May, 2014

Merry Meet

May, 2014

May

Merry Meet Readers!  We have a terrific Issue for you this month. 

 

We are currently looking for New Writers for the following columns:

Parenting

Oils & Incense

Recipes

Spells

Rituals

Meditation

 

We have started a Pagan PenPal group on Facebook.  Click here to join.

Our Etsy shop is open Here

pearl

 

 

 

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Tink About It

May, 2014

Beginnings

 

A few days ago I was chatting with some pagan friends about our first steps on this path. I have always been interested in paganism, spirituality and related subjects. Due to all kinds of circumstances it lasted quite a long time before I acted on that interest. In the meantime I had read a lot of books. That’s always a good thing of course and I still read a lot about it, but the real first steps are when I started to act, to do, try out things I read about in the books, etc.

In the very first beginning it was a solitary path for me. I didn’t know anyone else around me, that was interested in these same things. No-one to discuss things, reflect on, etc. I was just following exercises from the books, already changing and adapting things on instinct that made it feel better for me. I learned a lot from this. Of course I made mistakes, but that was okay too.

In every book I read about ‘casting a circle’, but I couldn’t find the reason why it had to be a circle. I always try to find out and understand why things are done a certain way. Curious by nature I decided to find out by experience. I had already cast a circle before, and that felt good and safe. So the next time I cast a square, and then another rectangle, a triangle and an ellipse! The ellipse felt okay, more like a circle. The corners of the square and rectangle didn’t feel right, a bit uneasy, while the corners of the (equilateral) triangle felt somewhat better but still not completely like the circle. After these experiments I was satisfied for a while. Of course later things have changed. I found out other reasons why we cast a circle, and I learned about certain traditions that do use a square in ritual. But although I can look back and smile about my efforts then, I also see it was good to try and experiment with things. I still do, just on another level.

 

Not long after that I got access to the internet and one of the first words I put into a search engine was ‘heks’, the Dutch word for witch. Wow….!!! That got me quite some links to explore!  The next word was ‘witchcraft’, in English so that gave me even more results. I read, and read, and read some more. But I also found communities and forums, full of people that shared my interests. Beginners like me, but also lots of people with real experience. I absorbed a lot of info, but it was overwhelming and I lost my way a bit.

I found two Dutch forums, that have been (and in a way still are) very important to me; the WhiteshadoW forum and the Silver Circle forum. I met people there that I still have contact with, virtually and in real life. We had in-depth discussions, asked questions, helped each other, etc. It helped me find some direction in the wide variety of possibilities. I found out what worked for me, and what didn’t.

From time to time the WhiteshadoW forum organised forum meetings, often around a sabbat. The first one I visited was a Samhain meeting. During the day there were workshops to attend and in between we ate together, got to know each other, chatted, etc. There were also two book presentations. At that time a new Dutch writer, Susan Smit, had written her first book called ‘Heks’. It was about herself, a journalist that explored witchcraft for work and ended up being a witch herself. She presented her book on the meeting and answered questions. I still have my signed copy. Today Susan is a well-known writer and literary critic. She still gives talks about witchcraft too.

In the evening we did a Samhain ritual. It was my first ritual with other people and there were quite a few! I was a bit nervous and found the whole thing very exciting. I wasn’t the only ‘ritual virgin’ though. It was a wonderful ritual. Everything was explained and we were all involved. Afterwards we talked about the experience and of course later on the forum too.

 

The forums, internet-sites, books etc. had stimulated me very much, but I wanted more. On a meeting in a spiritual centre in Amsterdam I met a group of people that wanted the same. After a few meetings we ended up with 4 girls. We decided to start a study group with the purpose to do rituals together. We called ourselves “Witches of The Rose” after the spiritual centre (De Roos). In turn we hosted an evening and prepared a ritual. By mail we discussed what we wanted to do, who would bring what, etc. We did several rituals outside too. We all learned a lot form this period. We tried several things, wrote our own texts, adapted rituals we read or heard about elsewhere…  As a group we attended a special weekend that was organised to celebrate the opening of a new stone circle in Lochem. Beside our group there was a wicca coven present, a druid grove, a group of catholic witches and some solitary practitioners. We did a lot of rituals that weekend, led by the several groups in turn. Again a wonderful learning experience!

We all went our separate ways, but from time to time our paths cross.

 

After those beginnings I have done so much more, solitary and in many different study groups, covens and other gatherings. Still I’ll never forget my first steps on this wonderful path.

 

How did you start? What were your baby-steps on the pagan path?

I’d love to hear your stories!

Blessings!

