October, 2011

Welcome!!

October, 2011

Merry Meet and Happy Witches New Year

Samhain is upon us and a new year is beginning.  We have an issue full of Samhain advice, recipes, crafts, and ideas.

Our Etsy Shop is once again open and our stock is full again.  I apologize it has taken me so long to get it’s stock up.  But we are here and in time for the new year and Yule.  Please stop buy and see some of our new bookmarks and lower prices:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/paganpagesorg?ref=ss_profile


We are currently looking for a new Meditation Writer as ours leaves us this year.  If you are interested in writing meditations or sharing your knowledge on meditation with our writers email us at [email protected]

Also, we are still looking for a competent oils and incense columnist.  Interested?  email [email protected]

As Always, we are always looking for new talent, so send in your submissions to [email protected]

THIS MONTH’S CONTEST!!!

First a congratulations to last month’s winner.

Now this month’s prize…

The 2012-2013 Witch’s Almanac, Fresh off the presses!!











Your assignment this month, simple, a short essay of sorts, explaining who in history, be it a real person, or fictional character, is your favorite witch.  A short explanation of who it is, who they are, what they have done in your eyes, and how they have affected you.

All submissions must be received by Oct 20th to [email protected]

The winner will be notified on Oct 21st.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!!!





Happy Reading!!!!  and… Many Blessings!!!!!

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Perthro’s Pronouncements

October, 2011

What are the gods doing? What’s their “daily” life like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. If you were a god or goddess, what do you do all “day” long?

To explore this, we’re going to have to try to change our perspective. These guys don’t live the kind of linear existence we do, nor are they bound by a physical body. They aren’t really “bound” by anything, so in order to understand what it’s like for them, we need to try and imagine the infinite possibilities of existence.

Everyone loves a good superhero movie. There’s just something about a hero who can fly, has super strength, or has some superhuman ability that helps him save the day. In a lot of ways, this is how we see the gods. To us, they are the ultimate superheroes, with amazing abilities, these guys can literally do anything they want. But can they really?

The gods have completely different perceptions of time and space than we do. While I am not one of the gods, I can definitely imagine the kind of perceptions they may indeed have. The first one that really fascinates me is the perception of location. We humans only understand an existence where we are in one place or another, there is always a location where we are, and we can’t be in more than one at a time. That’s just the way it is, so, everyone else, our gods included, must exist in the same way, right? We are here, on earth, they are “out there” somewhere, up in the sky, out in space. Personally I think that is just our limited perception of the universe that makes us see it that way.

Imagine if you will an ocean. The Atlantic Ocean. A drop of water on the coast of Florida is the same as a drop of water on the coast of England, they are both part of the Atlantic Ocean. So where then does the Atlantic Ocean exist? In England, and Florida, and every other coast it touches. That’s a little like what I think it is for our gods. They are not “out there”, they are a part of the energy of the universe, call it electricity if you will. That electricity/energy literally exists everywhere, so it’s like a vast ocean that touches every part of the universe. Pretty much means you can be everywhere, and nowhere, all at the same time. There is no “where” when you are literally everywhere. A pretty difficult concept for the human mind to wrap itself around, but, there it is.

Time is the other aspect of their existence that I think they see quite differently than we do. Imagine this. The earth has 24 time zones, each one hour apart. Right now it might be 12 in the afternoon, in your time zone, but on the other side of the world, it’s midnight, and the next day even. Referring back to the location theory I mentioned earlier, knowing that the gods exist in all locations at once, therefore in no location at all, the same applies for the time in which they exist. We can’t be in both places at once, so we don’t see it as possible to exist in two “times” at once either. But the gods can. I think in their perspective, time is a lot like a sphere, the past and present and future all rolled into one, and they can perceive them all at the same time. Sound incredible? Not to them. It’s just the way they exist.

It’s difficult, as humans, to imagine the type of life our gods have, close to impossible even. And when we don’t know something, our imaginations go wild on us, trying to make sense of it all. The prevailing theory of our gods being “out there” came about many many years ago, when human beings had very little knowledge of the world around them, and indeed the universe. Why then, with all the knowledge we have acquired since, have we never updated our thought processes about how our gods exist? Why have we continued to believe that they exist like our ancient texts told us they did? The men that wrote those books did so only in the way they knew how, in the time they existed. I think it’s time to modify our religious beliefs to include new ideas, new theories, and not just take our ancient ancestor’s word for what is the reality of the situation.

Having faith is fine. Believe in the gods, in what the ancient texts say. But don’t get bogged down in them, and view them as the only, and final, source of information. I really don’t see the gods as beings who expect worship, rather, they want to assist us, to help us get to the level of existence they occupy. Their “daily” lives are not spent sitting on some throne out in space, waiting to zap any unbelievers or to shower gold and gifts on those who are faithful. It’s possible I suppose, but in my opinion, they’d rather spend their time observing the universe, being a part of it, and helping other life forms along in their development.

That in and of itself bears a lesson for us to learn as well. Rather than being occupied with our own petty differences and pointless drives for the acquisition of wealth and riches, we should be helping our fellow life forms, be they human or animal or plant. We are part of this planet, not just living ON it, and we should do our best to take care of it. That’s what the gods and goddesses do. They respect life in all its forms, and do not idly create and destroy on a whim. And neither should we.

So what’s a day in the life of a god like? I have no idea. I simply have no frame of reference to begin to understand their perceptions. There is so much they are that we humans have no capacity to understand. That’s why we think they are “super”. I’d bet that they don’t see it that way at all, to them, it’s “normal”, and it’s us who are super. We have the ability to imagine the possibilities, whereas they know all in an instant. We have time, one minute at a time, while for them, everything happens at once. There is something to be said for not knowing, to be able to be in awe of something, to wonder what’s out there. And maybe that’s why they are interested in us, why they want to assist us. Maybe they want to see the universe through OUR eyes. Maybe that’s why we might even be their children, growing up, someday to become just like them.

The day in the life of a god might just be a day in YOUR life, so make it a good one.

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Moon Owl Observations

October, 2011

A little touch of Rome

Ancient Romans had a major effect on modern paganism and parts of their culture need to be credited. Romans owed a high proportion of their language, architecture, religious beliefs and philosophy to the Greeks after the Greek culture was absorbed into Roman society when it became part of the empire. Even with this, Romans were a highly successful and intelligent society who introduced new technological advances into life.

Early Romans paid homage to spirits rather than specific deities. The divinity in all things and early deities were known as ‘Numina’. Numina were divine manifestations. They were faceless and formless but very powerful. The Numina included the Lares (guardians of the field, boundaries or ancestors), the Penates (guardians of the home and food), Janus (guardian of the doorway) and Vesta (guardian of the hearth).

