December, 2008

Welcome to the Yule Issue of PaganPages!

December, 2008

We have an exceptional issue for you this month. As a special Yule gift to you all, our special features this month include interviews with :

Raymond Buckland

Raymond Buckland

Gail Woods

Gail Woods


Diana L. Paxson

We know you will enjoy our gift to you and we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday!!

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Rants from the Sanctuary

December, 2008

As I sit here in the land of sand that sees no festivity yet boasts to be the origin of both Pagan and Christian histories of which the latter it is the birth place of Christ. I look around at the faces of the Soldiers here with me sitting in the same predicament so far from home and in a war zone. I plan my Yule festivities as I would whether I was home or here as you can never let depression set in or it would ruin you. But really, how can one be depressed if they look inward and see the same sun, the shortest day of the year as it is anywhere you are in the Northern Hemisphere whether your in Europe, America, or half of the Middle East. I had the foresight to pack lights, oils and incense and other decorations for my Grove here to keep the spirits up and remind us of what season it is, we will keep the lights on and candles lit and drink hot cocoa and spiced cider and maybe some egg nog if the supply trucks made it through. We will discuss past Yule’s and rituals done and maybe even share letters and packages from home. Some will break out the Yule cd’s for music and Christmas cartoons and movies on DVD to watch. Our dining facility will throw on a somewhat elaborate meal to make it feel like home but you still have that nervous feeling as your sitting there eating of a sitting duck for a perilous rocket attack, mortar round or suicide bomber who wants to get you when you least suspect it. If your lucky you won’t be one of those selected for tower guard or some other joyous detail so I will probably make it a point to take candy canes or a thermos of hot cocoa to our soldiers on guard that day. Then the day after Christmas is just another day in Iraq and then is New Years, which is no different. Days drag and the only excitement is mail time, which is the highlight of everyone’s day. It doesn’t really snow in Iraq but maybe a drizzle so it never quite has that atmosphere but we will make do. It really brings to mind the “Night Before Christmas Military version which actually does bring a tear to my eye so I will close with that and let you know it describes how everyone of us feels when we do our duty here whether we agree with this war or not. I wish you all the best this Christmas and May you have a joyous New Year from Desert Moon Grove to you. BB.

Twas the night before Christmas,
he lived all alone,
in a one-bedroom home made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give
and to see just whom in this house did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight did I see.
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land,
with medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sober thought came to mind.

For this house was different, it was dark and dreary.
I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.

They enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, this is the life of my choice,
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my corps.”

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, and continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
and we both shivered from the cold winter’s chill.

I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice soft and pure,
“Carry on Santa, It’s Christmas day and all is secure.”

One look at my watch and I knew he was right,

“Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!”

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New To The Craft

December, 2008

In the Realm of Magic

For many of us who enjoy a good Harry Potter book or the fairy tales of childhood, there is a special word that draws us to the study of Wicca: magic.  That one mysterious word conjures up a euphoria of wonder and excitement that feels alien in comparison to our daily lives.  Suddenly, anything is possible, and we become more than mere mortals bracing against the tides of fate.  These are certainly the types of emotions the idea of magic can inspire, but daily we are told to keep such notions in the realm of fiction where they belong.  There is the world of reality and the world of the imagination, through which a clear and distinct boundary is drawn.  But is this division as clear as some say?  Is there really a division at all?  These are some of the questions Wiccans open themselves to and ask, allowing for a faith which embraces what others may not even consider possible.

One way to begin to explore these questions is to establish: what do we mean by “reality?”  Many would name the physical world around us as the foundation of the real world.  This is the area accessible to our senses, and we experience it everyday in a reliable manner that gives us little reason to doubt its existence.  Not every aspect of this world can be sensed, which we know through scientific instruments that go beyond our human limitations.  This is the only way we know of ultraviolet light, microwaves, or dark matter for instance.  Even though we cannot see these things ourselves we know they are real when we observe their effects.  Before each of these things was discovered by scientists they most certainly existed, we simply did not have technology suitable to view them.  It is therefore wise to have a healthy dose of open-mindedness alongside skepticism when deciding whether magic may or may not be “real,” as today’s unknowns can always become tomorrows discoveries.