Links & sources:

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Seeing the Signs

May, 2014

Itchy Palms: Money In, Money Out

When I was nineteen years old, I got my first “real” job. I had worked, like all kids do, at babysitting and yard work, and I had done a little sales. But I had never worked a full-time job, Monday to Friday, forty hours a week. Just looking for work was almost a full-time job. The summer of 1979 was my punk rock summer – I had self-butched hair and wore too much black eye-liner and I looked like a fraud in office clothes. Eventually though, I landed a job at a coffee company. They must have been really desperate to find help, because I was hired as the assistant bookkeeper and I didn’t know a thing about bookkeeping, other than my grandfather had been an accountant and I could add in my head.
The head bookkeeper was a woman named Ginny and she was about forty, which was old to me in those days. But looking back, she was really hot. She had legs to die for and always wore form-fitting clothing and high-heeled mules. She smoked cherry-flavored cigars. And she knew her stuff. She had me trained in no time. She was no-nonsense but nice; we got along perfectly. I had to make entries in a huge ledger, one check after another, adding them all up on an old adding machine with a lever like a one-armed bandit in a western casino. It used to get stuck every so often and I’d had to play with it until it worked again.
It was Ginny who told me about the meaning of itchy palms. I can’t remember if it was my right palm or my left palm that was itchy that particular day, but she told me that if it was my right palm that was itching, it meant that money was “coming in”, and if it was my left palm, money was “going out.” In my experience, this has held true.
When I checked on the internet to see what other people had to say about this, most other sources agreed with Ginny – an itchy right palm meant “money in”, while an itchy left palm meant “money out”. However, a few asserted that it was the other way around. One 73-year old woman felt her left palm itch, and believing that money was coming in, got off the bus she was riding, and bought a Mega-Millions ticket. She won the jackpot. (CBSnews.com)
Urban Dictionary agrees with Ginny about the right and left/in- and out-flow of money but also advises against itching the right palm while it is itchy or else the money will never materialize. It also says that an itchy left palm means sleeping with an ugly “chick” and regretting it. (UrbanDictionary.com)
Other sources say that if you can’t bear the itchiness of your right palm and don’t want to ruin the magic of incoming money, then rub it on wood. Wood being a lucky element, this will ground the magic, hence the term “Touch Wood”. (buzzle.com)
All cultures have sayings about itchy palms and it is a subject that could be researched and written about in much more detail that I can here. Myself, I am sticking to what Ginny told me thirty-five years ago – an itchy right palm means money in and an itchy left palm means money out.
Blessings to all!
References
CBS News. “Granny’s Fateful 64M Itch”. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grannys-fateful-64m-itch/
“Itchy Palms Superstitions”. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/itchy-palms-superstitions.html
Lagerston, Kenneth. “Palmistry and Hand Analysis” http://palmistryandhandanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/07/itching-palms-and-money.html
“Urban Dictionary: Itchy Palm”. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=itchy%20palm

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Signposts

May, 2014

Signposts:  My First Look at Druidry

Being Pagan means we are always learning.  As soon as I think I grasp something that I feel comfortable with I learn about something new.  Although I’m not as green as I was when I started this path I’m also certainly no expert in any part of it.  The amount of information and the number of paths to choose from is frankly overwhelming yet somehow still exhilarating.  There is always more to learn.

A friend of mine recommended a book on Druidry to me – The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer, a Druid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA).

I found it to be a fascinating and enlightening read.

The book is divided into three parts.  The first provides a rich and honest discussion about the history of the Druid movement.  The second provides a look into Druid philosophy.  The third offers a practical guide to those interested in following a Druid path.  Greer explains that reading the book front to back isn’t for everyone – for those simply interested in a history of Druids could stop at the end of part one, and those familiar with the history could simply start with part three.  I chose to read it through – my knowledge of Druidry was limited to the sections I read in other books and the limited number of them I’ve met.  Greer also provides an extended reading list at the end of each part with a brief description of how it is relevant to the topic.
One of the first things I immediately noticed was how matter-of-fact the content is presented – in a plain way without over embellishment.  Somehow, Greer comes across as someone simply having a conversation with the reader.  He has a wonderful way with words which he uses to effectively illustrate his points.  I also appreciated his sense of humor.  The book brings a sense of levity to counter some of the more difficult discussions.

In the first part of the book, Greer cleverly dances not around sensitive topics but head first into them.  He talks about controversial aspects of Druid history, for example, in an unapologetic way – pointing out what may be historical inaccuracies yet acknowledging the historical perspectives they require.  This was refreshing.  Like some more recent books on Wicca, he discusses Druid acceptance of their more recent history and the assertion that longevity isn’t akin to validity.

The second part of the book covers Druid philosophy.  Here Greer describes key aspects and provides definitions of important terms.  The discussion of ternaries was insightful and timely to me.  It is interesting that we often face the same issues of duality throughout our planet’s history.  Obviously this is just as true today.

The third part is broken down into The Earth Path, The Sun Path, and the Moon Path.  Each section teaches a particular aspect of Druidry for a new initiate to follow.  Basic natural awareness coupled with study of the local plant and animal life, as well as its natural history, are covered in the Earth Path.  How to open and close a Druid Grove and some basic ways to celebrate the seasonal holidays are included in the Sun Path.   Finally, the Moon Path section covers Druid meditation, from how it can differ from other paths to techniques such as color breathing.