Everything in nature was thought to be inhabited by spirits and the Romans would live under the gods, constantly trying to please them. They believed that the spirits in everything needed to be kept happy, and this led to various rituals and sacrifices. An example of that would be that Romans would sacrifice bulls and use the entrails to predict the future or read the will of the gods. They were also believers in syncretism- the belief that the same gods existed everywhere, just by different names.

Gods taking on a human form came along later with the influence of the Greeks and Etruscans. Roman spirits became associated with more humanized Greek gods and they began to absorb the Greek myths and gods as their own. Twelve gods called the Dii Consentes were especially honoured by the Romans. They were: Apollo, Ceres, Diana, Juno, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Venus, Vesta and Volcanus. They believed in various deities but certain ones would become more popular depending on who was the emperor, however; two particular deities were the most important to the Romans almost through the entire period of the Roman Empire- Vesta and Janus.

Vesta was by far the most popular. She is the guardian of the hearth and was one of the Numina worshipped. Since the Roman state was divided into the free and the enslaved it was good that Vesta was a deity that was linked to all classes of people.  There were temples of Vesta that housed a sacred fire that was to be kept constantly burning by the Vestral Virgins. The virgins  had important roles and the maidens would be chosen at childhood. They took very serious vows, and if one broke these vows they were often sentenced to death.

In 312, Constantine converted to Christianity and by the end of the 4th century the worship of all the old gods had been outlawed and ceremonies and rites related to Paganism were banned. Juliam the Apostate tried to revive Paganism afterwards but by then Christianity was too popular. There were still many high society Romans who did remain true to the old gods in this time even though it was forbidden. Then,  when Emperor Theodosius reigned he was tolerant of Pagan beliefs at the beginning but soon sent troops to destroy Pagan temples. Many Pagan festivals were absorbed into Christian holy days and those that weren’t were simply turned into working days. Theodosius declared a war on Paganism and the De Obitu Theodosii contains a detailed account of the supression of Paganism. This of course led to an increase in Christianity- making it the official religion of Rome.

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Elementals

October, 2011

Time and Perception:

Elementals are described in stregheria and other Craft traditions as existing at a frequency of vibrations close to those of our own physical dimension, but slightly higher.  This is why they can interact with witches and help them elevate their energies somewhat, gaining access to the astral plane.  They do this by elevating the witch’s rate of perception and sense of time.

In order to understand the relationship between perception and time, let us consider old-time silent movies.  These were called ‘flicks,’ because they had fewer frames per second than later sound pictures.  The illusion of movement produced by motion pictures, as we know, is caused by a series of still photographs displayed one after another too quickly for the mind to distinguish them as separate frames.  The frames in old silent films succeeded each other at the edge of the mind’s ability to see them separately, with the result that they seemed to flicker.  When later technology photographed more frames per second, this flicker went away.  The frames were now displayed one after another too quickly for the mind to detect the illusion.

A movie came out a few years ago about the introduction of motion pictures into China.  It is called ‘Shadow Magic,’ which was the term Chinese used to describe the new technology.  This term can be traced back to the 2nd century CE Book of Lieh-Tzu, which contains a lot of material from a few centuries earlier, including some of the paradoxes of a sophist named Kung-sun Lung.  He maintained that a shadow does not move.  A commentator named Ssu-ma Piao explained this by saying: “The bird screens the light as the fish excludes the water.  When the fish moves it excludes the water but the water does not move.  When the bird moves a shadow appears, and wherever the shadow appears the light disappears.  But appearing and disappearing are not coming and going.” (Lieh-tzu, p. 89 fn.) This is obviously the principle employed in making still frames appear to move in films.

In the same way, the whirling of atomic particles in an empty void, which are both too small and too fast to see, produces the illusion of solid matter for us.   As we achieve inner stillness, our minds are freed from inner talk and are able to apprehend inner and outer perceptions a little more quickly.  Externally, this makes the world around us appear brighter and fresher, and feelings seem to flow to us from trees, clouds, etc..  Internally, we are more sensitive to feelings and silent intuitions.  When we are quieter in our minds, elementals can come and share their powers with us

Sylphs – Air – Knowledge:

Knowledge depends on understanding, so in a more direct sense, understanding is what a sylph will impart to a witch partner.  Knowledge in the Craft sense is no mere accumulation of facts or theories.  There are people who have strong powers of memorization.  They know a great body of facts, theories and words, but they understand all of it in only a few ways, or even in only one way.  As time goes by, the more they learn, the less they understand.  Everything they know is flattened out and exists on only one level.  If you tell them something they haven’t heard before, they will immediately find something in their storehouse of information that the new piece of knowledge resembles, and they will quickly file it next to that item.  In terms of air, they are like someone who cannot take in a full breath of fresh air, because his lungs are already nearly full of old, stale air.  This old, stale elemental energy of air is a form of miasma.

When we are young we literally breathe in new knowledge with enthusiasm, a word meaning ‘breathing in the god.’  The things we learn early in life generally become lifelong favorites, whereas the knowledge we pick up later in life interests us only as it falls into one or another of these categories acquired earlier.  All of this indicates that there is a special energy governing the intake of fresh understanding, and without the help of sylphs our natural store of this energy is not renewed and diminishes as we grow older until it is virtually depleted.

When the witch undergoes the first initiation and receives a sylph as a personal helper or partner from Paralda, it enters into the wand and receives a name by which the witch will call on it for help in understanding something new.  As the witch progresses in the Inner Craft, he or she will occasionally experience new spurts of enthusiasm in connection with topics or subjects either long dormant in memory or never before learned.  Through the offices of the sylph, the witch is beginning to recover his or her lost youth of soul.

Salamanders – Fire – Will:

People who are deficient in the elemental energy of fire like to learn but seem incapable of applying what they have learnt to make changes in their lives.  They prefer more desultory reading to attempting something new in life.  Over time, their lives come to a standstill, as they revolve in an ever-tightening circle among a few activities.  They seem unable to exert themselves when it is called for, and when they do act they frequently go on repeating old mistakes, making futile, half-hearted attempts.  When you point this out to them, they say “I know, I know,” and then go on following the same course as before.  They are usually very lazy and lack self-discipline.  The only will power they exhibit is in resisting the advice of others.  They insist on their independence and feel proud of it, even though they go year by year revolving in a circle and never getting anywhere.  The longer they go on in this way, the less they will have of their natural store of the elemental energy of fire, until they literally cannot move.

This shows us that will power is something separate from knowledge, for such people may know a lot but are increasingly unable to do anything with their knowledge.  There is therefore no will apart from action.  When we know what we must do or want to do in a situation, we must exert ourselves in order to do it.  In every case, such exertion involves a certain amount of friction, though in ordinary actions it may be so slight as to be practically unnoticeable.  Each time, nevertheless, we must overcome a certain amount of inertia, and the effort to do so produces a small or larger amount of friction.