Now let us go back to the separation between reality and imagination.  We have established that reality in common thought corresponds to the material world, both seen and unseen.  Imagination is something altogether distinct.  It is the collection of our thoughts, dreams, and hopes as to what reality should or might be.  I can see a horse and imagine a unicorn.  I can see a problem and imagine its solution.  Our thoughts and mind are our primary way of creating change in the physical world by envisioning what can be instead of what is.  A thought may not be a material object in the way that a chair is, but its effects on the world around us are real and profound in the form of our actions.  This blurs the definition a bit on what constitutes reality.  Is a thought only real if I create it in the material world?  Or is it real because of its affect on my decisions and actions?  A hopeful person may in reality have nothing to look forward to based on the way events play out, but the effect the hope has on the person changes what they do and how they act regardless of the physical reality around them.  Imagination is separate from reality only in that it does not have to conform to the physical world to be real or have an effect, and this is the key to understanding what magic is.

Someone who practices magic in our world does not have lightning bolts shooting from their fingertips and may or may not wear a pointy hat.  There is a certain aspect of romanticism in modern witchcraft that plays to the fantastical and whimsical natures of many of its practitioners.  What all magic shares, regardless of the outer forms, is a disciplined focus of the mind and thoughts aimed to produce an effect.  To believe in magic is merely to believe that thoughts can affect reality, and to practice and hone the craft of doing so.  To a skeptic this may only go so far as to acknowledge that if a person focuses their thoughts with great intensity towards a goal, it would at the very least affect the actions of that person.  If my goal is to find love and I wish to use magic, all of my concentration and focus on that goal would undoubtedly affect what I do and move my actions in line with it.  Most practitioners take it a step further and say that the thoughts you put out affect the energy around you, and that true magic is when that energy is affected enough to bring about your intentions.  That is a harder gap to bridge for those new or foreign to the Craft, but as with all of its aspects Wicca values experience over belief.  It does not require you to believe in magic but rather invites you to experience it and judge for yourself.  As with hope, there is nothing to lose, and everything to gain by choosing to suspend one’s disbelief.  And that is when the boundaries to the realms of reality and imagination blur, uniting to create a truly magical whole.

Journal for the Month of November:

I cannot say that I have yet had a successful experience with a spell.  On the other hand I have had a direct experience with another form of energy work known as Reiki.  A few months back I attended a Reiki attunement for levels I and II.  During this process the student is said to be opened to the flow of universal energy in order to channel it for healing.  I went into the experience very skeptical, but with an open mind.  During one of the guided meditations I experienced a strange sensation, almost as if energy were coursing through my spine at a rapid pace.  The sensation heightened and intensified to the point where I felt as if some torrential waterfall were coursing through me unhindered.  After a time the feeling faded, and as I came back into my regular awareness I learned that our instructor had been focusing on opening our chakras during those moments before.  There was no way I had imagined the experience, and I could not explain it away in rational terms.

Why do I mention this experience here?  For me, it was pivotal in giving the concept of magic a chance.  I firmly believe in the power of the mind and that amazing things can be accomplished through its discipline, but I had a hard time accepting the idea of energy work and its implications.  Magic and Reiki are two very different things, most especially because in Reiki the practitioner never tries to control the flow the energy, and instead focuses on being a clear and open channel for it.  But I can now say that I have literally felt energy working within me, and it has opened my mind to a vast sea of possibilities I may never before have considered.  To anyone else I would say, don’t just believe in something, know it from your experience.  And at the same time you can take the knowledge from others that such things are possible, as long as we are willing to open ourselves to them.

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

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Erin Martinez

December, 2008

Black Mass


Bones for My Love




Erin Martinez


More of Erin’s artwork can be viewed at:

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Sacred Sites

December, 2008

The Ring of Brodgar – Orkney Islands

“We cannot fully live without the treasury our ancestors have left us. Without the story – in which everyone living unborn, and dead participates – men are no more than ‘bits of paper blown on the cold wind”

George MacKay Brown, Winter Tales 1995

Once again we journey to the island of Orkney for our final look at one of the most spectacular and well preserved prehistoric monuments in the British Isles, The Ring of Brodgar.

