August, 2014

Merry Meet

August, 2014

Welcome to the August Issue of PaganPages

pentacle

We have a great issue for you this month….

We are introducing a number of great new columns this month including one of  Bardic music!!!

also…

A Fantastic Book Review for Why Buddha Touched the Earth by Tom Swiss

Why Buddha

Don’t forget to leave us your thoughts and you can always reach us at [email protected]

Look for new items this month on our Etsy  10% discount with Coupon Code: PAGANPRIDE

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Tarot Talk

August, 2014

This month, we will talk about the Major Arcana card called The Star. Since we haven’t talked about a Major Arcana card in a while, before we begin breaking down The Star, let’s define and describe some terms. There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, issues that are archetypes which are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives.

An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, a personality, a behavior, an object, or a concept that can be copied, patterned, or imitated, and which can be identified universally without the need for a common language. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts:

A “stereotype”; in other words, a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative. For instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype.

An “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative. For example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty.

So basically, archetypes represent personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) which contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will at some point in the future) these archetypes in some form, at some point in our lives.

Besides the symbolism in the image of the card, each 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. Let’s start breaking this one down; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

The traditional image of The Star shows a woman, either naked or dressed in blue (symbolizing the exalted woman), standing in or near a still body of water (symbolizing the life force and the subconscious); she may be standing with one foot in the water and one foot on land, similar to Temperance. There are two flasks of water on The Star, also similar to Temperance; however, in the image on The Star, those flasks are being emptied, one on the ground (symbolizing purpose) and one back to the water (symbolizing a willing connection to the subconscious), representing the active sharing of the soul on all planes of existence, and the binding of the soul to both spirit and matter. On the Temperance card, one flask is being mixed with the other, more in line with the inner focus of the other meanings of that card, unlike The Star, which connects the inner landscape to the outer world. Usually there are stars in the sky of the image on The Star, telling us that while all appears submerged in darkness, there is subtle yet powerful illumination to be had through humble spiritual aspirations. The Star tells of hope and inspiration found from above (divine) and within (inner consciousness).

Located after the chaos of The Tower, The Star symbolizes the passage between one phase of initiation and another, and that corresponding knowledge that we just may have made it through the darkness to the next dawn and all of its unknown potential. Like the Death card, the potential being offered to us by The Star is unknown, but we move toward that unknown potential willingly, without fear. Because of its connection to the night, and to experiencing being awake and being asleep, The Star is often associated with passing from night to day, and it is connected to dreams, the mysteries of the night, the optimism of the new dawn, and destiny.

The Star is the number 17 of the Major Arcana, and 17 breaks down as 1 + 7 = 8. In the Tarot Minor Arcana, the number 8 represents a conscious and deliberate response to the pause and assessment of the 7 card. That pause represented by the number 7 happens because the growth represented by cards Ace through 6 has begun to slow, and degeneration of force is approaching. The Star represents the completion of the time of learning, being submitted to a moral trial and then given an opportunity to apply what has been learned, similar to The Lovers. However, The Star takes this sort of evolution to the next stage, beyond the understanding of choice that is presented by The Lovers, and brings us the time of experiencing self-sacrifice in order to connect with and understand what is outside of the Self. A receptive nature has been attained by our efforts in the darkness, along with a simplicity of heart and spirit and a renunciation of the ego. The Star tells of an awakening after a pause, so that we may respond deliberately and with knowledge and wisdom to whatever comes next.

Not all archetypes symbolize people; The Star is the archetype of the Spirit or Life Essence, which can be seen as the part of the personality that survives death, or as the spiritual part of the psyche. This is the essence of the Self that remains pure, compassionate, and filled with love without judgment, no matter what experiences present themselves to us during life. This is the essence of the Self that willingly presents itself in order to experience both the good and the bad that life can offer, so as to understand and manifest not only personal dreams, but also dreams of humanity. This manifestation is achieved by submitting ourselves without hesitation to the will of the Divine in order to draw upon the Light that is always with us, and make our way through the darkness and chaos of The Tower.