In cases where our available will power is approximately equal to the inertia to be overcome, it becomes evident that extra help is needed.  We need additional energy, and this is provided the witch by his or her personal salamander partner.  Will overcoming inertia  produces a certain amount of friction or elemental heat, called tapas by the Hindus.  The extra energy provided by the salamander produces a small surplus of tapas which is stored, replenishing one’s natural supply of this sort of elemental energy.  This means we shall have more energy of will available for later exertions.  The store of will energy can become so immense that the witch is capable of prodigious feats of discipline and endurance, limited only by his or her physical vitality.

Undines – Water – Daring:

As we have seen, progress around the Sun-wheel is cumulative.  If you have a lot of will-energy but are deficient in understanding, you will be an able drudge but will not accomplish anything of significance.  Understanding must be added to will, as it is for many people who succeed in life.

There are a lot of successful people who, over the years, settle into comfortable ruts of regular accomplishment.  They may learn new skills and take in new information, and they may apply these skills and information to their lives efficiently, but over time their very success limits them to certain viewpoints and achievements.  If they find themselves in a crisis that calls for radically different thinking, they may flounder.  They are used to controlling all the variables, and faced with a number of unknowns, they tend to fall back on established routines.  Continual success breeds a sort of timidity; they like their lives to run in safe, smooth channels.  Faced with what the philosopher Jaspers called ‘boundary situations’ : failure, disease, unavoidable involvement in evil, great personal disappointment and the like, they retreat and sometimes break down.

At the same time, as the years go by, their accomplishments begin to grow stale.  Life is no longer an adventure for them.  Something in them longs to throw off familiar constraints and surroundings and start life afresh.  They long to exercise the daring they employed in their youth.  They may feel, as they go into later middle age, that it is now or never.  The reason is, they feel the leaching away and drying up of their elemental energy of daring, derived from water and the undines, and fear to live out the balance of their lives as timid persons.  If they do not take chances and risk great things, they may be destroyed in the future by bereavement or some other crisis.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to liberate the remaining energy of daring in someone.  When water encounters an obstacle, it takes the form of that obstacle and flows around or under it.  Water always seeks the lowest point, and overcomes resistance by yielding to it and finding ways around it, by ‘thinking outside the box,’ as the saying goes.  When someone beloved dies, if the bereaved has sufficient water-energy, he or she will take the form of life without that person, of the absent beloved, letting go of him or her, and then flow on to new horizons.  If that energy is gone, bereaved people often fold in on themselves and soon pass away, being unable or unwilling to dare to go beyond their current limits and find a new way of living.

This same energy of daring is exercised by the witch in going beyond everyday awareness into sensitivity to the astral world.  It is paramount to have this energy when undergoing initiation, which is a sort of death.  Similarly, one may decide that one’s options in a given place have been exhausted, and decide to migrate somewhere else far away.  The shiploads of immigrants who landed at Bedloes Island in New York harbor a hundred years or more ago were mostly people who had been driven to the point of desperation in the old country, and were forced to reach inside for their reserves of daring-energy in order to gain the courage to move halfway around the world.  Those who could not leave, like Dr. Zhivago, stayed in the old country and went down.

Partnership with the undine makes the witch fluid within.  Each day comes with its own separate agenda of possibilities.  The seer, said Ramakrishna, may live for years in a place, and one day just get up and go off to Benares.

Gnomes – Earth – Silence:

It is a commonplace to say that there are two kinds of people in the world, and then name two contrasting qualities.  But for witches, the most important difference between people is whether or not they have the power of inner silence.

The North, in the Craft, is called ‘the place of power,’ because the elemental power of Earth, the power to keep silence or still, is the master power.  It is the basis of all the other powers of elementals we have been considering.  New understanding cannot be had if the mind is continually resounding with old ideas and information.  New projects cannot be started if one’s daily agenda is cluttered with a lot of old, unfinished tasks.  One cannot set sail for new horizons while hemmed in by old fears and timidity.

But in addition to these, outer and inner silence, of both mind and body, has value in itself.  Gnomes are of the Earth, and live underground.  They can ascend from the depths or descend back into them.  These depths are not only in the physical Earth, but within each of us, for we each contain a cosmos in miniature.  The spine corresponds to the World Pillar, the axis of the Earth round which the planet revolves.  The quiet mind, aided by the partner gnome, can descend through the spine below the level of everyday mental chatter to ever-increasing levels of quiet within.  Deep within each of us lie all our memories from the past in this incarnation, and deeper still, far memories from past lives.  If we descend far enough, we shall reach the Summerland and merge into our root-souls, the place where we go when the body drops off and it is time to recuperate between incarnations.

As we descend below the level of mental talk, we become free of all sorts of suggestions, provided by habits, as to how to live each day, what to feel, what to think and so forth.  Below the level of talk we encounter an intermediate level of inner whisperings.  At this level we are free to break old habits and form new ones.  Still farther down, the whisperings speed up and turn into silent energy flows which are sources of intuition and creative inspiration.  Our perception of time accelerates as we descend, so that more happens in each moment of time, until we can no longer translate the silent insights into slow, cumbersome language.

As past memories become available to the descending mind, they are accompanied by the way it felt to be alive years ago.  We recapture our sense of ourselves at earlier ages, and our sense of the world and what it was like to live in it.  These are restored to the surface personality when the witch ascends and emerges once more at the everyday level of inner talk.

The power to descend and re-ascend belongs to a part of the soul that is usually quiet and stays in the background while the noisy, social part lives its showy life here above.  This surface personality is called ‘the life soul’ by Michael York in his study, Pagan Theology (NYU Press, 2001).  The life soul’s silent partner he calls the dream soul, because in many cultures it begins its descent from dreams, lucid dreams in which the dreamer knows he or she is dreaming.  But the descent can also be made in a peculiar waking state that may be called ‘lucid waking’.  In the latter case, one’s physical surroundings remain in view but the lower levels of the inner pillar are added to one’s usual senses in the form of feelings or other senses for which we have no names.  In dream descents, as the dream soul descends with the gnome, the life soul stands guard over the body.

In raising the Cone of Power, witches descend into their ‘deep’ and bring back up all the energies, dark as well as light, that they find there.  These are released into the common vortex as the spell is launched into the astral world.

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Prunings from the Hedge

October, 2011

Inner Witchcraft

Working with Elementals

Introduction

These chapters were originally presented as information supplementary to that provided by the High Priestess of a coven I was advising over in Colorado.  Since I could not be physically present among them, I provided more private aspects of my practice, some part of which would surface at times were I with them.  My contention throughout has been that most magical energy is locked up within the human body and therefore preparation for witchcraft must attempt to remove some of these blocks so one can experience and make use of one’s native magical energy.  By ‘magical’ I mean here ‘capable of producing unexpected effects.’  This loosening up of energy locked within the body is presented here as preparation for spell work, but, as with all work on the Sun-wheel, one must go round multiple times.  As it is a circle, the Sun-wheel has no beginning or end.