This series of standing stones is not just a stone circle and henge but a focus for the other standing stones and many Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds that survived alongside the modern road passes by.

The definition of a henge is a prehistoric architectural structure, a nearly circular or oval-shaped flat area in diameter that is enclosed and delineated by a boundary of earthwork that usually comprises a ditch with an external bank.

The Ring of Brodgar is a near perfect circle measuring over 130 meters (426 ft) in diameter including its ditch. There are 36 remaining stones left of the 60 original. It is difficult to know whether the Neolithic people ever finished erecting the 60 standing stones.  Archaeologists tell us that there was room allotted for them. Of the 36 stones that remain, half are standing. Thirteen of these were re-erected shortly after the monument came into state care in 1906.  Several have been struck by lightening in the passing years and another thirteen have survived as stumps only.

The early Orcadians constructed this henge sometime between 4500 and 4000 years ago. The builders of the henge transported stones with ropes and timber rollers over land and on boats across the lochs. We can imagine the preparation of food and feasting along the way, processes which took place at the stone circles themselves.


Walking the Ring of Brodgar


Archaeologist, Caz Mamwell at the Ring of Brodgar showing us rune carvings on one of the stones.

Carvings of Twig Runes found on one of the broken stones in the ring.

The Stones of Stenness, a nearby neighbor to the Ring of Brodgar is perhaps the earliest henge in the British Isles. According to the Guide to Historic Scotland, this would date the Ring of Brodgar slightly later then the Stones of Stenness.

The Historic Scotland guide states that, “Like Stenness, Archaeologists think that the Ring of Brodgar fulfilled social and ceremonial functions associated with the commemoration of the dead”.

Walking the Ring

As we enter the ring through one of the two causeways, our guide tells us that the common practice is to walk the ring in a clockwise manner. Against the sky, the standing stones rise out of the barren landscape. The shadow they cast across the land seems to represent a human form. The association between standing stones and ancestral lines seem woven together and imprinted on the landscape. Much in the way we use headstones in graveyards to memorialize our ancestors.

These Neolithic people went to a great degree of trouble to raise these stones and we have to wonder at their significance. Are they a monument to the dead?  Do they represent a clan or group of individuals? Or is it a barrier separating the inner and outer, sacred from the ordinary?  It may have been regarded as a fence, keeping outsiders from entering?  Perhaps it was a warning to those not from the community.

When Visiting Orkney

The standing stones found in Orkney are numerous; The Stones of Stenness, The Watchstone, The Comet Stone and The Odin Stone.  Unfortunately The Odin Stone was destroyed by a farmer in 1814, when he became distraught over people trespassing on his land. Keep in mind that some of the Standing Stones are located on private property; however there are allowances made for visitors and a protocol to be followed if one wishes to view them. Once again it is recommended that a guide be hired to accompany you for it will be easier to find the stones and the knowledge of history is invaluable when visiting these locations.

Visitors to the Ring of Brodgar may walk around the site, but it will help to protect this fragile area if you keep to the mown patches and do not climb the mounds. From the Ring of Brodgar you can take a circular route through the land owned by the RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) or if on foot from the Stones of Stenness you can join the path just north of Brodgar Farm. Historic Scotland recommends allowing an hour to enjoy this route, which passes along the shores of Loch of Stenness, providing access to the wildlife as well as very different views of how the monuments sit in the landscape.


May 2007, the heather that covers the surrounding countryside was brown and had yet to bloom.


The landscape is still largely untouched by modern man, whom is kept at a distance, and preserved by the heritage trust in which lies in its care. Here is one of the broken stones that had been struck by lightening.

The Ring Of Brodgar Is a World Heritage Site. Inscription on this list confirms the exceptional universal quality of a cultural or natural site, which deserves protection for the benefit of humanity


Historic Scotland – The Heart of Neolithic Orkney – Official Guide

Visitor Center and Guided Tour

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A promise

December, 2008

Rainbows and birds

Darkness fills the colors

As the sky begins to clear

I hear the birds

And know the town is near

I shall play my concertina

With some luck

I will eat tonight

As the butterfly whispers

Like the promise in the sky

And the beauty that surrounds me

On this bank

I will someday see.