The Druid path presented by Greer in his book gave me quite a bit to think about.  I practice many things described in the book and tend to live the kind of life he describes already.
Like most Pagans, I place a lot of value on the Earth and it’s cycles.  I volunteer my time with local conservation groups and use public transportation as a way to relieve stress while putting less of a burden on the environment.  My family recycles everything we can and we try our hands at gardening (my wife has a way with plants that I envy).
I also practice polytheism.  I find it makes sense to me on both a spiritual and mental level.  I find that the different deities I work with have very different personalities and I develop individual relationships with them.  To some Pagans deities are simply different aspects of ‘the One’, stating that these aspects are reflections of us.  While this may be the case, I only know what I’ve experienced.  This book touches on that and closely echoes my feelings when discussing the existence of the Gods and Goddesses.  Greer states:

“Experience, not belief, is central to Druid spirituality, and so it actually doesn’t matter that much to Druidry whether gods are objectively real individual divine beings, aspects or manifestations of some overarching unity, archetypal functions within the human mind, or something else entirely. What matters is that they do certain things, embody certain energies, and appear in certain ways.”

The discussion in the book about simplifying life was also relevant, as I have taken great steps over the past few years to reduce the clutter, both in physical and material things and in my digital online life.

Druidry seems similar to other paths, both Pagan on non-Pagan, in many aspects.  Concepts of nonduality, the practice of meditation, acknowledging Deities in our lives, for example, all have homes in other practices as well.  The signpost for me is that looking at other Pagan traditions and what they practice can provide a different perspective to our own paths.  Many of the beliefs may be similar but a different emphasis on one aspect over another can alter our perceptions just enough to more completely understand something we thought we already knew.

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Connecting with Nature

May, 2014

Celebrating the Earth

 

This past month was known as Earth Month and is a time to celebrate all that the earth provides for us. This combination of earth, air, fire and water provides the ideal conditions for life to flourish. The biodiversity of the earth and the interactions between different species is remarkable.

 

Dew

 

As spring progresses, life emerges and everywhere we look, something new appears. The more we notice the little things, the more we have an appreciation for the earth as a whole and how important it is to coexist with all living things. It’s essential to our survival.

 

Flowers

 

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
~ Harriet Tubman

 

Sunrise

 

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WiseWoman Traditions

May, 2014

Be Your Own herbal Expert – Part 8
Healing sweets: herbal honeys, syrups, and cough drops – Part 1


HONEY

Honey has been regarded as a healing substance for thousands of years. Greek healers relied on honey water, vinegar water, and honey/vinegar water as their primary cures. An Egyptian medical text dated to about 2600 BCE mentions honey 500 times in 900 remedies. What makes honey so special?

First, honey is antibacterial. It counters infections on the skin, in the intestines, in the respiratory system, or throughout the body.

Second, honey is hydroscopic, a long word meaning “water loving”. Honey holds moisture in the place where it is put; it can even draw moisture out of the air. A honey facial leaves skin smooth and deliciously moist. These two qualities – anti-infective and hydroscopic – make honey an ideal healer of wounds of all kinds, including burns, bruises and decubita (skin ulcers), an amazing soother for sore throats, a powerful ally against bacterial diarrhea, and a counter to asthma.

Third, honey may be as high as 35 percent protein. This, along with the readily-available carbohydrate (sugar) content, provides a substantial surge of energy and a counter to depression. Some sources claim that honey is equal, or superior, to ginseng in restoring vitality. Honey’s proteins also promote healing, both internally and externally.

And honey is a source of vitamins B, C, D and E, as well as some minerals. It appears to strengthen the immune system and help prevent (some authors claim to cure) cancer.

Honey is gathered from flowers, and individual honeys from specific flowers may be more beneficial than a blended honey. Tupelo honey, from tupelo tree blossoms, is high in levulose, which slows the digestion of the honey making it more appropriate for diabetics. Manuka honey, from New Zealand, is certified as antibacterial. My “house brand” is a rich, black, locally-produced autumn honey gathered by the bees from golden rod, buckwheat, chicory, and other wild flowers.

Raw honey also contains pollen and propolis, bee and flower products that have special healing powers.

Bee pollen, like honey, is a concentrated source of protein and vitamins; unlike honey, it is a good source of minerals, hormonal precursors, and fatty acids. Bee pollen has a reputation for relieving, and with consistent use, curing allergies and asthma. The pollens that cause allergic reactions are from plants that are wind-pollinated, not bee-pollinated, so any bee pollen, or any honey containing pollen, ought to be helpful. One researcher found an 84 percent reduction in symptoms among allergy sufferers who consumed a spoonful of honey a day during the spring, summer, and fall plus three times a week in the winter.

Propolis is made by the bees from resinous tree saps and is a powerful antimicrobial substance. Propolis can be tinctured in pure grain alcohol (resins do not dissolve well in 100 proof vodka, my first choice for tinctures) and used to counter infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, colds, flus, gum disease, and tooth decay.

WARNING: All honey, but especially raw honey, contains the spores of botulinus. While this is not a problem for adults, children under the age of one year may not have enough stomach acid to prevent these spores from developing into botulism, a deadly poison.

HERBAL HONEYS

Herbal honeys are made by pouring honey over fresh herbs and allowing them to merge over a period of several days to several months. When herbs are infused into honey, the water-loving honey absorbs all the water-soluble components of the herb, and all the volatile oils too, most of which are anti-infective. Herbal honeys are medicinal and they taste great. When I look at my shelf of herbal honeys I feel like the richest person in the world.