I  begin with an attempt to describe the main types of knowledge as touching the Craft.  The East is associated with discursive knowledge, knowledge involving symbolic systems, whether linguistic or arithmetical, knowledge of an object separate from the knower.

The quarter of fire involves personal knowledge, in which the knower and known meet in a link of mutual understanding in which both are subject and object of shared knowledge. It is in this sort of knowledge that one contacts the gods and demigods in prayer, and has an ongoing partnership with each of the four personal elementals.

The quarter of water / west is ruled by the Crone, and this is where we contact and make use of her shadow-knowledge, which reveals hitherto overlooked features of the world and can lead to altered modes of awareness.

The quarter of earth / north is the quarter of stillness, where work with elementals both begins and ends, and where the spell is earthed after release of the cone of power.  Its essence is inner and outer stillness.

The partnership with elementals is a focusing device that fixes the witch’s attention on the functions they represent.  Work within the eastern quarter of discursive knowledge makes no further requirement.  Work within the southern quarter of will involves personal knowledge, so that the practitioner takes up the resident magical weapon of the elemental and tries to visualize its form within the weapon.  The witch acts towards the elemental as if it were a real person.  Nothing further is required.  This is part of ‘the theatre of witchcraft.’  The energy exchanges between paired opposite elementals are necessary for the completion of work within those quarters.

Work begins in the northern quarter of keeping still.  The witch meditates to quiet the mind, and then slips into the silence between successive thoughts, descending to the level of inner whisperings.  On this level a compulsive habit can be dismantled by removing one of its weak links.  The witch begins with very small habits controlling various nervous movements or tensions in the body.  Overcoming one of these habit-cycles releases the energy that was used to run the habit.  This is made available to the salamander, who is ready to do inventory.

Inventory is work in the southern quarter of will.  It involves, initially, going through all the clutter in the house and putting things in better order, throwing out whatever is no longer needed.  If an object or document, et al., is connected with an old unfinished project, the witch decides then and there whether it needs to be completed.  If not, the project and its artifacts are abandoned; otherwise the project is scheduled for immediate attention.  In this way, past commitments (which do not go away when we put them ‘on the shelf’) can be cleared away, making mental space available for commitment to a new project, such as,  in time, some spellwork.  This is done by the witch and the salamander together, the latter making use of energy freed by the witch and  the gnome in the northern quarter.  The offering of mental space from completed or canceled projects is the salamander’s requital of the gnome for the latter’s gift of free energy.  The primary motivation of elementals in offering the witch initiate their services is to effect this energy exchange with their elemental opposite ( gnome – salamander; sylph – undine).  They also share in the balancing of elements the witch is achieving.

Under the guidance of the High Priestess, first degree initiates are taken into the western quarter of daring, where they enter a state of altered awareness in which to practice raising the cone of power together, subsequently earthing the spell in the quarter of the north.  Witches are cautioned to stay out of the west / water / daring when on their own, until passing the second degree initiation.  Some information is given on initiations at this point and the nature of the second degree in particular.  But all this is more properly the High Priestess’s province, so I pass from it to the quarter of daring as subject.  In all quarter work, my aim has been to show how to free up energy and mental space, then uses of elemental work in ordinary life, and finally, their application to the Circle and spellcraft.

I  end with an account of work in the western quarter.  Further information on earthing spells is best left to coven work; and besides, we have already considered the general nature of work in the quarter of stillness.  A possibility for future development is briefly mentioned in connection with dreams, namely, developing the ability to dream lucidly, in which the dreamer knows it is a dream.  This is presented as a springboard towards astral journeys.  Such can lead in time to a transcendent experience in the Summerland called ‘the true Sabbat,’ traditionally reigned over by either King Saturnus or by Bacchus and Ariadne.

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Thrifting the Witchy Way

October, 2011

Welcome to the Samnhain edition of Thrifting the Witchy Way!

The fabulous Jenn ( round of applause for the hard working staff here- they deserve it and more!) has promised me that the pictures from our last installment should be up this time around so please take a look at that so that you don’t think I’ve been doing imaginary projects!

So for my first Samhain (or for those of you out there who go a bit more secular- Halloween) edition of Thrifting the Witchy Way I thought I would keep it light and bring you one of my favorite crafts –Miniature Witchy Brooms!

Now this project is a ton of fun for witchlets of all ages (This time of year certainly makes me feel like a kid again!) and is absolutely fantastic for hostess gifts, party favors, kids craft time, or just to decorate your own witchy pad!

So here’s what you will need:
A. Wooden dowels (1/4inch thick, about 12 inches long- you can get them in a package at your craft store)
B. 3yrds of ribbon (This is where your hunters eyes at the thrift store can score you large bags of ribbon for a couple dollars, or keeping a keen eye on the sales at craft stores like Micheals or JoAnn’s can get you some awesome deals on designer ribbon)
C.  A package of pre-dried corn husks (I use the ones that you get from the grocery store for making tamales usually about a dollar for a large bag)
D. A bowl of water  large enough to soak the corn husks in ( I sometimes also soak the husks in a nice tea blend or, especially if I am having an attack of autumn, I throw a couple of packets of apple cider mix in so that the husks soak up the scent and get a subtle aroma)
E.  A drying rack (I use a cookie sheet with paper towels on it)
F. Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Now here’s how you do it:
Step 1:

Soak the corn husks in the bowl of water until they are soft and pliable.
Step 2:

Take one of the corn husks and tear it into thin strips (you will need 2 husks per broom, more if you want it really full)


Step 3:

Start wrapping the corn husks around one of the dowels with the thin end lined up to the end of the dowel, leaving the wide end laying along the length of the dowel.


Step 4:

Using one of the thin strips of husk; tie the strip around the thin ends about 1/4 of an inch from the end of the dowel.


Step 5:

Push the dowel down until about another 1/4 inch is showing below the husks.


Step 6:

Now begin to fold the husks down over the tie, until the other end of the dowel is now clear of husk and the end that you just pulled down in Step 5 is now hidden in the husks. This is a good time to tear the husks so that they seem fuller and more broom like.


Step 7:

You’ll use your other thin strip and you will tie the strip around the husks about 1/2-1 inch below where they meet the dowel. This will really make it look like a broom.

Step 8:

Let them dry. I suggest over night, sometimes longer if you have a particularly thick set of husks.


Step 9:

Usually, as soon as they are dry, use a hot glue gun to glue the upper (folded over) part of the broom to the dowel ensuring that it won’t move around.

