January, 2016

Merry Meet

January, 2016

2016

 

       Welcome!!

 

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In This Issue…

 

We have a great surprise for our readers!!!  Columnist  and Author of Finding the Pagan Way is offering our readers only his new book FREE for this month Only!

Finding

 

You can read a review of the book, find a link to purchase the book, and find the coupon code to purchase it for FREE for the month of January in Finding Your Own Way: Book Review & Free Book Offer.

 

We have a great Interview with George Nicholas of Cernunnos Rising.

George

 

Learn All about Isis in Our Goddess Column She who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names.

isis1

 

And ever wonder what Stones would be especially helpful for Men?  Well have a peek in Stones Corner this month and read up on some good Healing Crystals for Men.

amethyst

 

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Aromatic Life

January, 2016

The Skin You’re In

This month we will discuss skin cleansers, clarifiers, and lotions.

 

Basic Skin Clarifier and Facial Recipe
2/3 cup Witch hazel

1/3 cup Rubbing alcohol

Mix together.

Store in a tightly capped glass bottle.

 

Rosemary Chamomile Facial Rinse

1 Tablespoon Dried rosemary or 1 tb Fresh

2 Tablespoons Dried chamomile flowers or 1/4 cup Fresh

4 Cups Water

Boil all ingredients for 15 minutes.

Strain, retain liquid, cool and put in container.

Wipe liquid over face, let remain for 30 minutes.

Rinse with cool water.

 

Simple Lotion

Another way to nurture your skin is to create soothing and healing
lotion and moisturizing cream. A simple way to do this is to buy a
fragrance-free lotion or cream (available at health food stores) and
add 20 drops of essential oils per ounce of the product.

If your skin is especially dry, add 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of a base
oil such as Young Living V-6 Vegetable Mixing Oil, a perfect blend of
organic vegetable oils including sesame seed, grapeseed, sweet
almond, wheat germ, sunflower and vitamin E. After stepping out of
the bath or shower, apply the skin oil to wet skin and gently rub.
The water combined with the oil deeply moisturizes dry skin.

Oily skin responds to Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cypress, Jasmine,
Lavender, Lemon, Orange and Ylang Ylang.
For dry skin use Rosewood, Sandalwood, Patchouly (good for wrinkles),
Rose Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Chamomile (inflamed skin) and
Davana (chapped skin).
Sensitive skin loves German Chamomile, Rose Geranium, Jasmine and
Lavender.
For cellulite use Grapefruit (dissolves), Cypress, Rosewood,
Cedarwood, Tangerine (dissolves), Basil, Juniper, Lemon, Orange,
Patchouly, Rosemary, Sage or Fennel.

 

Information on Lotions & Creams

There is a basic combination of melted waxes, oils and scented water,
brought all to the same temperature, that are the basis of creams and
lotions. Waxes are melted over a low heat to combine them, the oils are
warmed and whipped into the waxes, then the heated waters are dropped slowly
into the blended oil and wax. The mixture is stirred until cool.
(approximately 10 minute completion time)

To make a cream firmer, add more beeswax; to make it softer, more oil is
needed. Adding more waters will make the mixture lighter and fluffier (too
much waters and creams has tendency to separate more easily)

Creams should be refrigerated.

Cleansing creams are more effective than soap for heavy dirt and makeup.
Massage into skin and wipe off with cosmetic cotton balls.

Toners tighten the pores and refresh the skin.

Moisturizing creams are the last to be applied to the skin and provide a
protective covering to maintain skins natural moisture level.

~Non herbal Ingredients for Cosmetic Mixtures~
All the ingredients listed can be purchased from your local Pharmacy or
Grocery Store:

Agar agar derived from seaweed and is used in gels.

Alcohol~solvent/preservative. (ethyl alcohol) used in perfumery

Beeswax~emulsifier for oil and water contain in cream mixture (sold in
blocks)

Benzoin~preservative, astringent/antiseptic

Borax~white mieral powder used as emulsifier (Borax has a tendency to cause
a reaction when applied to inflamed skin. Just omit it)

Bran~used in face masks, soaps and body scrubs

Buttermilk~Soothing/astringent. (available in health food stores)

Calamine lotion~alkaline lotion for problem skin

Castile soap~pure soap no additives

Cocoa butter~made from cocoa bean, a fat used to make rich emollient in
creams.