The Star corresponds with Air, which is hot and wet, tends to expand or separate, and adapts to many situations. The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Thus, Air can indicate our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. Air corresponds with the direction of East and rising sun, and thus with new beginnings and fresh ideas, as well as knowledge, intellectual ideas and thoughts.

The Star corresponds with Aquarius (key words: “I know”). Aquarius, the 11th sign of the zodiac, is a Fixed Air sign, ruled by Uranus and Saturn. Those born under the sign of Aquarius are unconventional, idealistic, and eccentric free thinkers different from those born under the other signs of the zodiac. They are progressive individuals who actively seek changes that benefit themselves and humanity as a whole. They care about the environment, politics, and humanitarian endeavors, and they often advocate for those who are less fortunate. They are good at thinking up effective plans, but they are also good at delegating (and empowering) others to manifest those plans into reality. Aquarians can be a bit stubborn (reminder: “Fixed Air sign” here), but the nice thing is that if compelling evidence is presented, an Aquarian will let go of outdated ideas. Aquarians are more in their heads than their hearts, so they may seem purposely isolated, but when they form relationships they are loyal.

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 Star card corresponds with Tzaddi, the fish hook, the eighteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The name itself is similar to the Hebrew word “tzadik,” which means “righteous person.” The letter Tzaddi represents the hook that captures the “fish” of Qoph, the subconscious mind. In Hebrew symbolism, the fish is a sign of fertility, so the letter Tzaddi represents the capturing or hooking of the fertility of the subconscious mind in order to feed, sustain and nurture the personality and anchor the Self.

On the Tree of Life, The Star represents the 28th Path (one of the Paths that views ways to transition to the Supernal Triangle, crossing the Abyss) between Yesod (the astral plane where we build thoughtforms and illusions, the home of our animating life force) and Netsach (the glimpse of the Machinery of the Universe and the energy we have given to Deity). The 28th Path is the Path of Natural Intelligence, of inspiration and aspiration, of the ability to love humankind rather than just one person, and of feeling energy through the senses.

This Path connects the Pillar of Force and the Pillar of Balance, and it is opposite the 30th Path, corresponding to The Sun of the Major Arcana, and here is a pair that work well together. The Sun and the 30th Path are about enlightenment that comes through scientific study; The Star and the 28th Path are about the dark of night, and the inspiration that comes to us from within. The 28th Path is about dreaming of the future (Netsach), and thus, beginning the initial process of finally manifesting our goals in the physical world. The energies of this Path flow downward into the foundations of our mind (Yesod), and act as catalysts that will eventually have a physical effect, but this Path is not of the physical world.

The symbolism of this Path has the potential to release quite a bit of creative power into our lives. This amazing power is often first felt through the physical body in some ways, almost feeling like sexual arousal but felt through the whole body rather than just the sex organs. This energy ultimately is a catalyst for the manifestation of our hopes and dreams, and once it is activated, it stimulates the inspiration that comes in those incredible Aha! Moments.

The Llewellyn Welsh Star tells of hope, inspiration, freedom after trials, salvation, destiny, and of drawing strength from nature; reversed it tells of resignation or depression, and of allowing others to determine our lives. The Legacy of the Divine Star card shows the wreckage of The Tower, however there is moss growing on the broken pillars, indicating that the destruction is over. It tells of idealism, self-discovery, liberation, and a sense of purpose; reversed it tells of arrogance, pessimism, dreaminess, and physical or mental illness. The Thoth Tarot Star represents reincarnation and the renewal of life, baptism and purification, and the beneficent nature of the universe. Reversed, it indicates skepticism and an unwillingness to examine our own self and our own behavior (usually because we are afraid of what we will find), or deception or gullibility.

The Star offers us hope, inspiration, and the strength to follow through no matter how tough the challenges may be. Denying the energies of this Major Arcana card will bring pettiness, self-doubt, and a fear of following our dreams. In the end, the new dawn will appear, and The Star tells us to look for the light that will illuminate the way.

