the body and mind needs so we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  9. Learn to say no- This is very difficult for some of us. Ate your kids screaming to hit ONE more store, and you feel guilty, but your sugars are low, and you have to go in to work early? Tell them no, and they better stop that screaming, too! Does your circle want more of your time than you can offer, and they just can’t find anybody else but you who qualifies to write a newsletter? Well, if nobody can write except you, then they sure can’t read either, can they? So, they sure don’t NEED that newsletter. Cutting down on unnecessary activities people guilt us into provides opportunity for more you time, and thus more time for your personal spirituality.
  10. Turn it off- I discovered in a strange way, that electrical currents do not always promote rest and calm. I slept in a cave with no electric on one night, and I have got to say, it was the most peaceful night of sleep I have ever gotten. It is the only time in my life when complete darkness and silence surrounded me. I was there with three other people, and one of the men was so overwhelmed, he had to leave. It was such a foreign feeling, and not for everybody. Not everybody can have that opportunity, but you can emulate this is small ways. Turn off the radio, and open the window to listen to the birds sing. Put down your cell phone, and watch the sunset.

 

Of course, each of us has our own personal ways of adding some quiet, alone time to our days that goes beyond anything I can suggest.

I wish you a Blessed Beltaine, Blessed “Me Time”, and 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

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2018

Zemyna

(Photo Credit – Pinterest)

Zemyna is a Lithuanian Earth Goddess. She is the Mother of all things. As the Goddess of Childbirth, one of Her functions concerns fertility. She creates life out of herself and represents the rebirth and renewal of every living thing.

She is honored at the birth of every child. Offerings to Her are left at stones, near trees and in the water, thanking Her for a new life.

Her name, literally, means “Earth”. She is also called *Blossomer*, *Bud-Raiser* and *Flower-Giver*.

All that comes of, and from, the Earth returns to the Earth and so, She also is related to Death.

She is the personification of the fertile earth and nourishes all of the life on Earth, whether is be plant, animal or human. Trees with three leaves or nine branches were especially connected to Her, the most revered being oak, linden and spruce.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Her people believed that all plant and human life were connected and flowed together. They believed that souls took up residence in the trees that have died. The souls of women went in to lindens and spruce; men in to oaks, maples and birches, while the ancestors of the village would be within the fruit trees. Birds nesting in these trees became symbols of the force of life itself.

The love that the people had for the plant life of the Earth is in the “dainas”, spiritual folk songs of their culture.

With the people being a part of nature, Zemyna helps and supports those who treat the Earth with respect, and helps Her in Her mission of defending the Earth.

It was a terrible thing to dig or strike into the Earth with an iron implement before March 25, as the Earth is pregnant at that time.

If you were to kill an animal for food, Zemyna would forgive you. If, though, you were to kill an animal for fun, or for the pleasure of it, Zemyna would not let you get away with that, and consequences will surely follow. The more you negatively do to Nature, the more She will make you pay. You can pray, but you will not deflect Her anger.

(Photo Credit – lituanus.org, Sculpture by Vytautas Maciuika)

Beyond this, Zemyna is loving and good-natured. She rewarded those who took care of the Earth. She was a source of strength and power to Her people. Respect could be shown to Her by pouring some of whatever you were drinking upon the Earth itself.

Offerings were also left at regular intervals, mostly of bread and ale. If offerings were not made, there could be dire consequences. These offerings were left at Her places of worship, near large stones, which were a representation of the Omphalos, the power center of the Earth.

She may have been married to Perkunas, the thunder God. The wedding is celebrated in the Spring, when the Earth reawakens.

Her greatest festival is at Summer Solstice. Families bathe in streams and rivers in celebration of the moisture of the earth.

(Photo Credit – Pinterest by Jennifer Kuhns)

The worship of Zemyna is different than that of the patriarchal religions, which state that the Earth is secondary to man and that it is here for man’s consumption. For Zemyna, Her people know that Nature is sacred and permanent. While we, as humans, may die, Nature is always here.

“When we are gone,

they will remain,

wind and rock, fire and rain

They will remain

when we return

the wind will blow

and the fire will burn”

~~ Reclaiming

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBVX9eaMv84[/embedyt]

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

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The Naked Goddess III

April, 2018

I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.

Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.

My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.

Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.

This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.

We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.

Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.

I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.

I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.

The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.

It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.

Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.

 

 

The Naked Goddess II

February, 2018

(Celtic Gods: The Morrigan by Alexandra Rena of AlexandraRena Fine Art Prints & Gifts on etsy.)

 

I just read a very interesting article by John Beckett. In it he speaks at his unnamed discomfort at the “sexualisation” of Goddess imagery, specifically of the Morrigan.

The word he was groping for but missing was objectification. Of course this is not a new thing (I spoke before at this Greek innovation of lessening women and Goddess power).

