December, 2014

Merry Meet!

December, 2014

Father

Merry Yule!!

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yule111

 

 

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In This Issue…

 

We say goodbye to a beloved column Nature Alchemy ~ A Journey to Yourself and columnist Diana Lynn Kekule. We thank you for sharing your all your wisdom and wish you the best on the next leg of your journey!!

Read up on some Magick Mirror Work in a new column Witch’s Souls Work

Channel the Beatles in an Interview with David Young

Learn a little about Nan’s divining  journey to PaganPages in her new column The Spiralled Edge

Meet your newest secret best friend Jules our advice columnist in Dear Jules

 

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We are always looking for new columnists at PaganPages.  If you have ever been interested in writing, art, photography, and have knowledge you would like to share, pitch us your ideas!

Currently we have openings in the following departments:

God’sWriter is to discuss a God monthly.  May include myths, pictures, correspondences.

Movie & TV Reviewer  Writer will review pagan themed as well as paranormal movies & television shows.

Podcast Reviewer:   Writer will discuss the hot topics on the pagan podcasts monthly, as well as review different podcasts.

If you are interested in any of these positions, or a column of your own idea, email us at [email protected]

 

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Have a personal question you’re dying to have answered, but are just to embarrassed to ask or do not know who to turn to? Ask our Miss Jules! You can write her at [email protected]

In 600 words or less, write Miss Jules your dilemma at [email protected]  Your name will not be published. 

 

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Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter!

 

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Special Holiday Sale For our Readers in our Etsy Shop For Yule!!

Use Coupon CodeYULETIDE on any item in our shop and receive 50% off your order! 

 

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Dear Jules

December, 2014

I’m Jules and I am one of the newest PaganPages columnists.  I’m female and live in Las Vegas, NV with my family and cats.  I first discovered myself as a pagan, witch, psychic and empath back in 1999 and I’ve been a strong believer in the Goddess ever since.  I am a spiritual artist and I love to make things to brighten up people’s days.  I sell my creations in a local store and on Etsy.

The advice column I’ll be doing will be called “Dear Jules”.  I’ve always been someone who others go to for advice.  In one of the groups I belong to I saw that PaganPages was looking for some new columnists and I figured I’d give it a whirl.  I’d love for this column to be a safe haven where you can go to someone for advice who has an entirely objective perspective on your situation.  I’d like to be able to help others with matters like love, relationships and life in general.  I would love to see the column develop into something very down-to-earth and easy to relate to for all of us.

I am honored to be the newest member of the PaganPages family and I look forward to dispensing heartfelt advice.  I’d love to help in any way that I can.  Please send your questions to me at [email protected]. All printed questions will remain anonymous once printed – please sign your questions the way you would a “Dear Abby” submission with something along the lines of “Lonely in Seattle.”

 

The Holidays

Yes, they are upon us again already!  The holidays can be stressful for all of us for a multitude of reasons – there’s never any shortage.  One of the most difficult aspects of the holiday is dealing with depression and loneliness – others and our own.  It is easy to get drained when people close to us are depressed, lonely or suicidal.  Please take time to take care of yourself.  Make sure that you eat and drink well and get enough rest.  Know what your limitations are.  If someone is depending on you too much be sure to let them know in a kind and gentle manner that you need to take care of yourself.  You need to come first.  You need to be taken care of just as much as anyone else does.

I don’t like to think of holidays as a time of obligation to others.  Being around family and friends is a choice and it’s always okay to opt out.

Before getting angry this holiday season try to take 3 deep breaths and calm your mind and then react in the most understanding and compassionate way possible.  This will ease your stress and will help you to avoid straining relationships unnecessarily.

 

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again

Blessed Be

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The Spiralled Edge

December, 2014

My thanks to Jenn for inviting me to become part of PaganPages.
I am most comfortable when talking one to one with another person, preferably over a cup of tea (or another drink of your choosing) and my writing reflects this. My hope is that these columns will feel that way for you too. So, grab your favourite beverage, curl up in a chair and we’ll have a natter.
Once I had agreed to become part of the PaganPages family, I had a good long think about what I personally wanted to achieve from this venture. And, what I could offer to others at the same time. When I have questions like these, I can often find answers by consulting a well-used set of amulets.
The Amulets of the Goddess are an oracle method which I have been using for 20 years now. As I have developed my spiritual practice, the ways in which I use the amulets has also changed. These days, I am able to gain a more in-depth reading by shamanically journeying “into” the amulet to ask my questions and speak with them. I consider them to be my own council of Elders, advising me, guiding me, and sometimes giving a well-deserved though not always fully appreciated wrap on the knuckles!
This time the amulets showed me how spirals and edges are significant in my life. As a Pagan but perhaps more importantly, as a human, I am walking a Spiral Path. It is when I try to move forwards in a straight line that I stumble and fall. The path of a spiral moves in circles, but situations and circumstances are never repeated in exactly the same way. They may be similar, but they are approached from a new level of knowledge and understanding.
A simple childhood toy very aptly illustrates this idea. How many of you had a slinky? Over time, the loops may have become tangled and sections stretched out beyond repair as you tried to untangle crossed loops. It may have become so hopelessly twisted in on itself you despaired of ever getting it back. But, with persistence, the loops coiled once more.
But the loops never fit together quite right and you could tell by looking where damage had been done, and repairs attempted.
When we look back upon our lives, it is like looking at the tangled and repaired and stretched out coils of a slinky. We may find that some coils touch each other, the points where events in our lives seemingly repeated, but at each coil we approached that event with new wisdom and new life experience.
These were the amulets I drew:
* Ewe: Feelings of self-worth
* Triple Spiral: Boundaries, Barriers, and Possibilities
* Nightstar: Fulfilment
* Whirlwinds: Trusting the Unknown
* Eyes: Inner visions
Together they told me to explore the barriers I was putting into place as I considered writing for PaganPages: my own fears and self-doubts and the negative self-talk that can go along with fear. They reminded me that I have been writing for several years and had been seeking some validation of that writing. The also cautioned me in how to approach this new task. What are my boundaries: What am I willing to do, and not do? And what are the possibilities: What could I gain from this experience? Finally, I was told to seek my answers within my own heart.