USING YOUR HERBAL HONEYS

Place a tablespoonful of your herbal honey (include herb as well as honey) into a mug; add boiling water; stir and drink. Or, eat herbal honeys by the spoonful right from the jar to soothe and heal sore, infected throats and tonsils. Smear the honey (no herb please) onto wounds and burns.

MAKE AN HERBAL HONEY

Coarsely chop the fresh herb of your choice (leave garlic whole).
Put chopped herb into a wide-mouthed jar, filling almost to the top.
Pour honey into the jar, working it into the herb with a chopstick if needed.
Add a little more honey to fill the jar to the very top.
Cover tightly. Label.

Your herbal honey is ready to use in as little as a day or two, but will be more medicinal if allowed to sit for six weeks.

Herbal honeys made from aromatic herbs make wonderful gifts.

MAKE A RUSSIAN COLD REMEDY

Fill a small jar with unpeeled cloves of garlic.
If desired, add one very small onion, cut in quarters, but not peeled.
Fill the jar with honey.
Label and cover.

This remedy is ready to use the next day. It is taken by the spoonful to ward off both colds and flus. It is sovereign against sore throats, too. And it tastes yummy!

(Garlic may also carry botulinus spores, but no adult has ever gotten botulism from this remedy. A local restaurant poisoned patrons by keeping garlic in olive oil near a hot stove for months before using it, though.)

MAKE AN EGYPTIAN WOUND SALVE

“I thought at first this would be dreadful stuff to put on an open wound . . . Instead, the bacteria in the fat disappeared and when pathogenic bacteria were added . . . they were killed just as fast,” commented scientists who tested this formula found in the ancient Smith Papyrus.

Mix one tablespoonful of honey with two tablespoonsful of organic animal fat.
Put in a small jar and label.

Increase the wound-healing ability of this salve by using an herbally-infused fat.

MAKE A REMEDY TO COUNTER DIARRHEA

Fill one glass with eight ounces of orange juice.
Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoonful of honey.
Fill another glass with eight ounces of distilled water.
Add ¼ teaspoonful of baking soda.
Drink alternately from both glasses until empty.

MAKE DR. CHRISTOPHER’S BURN HEALER

He recommends this for burns covering large areas. Keep the burn constantly wet with this healer for best results.

Place chopped fresh comfrey leaves in a blender.
Add aloe vera gel to half cover.
Add honey to cover.
Blend and apply.

Best to make only as much as you can use in a day; store extra in refrigerator.

 

FRESH PLANTS THAT I USE TO MAKE HERBAL HONEYS

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Comfrey leaf (Symphytum off.)
Cronewort/mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Ginger root (Zingiber officinalis)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Lavender (Lavendula off.)
Lemon Balm (Melissa off.)
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Osha root (Ligusticum porterii)
Peppermint (Mentha pipperata)
Rose petals (Rosa canina and others)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.)
Sage (Salvia off.)
Shiso (Perilla frutescens)
Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Thyme (Thymus species)
Yarrow blossoms (Achillea millefolium)

to be continued next time … (herbal syrups + more)

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The Witch’s Cupboard

May, 2014

Merry Beltane!

Tis the Season to be Merry!

beltane

Here are some recipes to get your celebration of to a good start. This May Wine Recipe is a bit different than the norm but sounds yummy:

May Wine

*Woodruff is easy to grow in a shady spot in a garden or in a container. It is good ground cover and a pretty plant.

Plant

2 fifths semisweet white wine (such as Sauterne or Rhine)

1 cup woodruff leaves and blossoms, washed and stems removed

Early in the day the May wine is to be served, place the woodruff leaves and flowers in a container large enough to hold all the wine, then add the wine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 orange, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 fifth of extra dry Champagne

House

Just before serving, place a block of ice and the fruits in a punch bowl. Strain the white wine as you pour it over the ice and fruits. Add the Champagne. Decorate with woodruff leaves and white flowers that have been rinsed off. You can also make the punch without the fruit, and just pour it from a nice pitcher.

Why not start a Beltane Herb Garden? Some herbs associated with Beltane are:

All-heal, blessed thistle, broom, daffodil, dogwood, coriander, dragon’s blood reed, fern, fireweed, nettle, flaxseed, hawthorn, marjoram, paprika, radish, rue, snapdragon, meadowsweet, rose, woodruff, and tansy.

Oils and Incense Recipes:

Incense: 2 parts rose or rose petals or rose buds

2 parts lavender

1 part lemon verbena

1 part saffron

½ part orris root

In addition you may want to add for extra potency these herbs to the above recipe:

½ part honeysuckle

½ part vanilla

½ part musk

Oil: Vegetable glycerin (or a carrier oil such as grape seed oil)

4 drops rose essential oil

3 drops rosemary essential oil

Pinch of frankincense

Find a one-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle halfway with vegetable glycerin. Add plain water until the bottle is three-quarters full. Add your essential oils. Add dry ingredients, close the lid, and shake the bottle. You can use this magical oil immediately.