Early Christian and Jewish priests had some very odd ideas about the worship of objects (animism) and linked it to avarice and greed. Love of possessions was seen as “worship” of things. I’m sure you’ve all heard the “consumerism is making Christmas pagan” rubbish that gets to do the rounds every few years. The worship of an object however is not about greed. The thrust of avarice is ownership. Yet worship is to acknowledge, imbue, transcend or awaken an essence within an object. The worship of an object is to elevate it to sacred, holy. To believe it is more. Perhaps an expression of something spiritual or holy clothed in a physical expression of its divine force.

Objectification is reductive. The being is reduced to a visual composite of sexual stereotypes. Objectification lessens the subject being viewed. When it becomes titillation the narrative becomes focused not on the subject’s wants, thoughts or needs, but on the observers. Historically this is how women were controlled in a culture, art and religion.

So how do we solve this encroaching pornification? Firstly we have to acknowledge that pornography and it’s extremely exploitative and toxic ideas of beauty, sexuality and objectification are everywhere. The cultures are so saturated with them right now studies show that teenagers (boys and girls) thought only breasts that had been surgically enhanced were normal.

How with this level of ownership especially on the female form can we expect our Goddesses to not be influenced by this?

First off we need to be aware of the objectification. Name it. Call it out. It is happening more and more. From the satire of drawing male superheroes in sexual “female” costumes and poses to better and more honest nudity in films and television. Of course the answer is not objectifying men. That seems to miss the point entirely.

The second thing is to commission and make better art, especially divine art. I don’t think I own any art or divine images that depict the Goddess (any Goddess) naked (except for my tarot deck) and none that objectify them. This has meant I have made a lot of my own. Sex sells, and if it stops selling they will have to try something else. There are folks who sell reproductions of much older Goddess figurines. Ones that stubbornly refuse objectification.

Nudity isn’t inherently sexual. What we need, and maybe the Goddesses deserve, is to be whole. To be able to be powerful and frightening, and sexual and terrifying, merciful and present. To acknowledge the thinking, breathing, complicated being women are as people. Maybe if we stop objectifying women, the objectification of Goddesses will also cease to be an issue. Maybe then our warrior Goddesses will wear proper armour; our mother Goddesses will have stretch marks, menses and swollen nipples; our hunting Maidens will have muscles enough to draw their bows and skinned knees; and our Old Ones will be radiant with scars, deep lines and the beauty of age.

There is no new “pornification” or sexualisation of Goddesses. The extreme of the sexual and exploitative gaze has become more and more extreme but we have also finally begun to recognise it. What we can do is call it out when we see it. Put our money where our mouths are and keep fighting.

 

Resources:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2018/01/dont-like-sexy-morrigan-imagery.html

 

Death Masks

November, 2017

At this time of looking back, memories and retrospect I want to share a wonderful experience I had a few years ago. I received an intriguing invitation: a workshop in making a death mask on Samhain with a small group! I didn’t have to think long and decided I’d definitely want to be there. We ended up being with 6 ‘wyld & wicked women’! Some had met each other before. At the time I only knew the hostess beforehand, so I had the privilege to get to know 4 wonderful women.

First we had dinner at a beautiful Samhain-decorated table. We had a very yummy salad, delicious pasta with pesto and salmon, an exquisite quiche and very tasty pizza! The dessert was even better: heavenly cheesecake and divine pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream. We started by reading ‘The Charge of the Great Mother’ out loud. Everyone had placed an extra plate on the table for someone behind the veils. We shared stories about those people and animals while eating in their honour. Lovely stories about beautiful memories… Some put a smile on our faces, some made us get all teary-eyed. It was very intimate and touching; it felt as if I got to know the people and animals, as if they were really there, sitting with us. I dedicated my plate to my dad. I told about our special bond, about my childhood memories and also about his death.

In the temple space we prepared everything for the workshop. We made the masks in pairs. One person was lying down, while the other one put plaster bandages on her face to make a very personal mask, a mask of our own faces. To protect our skin and to make the mask easier to release we covered our face with a lot of cream. I had a nasty cold, so I was a bit nervous whether I could persevere the plaster. I decided to put some straws in my mouth, so I had both nose and mouth to breathe. Still, it wasn’t easy! I started thinking a lot of “what-ifs”. That wasn’t going to help me persist so I went into a meditative state and that was the right decision. I did it!