 

ewe

Ewe: self-worth

 

 
Ewe told me that I am worthy of this task entrusted to me. I have earned it and am good enough. Looking inwards revealed a lot of internal doubts and fears about my own worthiness in taking on this work. By identifying these fears, I was better able to address them, and in most cases present a counter-argument.

What does Ewe mean in your life? Look at those areas in your life where you are holding yourself back or deeming yourself to be undeserving because of doubts about your own self-worth. For many this manifests in the falsely held idea that one’s worth is a direct result of what one produces. Take the time today to explore the possibility that you can have worth simply because you exist.

 

Triplespiral

Triple spiral: Barriers, boundaries, and possibilities

 

 

 
Triple Spiral invited me to walk the arms of each spiral and to share with others the wisdom to be gained from exploring my own Barriers, Boundaries, and Possibilities related to this task.
What barriers are preventing me from believing I can produce a column for PaganPages? I discovered that all of those barriers existed only in my mind, fueled by self-doubts and feelings of unworthiness.
What are the barriers that are keeping you from achieving what you need to achieve? Is it money, institutionalised isms (race, gender, and sexual orientation amongst many), an abusive relationship, family obligations, illness, or something else?
What boundaries did I need to put into place? I had only one. I wanted to make sure that whomever I wrote for, it would enhance and not damage my reputation online. So, I read many of the articles, looked at the writers currently featured, and asked questions. Once I was satisfied with what I had found, I made the decision to accept the offer of writing here.
What boundaries do you need to put into place? What are you willing to accept and not accept? Where do you draw that line in the sand and say, this and no more? What boundaries are you placing on commitments to your time and attention? If you are feeling overwhelmed and used, can you put boundaries in place to say and give yourself permission to say “no”?
What possibilities did I see in taking on this role? This was easier for me to see. In writing for PaganPages I would be given the opportunity to be read by a wider audience. This in turn may bring more readers to my other pages. It may not, but the possibility is there. I expect in turn to have my own knowledge expanded by reading the articles by other contributing writers and indeed the comments sent in by readers and visitors to these pages.
What possibilities for your life can you see, some may be positive some may be negative. When you grow in your own self-worth, and begun to firm up your boundaries in what you will accept into your life, it can bring massive changes and those changes are not always pleasant initially. If you are able to say “no” more often, will it bring greater joy to those things where you do say yes?

 

nightstar

Nightstar: fulfilment

 

 
Nightstar came to tell me my wish was being fulfilled. When we put our call out to the universe, the universe will respond. In the back of my mind for some time has been a desire to expand my writing in some way, but I had never explored that beyond the blogs and few on-line writing platforms which I have been using for years.
Even knowing this was something I wanted, the doubts started poking up through my thoughts. Can I? Should I? What if…? So Nightstar, combined with Ewe and the next Amulet, is a gentle reminder that this really is something that I do want. I had made my wish and the universe was responding at a time when I really was ready to receive. I just need to believe in myself and trust in the unknown.
What do you need in order to be fulfilled in your life? What wishes are you making? Are they things you want to draw into your life? Not all wishes are positive, when the pervasive thoughts in your mind focus on not having enough, sometimes the Universe gets the idea you want more of that.

 

whirlwinds

Whirlwinds: trusting the unknown

 

 

 
Whirlwind invited me to explore a new lesson in trusting the unknown. This is an amulet of transformation and change happening below the surface. At the centre of the amulet you will see a butterfly. We cannot see the caterpillar becoming a butterfly within its cocoon, but we trust that it is happening. We cannot see the seed beginning to grow beneath the soil, but again we trust that it is happening. If we try to open that cocoon or dig up the seeds however, this fragile transformative process can be killed. We have to trust that these transformations are coming even as we cannot see them.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like unknowns. When I am going through life I like to have a plan A and a plan B, just in case. So when I am being told by Spirit that I need to learn to trust in the unknown. It throws up major wobblies in my gut. Can I do this? Will I screw it up? What if no one likes me?
What delicate transformations are taking place in the hidden corners of your life? How comfortable are you in sitting in a quiet stage of not knowing? Can you take a leap of faith over the edge into the unknown?

 

allseeing

Eyes: reflecting inner visions

 

 
All-Seeing Eyes finally told me to look into my heart to find what I needed to do and trust my internal instincts, perhaps the hardest task of all. When we look inside we see all out faults, all our doubts, all our fears. Here I was invited to not only look inwards at all of these fears, but to bring them out into the light of day and share them with the rest of the world.
It is only by honestly looking into what is in our heart that we can recognise the negative comments we are directing towards ourselves. Only then can we take the steps needed to stop that chatter.
When you look into your heart, what messages are written there? Are they words of encouragement, or words to tear you down? What do you see when you look inside?

Spiralled Edges
When doing a shamanic journey to discover my Soul Path, I was shown a brightly glowing cord spiralling into the unknown. The times in life when I had stumbled off that path were when I tried to make it stretch into a straight line. Sometimes I am learning, the best way of moving forwards is to move in a curved line.
My calling in life is that of a Healer. As an intuitive Reiki and shamanic healer I walk the boundaries between this world and the world of Spirit. Many times I have found myself in vision standing on the edge of a precipice, and being given a task. Trust enough to make the leap of faith into the unknown.
So I come to the Spiralled Edge, where I walk the path between the worlds. Thank you for joining me in this journey, even if for just a little while.

 

Amulets of the Goddess created by Nancy Blair

 

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Hedgewitch Days!

December, 2014

Merry Meet my lovelies,

I am chuffed to bits to be able to have a natter with you here on Pagan pages!

Let me introduce myself…My name is Mandy and I am a Mum, Grandma, Wife, Sister, Friend, Jack of all trades, fur baby slave, Oh and a Hedgewitch! I live in the boundaries of the magical county of Wiltshire UK, home to Stonehenge (yep, you all know that one), Avebury Stone circle and numerous other magical and ancient sites I hope to be able to share with you over time! The landscape here is a typical English country scene of green hills and fields, rivers and streams with an abundance of flora and fauna all begging to be used! Market towns and villages nestle comfortably with sacred mounds and pathways of our ancestors….I know, sounds amazing doesn’t it?