Distilled water~should only be used in making cosmetics

Emulsifying wax~a wax used to emulsify oils and water in cream mixtures

Fuller’s earth~fine grey powder made from single`cel algae found on seabeds.
Very absorbent and rich in minerals, excellent for face mask

Gelatine~obtained by boiling animal bones. Used in eye ointments and
nail-hardening lotions. Agar agar is a vegetable substitute

Glycerine~is a byproduct of soap manufacturing. It mixes with water, soluble
in alcohol, has softening tendencies

Honey~ softening, healing and also is used as a binder

Iodine~antiseptic

Kaolin~purest form of clay used in face masks

Lanolin~obtained from sheep’s wool. Softens and will nourish the skin, it is a
fat

Liquid paraffin~used in barrier creams as it is not absorbed by the skin

Oatmeal~same as bran

Oils~almond, avocado, wheatgerm, carrot coconut and nut kernel oils are skin
enriching.

Oleic acid~ emulsifying liquid that can return separated creams back into
emulsion.

Petroleum jelly~used in lip salves

Vinegar~softens, cleansing and soothing to skin

Vitamin capsules~to add vitamins to skin creams

Zinc oxide~ white powder made from zinc, has mild antiseptic and astringent
properties. available as ointment

 

 

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Seeing the Signs

January, 2016

Dominomancy: Using Dominoes for divination

I used to play dominoes with my grandfather when I was a child but I haven’t touched a domino tile in many years. I have friends who play almost daily and even gamble on the outcome of the games, using a point system and accusing each other of cheating. Very recently I received a box of dominoes and I poured them out on the table with a sense of anticipation. How it brought back memories to mix up the overturned tiles in the boneyard! But I wasn’t playing a game with a grandchild. I was picking tiles to answer a question.

Dominoes are a form of dice – flattened dice, so to speak. They were invented in China over 2200 years ago, according to Occultopedia.com, but didn’t find their way to Europe much before the eighteenth century. European domino sets are different than Chinese domino sets in that they have 28 tiles instead of 21, with the addition of the blank tile. The highest tile is the double six and the lowest is the double blank. Like all divination systems based on numbers, it is important to know the basic meanings of numbers. Dominoes adds another dimension in that you have two numbers on a tile so there is the relationship between those two numbers as well as the sum of those numbers and what those numbers may reduce to. If you are pulling two or three tiles, then you have that many more concepts to deal with.

Of course you can always just open a book and look up the meaning of whatever tiles you have chosen. We all do this. I have Sasha Fenton’s The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook right here with me and I have it open to the Dominoes chapter. I had my dominoes out earlier and chose three tiles (with help from my cat, Radar):

dominoes

According to Fenton, the 6/5 combination says I will have a job soon, luck with work and relationships but I have to work at it (what? What kind of luck is that?) and possible trouble with children. The double blank was bad luck all the way around and the double two was good for relationships and work but I should watch my health, which really isn’t far off the mark.

Just for shits and giggles, I decided to see what someone else had to say about these tiles. When I consulted “Advanced Gypsy Fortune Telling”, which I found at http://www.domino-play.com/Games/FortuneGypsyAdvanced.htm, there was a slightly different fortune for me. The double blank was still bad luck – “Trouble or serious problems”. But the double two said “A personal wish will come true” which is way more positive. And the 6/5 combination was totally fabulous – “Success at work, in career, vocation, or possibly education.”

So with all that in mind, I think it would be best for me to learn the numbers – learn numerology, basically – and then apply then to a system that will work with dominoes. And continue researching the subject. I was honestly amazed how much there was on Dominomacy when I Googled it. It just goes to show that people will use literally anything to foretell the future!

Works Cited

Fenton, Sasha. The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1988.

Dominomancy, divination by dominoes”. http://www.occultopedia.com/d/dominomancy.htm

Stormdark I.P. & Media – “Advanced Gypsy Domino Fortune Telling”. http://www.domino-play.com/Games/FortuneGypsyAdvance.htm

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

January, 2016

Imbolc 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings! It’s about a week before my Yule Celebration with friends, and already, I am putting together my 2016 Imbolc article. Time does fly.

Last year, I wrote about the ancient focus on the goddess Brigid, and how modern Catholics keep her traditions alive. The ritual I submitted focused on self-change at the time of Spring’s first awakenings. That article can be found here:

http://paganpages.org/emagazine/2015/02/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-6/

My article had a working to initiate self-change. My own self- change was focused on eating better. I improved some, and then I did not improve any further.