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Book Review: Why Buddha Touched the Earth

August, 2014

Why Buddha

 

 

Why Buddha Touched the Earth

by Tom Swiss

© 2013 by Tom Swiss

ISBN: 978-1-905713-90-5

306 pages

Paperback $19.05 (U.S.)

I found Why Buddha Touched the Earth to be insightful as well as entertaining. In the preface to the book the author describes this work as an “essay” in the sense that it is his attempt to present his spiritual path in a form that others can understand.

The subtitle for this book is Zen Paganism for the 21st Century. Zen is simply meditation. Defining Paganism takes a little more work. The author takes the reader on a journey through history exploring the development and impact of Buddhism and zen on the world and on paganism. As such a large portion of the book is devoted to this development.

Reading a history can be dull if not handled well. This book is never dull. Numerous sources were cited, some familiar some not so familiar and ranging from noted scholars to some who have been viewed as raving lunatics. Interspersed with the history are reflections from the author’s trips to Japan which are used to illustrate points in the history and how those factors continue to exist into modern times.

This is followed with chapters suggesting ways to live and meditate. Throughout the authors humor and wit enliven the book as seen in the chapter on meditation that is entitled, “How to Sit Down and Shut Up.” Other chapters deal with others aspects of daily living and dealing with death.

I was particularly impressed with the final chapter his reprisal of what it he views as Zen Paganism. The author lists eight suggestions that can be applied no only to those who seek to live a Zen Pagan way to anyone looking for a means to a happy and fulfilling life.

The book concludes with an appendix expanding some of the material covered in the book, tempered with humor as seen in Smokey Bear Sutra. He also included a glossary and partial time line of Pagan and Buddhist revivals.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Zen Paganism. The presentation of the material flows well laying out educational material and practical insights. As to why Buddha touched the earth; for that you will need to read the chapter of the same title and hopefully find it as enlightening and amusing as I did when I read it.

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Tools of the Craft

August, 2014

Last week I was interviewed by a student in cultural anthropology who is doing her bachelor’s thesis on Wicca. Her focus is on the mind- and consciousness-altering aspect of ritual and the use of tools. She came well-prepared and informed, it was a wonderful conversation and I look forward to reading her thesis. She asked me about my use of tools and how they help (or not).

Tools can most certainly have a purpose to a witch (or other pagan). They have no power in themselves, though they do have powerful symbolic significances. They can be an extension of yourself and are literally ‘tools’. An athame can help direct energy. With a broom or besom you can ritually cleanse the circle by sweeping. Every tool has its own use.
In old times, when people couldn’t be open about their practices, they hid their special tools. That is, if they had any! In these days it was also common to use everyday stuff like a kitchen knife.
Ritual tools are as individual as the witch who uses them. They can belong to a whole coven, a working partnership or an individual witch. The only tool that is hardly ever shared is the athame. Never touch another witches’ tools without her or his permission!

If you ask me whether I need tools, the answer is a definite NO. My body and mind are all the tools I need and otherwise I can find anything I might want to use around me. Sometimes, when I’m walking in the dunes for example, I spontaneously want to do a ritual. All I need is there. I can just sit down, meditate and do a complete ritual in my mind. No tools needed at all.
If I want an altar, I look for a nice spot and stuff to put on it. A feather for air, dew drops on a leaf for water, some red berries for fire and a nice stone for earth for example. I can cast a circle with my finger or with a twig. If I want to do some divination, I just look around for signs or watch the clouds to see patterns or shapes to interpret. It’s called aeromancy (from Greek aero: ‘air’, and manteia: ‘divination’).