Last but not least Food. Farls is a food most often associated with Beltane.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tablespoon melted butter

Directions

  1. In a pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on medium-high heat until the center of the potatoes are tender when pricked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Drain, return potatoes to pot and allow to completely dry out over remaining heat. Mash with a potato masher until smooth.

  2. Place warm mashed potato in medium bowl. Stir in flour, salt and melted butter. Mix lightly until dough forms.

  3. On a well floured surface, knead the dough lightly. The dough will be sticky. Use a floured rolling pin to flatten into a 9 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into quarters using a floured knife.

  4. Sprinkle a little flour into the base of the skillet and cook the farls for 3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned. Season with a little salt and serve straight away.

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Tarot Talk

May, 2014

This month, we will talk about the Major Arcana card called Judgement. If you haven’t read last month’s essay on Justice, please do so now. At the beginning of that essay, you will find a brief description of the Major Arcana, as well as a review of some terms, such as archetype, stereotype and epitome.

Each Major Arcana card contains many ingredients to aid in interpretation; besides the symbolism found in the traditional images associated with each card, a Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Because Judgement and Justice are so similar, it will be fun to compare the two as we learn about the Judgement card. Let’s start breaking down and comparing; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

Most decks represent Judgement with an image of an angel blowing a horn above a group of people. The heralding of an act of divine judgment through a trumpet call is certainly an event familiar to us all, and it is an effective image for this card. The Waite deck shows people standing in coffin-like boxes, symbolizing an after-death judgment, and yes, there is a Death card in the Tarot Major Arcana. The Witches Tarot card shows people leaping out of water; the element of Water can represent renewal or regeneration, the next step after Judgment is completed. If you remember, the traditional image on the Justice card is that of an armed woman holding scales and a sword; the symbolism attached to Justice is self-imposed discipline, restriction used as a tool of focus and awareness, justice applied with equality to all and with a balance of mercy and authority. Looking at these two cards is like looking at a verb and a noun; one (Judgement) shows an action, and the other (Justice) shows a thing or concept.

The traditional image associated with the Judgment card is connected to more than just Death mentioned above, and The Tower and its destruction that prepares for regeneration. If you look at the image on a traditional Judgement card, you will see in the background the mountains first seen or hinted at on The Fool, the ocean is the end of the river first seen or hinted at on The Empress, and Gabriel’s banner usually is the same color as The Magician’s robe.

Judgement is the number 20 of the Major Arcana, and 20 breaks down as 2 + 0 = 2. The Justice card in its traditional position is the number 11 of the Majors, and 11 breaks down as 1 + 1 = 2. Another connection between these two cards! The number 2 in the Tarot represents polarity and balance, as well as the concept of “distance between,” which is connected to dynamic balance.

The number 2 card of the Major Arcana is The High Priestess. The High Priestess represents knowledge of the cause that is behind action and reaction. The female authority figure of the Justice card weighs both cause and effect in her judgments; she takes the knowledge of The High Priestess to the next level, and manifests it. And the Judgement card represents that manifestation, with its valuing of what has come before and, after payment is presented (usually through achieving knowledge of the cause that is behind the action and reaction), liberation from those past events in order to begin again. More connections that help us to understand these two cards.

Not all archetypes symbolize people; the Judgement card is the archetype for three experiences that are common to all times and all cultures: Evaluation, Reward, and Completion. Thus the Judgement card can be seen to represent rites of passage that occur when we are held accountable for our past choices, decisions, and actions. It is only through being evaluated, and then receiving the fitting reward (whether pleasant or uncomfortable) that the events can finally be completed, the accounting books can be closed and put away, and a new cycle can begin. If you remember, the archetype of the Justice card is the Judge. The Judge is the authoritative figure who performs the Evaluation, distributes the Reward, and deems the cycle as Complete. The Judgement card also represents the archetypal concept of spiritual rebirth at the end of the world. It is a card of powerful transition, but that transition does no happen through the violence of The Tower or the fear associated with Death.

Judgement corresponds with Fire, which is spontaneous and impulsive, and connected to energetic change. Fire is an active element that represents ideas, ambition, passion, and action aligned with Divine will. Fire is hot and it separates, it is dry and it shapes; it can offer a spiritual Aha! Moment, or it can feed the ego to obesity, and the Judgement card asks us to account for both. Fire is also about purification; Fire destroys and Fire creates, and a trial by Fire may not be fun, but it is beneficial in the end because it enables us to resolve issues, and release them. Justice corresponds with the element of Air, and Air is one of the things Fire needs in order to exist. Thus, Judgement cannot exist without Justice.

The Judgement card corresponds with the planet Pluto in astrology, and with power, metamorphosis, and cycles of dying and becoming. In Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld and of wealth. Pluto’s “icon” is the alchemy symbol, representing spirit over mind, transcending matter. Pluto represents the part of a person that destroys in order to renew, through bringing buried or repressed needs and drives to the surface and expressing them, even at the expense of the existing order. A commonly used keyword for Pluto is “transformation.” It is associated with personal mastery, and the need to cooperate and share with another, in order that no one is destroyed. Pluto governs big business and wealth, mining, surgery and detective work, and any enterprise that involves digging under the surface to bring the truth to light.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected in some way to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter.