Step 10:

Decorate! I use ribbon to wrap around the dowel and the “broom tie” so that mine end up looking like this:

This one I used 2 different colors on (orange and purple) in the Halloween spirit. Or they can look like this:

This one I used a patterned ribbon on and it looks a bit more country witchy.
If I’m going to use this as a gift or a decoration I also like to add a little folded envelope(you can find a great tutorial on the one I use here) and stuff the little pockets with protective symbols or small stones, or anything that sets my purpose. I then punch holes in the top and string a ribbon through it and hang them from the brooms.
These can be just simple decorations, or you can charge them with intent and hang them as charms, or you can even use them as home made altar besoms for those of us who have limited ritual space. Also herbs or potpourri can be put into the envelope or can be hung from inside the “bristles”.

Painting or drawing on the bristles is also a great way to customize them.

It’s one of those multi-purpose crafts that I, and my pocket book, love!

And keep your crystal balls tuned in for our next installment of Thrifting the Witchy way as I’ll show you one way to make your very own Thrifting Journal for all those prowls through the thrift shops.

So see you next time- same witchy time, same witchy channel!

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Interweavings

October, 2011

Samhain

Crunchy leaves underfoot and crisp clear skies overhead bring such peace to our family! Now is the favorite time of year for this suburban pagan family.

When the kids were little, each day found us walking with baskets collecting acorns, sticks,  and pretty leaves.  Upon arrival the acorns were dispensed to the little kitchen for play food while the leaves and sticks awaited further attention.

Decorations freshly made for October begin on the first day. Little gnomes are made of acorns with pinecone bodies began to populate the hearth.

An age old craft of placing a leaf between two pieces of waxed paper and ironing it shut is inhanced by adding shaved Crayons before the top sheet and creating a beautiful stained glass picture.

Sticks are glued around votive candle holders and tied with ribbon for the altar.  Pretty bunches of leaves are hung on the branch above the kitchen table as well as the seasons herbs to dry. All in preparation for Samhain.

Dressing in costumes and eating a quick snack is still a must at our home. Doorbells begin to ring at dusk and with candles lit outside and inside and a plastic cauldron filled with candy we are ready. As each group of neighborhood children stop by I am filled with gratitude for the year now ending. Seeing the growth of these children  touches me as my own are grown and one married!

Gratitued and rememberance. Samhain is the opportunity to be thankful and to also say goodby to our loved ones who have passed.

After the last doorbell has rung, the fire is lit in the fireplace and dinner is served.  Mulled cider and stew filled with root vegetables are a favorite.  After dinner we move to the floor. Now is the time for tarot and rune readings. While the children were little we used a children’s fairy tale tarot set and made our own runes based on the Whinnie the Pooh stories.

A small basket of oak leaves gathered earlier in the month await our attention.  One leaf at a time, we name a dear one that has passed and place that leaf in the fire watching the smoke and silent blessing asend the chimney.  Earlier in our family life, each and every pet was remembered and the kids felt comforted. It is also the time to let go of negative feelings with a leaf.  Quiet listening to the fire and taking in the lovely smells of candles and wood burning brings the evening to a close.

The relief from the heat and energy of the summer now surrounds us as we move through the wheel of the year into the time of gratitude, blessings and rememberance.  Blessed be.

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Greetings from Afar

October, 2011

Home is Where the Heart is

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a “baby boomer” – a “child of the fifties”. I am part of that generation whose fathers came home from winning a great war, and then had us. Officially, we are those who were born between the years 1946 and 1959 although there are a few of us on either side of those years. We grew up during the stability and prosperity of the “Eisenhower Years” then looked forward with hope and anticipation to the promised glories of John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot.” I am part of that generation that came to my maturity in a time before our dreams were shattered by the twin debacles of the War in Vietnam and Watergate. I was blessed to grow up in the country, in a small East Texas town called Center and to have spent the vast majority of my life through young adulthood in the heart of the ‘pineywoods’ of East Texas and North Central Louisiana. To what is probably the vast majority of the readers I have become what my parents and grandparents once were to me — a member of the “older generation”.

There was a time – a now long ago and mostly forgotten time – when things were different than they are today. It was a simpler time, a safer and less complex time. It wasn’t as technologically advanced as our present day world, but – it was a good time. It was the time of the “baby boomers” – the time of the great boom of expansion in all areas that followed the great tragedy that had been the Second World War. It was the world of Andy Griffith and Donna Reed – It was a great time to be a kid, and a pair of little kids on a roll could really have a blast. It was a time to be remembered, and now, some fifty years gone, a time to be cherished. My girlfriend and I (yes, I had one. I was almost 9 and she had just turned 6). My dad was Southeast Regional Manager for Ford Motor Company and traveled all the time, and her dad was a career Marine… who traveled all the time. Between them and our grandparents, we got a pretty good tour of the rural south of the time – almost always together — and numerous other places. But, we always loved and always returned to our tiny little hometown in East Texas.

They say that you start remembering things when you reach a ‘certain age’ that you’d forgotten long ago. I suppose that’s true. For the most part you remember the good things. Sometimes there are a few tragedies thrown in for good measure. Almost always, they are things that no longer exist in any other place than in your memory. I suppose that’s a sign of getting older. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that too. I don’t know. Some things are just worth remembering. Some of those things are hard to explain to those who don’t remember them. Life in a small country town in the 1950s and very early 1960s is one of those things.

How do you explain an alien world to those who have never seen it? How do you explain a way of life that is completely foreign to those listening or reading? How do you explain a way of life that once existed but no longer does — and fades farther into the remote past with each passing day? How do you explain experiences, hopes and dreams that, at the time, everyone thought not only ‘could’ come to pass but ‘would’ eventually come to pass? How do you explain a world so recent as to be within the span of a single lifetime and yet so distant as to have become a fading myth to even the following generation? Do you start it off like a fairly tale with ‘once upon a time’? How do you tell even your own children what it was like to grow up in the same little country town that they grew up in thirty years before the youngest of them was born and almost sixty years ago?

Can we take our cue from that lilting, forlorn and yet hopeful song from the musical ‘Cats’? Can we echo Andrew Lloyd Rice and Tim Webber in their hope that the ‘memories’ will ‘live again’? How can those memories ever live again when the only possible people for who they ‘can’ live are those who share them… and any to whom they try to relate them to are so removed from the time that it’s impossible for them to relate to even the smallest part of them?

It really was a different world then. I have often wondered what happened to that world. I know they say that things are “better” now, but I wonder. It was a great time to be a kid, it really was. I wish that my kids had grown up in a time like the one that I grew up in — and that theirs could.

I know, there was no air conditioning in homes or cars, no color television — no television at all for most. There were no special effects in movies to speak of, television was new (we were the first generation to grow up with it). There were cars with standard transmissions (most of them still) and no air conditioning (most of them unless you had one about like my dads or Price Daniels’ or Uncle Earl Long’s and most folks couldn’t afford that. But there were other things.