But, and there is a but attached to all these amazing things, I am human! As all of us are in this modern world so busy, our world of magic is so different to the one of our ancestors. The paths we walk tend to be concrete on the way to work or to the shops, not the rolling landscape walked in reverence by our ancient forefathers. We are bound by the hands of the clock not the movement of the sun and moon…no parents evening at any school would make appointments based on the slide upwards of the moon, complete breakdowns of teachers and parents alike would ensue!

All of us on the natural path that we follow face a constant internal battle with how we manage to live our beliefs. We will never be able to float around dealing with all things magic in today’s world, and the stress of trying to do so is enough to send the calmest of beings into a quivering mess in the corner. At best, we could only hope to carry with us the feelings of never quite being able to give 100% to ANYTHING we do, and guilt can be such a crushing and disabling emotion. As a Mum and a Grandma my guilt metre is, as I imagine yours is too, already off the scale most days, even the simplest of tasks can become a minefield of decisions where the outcome is never totally fair, and the best you can strive for is a happy medium!!! It is in this twilight zone between ancient ways and modern life where I think the thoroughly modern Hedgewitch can thrive very nicely thank you very much.

As a Hedgewitch my motto is simple, to make each day more magical! I think we are definitely masters of multitasking and using whatever’s to hand to get the job done…and there is no shame in that. Given the opportunity we would all choose to heal with nature but as modern people we embrace the fact that we now don’t have to go and seek out a piece of willow bark to chew on to sort out that blinding headache, science and it’s advancements mean that someone much cleverer has used that active healing ingredient inside the bark, given it a bit of a mix up and made it readily available for us to use in the form of Aspirin. I am completely confident that had that been the case in our ancestors’ time they would have jumped at the chance to put their feet up of a bit, get rid of that headache and embrace the new remedy. We are an adaptable bunch us humans really!!!

So the battle between the old ways and the new inside of us really is a waste of our emotions, which would be put too much better use in our spell work! So next time you have to take an Aspirin try looking at it in a different way. Make it a magical ritual in its own right!

Ritual for the headache!

You will need;

1 Blinding headache!

1 Dissolvable Aspirin

1 Glass of water.

Select a glass and fill with fresh water from the tap.

(As the water flows really focus on the magical properties of the water, quenching and life giving, soothing and pure. Focus on how the glass feels in your hand, the weight of it, of how the water changes the way the light is seen through it)

Hold the Aspirin in your hand.

(Focus on the magical past of its main ingredient. See the ancient Willow tree blowing gently by a river, nodding its approval as its healing bark is gathered for medicinal use. Give thanks and blessings to the tree for its gift and send blessings all the scientists that have worked with this magical tree to create something to cure you).

Drop the Aspirin in to the glass and allow to dissolve.

(As you watch the tablet dissolve say some simple words like; ‘As you dissolve and melt away, please do the same for my headache today!’ As the tablet is melting focus on it working in the same way with your pain. )

Drink the Aspirin water.

(Imagine the healing liquid flowing into you, filling you with the spirit of the Willow tree, washing away all pain and leaving you with a sense of peace and wellbeing).

(So mote it be!)

If you follow the instructions for taking an Aspirin by doing the things that are underlined (as most would do) it is a simple everyday task, but, if you follow the instructions in the brackets it becomes a really simple ritual filled with magical focus and intent. The fact that you didn’t go out foraging for two hours to find the bark doesn’t make it any less magical, or any less effective! I think I may be employing this simple ritual over the coming festival of Yule / Christmas…I need all I the help I can get with a hangover these days!!!

So I love the difference that a Hedgewitch can bring to an everyday task to make it magical, even if it is part of this busy, modern world in which we live. Of course I do try, with some varying degree of success, to forage as much as I can, celebrate the festivals, moons and old ways and cook magically too… I hope that through this column we can travel down the thoroughly modern road of todays’ Hedgewitch, stop kicking ourselves all the time about juggling magic and the real world and have a chuckle together, after all that is one of the best magical cures ever, don’t you think guys?

Big Hugs and Bright Blessings Mandy xxx

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She Who Is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

December, 2014

Winter Goddesses

As I am writing this, it is a week before the holiday of Thanksgiving, meaning that Winter Solstice is just around the corner. Here in the northeast section of the United States, the weather has begun to get quite chilly and we have had the first tiniest taste of snow, while in other parts of this country, the ice and wind chill has already begun to wreak havoc.

So, I thought this would be the perfect time to write about just a few of the many Winter Goddesses that abound throughout the world.

 

goddess1

 

Colleda is the Goddess of Winter in Serbia.
She was the one to whom the Yule Log was
given as the light from the past year drained
away. When the sun was reborn, the children
went from house to house and received
sweet cakes for the Goddess who brought
back light and growth. She is known as
Kolleda in Russia who embroiders a new
world each Solstice.

 

 

goddess2

 

Angerona is the Roman Goddess of the Winter Solstice. Her feast in held on December 21st, just as the sun energy begins to increase; but just before the balance tips, Angerona reminds her worshippers of how frail the natural balance of the world truly is. She is most often portrayed with her finger to her lips for silence.

 

 

goddess3

 

Befana is called “the lady of twelfth night” in Italy. Many places in Italy still follow the Befana tradition of hanging a lady dressed in rages outside the home on January 5th. Befana delivers gifts to the children and, it is said, she will sweep up before she leaves. Many of us still have representations of Befana in our home without even being aware of who she really is. I have a small statue of her in my kitchen, which is there year-round. She is the proverbial kitchen witch.

 

 

goddess4

 

Cailleach is the gloomy old woman, also called the winter hag. She is known at Cailleach Bheur in Scotland and Cailleach Bhera in Southern Ireland. She is also known as Baira, The Queen of Winter. She is said to rule winter between Samhain and Beltaine. She is capable of ruling the weather, as the staff that she carries freezes the ground. Before there was the groundhog, there was Cailleach. It is said that on Feburary 1st, if it is sunny and bright, the winter will be longer and that She is gathering firewood to keep herself warm for the prolonged winter.