Still, I do have tools. Why? Because I like them, and sometimes they can have added value. For years I didn’t even have a permanent altar. I made one when I did a ritual and put my stuff away when I was done. Nowadays I use my altar as a focus point in my room. I like to sit in front of it to meditate, or light candles for whoever needs my support. I now have statues, but at first I simply used images or tarot cards to represent God and Goddess.
Over the years I have collected quite some stuff, including tools. Some bought, some gifts, some self-made. Some people say that you have to make your tools yourself. That way they have your energy in them. That’s true of course, but you can also add your own energy to a bought or given item. You can add something personal and/or work on it (inscription, carving, wood burning, etc.). You get a bond with something by using it. Whenever I have a new tool, whether it’s bought, made or given, I wear it with me, meditate with it and before ritual use I consecrate it in circle. That way the tool becomes mine and the bond gets deeper with every time I use it.
I don’t think you have to make your own tools, but it can be fun to do so. I made my own set of runes, a shaman drum, a lead pentacle, brooms (besoms), staves, wands, cords and more.

Let’s take an example, the ritual knives. I have several. The athame has to be blunt (it isn’t used for cutting) and have a double-edged blade and black handle.
When I was in an Alexandrian coven I had to have proper knives. The ones I had/used were rejected because they had no wooden handles. Especially for the coven I bought two matching knives, cheap ones with wooden handles, black and white. That coven and I didn’t turn out to be a success together (to put it mildly) so I doubt I’ll ever use those knives again as they feel ‘tainted’ with bad vibes.
Years ago I bought a dime a dozen knife on a fair. I made it my own by wrapping the handle and protection cover in black leather, attaching it by lacing it with the same leather. I have been looking for a boline to accompany it for quite some time. I wanted a sickle, but couldn’t find the right one. The ones in pagan shops didn’t appeal to me though; they are all the same. Three years ago I met a blacksmith, that understood exactly what I was looking for. He forged a sickle from a 400 year old iron nail. I made a handle by wrapping white leather around it and lacing it to match my athame. I love this set and use these the most by far.
Another athame that I’m very fond of is the one, that my husband carved for me from wood he found when we were on a vacation in Belgium. He also gave me a pretty little Scandinavian knife that I used for years as a boline. This athame and boline may not meet the ‘official’ requirements, but they work fine for me. I especially like to use them when I perform a ritual and/or magic for my husband or for the two of us together.

Tools1Tools2Tools3

You can see some of my tools in my Facebook album “Pagan stuff” – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.492586602271.269890.677652271&type=1&l=e1f1c544ee

 

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The Magickal ARTS

August, 2014

The Visual Appeal
Everyone has a distinct learning style. This statement has been proven by academic research as well as through psychological profiling. For many of us we learn through our visual experiences first, and then become engaged more deeply through the other forms of sensorial expression. I am a visual kinesthetic learner; meaning that I learn best when visually engaged and am able to act out or move in accord with what is being taught. This style always kept me ahead of the game when I was dancing since I picked up intricate and lengthy choreography very quickly and easily as it was shown and I copied the movements with my own body.
Most magickal workers are visual kinesthetic in their basic learning style. This mode of learning and processing is also the underpinning of most artistic experience. All of the arts stimulate the senses and open and awaken the neural pathways so they respond in a more dynamic way. This stimulation in turn causes a tactile response of integrating and responding to the experience through the process of doing. Add the visual component and you have the key ingredients of a solid working magickal practice. This is the energy and law of attraction that begins by learning through the action of doing and visualizing with intent the outcome that is desired to be brought into manifest form.

I mentioned in my last post about the geometric images formed by the dancers of the Pilobolus Dance Theater and the impact this had on those experiencing the performances. This is the same premise that we use when employing the visual to our magickal work. Visual art evokes emotion through use of color, tone and hue; again creating specific patterns of vibratory resonance and the geometric or non-linear method of structure produces its own set of stimuli for the brain to respond or react to. This is the process of fueling desire to feed the will towards action. All of which, is set in the imaginings or visioning of what that desired outcome will be.

One of my daughters is an artist. Her work is inspired by the spiritual nature of humanity. She is often lost in the work she produces as slender hand sketches, paints and adds life to what she creates.  The visual image is a powerful tool in magickal work. We use statues, magickal tools, candles, amulets, altars and more to bring our intent into a place of manifestation. We empower sigils and glyphs to hold the energy they have been created to embody and we garb ourselves in the dress and style of the magick we work as form of identification. Underlying all of these actions is the universal principle of attraction and the resonation of like with like to produce a synthesized and cohesive newly created product.