Of course, we had all of the “childhood” diseases. We had chicken pox, mumps and measles. I had all three and they didn’t kill me. We also had isolated cases of scarlett fever and rheumatic fever still. It was my generation that was the last to see a major polio epidemic hit. I have several friends who had it. One’s still paralyzed from the waist down today. Two have gone on. One of them passed away when she was only six or seven years old. The other spent twenty-odd years of her life in an iron lung. There are already people – and have been for some time — who have never seen or heard of that kind of living death. No, it wasn’t a perfect time by any means.

Rock and Roll was brand new for us and so was FM radio. Cassettes, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, iPods and MP-3s were thirty years in our future at least and none of us even dreamed there’d ever be anything like that. We lay on the living room floor and watched flickering images in grainy black and white on a screen not much bigger than a cigarette pack as Bobby Vinton, Elvis and the Shirelles… Sandra Dee and others performed. We sand along with the Mouskateers and added our own names to the end of the ‘roll call’ of the singing, dancing kids who were so much like us — or so much the way we saw ourselves.

We’d walk or ride our bikes downtown to the theatre, pay our half-dollar (admission for two) and watch terrible ‘B’ grade science fiction movies showing as a Saturday Matinee. Sometimes it was a double feature. There was always a newsreel, cartoon and previews of coming attractions. How do you explain to kids today about a movie theatre showing all that for a quarter — and for years throwing in a ‘short feature’ like Buck Rogers, Captain Video and his Video Ranger, Flash Gordon or a ‘two reel’ comedy like Our Gang or the Three Stooges? How do you explain that a large ‘Cherry Coke’ was a quarter (with two straws of course) or that a large bag of popcorn (likewise enough for two) was ten cents?  We’d leave for the movie with a dollar between us and have fifteen cents left over after the show. It cost less than a dollar for two kids to have a whole Saturday afternoon of fun in a tiny little East Texas country town.

After the movie – almost always science fiction on Saturdays — until the ‘beach party’ craze hit a few years later (and we saw all of those movies too) we’d leave the theatre dreaming of one day traveling in space. That theatre and a now long-gone roller rink were the highlights of Saturday entertainment for kids of my generation. They were places that kids could go safely, enjoy themselves and their parents never had to worry about what they saw or were exposed to.

We saw a truly good science fiction movie a few years later and actually dreamed of living in space by the year 2001. It didn’t happen of course. The year 2001 became a year of tragedy. For me, one of those tragedies was extremely personal.  But, long before that, ‘other things’ became more important. There was Vietnam, Watergate and Iran-Contra – a dozen other ‘events’ that managed to mask over the vanishing of an era and possibly cause that disappearance in part. Our world was never the same again. But — we saw the first satellites, a little dog named ‘Liaka’ and chimps named ‘Ham’ and “Able”. We stood on the front porch under the stars and watched a tiny specks float by overhead that contained first Gagarin and then Glenn. We saw ‘all’ of the first men and women in space. We saw man walk on the moon for God’s sake.

We had no metal detectors or guards in schools, no drugs and no violence to speak of. You could go to bed at night with your doors unlocked and your windows open. You could stop on the side of the road and eat at a roadside park, use the toilet or take a nap. Nobody would bother you.  There were no “drive by” shootings. We all walked or rode our bikes to school. We kids rode our bikes or walked just about everywhere and as long as we got home around dark nobody got worried. Even then they didn’t worry about crime, just about accidents and such. We didn’t have fancy electronic toys and games.

There wasn’t a lot of crime, even nationwide. People like Charles Starkweather and Eddie Gein were anomalies – horror stories from far away that were whispered about but thankfully didn’t happen every day and never happened in the place where you lived. We never dreamed there’d be anyone like Manson, Bundy, Gacey or Dahmer. Not quite the same today I’m afraid. It started changing at some point in the mid sixties. Our first real exposure to anything like that in Texas was the infamous ‘bell tower shooter’ but even then it was something truly unbelievable and something ‘far away’ to most of us. Austin was a ‘big city’ after all – nothing like that could happen in our little town. It never did and even though the crime rate now – especially violent crime — would have nauseated any of us fifty years ago or so, it still hasn’t. But — how do you explain to today’s generation, and those to come — growing up in a town that had one Chief of Police and four patrolmen for a population of four thousand? Between the years that I was born and the graduated from high school – that’s 18 years — our county had six murders. Not one of those was premeditated.

There was no vandalism — unless you count ‘class of ’70 graffiti painted on the side of the town water tank or a few fire lookout towers as vandalism. A major theft made ‘big’ news in the weekly paper — maybe once or twice a year. It was the same with any violent crime of any kind. Our jail had a capacity for 20 inmates and usually contained two or three at any given time, for very short times for things like public intoxication or ‘disorderly conduct’. There was no ‘gang’ or drug culture. The most serious ‘offense’ any teenager was ever charged with was stealing an occasional watermelon from some farmer’s field or crossing the river into Louisiana and bringing a few cans of beer into our ‘dry’ county.  No one ever went to jail for it. The constable would just make who ever he caught pour it out one can at a time, let them go, and then call their parents. Once or twice a year the highway patrol would catch a few drag racers on some deserted road or out on the old (deserted) airport runway. They did the same thing. No one went to jail. They got sent home and later someone called their parents — end result being ‘grounded’ for a few days or a week. I’ll be entering my seventh decade of life soon — with a little luck. Isn’t it amazing just how much difference just short years — or is it a few all-too-short decades can make?

During hunting season all of the boys old enough to have a license had a shotgun hanging in the back window of their pick-ups — even when they were parked at school. So did all of the teachers who hunted. As soon as class was over they’d all head for the woods. There was never any thought of crime. Little kids played with toy soldiers and toy guns at recess in elementary school. I don’t recall it causing any sporadic violence of any kind and all that I know of — all 500 who attended my school from grade 1 to 12 — grew up to be responsible adults.

On weekends when our girlfriends were somehow occupied we boys would load up our camping and fishing gear and head off to one of the local lakes for an overnight campout. Lots of people kept flat-bottomed boats at these lakes and they were never locked up. All of the owners knew all of us kids and knew that if we used one of their boats on one of our weekend excursions they’d find it in the same shape, or better, than they’d left it in. We never took any food with us other than cooking oil and maybe a five-pound sack of potatoes. We intended to catch our supper and usually did. Such irresponsible parenting as our folks demonstrated in things like this would cause a huge hue and cry today but as far as I recall, no one ever drowned or managed to get any serious injury — except maybe a case of poison ivy if you weren’t watching what you were doing at times.