 

 

goddess5

 

Wah-Kah-Nee is “the drifting maiden” of the Chinook Tribe on the Pacific Coast of the United States. Her tribe was struck by a never-ending winter. The ice blocked the rivers from flowing; the cold winds killed the crops. They feared for the survival. It was said that the winter was caused by someone killing birds, but all who were questioned denied it, but a young girl was blamed. The tribe dressed her and exposed her on a block of ice as an offering to the Winter spirits. The ice broke and summer returned. Months later, a block of ice containing the girl, Wah-Kah-Nee, was found. She survived and was then treated as a sacred being by the Tribe. She could could walk unprotected through the winter months and communicate with the spirits.

 

 

goddess6

 

Frau Holle is known throughout Germany, Austria and the surrounding countries. Snow covered the earth when she shook out a feather comforter. She rode in a wagon, on the wind and rewarded good people with gold; she invented spinning. Between December 25th and January 5th, the 12 days of Xmas, she traveled the world. She is associated with many of the evergreen plants used around Yule, such as holly and mistletoe.

These are just a few of the many Winter Goddess from around the world. I hope you have enjoyed reading about them.

I wish you all a blessed Holiday season, filled with happiness, love and joy. Keep the light burning in your heart all year long.

Blessings
)O(

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

December, 2014

#2 Yule

Last time I wrote a personal essay about how I feel about the holidays. I promised an educated, informative article this time.

Oh stop laughing!

I’ll write a little about Yule and a bit about Winter Solstice.

Modern Christmas is a mix of these two ancient celebrations as well as what happened to honor the god Mithras.

The reasons the Winter Holiday was celebrated differ a bit from why we celebrate today, but not completely.

For example. “The Light of the World” , seen by many Christians today as their god is celebrated.

In days past, lengthening days were celebrated. THE light of the world!

I don’t know about you, but when days get shorter in Fall time, I just want to curl up in a ball and hibernate until April. My body does not react well to cold either. Those two things combined make me miserable. For me, the Winter Solstice, celebrating the fact that the amount of daylight is about to increase is a very big deal. It’s still going to get colder for a bit, but I know I am halfway through winter and it is a huge relief to make it that far.

Like ten percent or more Americans, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I really think this is because we just don’t slow down in Winter time like our ancestors did. We insist we will drive the speed limit in blizzard conditions. We will not cut back on extracurricular activities under any circumstances. We refuse to sleep more even if we feel like we need to. And many have zero tolerance for people who do slow down when Winter comes. I jealously watch my cats sleep sixteen hours a day all winter while I trudge through snow, sleet, freezing rain, and what is seemingly eternal darkness. Sometimes, I wake them up on purpose on my way out the door and laugh maniacally even though I know they slip right off to sleep, calling me all forms of obscene names in their feline language.

I drive 10 MPH in heavy snow, sleet, or icy conditions, myself. I sleep as much as I possibly can, and I tell a lot of people in November that I will see them next June!

I look forward to Winter Solstice and say a hearty “Welcome Back Longer Days!”

Before the days of central heating, electric lights, and automobiles in nearly every household, I can only imagine folks in days long gone felt the “winter blues” and “cabin fever” more than we do today.

And when we get upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, flu, and stomach flu as well as the plethora of viral diseases we all invariably seem to catch come wintertime, we have medications our ancestors did not have. We get paid time off from our jobs. We have doctors offices and hospitals. In some villages and hollers ancient Pagans lived in- there may have been only one village healer. And contrary to what a lot of modern Pagans will tell you, mixing an herbal tincture is not quite as powerful as modern pharmaceuticals for some illnesses. If they were, nobody would ever have stopped plucking plants from their own backyards and started taking healing things in pill and syrup form.

The life expectancy was lower, and accidents based on inclement weather caused more deaths in winter than a summertime shower or a soft spring rain would.

Samhain time, people did a lot of prayers and sacrifices to try and ensure everybody got through wintertime alright. By the time Solstice rolls around, winter has been felt strongly for a while, and the lengthening of days is an indication Spring is on the way.

YAY!!!!!!

This is a simple explanation of why those ancient people attached such significance to it all. Something so important takes on religious significance.

How they celebrated and had ritual is an entirely different thing.

How Winter Solstice was first celebrated is unknown to us. We know things people did like light bonfires, and adorn homes with evergreens in later times. Things we still do to this day. To me, this is all relatively new, and I am more interested in what little we do know about structures that still survive although they stopped being used thousands of years ago when I am researching pre Christian Pagan practices. To me, it is these places that hold the most information for us if we want to know about the OLD Old Ways.

Newgrange has a point that lines up with the sunrise and the famous Stonehenge has a point that lines up with sunset of the Solstice. Many of us believe these points were not accidents, but were used as calendars of the seasons. While we keep the dates of our modern Pagan celebrations set on days each year for convenience, if ancient people tracked the seasons based on when the light of the sun or moon struck some stone, it would not be on the exact same day annually. The calenders we use did not even exist at the time the sites were used. But human beings who farmed and had livestock still used the same seasons we use to dictate what is grown and harvested at the time it is. These structures helped track everything to the point they have been considered calendars. They probably were.

Newgrange in particular is in Ireland, near the River Boyne, and was built is approximately 3200 BC. The site was believed to have been a burial site, as human cremains as well as uncremated human remains have been found inside. On the day of the Midwinter sunrise, the light illuminates passageways. It is believed that some of the decorative stones outside of the mound were placed there hundreds of years after burials ceased. The spirals adorning the interior and exterior stones are believed to represent the sun. There were later additions to the site separate from the mound itself, indicating that although it was initially built in Neolithic times, it was used in the Iron Age as well. It has been suggested the mound was used in solar worship to “catch” the sun at Winter Solstice Sunrise, thus ensuring the sun stuck around, and the days would lengthen. This ensured Spring and Summer would indeed happen again.