Something happened a couple of months ago that reminded me to get back on track. A good friend is diabetic, and is having serious complications due to sugar consumption. In conversations to try and encourage my friend to kick sugar once and for all, I was forced to take a good look at myself. I have all the knowledge and knowhow, but was ignoring it. I justified eating anything I pleased as long as I cooked it myself.

Discussions with people I know reveal an ugly fact about humanity. While we all have unhealthy habits, many of us justify our own as the ones that are okay. Like me justifying eating anything I wanted as long as it’s homemade, for example. Plus, I realized how fond I’d become of bragging I had quit smoking. It was as if I was saying I could eat anything unhealthy just because I no longer smoke. I was told a story about a group of people decrying the use of GMO’s as deadly in our foods- while they chain smoked together. My husband brags about his muscle tone and the fact he is in shape and good health. Yet he overworks himself, bragging about his great ethic!

Truthfully, many of us are killing ourselves regardless of how different our methods are. No one method is any more noble or justified than the other. I like to joke that “We all die anyhow, I may as well die happy.” But I am forty years old and have been saying this for many years. Just talking this way is mouth magic- making my words come to be- I am literally shortening my lifespan one word and one bite at a time.

While some ancient Pagans were very concerned about what they out into their mouths, the reality is that before the Industrial Revolution, people had to quite often, eat whatever was available. The Abrahamic faiths are famous for their purity laws and bans on certain foods considered things that defiled the body. We often laugh and scoff at them as unnecessarily strict, whilst shoving some saturated fat, sugar, and chemical laden foodstuffs into our mouths.

Not an advocate of strict dietary observations as holy, myself, the concept of the body being the temple of a god is absolutely one that is on my mind since I am aging and seeing people I love struggle with their health. And those who have read my articles the past year are aware I have had my own health struggles that are by no means resolved.

Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, most of us are in agreement that the soul resides in our bodies temporarily and moves on when this body dies. Personally, not only would I like to stick around in this incarnation for a while longer, but I would like to also feel good while I am here. Call it medical science, or call it holy if you like, but taking care of the physical body is in this sense, a magical operation.

I find Imbolc to be a good time to focus on this.

What is Imbolc?

Long celebrated as early as Neolithic times in the British Isles, and possibly earlier, this is a celebration of first signs of Spring and fires of purification. The home is often focused on, as Spring Cleaning commences. Visits to holy wells and sacred trees for healing focus on purification of the body itself. I am including wonderful videos here of Brigid’s healing well and a sacred tree there.

The Well-

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrStjfEpYzM[/embedyt]

The Tree-

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMM6FXkWWnc[/embedyt]

The Saint Brigid is simply Christianization of the great goddess, Brigid. Imbolc has been a time to venerate her, ask for healing, and to invite her into the home for blessings and purification of house and inhabitants.

Our ancestors viewed winter as a terrifying time when the young, old, and weak would perish. So all the blessings from protective deities and spirits were called on. Many diseases from stomach ailments, to colds and bacterial infections and flu are passed around more in wintertime due to people staying inside and closer to one another more often. Our ancestors did not view germs and disease as we do. Many of them thought spirits caused them. Brigid and her healing was just one remedy for disease and to hold off death.

Celts would fashion representations of body parts needing healing out of wood and leave as votive offerings in bodies of water. A modern continuance of that can be found in the main Cathedral in Mexico City. A portrait of Mary surrounded by little charms pinned to the framing mat, asking for healing is hanging in the church. Nearby the front door patrons can purchase the charms to use.

In keeping with the ancient practice of purification by water, many modern churches keep receptacles of holy water by entrances for ritual cleansing upon entrance to the sanctuary.

Each people view purity and spiritual pollution in their own way. Societies who observe a lot of taboos are a perfect example of this. Abstaining from alcohol in Islam is just one example. Some modern Native Americans believe it is impure to let a woman touch men’s sacred items when she has her period. Abstaining from sex before and during certain events is observed in modern Voodoo, and avoiding certain people who are considered to have sinned to avoid “catching” their impurity has been observed all through history.