Naturally we all had to be home early on Sunday morning. We all went to church back then. There were only seven denominations and about ten in Center Texas at the time — Methodist, Baptist, Catholic,

Episcopal, Nazarene, Christian (Disciples of Christ) and Church of Christ. All of us went to one or the other and most of us visited between them when something ‘special’ was going on. That was just our culture. It was how we expected things to be and how we expected them always to be. There was no  ‘moral majority’ then and no ‘Christian Right’. It didn’t matter which church you went to. We all knew what was ‘moral’ and what was ‘right’ or it certainly seems like far more did then than do now. There weren’t any ‘mega-churches’ then. They were all tiny by today’s standards and every preacher or priest in town knew everyone they passed on the street whether they went to ‘their’ church or not. Two of those preachers and one priest married over half of the kids that I attended school with, including my late wife and me. That doesn’t happen too often today, does it?

Some of my happiest childhood memories were trips that Sherry and I took with my father and with hers. We’d both been all over the Far East by the time we were ten years old with her folks, and we both knew just about every actor, actress and politician who lived in the South and Southeastern United States, or worked in them by traveling with my folks.

There was no “terrorism” then and the “twin towers” hadn’t even been built yet. There were no ‘threat levels’. At the airport you just showed your ticket and a passport if you needed one and got on the plane. There were no HLS or TSA goons standing around. There were no ‘full body scans’ even for little kids. If there was ever any trouble at the airport, even at a big one like LaGuardia or LAX –which there never was — they just called the regular cops.

Flying in ‘Old Connie’ — a propeller driven Lockheed ‘Super Constellation’ — was an exciting adventure. There was a galley with ‘real food’. If you were flying overnight they had “sleeper” compartments like on a train. We watched ‘first run’ movies twice a day — long trips even by airplane usually took more than one day back then. The Airlines always had a ‘stew’ to keep an eye on underage kids traveling without parents — from the age of about five to fifteen. The seats were big and roomy.  ‘Old Connie’ only carried 64 passengers. There was a single wide isle and as long as you didn’t bother anyone no one cared if a couple of kids got up and moved around some as long as the ‘seat belt’ sign was turned off. Since back then you never changed planes, they only refueled the one you were on, serviced it and changed crews if the flight crew’s hours were maxed out, there was no chance of getting lost — or ‘snatched’ — in a strange airport. Our folks didn’t think anything of buying us tickets and putting us on the plane. Why should they?

Remember trains that carried people? On trains you had comfortable seats, ‘Pullman’ sleeper cars, a dining car, a ‘club’ car and lots of room to move around. No one would dare bother a couple of little kids traveling alone on a train either. The Railways had stews all kept an eye on kids too. It was part of their job. It was just like riding ‘Old Connie’. You never changed trains so there was no chance of getting lost or ‘snatched’. Kids weren’t allowed off the train until their final destination, and even then a stew was with them until their parents or guardians listed on their tickets claimed them.

We made our own fun. We hunted and fished and swam. We swam in creeks, lakes, canals and ponds. If it was really hot we’d just strip off and jump in. Nobody thought anything about it. We certainly didn’t. All of it was outdoors in a place where pollution and deliberate waste hadn’t yet been seen. There weren’t any shopping malls or ‘super-stores’ then but on Saturday kids would walk around the town square — where all of our shopping was located — and dream about some ‘new’ or really ‘cool’ thing that they wanted. Maybe we’d go to one of the two local drug stores and sit at the table they provided and read comic books. They let us do that whether we intended to buy the comic or not. Can’t do that any more either I’m afraid.

I’ve often thought that my idea of ‘heaven’ if there is such a place, would either be one of those prolonged road trips through the south and southeast that we made as kids or to be sitting with Sherry just one more time in the lobby of the old Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans watching my dad, a professional wrestler named ‘Sputnik’ Monroe and a man named Foster Sharrod sitting there seeing just how drunk they could get and playing cards with Uncle Earl Long and Judge Leander Perez while my Dad tried to convince Uncle Earl that the State of Louisiana really ‘did’ need to buy a new one-off Lincoln for the Governor, and that he personally needed to buy one for Miss Blaze. No, it may not be ‘heaven’ but it’s about as close as I’d ever want to get. I would like to be an adult thought and remember “now” when I’m there as much as I remember “then” today. I’d have a certain ‘perspective’, no, make that ‘attitude’.

Oh, I know, all of them were so crooked they had to screw them into the ground when they died, but at least they were open and up front about it and they did some good as well. They didn’t try to hide what they were behind a mask of pomposity and arrogance or religious mumbo-jumbo. When they stole, and they did, they didn’t try to take it all. They at least left something for everyone else.

I remember one speech in which Uncle Earl told a group of people in Alexandria Louisiana, where he’d gotten a particularly cold reception that they could vote against him if they wanted to “but God help you if I get elected anyway”. They did. He kept his promise. It was four years before there was any significant highway or bridge repair in Rapides Parish. We won’t even begin a discussion of Judge Perez.

Uncle Earl died on election night in 1960. He had a major heart attack not five minutes after hearing that JFK had won, but hadn’t heard the news about the latest ‘upset landslide’ that he’d just won in his own race for the US Senate. We were over in Biloxi that next morning with my dad and I remember seeing Senator Bilbo (remember him?) make the announcement of Uncle Earl’s death on one of the local TV stations. I remember I cried and Daddy took Sherry and me with him to the funeral. We sat two seats down from Miss Blaze.

They say that there were a lot of ‘Civil Rights’ problems and issues around the time that I grew up but honestly in a little-bitty East Texas town deep in the ‘piney woods’ we just didn’t notice any. There were as many blacks as whites in our county — practically no other people of any kind — and we all got along fine. We kids played together and no one paid any attention to it. We went to different schools until I was 11 years old or so but they were so close together no one noticed. There were four schools located on two campuses. All of us kids together totaled just over 500. When ‘desegregation’ came, we just shuffled kids around between schools that were all within a few blocks of each other and created a ‘junior high school’ that we’d never had before. Up until then elementary school lasted from grades 1 to 8. There wasn’t any such thing as ‘junior high’. Since all of the schools were built about the same time there really wasn’t any difference in them as far as the facilities went. There was just a different view from the window to break up the usual cases of boredom.

We had no fights other than the usual playground and parking lot scuffles over girlfriends and boyfriends. We had the usual ‘after the game’ fights with our football rivals from time to time. None of them were particularly violent or malicious. There were certainly never any weapons of any kind produced unless you call some little kid squaring off with a much bigger one with a roll of dimes in his fist a ‘weapon’. That might have happened once or twice. No one ever wound up in jail or the hospital.

We all knew where the local ‘lover’s lanes were located and as soon as we boys had cars — that term is applied fairly loosely to some of our vehicles — we managed to find them all a time or two every week. Going ‘parking’ was another standard ‘pastime’. It just didn’t mean quite the same thing that it means now, or meant even a few years later. We were all part of the ‘Eisenhower Years’… we grew up with Annette and Frankie and Sandra Dee. We held hands and kissed and we had fun. Did some of us end up marrying those girls we went ‘parking’ with. Of course we did. I’d say more than half of us did. But — not because we ‘had to’. I’m sure a few did ‘have to’ — positive of it in fact. Don’t kid yourself. Kids know. But, with the society we grew up in and as close as we all were, they would most likely have gotten married eventually anyway. As far as I know, our generation, at least in my little hometown, has one of the lowest divorce rates around. You see, back then things like love, and truth and real devotion meant something, at least to the vast majority of us.