Hold my hand

And together we’ll walk

Towards  life

A promise.

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It’s In The Cards

December, 2008

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘It’s In the Cards’ for At one time this column appeared in Finer Things Magazine in New Haven, CT, and I am very pleased to be writing my column again; this time for the Pagan Community.

Every month, I will do a tarot reading for one person whose question I choose for this column. Also, by writing me, you will have a chance for a free tarot 10 minute reading on the phone. If you would like to contact me about purchasing a reading, please visit my web site at or write me at [email protected]

Since I first began reading for the public 13 years ago, I found that I fell in love with being able to help people in their personal lives and on their path as a spiritual counselor. The cards, I have found, often tell us what we need to know, and not necessarily what we want to know. They provide a way for me to see deeper into the heart of an issue and often what magickal advice I also need to give to bring about change.

Even if you aren’t familiar with tarot cards as a form of divination, they also work in the same way other forms do, be it the Runes, I-Ching, oracles or Ogam. The symbols of the tarot speak on many levels, and allow a connection to be created with spirit; opening a doorway for the universe to communicate on a personal level. As an artist as well as a priestess, I acknowledge the power of these symbols, but as a psychic, I use them to “see” more clearly.

Mediumship isn’t something I intentionally practice, but sometimes I do receive messages from spirit or departed loved ones, and if I receive messages I will relay these to you as part of the reading.

The following is the question chosen for this month

Dear Alicia,
I have a friend who I know I have shared a past life with, and still feel that we have a psychic connection. I’m open-minded, but not a Witch as she is. My questions is: What is the past life connection that we share, and how were we connected? Who were we to one another? My birthday is 12/20/1967.

Dear Tom,

Your question really intrigued me. No one has asked me this question before, and so it presented a challenge. Because it is you asking, and not the lady in question, I will withhold her birth date. You are both very different people by sun sign, since you are a Sagittarius and she a Cancer, but both your moon signs are in Leo. Who you both really are at the deepest level is what resonates, even though the outer world has shaped both of you very differently, as well as life goals. Author John O’Donohue wrote about soul friends being fashioned of the same clay when their spirit was born; “Friends are not made. Friends are discovered and recognized. In true friendship an ancient circle closes again. Between the two friends this ancient circle awakens.” And though she is not your soul mate, I do feel she is spiritually kin to you. She is, however, very complicated, as is her path this lifetime.

I chose a simple past life card spread using two decks – one for you and one for her. They are two pyramids forming an hourglass meeting in the middle with an extra card as a binding card. How the cards fell surprised me, they are not simply cards in a layout, as the cards began to tell a story of what happened so very long ago. This reading could not do the story justice if I read it card by card, and so I am throwing away the standard textbook reading on this one.

This time period that you both shared feels old and musty to me, like some sort of ancient library covered in the dust of years, or a forgotten tomb buried within the ashes and soil of an abandoned city. So the story begins long, long ago, in a place forgotten to modern memory…

You were very young when you met her, neither emotionally or mentally wise. You were attracted to her strength of will, and her beauty…and her position. She was a lady of status as a spiritual leader, within a family of a different caste. You were promised to one another, but it was not meant to be, and the marriage never happened. Although you were not without, you were not satisfied. You went to war, seeking wealth, and did not return until many years later. You gathered wealth, and earned significant status of your own, but it did not make you happy. Perhaps you felt you needed those things to earn her hand in the beginning, but it led you only to battle.

Although she did wait, and mourned you, she was married to someone else in another land, and had two sons after some sort of disaster, losing her husband in the process. It’s not a happy ending, I’m afraid.

But something did happen here early in your lives. The four of wands, represents spiritual ties, the high priestess card the lesson, and the magician is the binding card between you both. The reason, I believe why you still have this bond was because there was an act of magick that did ‘take’ into other lives. Magick is afoot in this reading, and I feel she was a Witch then as she is now.

I doubt this was the only lifetime that your paths have crossed, but was the beginning, and a karmic tie.

Perhaps the lesson is to trust in the magick of all things beyond the physical, and that includes love and friendship. The greater lesson would be that the people we love are never really lost to us. The connection we share with others cannot be severed even by the vast seas of time.