Then it was my turn to make a mask. I soon felt I was very tired and the cold didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to finish the mask, so I kept on putting plaster bandages. I struggled. I realized it wasn’t working and felt so bad… Finally I asked someone else to take over. That was so hard, I felt I had failed miserably. In the kitchen I cried, but everyone was so kind and comforting! My mask partner got a beautiful mask nevertheless and she wasn’t disappointed (as I had feared). On the contrary, she accepted her own lesson in this with grace; we talked it over and hugged. Looking back now I can see it as it is: a wonderful experience for both of us, and a lesson too… I’m still very grateful for it.

deathmasks

 

Afterwards we all talked about what making the masks had done with us. Generally speaking death-masks are made after a person dies. To do it on a living person can feel strange, especially when the eyes and mouth are covered. You literally shut them up… and the other way around your mouth is covered and shut. Although I had the straws in my mouth, it still felt like that. We shared our experiences and feelings. Meanwhile, it was very late so we set up the beds and dived in! I slept next to the veils in the temple space. In the morning we had a long breakfast / brunch together, closed the circle and said our goodbyes.

Masks of deceased people are part of many traditions around the world. In some European countries it was common for death masks to be displayed at state funerals. Death masks have been a matter of practice from as early as ancient times and making death masks was routine until the late 19th century when photography took over in popularity. However, some death masks were still made in the 20th century and are made to this day. Death masks were sometimes used as a way to identify the dead and at other times the death masks were used as a way to remember the dead person or to use as a way to build their memorial on their grave. Death Masks usually involve the eyes of the deceased being closed but in a few rare exceptions the eyes are left open. This video shows the death masks of many famous people:

 

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLDCOp2QWp8[/embedyt]

 

Sources & further reading/watching:

Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year

November, 2017

(The Secret Gathering fine art print is available by Francesca Rizzato at FrancescaRizzatoart on etsy.)

 

One story we Pagans like to tell about ourselves is that we have a balanced world view, honouring the dark as well as the light, acknowledging that both are part of life. But is this actually true?

If you stop and think about it, as we move around the Wheel of the Year we seem to focus much more on celebrating the light than the dark. At Yule we celebrate the rebirth of the sun, and the fact that from now on the light will return. At Imbolc we celebrate with candles the lengthening days. At the Spring Equinox when the days and nights are once again of equal length we celebrate spring and renewal. At Beltane we celebrate the beginning of summer, and at the Summer Solstice we celebrate the sun at the height of  its powers. At Lughnasadh we celebrate the grain harvest ripened by the sun at the same time that we mourn its waning power. At Autumn Equinox we note the balance between dark and light whilst celebrating the summer’s harvest. Only at Samhain do we truly honour the dark, working with our ancestors and practicing divination.

So if the Wheel of the Year is divided by the Equinoxes into a dark half (when the nights are longer) and a light half (when the days are longer), why do we spend almost all our festivals honouring the power of the light and only one honouring the dark?

Well it could be because the light seems a more attractive prospect. Most of us prefer warmth to cold, sunshine to gloom, summer to winter etc. But I think we are missing an important point. In focussing so heavily on the light we are not taking a balanced view. We are neglecting a large and important part of the daily and annual cycle of life, even the cycle of life and death itself. Just stop and think for a moment what life would be like if it were all light and growth and go, go, go. We need the dark of night for sleep, rest and renewal, we need shade from the heat of the sun, we need death and endings to make room for birth and newness. We need the interplay of both light and shadow to make sense of the world, to appreciate depth and perspective.

I am not saying that at Yule we should not celebrate the apparent rebirth of the sun. But perhaps we should acknowledge the importance and power of the dark at the same time. At the Autumn Equinox, as well as celebrating the summer’s harvest, perhaps we could also celebrate the onset of autumn and all the good things that will bring – sitting round a cosy fire, sipping hot chocolate, kicking through piles of leaves, roasting chestnuts, snuggling up in your favourite fuzzy sweater…

Seeds, if exposed only to the sun will shrivel and dry out, never germinating. But those that fall to the ground and work into the damp darkness of the soil will eventually burst into life, sending up green shoots and drawing their sustenance not only from the sunlight on their leaves, but also from the dark richness of the earth.

To be truly balanced and nourished I believe we too need to reach for the skies whilst staying firmly rooted in the ground (grounded). One part of this is acknowledging and celebrating the dark half of the year properly.

Here are some suggestions for working creatively and fruitfully with the dark during this time of year.

  • Celebrate the dark half of the year as a time for rest and renewal.
  • Find a method of honest self-examination that works well for you, truly examine and work towards understanding your shadow self (find a good counsellor or therapist if necessary).
  • Focus on self-care in your rituals. What would truly nourish and renew your mind, body and spirit? Do healing rituals. Give each other massages in sacred space. Share nourishing home-cooked food infused with healing spells.
  • Focus on your dreams and what they are trying to tell you. Keep a dream journal, start a dream group, interpret each-others dreams in coven space.
  • Use a favourite method of divination to delve deeply into your unconscious.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Try fasting for 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be a food fast – you could try a media fast (turn off the TV, radio and computer, avoid newspapers, books etc) or an electricity fast (turn off everything non-essential).

These are just a few suggestions to get you thinking creatively. I’m sure you can think of many more! The dark is not better than the light, the light is not better than the dark. They are equal and complementary. We need both. Let’s celebrate that.

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