What happened to parades on Veterans’ Day and the 4th of July? What happened to ‘County Fairs’? What happened to sock-hops in the school gym on Friday nights? Where did they go? How could such important things vanish so slowly as to not be noticed until after they were gone — and then only by those who remember them at all? How do you tell even your own children about a time when you personally remember people who couldn’t drive at all or those who simply preferred to still ride a horse or in a buggy? How do you explain to even your own children that you remember some – a few of those long-gone parades in which men who had fought in the US war with Spain actually marched? Most kids today don’t even know that there was such a war or that it was in what we (my generation) called ‘the last century’. Now, my generation and the little town that I grew up in and love still so much are part of ‘the last century’. It’s a strange thing to consider but it’s true. There is now an entire generation of children – born after the turn of the century — who do not and cannot remember a year that did not begin with the number ‘2’. Some of those are my own grandchildren. In thirty years or so when their parents are the age that I am now, how many of my faded memories will their own faded memories contain to pass along? Who will the strangely dressed people and what will the odd-looking old buildings in the old and faded photographs be to them? Let’s see. Thirty years from now. That will be almost 100 years since the earliest of those photos were taken. I wonder if any of them will still think that they live in a ‘quaint’ little country town. I hope so, but I doubt that it would fit my own definition of that term.

What happened to the local teenage ‘hang-outs’ like Center’s ‘Rider’s Roost’ (named after our football team the ‘Roughriders’) or the Youth Center (where we’d have a dance every Saturday night and some local live group once each month? Where are they? When were the ‘Dairy Queen’ and ‘Handy Andy’s’ replaced by McDonalds and Burger King? When was Mr. Brice’s market on the town square replaced by the ‘Walmart Superstore’? What happened to the Soda fountain at Roger’s Drug and that nice Miss Jackie Phillips who once took such great care in serving us kids the best ice cream sodas and sundaes ever made? Gone now. All gone.

No, it wasn’t a perfect world back then — not by any means. But, yes, I miss those times — and those people. I miss my hometown. There’s still a town called Center Texas. I suppose there always will be, but where is the town that I call ‘home’? They say it’s experiencing a real ‘boom’ now. I don’t know. It’s been almost 15 years since the last time I went ‘home’ and it was almost unrecognizable to me then. I can’t even imagine what a ‘boom’ would be like.

I was recently told about, and shown some beautiful photos of the restoration of our County Courthouse and the few scattered county buildings around it to their original appearance. Those few buildings in Shelby County are the last examples of ‘Irish Castle’ architecture in the State of Texas – all of them built by J.J.E. Gibson in 1885. They’re beautiful and deserved the care and attention that they were given. But — no one ever goes downtown anymore. There’s no shopping downtown anymore. Even the county and city offices have moved out of downtown. Were it not for the recently renovated movie theatre and one remaining bank no one would have any reason to go to our town square any more at all. So dies a little country town. The town lives, but those things that made it unique — and the best of all possible worlds for a kid of the fifties to grow up in — are gone. Of all the buildings surrounding our courthouse square only three outside the courthouse complex retain their original façade or even the façade that they had when I was growing up in the fifties. Two of those, like the courthouse, have been restored. The third is an empty shell but still recognizable to those who remember when it was the best-stocked hardware store in two counties.

They say that you can ‘take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy’. That’s true. They also say that ‘home is where the heart is’, but that’s not quite correct. Your home is always in your heart — but it’s also in you mind and in your memories. People often ask me why I so rarely go ‘home’. My answer is hard for some of them to understand but to me it’s so crystal clear that it defies further explanation. I tell them all the same thing. I ‘do’ go home. I go home for at least a few minutes almost every day. All I have to do to go home is close my eyes and remember a time and place — and people — who now live only in the recesses of my mind and the very deepest recesses of my heart.

© 2011 by Dr. J. Lee Choron. All rights reserved unless granted specifically

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Noblemen Of God

October, 2011

THOTH EGYPTIAN GOD OF MAGICS AND WRITING


Some ancient Egyptians believe he invented writing itself, and taught it to humankind.  Others go further to believe that he was the creator of all religion an science of the world.  That being said, Thoth was a God of magnificent knowledge and vast skill in learning.  He is said to be messenger of the Gods, because of his writing and language abilities.   Thoth had the head of an Ibis bird.  A white bird with a beak in the shape of a crescent moon.  His connection with the moon and magic is just as strong as his connection to wisdom, making him a profound teacher in the magical arts.  Known as the author of spells in the Egyptian Book Of The Dead, Thoth was believed to usher the dead into the underworld.  Helping them review their life and lessons learned   He also had is own book, The Book Of Thoth.  The Egyptians believed, that whoever could read this book would become the most powerful magician of the world.  Another equally profound divine being was Thoth’s female counterpart Seshat.  The Goddess of writing, magic, and arithmetic much like Thoth.  She was said to be his lover and trusted companion.  Although sometimes the two were said to be the same person.

CONNECTING WITH THOTH

Since its harvest time, try writing down the things you want to harvest in the upcoming year, and what things you need to weed out of your life.  Ask Thoth to help you make these decisions.   

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER

Birds, moon, pens and pencils, scrolls, wands

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Me,Myself and I, Notes from a Solitary Practitioner

October, 2011

I watch the brightly colored leaves

Blow in the last of daylights Autumn breeze

The sun has finally left the sky

And now at last the time is nigh

In an outdoor cauldron

I lay the fire

With sacred herbs and wood

And conjure loved ones memories

Be they bad or good

I smile, I laugh,sometimes I cry

And every year I question why

Life’s lessons are so hard to learn

And I sit and watch the fire burn

The hours pass, I’m unaware

On this Samhain of a Solitaire

But the lessons learned

I’m proud to say

Have made me who I am today.

Here are a couple of herbal blends that are specifically for Samhain.  They can either be burned as incense or added to the fire, when added to the fire however you lose the purity of the fragrance.

Samhain 1

Equal parts nettles, bayleaf,calendula,tarragon,sage,oak leaf and 2 drops of Frankincense or Myrrh oil.

Samhain 2

Bay leaves, nutmeg, sage.  This blend also works well when contacting your personal spirit guide.

If you add oak leaves and nettle to the fire all the better.  It is sometimes possible to obtain really large bags of sage at pow-wows or occult stores at a super reasonable price and that’s a great additive to the fire as well, although it does produce a lot of pungent smoke.  However you choose to mark this important occassion have a Blessed Samhain!

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