Blessed be!
Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth


If you would like me to do a reading for you in the next issue of Pagan Pages, please send me your:
1. Name you would like me to use in the article (it doesn’t have to be your given name)
2. Full birthdate
3. Your question. Feel free to ask anything!
4. Send it to: [email protected]

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The Christian Pantheon at Yuletide

December, 2008

Years before I rather, due to unforeseen circumstances, fell under the potentially incendiary term of becoming a Christian Witch, I was intrigued by the concept of the Triple Goddess.
The subtle beckoning of both the Triple Goddesses Bridget and Hecate tugged at my heart, yet I felt hesitant about calling upon Them or inviting Them into my life.
In many ways, I was quite drawn to Hecate, but I harbored a bit of fear or should I say a deep respect regarding her Dark Mother/Crone aspects. I wasn’t sure I could safely handle those aspects.
The Goddess Bridget had been turned into St. Bridget by the Catholic Church.  Try as I might, I couldn’t separate the two in my mind.  So, for me and in all un-fairness to Her, Bridget was ‘too Catholic’. The desire for the Triple Goddess to enter my life and to join in my rituals lingered within the misty yearnings of my soul, but I gave up my search for Her.
About a year after I became a Sophian Gnostic nun and an Esoteric Christian deaconess and priestess, I sat before my altar and fell into contemplative thought, a kind of meditative trance.
My altar is graced with statues of  Holy Sophia, the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene. Living devotional flames illumine the feet of each Goddess.  Their iconic images, believed by Orthodox Christians to be literal windows to Heaven, hang on the wall above my altar breathing jasmine incense and receiving warmth from the olive oil nourished icon lamp, a hanging sentinel of light.
As I gazed upon my statues, a revelation struck me, soared through me and melted the phoenix-fired core of my soul. Actually, it was a ‘duh’ moment.  I have the Triple Goddess! She has already entered my life!  Her triple reflection, Her triple images are right before my eyes.  She’s been with me for a while now, yet I hadn’t recognized Her.
Her maiden aspect is the Holy Mary Magdalene, High Queen, priestess. The Mother aspect is Blessed Mary, the Queen Mother. As Grandmother Wisdom She is Sophia, the Divine Source of the Feminine.
When you know something is right, you just know it. This form of the Triple Goddess is right for me. She was and is my Truth. This Triple Goddess resonates and echoes through-out all the auras of my being.  Her, I could believe in with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. They are one and are all manifestations of the Barbelo. The Triple Goddess of all Christian Witches and Esoteric Christians who so choose to honor Her as such.
But what about the male aspects of my Christian pantheon? It had been a while since I had considered myself a Christian. I wasn’t sure about my relationship with Jesus. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to Jesus.
The Big Book of Near Death Experiences, by P.M.H. Atwater, made a deep impression on me. Initially, I had hesitated to buy it. The title struck me as one of those books you’d be embarrassed to purchase. However, my curiosity overcame my false sense of pride. I’m glad it did. The title is both misleading and accurate at the same time. This almost 450 page book includes both sides of the question of near death experiences. It includes the side which claims through science that near death experiences are a phenomena of dying neurons in the brain alongside the opposing testimonies of those who have died and come back. The book also includes the writings, with thirty years of experience behind them, of many experts in the field
One of the main things my soul and psyche soaked in from this book was the reality of the Divine Light. This Light is described as brighter than a million suns, yet It doesn’t harm the eyes. It is described as being pure, unconditional love, intelligent, caring and non-judgmental.
Yes, I could believe in the Divine Light, the All-Source.