Without the understanding of the importance of regular bathing, changing clothing often, not sharing plates and utensils, proper nutrition, and how much water is needed by the body, ancient people did the best they could. They did not have access to the variety of foods we do, and they could not just go to the store and grab decongestants, vitamins, and tons of fresh fruits and veggies. While they knew how to grow food and preserve it well, an accident could destroy all the preserved foods- such as a shelf falling and the glass or crockery containing preserved foods breaking. The food could somehow become contaminated and poison everybody. The crops could fail. A water source could dry out. Somebody could steal or deliberately destroy their food. There could be drought, floods, storms, you name it.

People needed all the help they could get.

Belief in magical/spiritual purity so as not to upset spirits or gods, or be unclean was just one way people tried to survive and thrive in ancient times.

Many neo-Pagans do not observe these practices. Many see their fasts as unnecessary and their taboos as constrictive. Many of us lean towards hedonism and believe life is meant to be enjoyed. Not everybody sees observance of taboos or fasting as deprivation and view anything less as overconsumption and lack of self control, harmful to both physical and spiritual health. This leads me to my recommended working- one I have been working on, really since 2012, and one I will focus on for the rest of my life; Personal purging and the fact that most of the time- less really is more.

My Story

I will keep this short.

I was raised by mom’s family. They were women who ate, drank, smoked, worked themselves into exhaustion, and fought too much. Some did more or less of one or the other, or none of one at all, but they all binged on some of these things. Guess who unknowingly grew up and took after them? You guessed it. Me.

But the time 2012 rolled around, I was a mess. I prayed to my god for a way out. He removed me from a toxic job. That was the beginning of my changes.

I quit smoking. While I’d not really drank that much, I found myself drinking even less. The daily ingestion of fast food went away seemingly overnight. The soda consumption dropped. My physical activity increased.

I also discovered I was a fighter. I decided I did not want to do that anymore. I stopped being engaged by people who liked to instigate drama. I also had to let go of some relationships as a result.

It’s due to be 2016- and by the time you read this article, it will be. Almost four years after my life changed. My career is not re-established. I have lost no weight. I have debt. Things are not perfect. But I am halfway to proper health due to something as simple as loss of a toxic job. It made me rethink everything. I realized not taking control of things I take into my body as well as situations I put my body and soul into was absolutely killing me.

I know from experience that letting go of things that not only do not serve us as well as take away from happiness is a good sacrifice, and a necessary one. It’s often viewed as a loss, but it’s not. Like a rose cannot grow if it is strangled by spent blossoms and dried out branches, our lives cannot grow if something is weighting us down either. Sometimes, the things we value most are the things that hurt us the most. Losing those toxic things we love might feel impossible at first, but it is every bit worth it.

This Imbolc’s working will be a purging for purification ritual.

The Ritual

Like last year’s working, this one is footwork based, not do a spell and forget it based. And like last year’s working, this one is a personal one.

First, identify one aspect of your life causing you grief, or something you feel needs improving.

Then, think of some way you have any say or control in the situation. If you can’t, that’s okay. Think of something you do that is directly linked to the situation or is a result of the situation that you can give up, improve, or reduce somehow.

Rather than JUST go out and sacrifice something to make positive change, your main task here will be to talk to somebody else about this scenario.

Why?

Because the people who love us see us in ways we can never see ourselves. They offer insight and crucial support- and make great partners in crime. Ask your loved one or loved ones for insight in what is going on , and while giving up whatever it is you need to in order to improve your situation, follow the advice that resonates with your soul as wise. In this way we are Priests and Priestesses for one another.

You can keep a journal to track your progress if you want to. Look back on it and see how you have progressed.

For example…

For me, this sugar thing is my big purge. I am currently showing no symptoms of disease , and my sugars have never measured high. However, I am aware that I eat so many sweets, I replace healthy foods with empty calories which have no nutritional value. I am literally starving.

I am of the mind that all bodies are beautiful, and maybe “thin is in” but I don’t care about that. I know just as many good looking plus sized people as ugly thin people, you know? So I am not looking to slim down to feel attractive.

I do have back injuries. The weight did not cause any of this, but it is not helping any of it at all.

I have forty years of eating habits to unlearn, and I have learned enough over the years that I know what to replace those bad habits with. It’s not going to happen overnight , and there will be temptation, but I can do this.

Because I talked to friends, I have supporters who I likewise support. Each of usare at different places in the journey to health. One girl became vegan. Another gave up gluten. Another had to give up pork. Another struggles to keep weight ON! We are supporting and encouraging each other.