It never ceases to amaze me that a monument that is older than the Pyramids STILL works. On Winter Solstice, that light still floods the chamber, illuminating the same way it always has.

While it appears the ancient Irish “caught” the light, another group of people our modern celebrations would not happen without are the ancient Heathens, and they celebrated this time of year differently.

To clarify, I separate Heathens, children of Germanic and Scandinavian old gods from Pagans, children of mostly Celtic and pre Celtic British or Greek or Roman gods. Why? Because I have heard so many modern Heathens tell me they feel this is respectful. With the Northmen invading the British Isles, of course there was quite the melting pot of culture, art, and religion. However, the Northerners ancient and modern practices are extremely different than those of the ancient and modern Pagans.

So time to discuss the Heathens. I focus on Yule and one practice in particular. The Wild Hunt. Aside from feasting, sacrifice to the gods, and toasting, it is said the days coincided with the frightening procession of Odin and his hunting party. To witness this was not a good thing. Like to the believers in the British Isles, wary of by being carried off at Samhain by the Sidhe, seeing the Wild Hunt may mean you got carried off. If you did not get carried off, it may portend your death. If it did not portend your death, it may portend a war or other terrible tragedy.

From a practical standpoint, it makes perfect sense they worried about that at this time of year. From January to April was typically time for greater worry of starvation and flu and freezing to death. Sacrifice to the god who might carry you off may convince him to leave you be. Some believed seeing the Wild Hunt was how you were let know you’d be carried off or bad times were to come. Some said you merely heard Odin’s hounds bark. Imagine it being Winter Solstice time and hearing dogs barking from afar and not seeing them and being terrified you’d be claimed.

Fast forward to modern times, and we have a different old man with white beard who will bring rewards if we are good, and punishments if we are bad- Santa Claus. A combination of Christian myth and Odin, he now accepts sacrifices of good deeds done through the year, as opposed to blood offerings expected in days past.

Someplace along the line, old man Yule was separated into the generous Santa/St. Nick and the terrifying Krampus who would whip you. Christianization, of course embraced the the concept of a good god who took care of his followers versus a bad demon king seeking to lead harm the children of god. This pair of godforms replaced the old gods who behaved much more like human beings and both blessed and slaughtered their devotees. Together they processed through the streets in elaborate pageantry after Chrsitianization. For some reason, though, the evil Krampus could bless your house and children as well as whip them for being bad. Perhaps the procession of St, Nick with old Krampus was a modern adaption of the Wild Hunt. It is said Krampus may carry bad kids off, after all.

The fact it is forbidden for children to see Santa Claus get out of his sleigh that flew through the sky whilst leaving gifts is probably left over from the fact nobody WANTED to see or hear Odin and his Wild Hunt. Remember also, Santa had eight reindeer, and Odin’s horse, Slepnir had eight legs.

The parallels to support my belief Odin IS Santa Claus modernized are too numerous to bother you with.

More on celebrating.

Many modern Pagans and Heathens have Sabbat or a gathering or 12 days of celebration that begin on the 21 of December.

For my suggestions, I’ll write a ritual honoring my Father god, Odin, and a separate one in observance of the strengthening sun.

Before you decide to do this ritual, make sure Odin is actually one of your gods. A lot of Pagans and Heathens and groups of them take turns honoring gods they otherwise do not communicate with. Odin, in particular will not recognize people who he does not consider his children. He was a tribal war god. Tribe is family, people who married into the family and were adopted, and honored friends. Contrary to what some may believe, Odin is not the ancestor of every person who has some form or German or Scandinavian blood. He does not care about skin color and DNA is not how he chooses you. Loki was of the Giants, entirely different from the Aesir, and they became brothers despite it. You have to know he is one of your gods. I am sure he would not turn down gifts or sacrifice. But to be a devotee of this particular god means you have to be comfortable with who he was, not who pop culture makes him out to be.

He was the devotional god of an unstoppable legendary group of warriors called Berserkers. Every life they took in battle was a sacrifice for Odin. They were not the only ones who practiced this. He is known as not only the one who gave poetry to humanity, but various forms of his name mean things like “furious”, and ”violent”. He is gathering as many warriors in his hall of the slain for a final battle he knows he will loose. Many warriors wanted to die just so they could fight in that battle. His valkyries pick the souls of the dead off the battlefield and take them to a hall for brawling and drinking where they battle, are killed every day, and are reborn to get up and do it all over again.

This is not a god who is going to be content with a bouquet of flowers every so often. While few of his modern devotees ever march onto a battlefield, he still requires human life. Your life. To be a devotee of his means your life is his. This is not to be entered into lightly and it is not glorious fun.

From personal experience, I have found him to be unsatisfied with paltry offerings as well. A lot of modern folks will sacrifice rabbits to Odin. After I helped with one such rite, the Alfather asked me what I expected him to do with rabbits! He did not like it.

Some claim Pagan gods will take any sacrifice they can get, because they prefer something, anything, to nothing at all. I have not found this to be true. The gods do not need crumbs and scraps. While they understand that times, and culture has drastically changed, they make it entirely clear what their expectations are and if you cannot live up to those expectations, it is wise not to try and substitute. They will not fade away into oblivion if people do not remember them. They do not need us to survive in the way some imagine. If a god horrifies you, that is not the god for you.

Having said that, some of you may think I belong to some weird serial killer cult. Not so. The life I give to Odin is mine. I just understand that he is not a god of compassion that sends positive energy when you are feeling sad and he does not heal every ailment you have. He hung himself from a tree with much pain to find the Runes and he gave his own eye to gain more wisdom. He expects his devotees to do the same.

While feeding with blood like in times past in great temples is not going to happen, many are not aware of how much Odin loves wine. As a matter of fact, some say that is all he “eats”. If you know your history, you know the “wine” used in many of the places Odin was honored was mead. A lot of mead is very expensive, and unlike coffee or tea, it takes a lot of time, money, and space to brew your own. Oliver is a popular brand that has a modern less expensive mead you can use in ritual although I have found Odin to like a good full bodied red wine like Malbec or Merlot also.