When I began, after more than a decade, to re-read the Bible, both Gnostic and Church-ordained canon, the passages about the Light appeared to highlight themselves before my eyes. Flying arrows of thought, rushing messengers of understanding between my Higher Delta Self and my beta brain, acting in the manner of the Tarot eight of wands rushing towards their destination, pierced their way through my consciousness. These verses aren’t just metaphors! They are describing a literal Divine Light which we encounter in the next realm! Those who have died and come back to life have seem It! They have experienced It! They have learned from It!
The book goes on to describe the next level which, after the All-Source-Million-Suns-Light, many describe a bright, Father-male Light and a dark, Female Light, both of which emanate from the All-Source.
Great by me. This all confirms both my Wiccan and my Esoteric Christian beliefs in that a Divine Masculine and a Divine Feminine emanate from the All-Source.
Sigh, but what about Jesus?
I simply couldn’t go back to my old beliefs and my old practices. I had fought too hard for many years and had come too far in my spiritual life and freedom to retreat back into my old fear-based belief-system and accompanying mindset. This mindset equated Jesus with its own self.
“My leaving the Christian Church wasn’t because of Jesus. I left it because of the Church system and the way the Church portrayed Jesus,” I continually reminded myself.
At this point in my internal struggle, I entered the whole mythic vs historical Jesus debate. In searching for the absolute Truth about Jesus, I participated in online arguments through my Gnostic forum, I surfed every pertinent website I could find and I poured over countless books authored by biblical scholars.  The search was head-spinning and mind-numbing.
My ending determination was that both sides have entirely valid points and neither argument is stronger than the other. I did notice, in all aspects of my reading, that those on either side of the fence are firmly entrenched in their opinions.
Slowly, it began to dawn on me that it doesn’t matter who or what Jesus was or whether He was historical or mythical. Mythical, in this case, meaning an underlying Cosmic Reality beneath the stories.  Rather, I became drawn to the enigmatic Jesus of the Gospel of Judas, the Hero of the Cosmic Mysteries in the Pistis Sophia and the magickal Jesus of the Round Dance of the Cross.  This is the Jesus Who invited me to see Him in a New Light. He is the Twin Aeon of Sophia, the Logos of St. John and the Divine Christos of Humanity.
It is His teachings which are important, both exoteric and esoteric, not whether He was pre-ordained to die on the cross for our sins, whether or not the resurrection really happened or if He truly physically ascended into Heaven. For many, these things are important and help to define their faith and that is fine. I had to come to terms with these questions for myself. And so, I realized that the Sophian/Christos Light-Spark dwells within me and within all.
The Gnostic Jesus is the Jesus I could accept.  My Christian pantheon now consists of the All-Source/Divine Light/Father, the Gnostic Jesus/Son and the Triple Goddess, Herself.
Yuletide is both a Pagan Mythic Holiday and a Christian Mystery Play. As Pagans, we welcome the birth of the Sun and witness the triumph of the Oak King over the Holly King.  As Christians, we celebrate the birth of the Son and witness the triumph of good over evil.
This Yuletide I will be celebrating the birth of the infant Sun beneath the stars and moon, with my cakes and wine, my songs, prayers and poetic myths.  This Christmas I will be celebrating the birth of the infant Son beneath angelic choirs and Heaven, with my cakes and wine, my carols, prayers and poetic scriptures.  For you see, the essence of the Eternal Story ever remains the same for All is One.
As we ignite our candles during this great Festival of Light, may we remember that we are all birthing our own Sun/Son within and as the Season of the Wheel continues to turn, so must the Sun/Son within continue to wax larger and brighter until It bursts through our representative personality masks which populate this incarnational matrix game and blazes forth as a thousand suns, yet never harming the eye.  The message is simple.  Love God, find your Divine Sun/Son Spark within and bring it without, love others and harm none.