The Judgement card corresponds with Shin, the fang or tooth, the twenty-first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Shin connects directly with the element of Fire, and is also active and expansive. Its shape reflects three raised flames in the shape of three Vaus (the Hebrew letter Vau, the nail, joins or holds in place), representing the three qualities of Shin: the Od or the active force of life, the Ob or the passive force of life, and the Aur or the balancing force of life. The fang or tooth represents taking in or receiving, and chewing in order to digest, and of course, this can be on a more mundane level; however since Shin is a letter that expresses itself on a cosmic level, this taking in, digesting and absorbing is most likely on a more broad-reaching level.

On the Tree of Life, Judgement represents the 31st Path (one of the Paths that is considered a step of initiation) between Malkuth (the physical world of action and physical, outer reality) and Hod (which provides analysis and communication). The 31st Path is the Path of Perpetual Intelligence, of psychic development, and of former incarnations which have offered us evolution and brought us to where we are in this life, and it teaches us how to use the knowledge of how we got here to this “now” in order to move forward. And here is a piece of interesting and unrelated trivia for you Trekkies out there: the Vulcan salute (the “live long and prosper” mudra) is directly related to the Hebrew letter Shin!

The rebirth promised in the Judgement card doesn’t happen through destroying or discarding things, but rather through integrating things. Judgement allows us to move forward, but this card also reminds us to not forget the past; instead, we should learn from it. Judgement is about making amends, and it is about forgiving; it tells of reaching conclusions, getting off the fence, ad seeing everything in a new light. It reminds us of the importance of hindsight, it encourages us to reap what has been sown, and it underscores the benefits focusing on what is gained instead of what is lost.

When reversed, the Judgement card is reminding us that while someone else is doing the tallying of our score card, we are the ones who have the final choice so we should not allow circumstances to blind us to the consequences of our actions. A reversed Judgement card can also be about feeling guilty or blaming others, it can be about death or endings without a chance for a new beginning. It can tell of failing to be merciful or forgiving with yourself or with others, or staying stuck in hate or regret, and it warns of the danger of focusing on what is lost instead of what is gained.

Judgement to me is like getting the bill at the end of a dinner at a fine restaurant. You have been given the meal you ordered, and now you have to pay for it. Judgement also has a liberating effect, because once we pay the bill, we are free of debt. Judgement brings resolution, and Judgement brings Justice.

These two cards really are connected, aren’t they? Next month we will enter the world of Court Cards and talk about one of my favorites, the Queen of Pentacles.

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Astro Report for May 2014

May, 2014

Beltaine (traditional) – Sun in Taurus – 11 degrees

Thursday, May 1, 2014 – sunrise, 6:12 am EDT

 

Beltaine (Rudemas)

Names: Beltane, Beltaine, Baltein, May Day, Rood Day, Walpurgisnacht, RudemasGwyl Galan Mai (Welsh)

Date: May 1st (sometimes celebrated on the eve – Apr 30th)

Astro Correspondence: 15 degrees Taurus
Color: reds for (menstrual) blood of the Goddess, whites for semen of the God

Food: fresh fruit and veggies, veal, ham, chicken, (but rarely any meat), pasta, breads, cakes, jams/jellies, wine/mead

Common Info: Maypole dancing to entwine the ribbons of red and white representing Goddess and God (phallic symbol and World Tree lore), Handfasting, Spiral Dancing, Bel Fires, last Fertility Fest, Decorating the Bush/Tree, Fairies return, Chaplets,

 

Beltaine is the Festival of Flowers, which tends to mark the first day of the Celtic Summer or growing season. The date is usually May 1st or when the Sun is 15′ degrees Taurus. As it is also called May Day, many celebrations surround the early flowers of the season. Belinos, Flora and Blodeuwedd are the deities celebrated most. The May Pole is erected and flower sprays are placed atop. Music and dancing is typical. Taliesin is typically honored, although the marriage of the God and Goddess is best described. Hedonistic license is prominent among the folk. Wearing of the “green” symbolized the fresh green Earth in growth and bloom. Foods sacred to the Sabbat were always fresh fruits and vegetables of the season and rarely any meat. Fresh scents of lilac, apple blossoms and heather lingered in the air. Women make rings of flowers (Chaplets) and wear them on their heads.

Bale Fires are typically burned at this time to honor the God Ba’al, a Mesopotamian God of Fire.

 

 

Grand Cross Energies

A Grand Cross literally means there are 4 Planets in specific alignment that resembles an equal arm Cross. It has been popping in and out of shape since 2013 around an Orb of 8 degrees. In other words, the individual Planets are within 8 degrees from each other. My personal belief is that 8 degrees is too distant of a span for good alignments to occur. However, at the end of April and beginning of May, that Orb of difference has shrunk dramatically. At the beginning of May the Orb is only 4 degrees, which is good aspect. Let’s talk about a Grand Cross for a moment…

This shape is the process of universal relationships and integration. It allows opposites to join forces and create a whole new aspect. There is a co-joining of duality or polarity. It is a matter of connecting to others. There is a mutual bonding of creativity. However, there is an underlying fear associated where relationships are concerned about rejection, isolation and loss.