If this has not convinced you to head for the hills or that I am just as mean as anything, read on. But pay very very close attention to what I say because this ritual is very very difficult.

Because it is so simple.

Most people want more pageantry for a high day. A lot of people will want long ritual to Odin and reading of Eddas including separate parts for all participants so everybody is included.

If that works for your group, I say do it. But you don’t have to if you prefer something simpler.

In the old days, priests slaughtered animals, and blessed the temple walls, images of gods, and the people with the blood. The meat was then cooked and there was feasting for days, three or even twelve days. There was merriment, eating, and lots of drinking. Toasts were made to the hosts, rulers, the gods, and the people. Everybody brought something. Everybody had a good time.

Butchering meat and blood ritual is practically extinct except in some individual groups. Most people reading this article are not going to sacrifice a live pig or a cow and are not going to sprinkle blood on other people.

That leaves the food, drink, and, fellowship.

Simply said, have a potluck. Have everybody bring something delicious.

Have mead and or red wine and or beer and iced tea and whatnot.

Light bonfires if you can, and light candles if you cannot.

Before the feast begins, have everybody circle round together and have each person have their own drink.

Have the host or officiant thank everybody for coming, and in their own words toast the attendees. One by one, attendees can toast each other and the host.

That is round one.

Round two, everybody toasts the ancestors and people who they love and could not attend.

Round three, everybody refills their cups if needs be and raises their glasses all together and with a mighty shout all together cry “ODIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and drink to the bottom of their cups.

A decided amount of drink, wine or mead will then be poured out into the ground for Odin.

Then feast and be merry. I have found Odin to enjoy seeing his children enjoy time with one another. The spirit of this time of year is the Allfather for me, and he expresses his love for us through us loving one another. We warm each others hearts when the weather is frigid. We are light for one another when it is dark. In this way, we are Odin to one another, and we are the spirit of the high day. In this way he lives through us.

That’s it. I find the Allfather will make the sun come back regardless of what humanity observes in liturgy and I focus more on celebration and spending time with loved ones than literary readings or long rituals.

If you are not a child of Odin, and you prefer Winter Solstice, you can simply light a fire and face the sun. Getting outside even if it is cold is crucial. To feel the sun upon your face and draw it is as some would draw in the moon when it is full and to know in your heart the days will get longer is the number one observance I always had for this. If you are like me, you like to pour wine, beer, or mead into the ground. The sun will come to the earth and soak all that good stuff up. If you want to, say a few words welcoming the sun back, but you don’t have to. This can be done alone or with a group and everybody can take turns saying something they see fit and pouring their own libation into the earth, feeding the sun to give it strength. Potluck and have fun.

Realistically, unless you live with everybody, some friends and family will not have a chance to visit often with you until Spring time. Winter prevents a lot of folks from getting out as much although many try to battle the weather and defy it. Before more hard heavy cold and deeper snows of January and February buries you, this is a great time for gathering with loved ones.

Glad Yule or Blessed Solstice.

May your gods smile upon you and may you not freeze your buns off!

Blessed Be!

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A Witch’s Tree Calender

December, 2014

Ngetal, Ruis and the Nameless Day

 

Ngetal:

From Mabon to Samhain, as we have seen, the comings and goings of the dead serve to thin the veil separating Middle Earth from the Underworld. Now at Samhain the Holly King sends the rest of his youth into the final harvest, his spirit descends once more to the gates of the Summerland, and this time he throws them wide for all spirits, human and non-human, to come up the World Pillar for that liminal time between times, the Celtic New Year. The cosmic order is relaxed for a season and Herne the Hunter, the Holly King’s Underworld aspect, bursts forth into the night skies of Middle Earth leading the Wild Hunt. Now all who have died during the year and been unable to reach the Summerland on their own are gathered up and taken there at the end of the Sabbat in that great ghostly cavalcade. At Samhain the greatest of dumb suppers is held, divinations are done for the new year to come, and the ordeals and signposts the dead will encounter while en route to the Summerland are depicted in the various sports and games of the occasion, such as bobbing for apples. This both honors the dead who have come with the hunt, and serves to guide the wandering dead, in case they become separated from the hunt on the way back.
Samhain marks the beginning of winter for the Celts, as Beltane was the beginning of summer, and the Wild Hunt will ride forth again and again throughout the winter months until Imbolc, February 1st. The world persists now for a time, but already the signs and sounds of deep winter are at hand. Now the denizens of Underworld and Middle Earth commingle as our cosmic home prepares for its yearly renewal from chaos.

Always in tune with the yearly cycle, the witch feels at one with the sound which above all sounds meant the approach of winter to the Irish Celts, the turbulence of the sea. Thus, the Song of Amergin tag for the month of Ngetal, the Reed, which began on October 28th and ends on November 24th, declares “I am a threatening noise of the sea.”

So the period from Samhain to Yule is a gradual letting go and dissolution of the local cosmic order on the level of the yearly cycle. The earthly aspect of the Holly King now ages quickly and becomes the hoary Lord of Misrule, who will preside over the Yule festivities beginning early in December. Similarly, the witch who has completed her inner journeys has become like a child again, carefree and playful, careless of techniques and rituals, yet brim full of the power of silence. She does what she is, and her every act is magical. It is no longer a question of journeys down the world river to unite with her root soul, for she is in continual contact with it.

November was the time when reeds were cut and used in the thatch for roofs, repairing them against the coming storms. The reed being hollow served as a conduit for spirits from the Underworld, and symbolized the openness of Middle Earth at this time of year to the world of spirit. The witch hears winter coming in the roaring of the sea, and listens intently to that sound, drawing her seasonal power from it. Greater silence within allows her to catch the sounds of cosmic dissolution, both within and without; for the witch herself is returning to chaos and will be renewed with the newborn Sun at Yule, or shortly thereafter on the Nameless Day.