When you read her artist’ statement below, you have a sense of what is the intent for the work to be viewed. The interesting thing about this is that this statement will vary as the artist finds new routes and methods of expression each having been formulated from the foundation of the other.

My work is centered on the relationship between the human body and his/her psychological environment. The paintings store an energy and imprint of the moments in which it was made, a physical manifestation of the urge to create. The images serve as a mirror for the psyche of the viewer. art as a viewing and making process can raise awareness and restore the unconscious struggle for internal/external union. In understanding our inner components that give way to the whole of ourselves, the better we can empathize, accept, and co-exist with our fellow man… Caitlin Fennelly, M.F.A.

art can convey the line and flow of the alchemical elements.  Color and the vibration emitted from each create imprints upon minds and are translated into our emotional stores to be accessed on mundane and spiritual work.  We are surrounded by color in varied hue and tone and the simple act of walking into a room painted in one color versus another can stir the memories of associated emotions stored as response to that particular color’s vibration.  When writing my books, I asked my daughter to create specific images for cover art that would be engaging. I had asked my daughter to paint something evocative of the four elements that would conjure the necessary connections at a subtle level. This is the power of the visual arts and their subtle yet profound impact on the way in which you in turn visualize the world around you.  This is the magick of creation pouring from one vessel into the next and available to quench the thirst of all who desire its sweet nectar.

Self-Inspired:

For this month’s exercise the focus is on truly “seeing” what is around you. If you have the time and are able to spend a few hours at a Museum, that would be a great starting point. But, ANY setting will do as we are continually surrounded by the visual.

Begin by setting the intent of really seeing what surrounds you. Focus on a singular object; in particular one that seems to attracts your immediate attention. Now, relax and breathe into the experience of connecting to what you are seeing. Make note of the colors, textures and shapes. What other senses are drawn into the experience. If it relates to food, the senses of smell and taste may be employed. If it is a visual performance, sound will come into play.

Make mental note of all that you experience; mental, emotional and actively- from whatever you are seeing. Do this with several types of imagery over several days. As you begin to cultivate this awareness you will also begin to feel the energetic connections that differ from visual to visual. This information is invaluable in magickal work and spiritual progress. Imagery and visualization are the forerunners to what has potential for manifestation.

 

Next Post: In the Hall of the Gods

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Thriftcrafting: Witching on a budget

August, 2014

Flower Power

 

flowers

 

 