* This symbolizes the continuing development of relationship and unity, which carries the need for connection – to a project, a group, a person or to oneself.

* There is an underlying fear of abandonment with rejection and isolation.

* In myth this is represented by twins, couples and dual identity and themes of duality, polarity, or opposing forces – either between people or within oneself.

* It expresses the value and challenge of partnership and the notion of opposites joining to create a whole.

The planetary Grand Cross is happening in all four Cardinal Signs – Aries (Fire), Capricorn (Earth), Libra (Air) and Cancer (Water). This allows all of the Elements to work in harmony with each other. The problem lies within each of the four Planets and their typical energies. We will go over these individually. In a Grand Cross, you have two Oppositions (two Planets are opposite each other) and four Squares, where two Planets are about 90 degrees from each other. Oppositions try to bring balance into our lives while Squares challenge us to make turning points in our lives.

Uranus (Aries – 14 degrees) – This Planet of revolution and adventure is front and center. Moving direct, it pushes thru the Grand Cross offering an independent freedom. It opposes Mars and challenges Pluto and Jupiter.

Pluto (Capricorn – 13 degrees) – This retrograde Planet tries to transform and make changes, but the retrograde aspect hinders this action. It opposes Jupiter and challenges Uranus and Mars.

Mars (Libra – 11 degrees) – Any retrograde Planet usually takes one step forward and falls back two. Mars is currently experiencing this phenomenon. Libra tries to offer assistance, but the backtracking has the Warrior Planet all befuddled! It opposes Uranus and challenges Pluto and Jupiter.

Jupiter (Cancer – 15 degrees) – The Planet of expansion overwhelms the Grand Cross, because it is exalted in Cancer. It is playing the part of the supreme energy in this Astrological Configuration. It opposes Pluto and challenges Uranus and Mars.

Overall, this Grand Cross seems to offer a challenging time for us. It’s telling us to make changes that are for the better. Allowing the Planets to aid us in the energy flows, helps us grow individually and as a Community.

 

 

Mars starts May Retrograde

The Warrior Planet feels absolutely wonky in Libra, which is its detriment. Although Mars normally feels like taking action and being impulsive, Libra’s detrimental influence tries to oppose this aspect by creating deliberate reaction. Libra tries to be helpful, but Mars is too independent for that.  The Planet of action will feel a little more comfortable by turning the tables on May 20th when it goes direct.

 

 

Saturn continues thru May Retrograde

The Planet of self-discipline and caution defies gravity in Scorpio, where influences are determined to be dogmatic and placid. The retroactive energy continues to throw Saturn for a loop.

 

 

Pluto continues thru May Retrograde

Transformations continue to abate, while Pluto rides the outer perimeter in Capricorn. You would think that Pluto would be fine – making transitions and transformations with caution and thrifty actions. However, the Retrograde pulls back that energy. Where your changes take a step forward, you end up going back two steps. Making head way will definitely be difficult unless you really plan ahead and set standards in advance without deviation.

 

 

Venus enters Aries

Friday, May 4, 2014 – 9:05 pm EDT

Venus is detriment in Aries meaning that she is harmed or injured. The Planet of lust and love feels the hurt and anger of the Warrior. She will ride thru the Sign with care and concern, but she will be hurt on more than one occasion by no fault of her own. For the feminine and effeminate, be aware of the wrath of the Warriors in your life.

 

 

Mercury enters Gemini

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 – 10:44 am EDT

The Planet of Communication enters the Sign of Communication… Hmmm… Interesting how conversations go from subject to subject. It’s a wonder how each segues into the next. And while you’re talking, be wary of what you say about others not part of the conversation. Gossip can bite you in the end.

 

 

Mother’s Day – Moon in Libra – 5 degrees

Sunday, May 11, 2014 – 12:00 am EDT

The mothering and nurturing aspect of the Moon seems to beckon to our emotions and how we feel about “mom”. Although you’d expect to find balance in Libra, sometimes the feeling becomes extreme when what she wants or expects, the opposite is what you want and feel. The Moon is growing stronger as it nears it’s Full Moon phase. On this day, mom has the upper hand. Give in and enjoy the day otherwise.

 

 

Full Moon in Scorpio – 23 degrees

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 – 3:16 pm EDT

A Full Moon tends to shine light on any subject and bring fruition to anything we have begun at New Moon. Scorpio doesn’t allow the Moon to feel comfortable though. If you started a project at New Moon, the result at Full Moon is not exactly what you had planned. It kind of irks and rubs you the wrong way. No worries though – make do with what you have, because in the long run, those results are what you needed, although not what you desired. The universe moves in a mysterious way like that.

 

 

Native Lore

The month of May brings us many delightful flowers after all the April showers. When the Moon is Full, the gravitational pull of the Moon brings the sap up thru plants faster, thus the Full Moon in May is also known as the Flower Moon.

 

May also marks a time of births of many mammals. Nature is full of mother animals milking their babies. The Full Moon of May is also known as the Milk Moon. Typically, animals bear only one or two sets of babies per year and the spring is full of babies, who are breast feeding from their mothers.