My Imbolc working is sort of one I, myself have been adding to for almost four years now. Yours might be simple, and a one time, one event thing. You might need to downsize a home, and purge a lot of belongings. You might need to get a toxic relationship out of your life. You might need to stop being inactive and decide to give up sedentary time in order to take up those swim classes you always wanted to. Maybe you need to give up TV time to work at a hobby like writing, or knitting, or dancing . Maybe you feel you should go back to school and need to sacrifice an extra room at home in order to take in a roommate to afford classes.

Whatever you decide to do in regards to your purification or purge, may you be happy and enjoy the positive changes. Imbolc is a perfect time to clear away the old dust in the corners of our lives and ourselves, and open ourselves to the new life and positive changes the season brings.

Blessed Imbolc.

Blessed Be.

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The Kitchen Witch

January, 2016

Basic Venison Stew

I have always been at home in the woods and fields and along the creeks and lakes. I learned to fish at such a young age I don’t remember when it was. My brothers and sisters and I used to collect empty shotgun shells from the fields from the fall hunting and feathers from pheasants. Often, my mother would receive a roast of venison or several pounds of mixed ground venison and pork, which she would make into chili or meat sauce. Generally she didn’t tell us beforehand what it was but it was obvious from the way it tasted. I was usually the only one who liked the forestry taste of the meal.

Polly

I didn’t learn to hunt until 1999, when I met a man with whom I would live with off and on for the next seven years. Once I did, I fully dedicated myself to Artemis and became at one with the forest. It was a glorious time. This is the first year that I did not hunt, due to health reasons. I really missed being in the woods.

But I was able to get a little fresh venison which I wrapped up and put into my freezer. And it’s so great, on a cold winter’s day, to take out a package of stew meat, and put it in a marinade for a little while and then make a nice stew out of it.

I always put venison in a marinade.

marinade

My basic go-to marinade for a pound of stew meat is a quarter cup of red wine, a splash of soy sauce, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of onion powder, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Cover and shake and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.

The other ingredients you are going to need are: a can of cream of mushroom soup

a can of beef broth

an onion, chopped

6 – 8 medium sized mushrooms, sliced

several celery stalks, chopped

two medium potatoes or one large one, chopped

several carrots, chopped

salt, pepper, red wine for seasoning

In a Dutch Oven or heavy pan, heat a mixture of butter and olive oil and brown the venison, after discarding the marinade. Just before it is almost totally browned, add the onion and the celery and let them sweat a little bit and then add the other vegetables. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup and beef broth and then pour over the meat and vegetables. Season as you please with salt and pepper and whatever else you have on hand. I also often add whatever leftover vegetables I have in the fridge – in this case, I added some corn and peas to the recipe.

stew

If you want to know the truth, I never make it the same way twice! Hence the name “Basic Venison Stew”.

Of course, if you don’t have access to venison, feel free to use beef or even marinade some tofu and use that! The greatest recipes have come from experimentation and so have the best spells. Use what you have! Be creative! Enjoy your kitchen! Until next month,

Brightest Blessings from the Kitchen Witch, Polly Applequeen.

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Notes from the Apothecary

January, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Chives

 

Chive

 

I love chives. They are so easy to grow in the kitchen garden, and the glorious purple globes are somehow magically supported by the slender, green stems that we love to eat. Chives grow all over North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and are easily cultivated. They are the only member of the onion family that spans the globe east to west. Like most flowers that have colours approaching the ultra-violet end of the light spectrum, they attract a huge array of butterflies. They also attract bees, so even if you never pick a single chive stem, you are helping the environment by growing chives.

The Kitchen Garden

Chives are immediately useful to any gardener as they repel certain annoying pests. Plant them around your carrots, as they are known to repel the dreaded carrot fly as well as damaging aphids.

Chives are closely related to onions, and have a flavour that is similar yet understated; much more subtle. It is like an echo of a sweet onion, warm and gentle. They are wonderful simply torn and tossed into salads, or chopped finely and added to pasta, stir fries and even milder curries. I can often be found simply munching the things straight out of the garden. Seriously yummy.

I found an amazing tip at This Website, which is to finely chop chives, put them in ice cube trays then top up with olive oil or melted butter. Once frozen, they will keep for ages, and can be popped straight into a warm pan to start of a pasta sauce or similar. Nice! Thanks to Mystical Magical Herbs for the tip.