What does it mean to say that the Sun returns to chaos and is reborn at Yule? In a material sense, of course, the Sun will not lose its current form for many millions of years. The return to chaos is a return of the awareness of the spirit living in the Sun to the surrounding sea of chaos. The Sun undergoes this spiritual death and rebirth every year, and the witch, who has aligned herself with the energies of the Sun and Earth throughout the year, participates in this renewal, along with the Earth itself.

When the ancients talked about creation, they began with chaos, pictured as an immense eternal sea, full of awareness and energy and life, the source and destination of all beings. The Greeks made chaos a Goddess and called her Night, and even Zeus held her in awe. Chaos has no beginning and no end, but periodically a cosmos arises from her, and then we can speak of a beginning. First she gives birth to Gods, who begin creating a world out of what they find around them. They do this by establishing an energy boundary, a sphere that contains energies in a certain range of frequencies, keeping out higher frequency energies that would break up and destroy what the Gods are trying to build. An example of such a boundary is the ozone layer, which filters out ultraviolet rays from the Sun, protecting life on the surface of the Earth. A cosmos, then, is like an island in the sea of chaos, and as energy from the surrounding sea leaches through from time to time, the boundaries of a cosmos must be maintained. As the Gods do not have unlimited energy, their maintenance of a cosmos peaks and then declines, and periodically they must let go of themselves and renew their spirits from chaos itself. Reborn from that sea, they once more have energy in abundance to maintain and grow their world.

Each cosmos exists on many levels, and the different levels let go and are renewed in chaos at different times. Thus, on the level of the Sun, renewal takes place from Samhain to Yule, whereas on the level of the Moon it happens during each lunar dark phase. Only at the end of a world cycle does renewal take place on all levels, and then the cosmos relapses into chaos for an age of quiescence and incubation, preparing for its emergence in the next cycle. The witch attunes herself to the daily, lunar and yearly cycles and undergoes renewal through each of them; for, as the mysteries taught, each of us is a cosmos in miniature. This is the meaning of “as above, so below,” and this is the main business of witchcraft.

 

Ruis and the Nameless Day:

November 24th is the last day of Ngetal, the Reed Month. The 25th November is the first day of Ruis, the Elder month, which can extend through December 23rd but stops short of the Nameless Day, the day after Yule. It is the last lunar month of the year, and includes within it Yule, the Winter Solstice, which usually falls on the 21st of December.

The elder tree grows by rivers and has always been considered the witch’s special tree. The Church, which fears the spiritual unknown and shuns it, taught people not to burn the wood of the elder on the hearth, because that was inviting the Devil inside one’s house; so evidently witches used the elder smoke (which is not pleasant) as a catalyst for this voyage into the unknown. The Rune of Amergin’s tag for Ruis is simply “I am a wave of the sea,” though an alternate reading is “I am a returning wave of the sea.” From facing and uniting with the threat of cosmic dissolution in Ngetal, the witch passes into and becomes that dissolution itself in Ruis.

As renewal takes place at various levels of a cosmos, so the witch needn’t descend the world pillar, or swim down the world river, in order to reach the underlying sea of chaos. What this voyage into the sea of chaos is like is hard to say when we are not in it, but there are moments when everything around us seems strange and unknown. At such times we can even seem unknown to ourselves, parts of the great unknown. We come away from those moments greatly refreshed in spirit and energy, and newly reborn. This is perhaps analogous to the cosmic rebirth from chaos on various levels.

The seven days before and seven days after the winter solstice make up what are known as ‘the halcyon days,’ when the sea is generally as calm as glass, and along the calm surface a coracle comes floating in towards shore. This womb-like boat holds the babe soon to be born at Yule, the radiant new Sun God. On the longest night of the year the coracle comes ashore, and at dawn the reborn Oak King fights the old Holly King and defeats him. This myth, which probably derives from the cult of Dionysus, is an alternate to the one where the Oak King, imprisoned in the sacred oak at Litha, is liberated on Yule eve from the oak log and flies up the chimney on the back of a wood louse, ‘Robin Hood’s steed’.

The day after the winter solstice is the extra day of the year in the expression ‘a year and a day,’ added to the lunar year to make it come even with the solar. It lies outside the tree-months, and is associated with the poisonous mistletoe or all-heal (Ychelwydd), but that is not its name. It has no name because it is a time set apart, and because the newly reborn witch, like the Sun God, has no name as yet. Her name, like that of the newly reborn Oak King, will be assigned on Modranacht, the Night of the Mothers (i.e., the Fates), which the Christians appropriated as Christmas Eve. For one’s name in a pagan sense is the expression or embodiment of one’s destiny, and on Modranacht the destiny of the reborn Oak King is foretold, and the witch scries her own destiny for the waxing year to come through divination.

This Nameless Day after Yule is the most magically potent day in the year for Celtic witches, and if possible, it should be spent quietly in solitary meditation, so the witch can experience in her own person the mystery of rebirth. This is the secret referred to in the Rune of Amergin tag for this day, which runs “Who but I knows the secret of the unhewn dolmen?” For dolmens marked the womb-like graves of heroes, and as yet there is no name carved there.

The day after the Nameless Day is the first day of Beth, the Birch month. The Lady has turned the Wheel once again, and we are back in the waxing year, facing the promise of a new Spring.

Bibliography:

CAMPANELLI, Pauline and Dan, Ancient Ways; Reclaiming Pagan Traditions, St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.
ELLIS, Peter Beresford, Celtic Myths and Legends, New York, Carroll and Graf, 1999.
FRAZER, Sir James, The Golden Bough, A Study in Magic and Religion, Abridged. Hertfordshire, Wordsworth Reference, 1994.
GRAVES, Robert, The White Goddess; A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 27th printing, 1993.
RYALL, Rhiannon, Celtic Lore and Druidic Ritual, Berkshire, Capall Bann, 1994.

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Tink About it

December, 2014

Happy New Year!