May the Gnostic Jesus continue to dwell and grow within my own soul.
May the True Sun/Son of All dwell and grow within yours.
A Joyous and Blessed Yule/Christmas to all.

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Yuletide Wishlist: Trance-Portation

December, 2008

Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World

By Diana L. Paxton, 2008, Weiser Books.

ISBN: 9781578634057

If there is still someone on your yuletide shopping list who needs – do we have a gift suggestion for you!

One of the more notable books out this year is Diana L. Paxson’s Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World. A thorough guide to trance and shamanic journeying, it is written specifically for those of us who have trouble “letting go” and reaching trance.

Better known for her works of fantasy, which include the well loved Westria series and the classic Avalon series (with Marion Zimmer Bradley), Paxton’s skill with words shines through in the way she can make it so fun to read what is essentially a metaphysical exercise book. Methodical exercises developed from over 20 years of teaching experience build on one another in a gradual way, and are interspersed with classroom anecdotes, practical advice and information. A lot of information. This book offers everything from breathing exercises, sensory cues and meditation practices to help develop skill in reaching the trance state. Especially helpful is a chapter on “Road Hazards,” what to do when something goes wrong, to ease uncertainty when following the instructions alone.

What really defines this book though is where Paxton takes shamanic journeying after the essentials are covered. The reader is lead through finding one’s power animal or spirit ally and exploring the internal landscape. Included are also methods to enter the spiritual realms of different cultures: the Nordic Midgard, the Celtic Faery Realm and Greek Arcadia. Most fascinating are chapters on journeying to meet divinities, and the book almost ends too soon. It is such a teaser in fact, we are left waiting for another volume on the possibilities on working with divinities and shamanic oracular practices.

In short, Paxton has done for shamanic journeying what Robert Bruce did for astral projection – redefined what we know in a concise, methodical exercise manual which not does a great job of the how but also gives a bit of food for thought on the why. Definitely a worth-while buy!

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Rhiannon: Smiling in the Face of Despair

December, 2008

Today, we look at Rhiannon, the Celtic goddess of Inspiration and of the Moon, hailing from Wales.  She is known as the “Divine Queen of the Fairies.”  Her story is one of triumph and tragedy and we can learn how to bear an injustice while still keeping our joy.  Here is Rhiannon’s story.

Rhiannon (her name is either “Maid of Annwn” or a variant of Rigatona, “Great Queen”), is a version of the horse-goddess Epona and of sovereignty.  One day, Pwyll saw her riding her horse – a beautiful woman wearing gold.  He sent his fastest horseman after her but she outruns them.  On the third day of this, she stops and tells Pwyll that he didn’t have to chase her; he could have won her by speaking to her.  She was promised to Gwawl, a much older man who she did not want to marry.  Pwyll and Rhiannon fell in love and agreed to meet a year and a day later.

Pwyll and Rhiannon were married but her people were not happy about it, because she should have married one of her own.  She went to live with Pwyll’s people and she was happy.

During the next few years, Rhiannon bore a son.  She had seven ladies-in-waiting to take care of him so Rhiannon could get some rest.  One evening, while Rhiannon rested, her ladies-in-waiting also went to sleep.  When they awoke, the crib was empty.  Rhiannon’s ladies did not want to take responsibility for losing the child so they killed a puppy and smeared its blood on her.  Rhiannon swore her innocence but no one came to her defense, including her husband Pwyll, who was in too much grief.  As punishment from the court, Rhiannon was to spend seven years under a heavy horse collar, telling her story to all that came to the court and offering to carry them on her back to the court doors.  Rhiannon took this punishment without complaint and word spread throughout the land of her courage and20quiet dignity of the punishment.

The thought was a suitor that Rhiannon had rejected kidnapped the child as revenue of Rhiannon.  This child was found by Teymon, who was helping a mare who lost her foal.  When looking for it, Teymon found the child and he and his wife adopted him.  Four years later, Teymon, his wife and the adopted child went to the court where he met Rhiannon.  She offered to carry them to the court.  The child handed her a cloth that she recognized as the infant’s clothing she knitted.  And when she looked in his eyes, she recognized Pwyll.  The child was returned to Rhiannon and Pwyll and Rhiannon was released from her sentence.

Rhiannon’s themes are movement, communication, rest, ghosts, fertility and leadership.  Her symbols are the color white, horses and the Moon.  She can also work with in situations with mothers, motherhood and lost children.

If you want to work with Rhiannon, you can ask her to help you with communicating with others, especially if you are trying to take on a leadership role or assert yourself.  This can apply to writing a report or presentation, filling out important papers (especially around a situation that deserves justice) or mediation.

Rhiannon also teaches us to find ways to survive, even with joy, after a si tuation seems to be bleak.  Rhiannon took her punishment without complaint and made the best of it.  We can work with her to help see the light in the dark moments.

Bringing Rhiannon in your life shows that you are looking to work with strong powerful feminine energy to get what you want and deal with what’s been presented to you.  Rhiannon will help you live your life with happiness and forgiveness, no matter what is your destiny.

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