Merry meet!
I have been using flower essences for several years, but this is the first year I made my own – to save money, as well as to enjoy the process.
I began with research and putting together a plan. Since my one rose bush was done blooming and my snapdragons were yet to be out in force, when I happened upon a stand of moonbeam coreopsis as part of the landscape in a nearby building, I decided to start with that. It turns out it was just what I needed. I found that the flowers offers deep healing and recuperation from post-operative, emotional, physical, mental or spiritual trauma. I was just getting over a bout of pneumonia, and while I was feeling almost back to normal, I wasn’t quite there.
I gathered up a glass bowl, a dark glass jar and small scissors (none of which I felt called to sterilize), along with spring water, an offering and my pendulum.
It was a bright sunny morning with only an occasional wisp of a cloud in the sky. I asked the plants if I could harvest some of the blossoms to make a flower essence and was granted permission. I offered the plants my gift of yellow shells and poured some water into the bowl. Using scissors and keeping physical contact to a minimum, I snipped off flowers and caught them in the bowl. Once the surface of the water was covered with floating flowers, I placed the bowl in an opening among the plants and left it.
The sun’s rays shining through the flowers help transmit its message – its vibrational imprint – to the water in a process known as solarisation. Keeping your own energy out of the water by remaining distant, neutral and merely an instrument is recommended.
When I came back a bit over three hours later, the sun had moved so that there was some shade on the bowl. I moved it so the sun was again hitting it and left it there for maybe 20-30 minutes.
I was uncomfortable because everything I read said the bowl should be in full sun – a website or two even claimed there couldn’t be even one passing wisp of a cloud in the sky – but I thought it had to have had at least two hours in direct sun, so using the pendulum again, I asked it if it was ready and got an affirmative answer. It helped to remind myself that the original way to harvest these essences was to collect the dew found on flower petals.
While it’s easy for me to get anal about details, I did not check moon or planetary positions before making the essence. My feeling was that the essence of the flower was transferred to the water – even lending it a slight tint – and that a few percentage points that would be gained by having only full sun and no shadow, a properly aligned moon and other conditions would not be critical. I was consciously aware of being grateful and appreciative, paying respect to the flowers for the gift of themselves they were giving.
I poured the water and flowers into a jar and at home, strained it through a coffee filter and then added an equal amount of grain alcohol. In a perfect world, I would have found high-proof organic vodka, but one of my life lessons in my crone years is to rely on intentions and energy, and not fuss over some of the “shoulds” and “musts” that once could send me into a tailspin.
grain
A bottle of grain alcohol cost me $17 – or roughly the price of a half-ounce bottle of a stock essence plus shipping or two one-ounce dosage bottles without shipping.
I now have nearly two cups of mother tincture or mother essence that should last six to seven years. Taking 2-7 drops of the mother tincture into a 20-30 ml bottle of alcohol creates the stock bottle. From this bottle, put 2-7 drops in a smaller dropper bottle (typically one-half ounce to one ounce) and again fill with alcohol to make the dosage bottle. It is from this dosage bottle you would place 4 drops on your tongue or into a glass of water, juice, tea or other beverage. Ideally, essences are taken four times a day (as far away from meals as possible) for 21 days. Taking it more often is never a problem.
Toxicity is never an issues with flower essences. They are not chemical and will not alter your body chemistry. They are a tool to give your electrical system a boost to solve its own problems.
If you find yourself repeatedly forgetting to take your flower essences, chances are you no longer need them.
My plan is to make a few more flower essences, dilute them into dosage bottles and give them as gifts.
Here are a few notes I found along the way that you might or might not care to take into consideration:
  • Use a small clear glass bowl and use it only for essences.
  • Use spring or mountain stream water. Wild water that comes from close by the flowers you are using, collected in a glass container, is best.  
  • Work in a non-intrusive manner, having as little contact as possible with the natural space and the plant itself. Some suggest wearing white cotton gloves or touching a petal only with leaves from a nearby tree to avoid contamination.
  • Pick those blossoms growing in profusion, selecting only a few of the largest, freshest and most vibrant blooms at their peak from each plant or tree so that the plant’s integrity is left intact. 
  • Plant leaves and stems can also be used.
  • The soul consciousness of the person collecting the essence is important. 
  • You can place a gemstone near the bowl for protection and clearing of energy.
  • Carefully skim off the blossoms with a leaf or twig from the plant and pour the mother essence into a dark glass bottle. 
  • Use organic alcohol that is at least 40 proof (which is 20% alcohol).
  • Brandy, vodka, apple cider vinegar can all be used as stabilizers.
  • Multiple essences may be blended for use. Recommendations range from 3-15.
  • Glass droppers are preferred.
  • Keep essences out of sunlight in a cool, dark, dry place. (I was wondering, does anyone keep them in the refrigerator?)
  • As an alternative to ingestion, several drops may be placed on the underside of one wrist and rubbed into the other wrist, much like applying perfume.  
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From the Shadowlands: Up the Mountain, Musing by Shadowdancer

August, 2014

I just finished reading and reviewing a book by Tom Swiss called Why Buddha Touched the Earth. It is a book on Zen Paganism.  As I was reading the book a lot of what I read seemed to correspond to what I believe to the point where I thought that maybe I too and a Zen Pagan. But not all of what he had to share resonated with me. There were points I flat out disagree with him. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and learning a great deal from it.