For many pagans across the world Samhain is considered the ‘pagan New Year’. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer (The Golden Bough) suggested that it was the “Celtic New Year”, and this view has been repeated by other scholars. For the Celtic people a new day didn’t begin at dawn, but at dusk. The idea behind this concept comes from the notion that before there was light, there was darkness. Before there was life there was a void. From the darkness, light was born. Thus, a new day begins at the beginning of the dark night. They divided their year into a dark half and light half. Thus, the new year began at the beginning of the dark half of the year, at Samhain. However, according to Dr. Ronald Hutton (in his book The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain) the evidence for it being the Celtic or Gaelic New Year’s Day is flimsy. Still, lots of pagans have adopted Samhain as the pagan New Year.

There are also other ideas about a pagan new year though. A lot of pagans consider Midwinter or Yule to be their New Year. The return of the light is marked as a new beginning, the days start to become longer. It doesn’t always feel that way, because it’s still the dark half of the year. Therefore, others consider Imbolc to be the true ‘return of the light’ sabbat and New Year. By early February the days are finally noticeably longer, and sometimes there are even early signs of Spring. A smaller group marks Beltane as their start of the year, the start of the light half of the Celtic year. Midsummer could make sense as the celestial start of a new turn, and that way everyone can take their pick. You decide for yourself, although other pagans might be surprised at your choice.

I’ve put it all in my cauldron and made my own brew of it, so to speak. I started out celebrating Samhain as the pagan New Year because that was what I was taught, but somehow it didn’t feel completely right to me. When I got to know more about Northern paganism and Asatru, I learned that the Norse New Year is celebrated around Jul (Joel, Yule, Midwinter) during the Twelve Nights. When our ancestors used a lunar calendar, it left about 12 days left over each year. So the twelve nights of Yule were not considered to be part of the old year, nor yet part of the new year either. The first night is called Módraniht (Mother Night), on which the Disir (protective female ancestors / goddesses / powers) are honoured. It is mostly celebrated on what we now call Christmas Eve. The Twelve Nights are also the time of the Wyld Hunt. Anyway, interesting stuff and these Norse celebrations resonated deeply within me.

All of this resulted in a very personal way of looking at the pagan new year. For me it isn’t a particular date but a period of time. It starts at Samhain, which is the ending, the closure of the old year. On Midwinter or Yule I celebrate the return of the light, which is my beginning of the new year. The weeks between Samhain and Yule are in-between-time, in which I look back on the old year and prepare for the new year. Introspection and retrospection. I think about my experiences, review and draw conclusions. What has happened, what did I learn from it? What am I thankful for? What do I want to leave behind and what do I take with me into the new year..? During this period I often do divination for the new year. I write a lot, meditate, etc. I don’t have a fixed program, every year it’s different. Sometimes the emphasis is more on looking back, the next time more on making plans. Always a combination of these too, as they are both important to me.

And then there’s today’s internationally accepted and best-known New Year, January 1st of the Gregorian calendar. I acknowledge that too, as it’s part of daily life. In Dutch we call December 31st Oudjaarsdag (Old Year’s Day) and the evening Oudejaarsavond (Old Year’s Eve). January 1st is Nieuwjaarsdag (New Year’s Day). For the last few years I’ve started Old Year’s Day by walking a beach labyrinth, that friends make every year at dawn on this day. It’s always a wonderful experience, I love labyrinths… During the time the labyrinth exists (until flood comes and the sea takes it back) people are free to walk it. Friends or strangers, everyone is welcome. We meet new and old friends and afterwards we drink hot chocolate in the nearby restaurant. On Old Year’s Day it’s a Dutch tradition to bake and eat ‘oliebollen’ (deep-fried solid doughnuts). In the evening friends and family get together for a wonderful night together. That can be a party or just an intimate get-together, with the fireworks at midnight to celebrate the new year. Although it’s beautiful to watch professional fireworks, I don’t particularly like the fireworks in the streets because it scares the hell out of our dogs. But hey, everyone’s entitled to their own way of celebrating New Year. I tried to give you an insight on the pagan ways of it and in particular my own way, which to me is making the most of all possibilities. And as you are reading this in my New Year Time, I end with wishing you a Happy New Year; early, late or just in time!

Sources and interesting links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain
http://paganism-wicca.yoexpert.com/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2013/11/happy-pagan-new-year/
http://www.goheathen.org/
http://carolynemerick.hubpages.com/hub/The-Forgotten-Female-Figures-of-Christmas
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152104311057272&set=a.442367322271.239972.677652271 (a picture of last year’s labyrinth)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliebol (more about ‘oliebollen’)

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Witchcrafting: Crafts for witches

December, 2014

Fire and Ice

 

Fire

 

 
Merry Meet.
Ice luminaries are wonderful to include in your Yule celebration, but they are good for as long as it’s cold. And when it’s cold enough outside, I plan to make these by the dozens in the garage.

 

fire1
I start by choosing a large container and a smaller container. They can be bowls, storage containers, pails and milk containers. If they are glass, be extremely careful. The expansion of the water as it freezes could break a container, so the trick is to get it out at just the right time. You can also buy molds especially for this.
Directions often call for distilled water, or water that has been boiled. Both make for ice that is clearer. Water can be tinted with food coloring or Kool-Aid.

 

Fire2
To make the ones in the photograph, I put a bit of water in the bottom of the larger container and let it freeze until firm. Then I placed the smaller container in the middle, arranged seasonal items between the two and poured in a bit more water. It went back in the freezer until almost completely frozen. I removed it again and filled the remainder of the container and let it freeze, but not to the point of being frozen solid.
To remove the ice luminary from its container, let it sit at room temperature for a short while, or run a bit of warm water over the outside of the container and in center area. There is no need to boil water.
Return the ice blocks to the freezer until ready to use. I insert tea lights, but have been thinking about removing the candle from the metal cup before lighting it.

 

fire3
Merry part.
And merry meet again.

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Bardic Song of the Month

December, 2014

This month’s Bardic Song is called “Community Song”. 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 to have a sense of Community. Some of the words are taken from a Circle Casting I learned from a Shaman many years ago. After incorporating those words, I noticed the word ‘unity’ in the Community and thought I should take advantage of it… and so I did.
 
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 MP3 file is attached for easier listening and learning.
 
All songs for this and future monthly articles 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.
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