 

 

Sun enters Gemini – Happy Birthday, Gemini!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – 10:47 pm EDT

The Sun’s energy will change from conservative Taurus to versatile Gemini on the 20th. This mingling of energy, communications, generosity and banishing emotions can get folks to blast their enemies and confrontations to the point of releasing them. That new Sun in Gemini allows personal conversations to thrust that energy into effect, especially where reputations are concerned.

 

 

Mars goes Direct in Libra – 9 degrees

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – 5:05 pm EDT

Mars will feel awkward going direct in its detriment of Libra. The Warrior has been feeling odd at ends while retrograde as it was, but going direct in Libra seems to whack him in the head – confusion and dizziness can drive him wild. If you know a Warrior, somebody born under the Sign of Aries, give them space and time to figure things out for themselves.

 

Memorial Day – Sun in Gemini – 4 degrees

Monday, May 26, 2014 – 12:01 am EDT

The Sun in Gemini can be lead to confusions of the mind, if you aren’t paying attention. Gemini likes to see both sides of an issue. So, when you are engaged in lofty conversations, keep a vigil eye out for anything out of sync.

 

 

New Moon in Gemini – 7 degrees

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – 2:39 pm EDT

A New Moon in Gemini can be quite tricky to experience. New Moons benefit from new emotions and imaginations. Gemini as a Sign can cause excitability and people will talk up a storm – becoming gossip geese. When the New Moon creates this new energy of emotion and imaginations, it propagates the excitability of the gossip geese – honk, honk, honk… There seems to be no end to the talking and gossip. Avoid getting too involved in those types of conversations, because they only cause trouble in the long run.

 

 

Venus enters Taurus

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – 9:30 pm EDT

Venus is coming home. The love and adoration that has seemed to be distant lately is finally entering its Rulership. Take your time to make amends and fit into your comfort levels. Find your groove and jump right in.

 

 

Mercury enters Cancer

Thursday, May 29, 2014 – 5:00 am EDT

Mercury’s Communication skills become more motherly and nurturing. We tend to be more sensitive and use gentle words to convey our intentions. Now is a time to relax and find comfort in conversation about relationships.

 

 

Nothing conjuncts the Sun in May, except the New Moon on May 28 in Gemini.

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WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

May, 2014

Crowns

Crown1

Merry Meet.

This month I hope to inspire you to crown yourself with flowers. It’s a wonderful way to bring out the Goddess within. Flowers are also a sign of fertility, quite in keeping with Beltane, making this a perfect time to start.

In most areas, plants are just beginning to bloom. As I write this in central Connecticut towards the end of April, forsythia is just about to peak while daffodils are waning. Grape hyacinth and early tulips are just starting to bloom, and crab apple and a few other bushes and trees are just starting to bud, so it won’t be long. We have vetch and Hebit everywhere. Pansies are flurishing and violets, toothwort and marsh marigolds won’t be far behind. With some luck, perhaps even wild phlox and wild red columbine will bloom.

I don’t have access to many of these, which is why I am not afraid to ask permission to pick, and why I buy them. (I have a friend who happily lets me cut all the lilacs I want because her son is allergic to them. Considering when I go, I fill up the car, it’s worth the roundtrip drive of an hour.)

I suggest harvesting what you have growing locally – including flowers, grasses, weeds and branches – without it being detrimental to the Mother, and supplementing as necessary. I have a “thing” about artificial flowers making for an artificial experience, but if that’s not you, by all means, take advantage of the selection at craft stores. Pick with stems as long as possible.

If not using immediately, keep in vases in a cool place.

There are several ways to fashion a head wreath.

Starting with a frame is helpful, but not required.

A circle of craft wire works, as does a pliable stem (real or artificial) that you form into a loop and secure. Two pipe cleaners can be used to form a circle, and then additional pipe cleaners wrapped around them to strengthen it before decorating. Check to be sure it fits the wearer’s head before proceeding.

Gather several flower stems together and place them on the wire, blooms facing up and out. Wind the stems around the frame and secure with twist ties, pipe cleaners or florist tape. Take the next several flowers and put them slightly behind the first set, overlapping stems, wrapping them and securing in the same fashion. When stems are not easily bent, try wrapping a pipe cleaner, wire or florist tape around a few at a time, and then securing the small bouquet to the frame. Ivy and long grasses can cascade from the wreath. Continue until the frame is covered. Adding ribbons to the back is a nice touch.

Much like French braiding hair, I have also braided stems in such a way that every time you cross over a stem to braid, you add another flower. Tutorials can be found online.

Crown2

Several years ago, I wove a wreath from grapevines and have been using it since, weaving flowers into the spaces of the wreath.

If working with artificial flowers, it’s fairly easy to bend the stems around the base, twisting a few together first if they are small.

Flowers – real or not – can also be secured to a plastic headband.

There is no need to over think the project. Any way you can fashion flowers into a circle that can sit on your head will work. The key thing to remember is that the flowers are beautiful, so there’s no way your crown can be anything but beautiful.

If you like your first one, consider making one for each of the coming sabbats, using seasonal blooms and colors.

Note that the two pictured both happen to be from Lughnasadh and are woven without a base and without a frame.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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