As he was talking about the Zen monks he met in Japan I reflected on the one I met while living in Calgary, Alberta in Canada. This was several years before I left the Episcopal Church and started on a Pagan path. The monk was teaching a seminar or series of classes, I can’t remember which now, not that it’s important on meditation.

That class was offered at a time when I was beginning to question my faith and I was interested in learning to meditate so I signed up. At the start of the class he explained briefly the difference between the way Buddhist see religion and the Divine, so to speak, as compared to other religions.

The analogy he gave was this. He said that Buddhist see the Divine, or god, or nirvana, however you wish to see it as a goal at the top of a mountain. There are many paths up this mountain representing many different religious or spiritual paths. It doesn’t matter which of the paths you walk. The important thing is that each person is walking one of the paths up the mountain. That philosophy helped me make the transition from Christianity to Paganism and Wicca.

For many years I have been trying to find a label to identify just what kind of Pagan or Wiccan that I am. I am a Solitary Witch. I don’t follow any one tradition, although I’ve explored many. There are some elements of Buddhism that I like and have incorporated as well as some from Shamanic paths. Over all I would have to say my path is at best eclectic, a blending of many different influences.

What struck me so profoundly as I read that book and thought back to the mountain analogy what occurred to me is that I don’t need a label. I don’t need to label just what kind of Pagan or Wiccan path that I follow. I am on the path up the mountain that I chose to walk. Sometimes that path my parallel that of another spiritual tradition before branching off in other direction. That doesn’t matter.

Actually I think I am limiting myself, putting obstacles in the path that I don’t need by trying to put a label on just what I am or what my path is. I need to focus on what is important. I am working on my path up the mountain. It hasn’t always been an easy path. I’ve made some wrong turns, stumbled down some blind alleys and had to back track, even gone in the wrong direction a few times. None of that really matters. All that matters is what the Zen Buddhist monk told his class so many years ago. I am on MY path; it doesn’t need a name or a label. All I need is to keep trying, to keep working my way up the path toward the top of the mountain. It doesn’t even matter what is at the top of the mountain, or how I perceive what is at the top. Simply my walking my talk, I am ever striving to make myself a better person and to try to leave this earth doing more good than harm.

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Spellcrafting: Spells and rituals

August, 2014

Gratitude ritual

Merry Meet.
Astrological Lughnasadh occurs this year on August 8, as does the cross quarter date. That means if August 1 came and went without an opportunity for a ritual, you still have time to celebrate the first harvest – literally and figuratively.
Two days later is a super full moon in Aquarius. On full moons, I like to give thanks for the abundance and blessings in my life. We are so quick to ask for what it is we need, want and desire, I think we sometimes forget to give equal time to rituals of gratitude and celebrating the gifts we have received. Remember, what has become known as the law of attraction states that we bring about more of whatever we focus on. So why not focus on that for which we are grateful? Here at the beginning of August are two such opportunities practically on top of one another. The suggestions below can be done on their own, or as part of a more formal rite.
A simple gratitude ritual involves writing down all the things for which you are grateful. Perhaps you want to do it in a gratitude journal, or on slips of paper placed in a jar or offering bowl or cauldron. You might want to add herbs, oils or gemstones for success, wishes, prosperity or protection. Holding the jar, the bowl or cauldron, focus your thoughts on your feelings of gratitude. If you like to raise energy by chanting, you might try:
    “I offer gratitude to the Divine,
    All I have asked for is now mine.
    I’m grateful for many blessings received,
    Grateful for all the good given to me.
    I carry this attitude forever with me.
    Thanks to the Goddess and blessed be.”
If you worked with a jar, cap it and put it in a safe place. My offering bowl sits on my altar almost all the time, accepting tokens and symbols of gifts and appreciation.
offering
Another idea is to write one or more thank you notes to people you are especially grateful to have in your life at this time, and then mail them.
To mark Lughnasadh, I typically set up an altar with the bounty from my garden and from nature. Sometimes that altar has been set in nature and left for those who call the area home. Arranging items is done as an expression of gratitude, of giving back to the universe for all it has given me. Sitting before it, I count my blessings, recognizing all that I have received, all that I am thankful for, and all that has come my way. I end by eating some of the seasonal bounty I’ve set aside for that purpose, often making corn pone or corn muffins with my grain of choice, along with munching on cherry tomatoes or blueberries (first offering some to the ground for the deities and fairies). Popcorn also works well. While I like a summer ale at Lughnasadh, mead is always good, as are seasonal beverages such as blueberry, cherry and tomato juice; or lemonade (again, offering some to the ground for the deities and the fairies).
altar
I hope this gave you some ideas.
Merry part.
And merry meet again.
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Goddesses of Sorcery

August, 2014

Goddess Iagentici

 

goddess

 

 

I live on the sacred island of Montreal in Quebec. This island has been the home of the Mohawk, one of the five nations of the Iroquois, for many hundreds of years, some say thousands of years, until the white men came and took it from them. As Witches we connect with and honour the land so we can also honour the gods of the people who lived here before us. Sadly most of us don’t even know their names! Although we don’t worship the gods of the Mohawk, we can still light some sage or a candle on our altars to thank them. This is the story of the Goddess Iagentici also called Ataensic. It is a beautiful creation myth.
Once there was no land, just a vast blue lake upon which water birds floated with otters, turtles, and other sea-dwelling creatures. High above in a land behind the sky was the celestial society into which Iagentici was born. Her father died before she was born and his was the first death in the universe. Iagentici was able to speak with her father even after his death and he revealed many prophecies to her. One day he told her to travel to the earth-holding chief Hawenneyu. Through tempests and darkness she traveled and the Chief tested her with torture before taking her as his wife. One day Hawenneyu became angry with Iagentici, thinking that she was cheating on him with his rivals, and even though she was pregnant he threw her through a hole in the sky down into the bottomless ocean.
Iagentci fell toward the world below which was nothing but rolling seas populated only by sea creatures and water-adaptable birds like ducks. The goddess summoned countless ducks to cushion her fall and lower her to the back of a gigantic continent-sized turtle she had called to rise to the surface and to use its shell to provide a resting place for her. Next Iagentci spoke to the muskrats asking them to swim to the bottom of the sea and retrieve soil for her. It took countless trips but Iagentci was eventually able to use the magical earth to create the known world on the back of the enormous turtle. Even to this day the Mohawk call North America ‘Turtle Island’. Iagentci bore Hawenneyu’s daughter Eithinoha, (Gusts-of-Winds) who mated with the wind god Geha. Eithinoha bore his twin sons, the gods Tharonhiawakon and Tawiskaron, but died in childbirth. Iagentci took her daughter’s body and formed the sun and the moon from it.

I honour you O Mother of the island
I fall through the blue sky into your arms
As soft as duck down and as deep as the ocean
Carry me and plant me in your magical earth
As if I was a seed that could grow
Into a beautiful woman.

References:
http://glitternight.com/2013/01/28/the-top-fifteen-deities-in-iroquois-mythology/
Monaghan, Patricia, 1990. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Lewellyn Press. P.39

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Bardic Song of the Month

August, 2014

This month’s Bardic Song is called “Casting the Circle”. It is a simple tune that has 4 lines for easier repetition and the melody line is rather easy.
When I initially created this song, I wanted it only to be three lines long to go with the 3 Circles you can cast around Sacred Space, but it was more natural to create 4 lines for rhyming.
As much as possible, all songs are created as a single page in pdf format for easier printing and reading. If you play the piano, these songs are simple enough to pick up right away. If you don’t have the musical inclination, a wav file is attached for easier listening and learning.
All songs for this and future monthly article are published by the Blue Ridge Mountain Clan by Lord Fairy Bottom Educifer aka Wayne Minich, II. Any similarities to other songs is coincidental and not intentional.

 

 

Download the notes here: Casting_the_Circle.mscz

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