The Apothecary

Chives are basically a milder form of garlic when it comes to medicinal usage. This makes them very useful when treating someone who has a sensitivity to the strong oils in garlic, or a mild allergy. I would always recommend seeking advice from a professional though if this is the reason you are making the substitution.

Chives are very good for the circulation, and need only be consumed regularly in food to have a beneficial effect. They also have a mildly antiseptic quality, so potentially a chive tea would make a good mouthwash to help prevent the onset of a throat infection, for example. They have, in the past, been used to treat intestinal parasites, however this is not a proven remedy.

The Lab

Like many other herbs used as ‘alternative’ (I prefer the term complementary) medicine, chives have had numerous scientific studies done on them to see how effective they really are. Sadly, as far as I can see, all these studies have come back with the answer ‘further study required’; the phrase that tends to make funding go out of the window. However, there is preliminary evidence from China to suggest that chives and other aliums may be useful in the fight against prostate cancer.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Chives can be used as a substitute for onion in most circumstances. Let’s face it; sometimes chopping an onion for a spell is neither pleasant or practical. If you were to place a half onion in the corner of a room for spiritual cleansing, why not try a bunch of chives instead? With the right intent and follow up the green herb will be just as effective. Just remember to remove the stems when they are dry and withered, as they are of no use then.

I have read in a few places that chives are good for weight loss. Um, I have no idea where this comes from, other than the fact that supplementing anything not herby and green in your diet, with something that is, is obviously going to have positive health benefits. Chowing down on chives will not make you into a supermodel, I’m afraid. Plus I really can’t recommend using magic for weight loss. If you need to lose weight for health reasons, discuss this with your doctor. If you feel like you need to lose weight for self-image reasons, then maybe you need to re-examine your relationship with yourself as a whole, and find a way to love yourself. In most cases, if you are unhappy with yourself, changing the way you look on the outside rarely helps. If you are healthy and happy, then weight is just a number.

Chives, like their larger cousins, are also used for protection. A small bunch hung inside a door can prevent unwanted people or energy from passing your threshold.

Chives also represent balance, achieving the difficult or seemingly impossible, connecting with nature, home and hearth and the fluidity of time, in particular the way the past affects the future. They can therefore be used to enhance divination or fortune telling magic.

Home and Hearth

If you have ritual work to do and want to keep a space just for yourself and your chose visitors, hang bunches of chives at each quarter corner of the room. This will ward off unwanted energies and allow the space to me more attune with your intentions.

When creating a sacred space such as an altar for the first time, use 5 chive stems to make a pentagram in the centre of the space. Lay the chives slowly, thinking all the while of the protective nature of the plant, and the qualities of the point upwards pentagram; all the elements combined, with spirit in control. This is appropriate as this is your space, and you need to be the boss!

I Never Knew…

Chives made it into Roman poetry, with this little bit of wit from Marcus Valerius Martialis from around 100CE:

He who bears chives on his breath

Is safe from being kissed to death.

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MagickalArts

January, 2016

What Is It You Are Joining?

Last month, I wrote about the considerations given before deciding to become part of a magickal group. My own journey since April of this past year has been in forming a new coven and providing the place of community for those seeking a spiritual home that encompasses more than that of solitary practice. To that end a new coven was birthed at the Winter Solstice and a new family of seekers was welcomed.

This month I would like to provide the perspective of the person(s) who are providing the home and space of learning that may become the place of consideration and deciding factor in whether to join (or not).

How A New Coven Comes Into Being…

Forming a new coven requires time, dedication, hard work and commitment. First the thought of what is possible presents itself and the desire to create a place that will serve the larger pagan community takes hold. These first seeds of idea then quickly become the vision of shared experience and spiritual growth achieved in a space of safe haven and support.

Months of planning, meditation and workings of attraction become the central focus. Structure and strong foundations are necessary to attract what will become a purposeful structure of work and foundations from which membership can soar.

The first steps are offering classes that will serve as a foundation for the magickal practice of membership. These classes also offer the opportunity for potential members to interact, share their knowledge and see their points of commonality. Additionally, the classes allow those seeking membership in the new coven to experience first hand the style and methods of teaching that leadership of the new coven uses to inspire and co-create with membership. ?

Activities that will create collective memory are vital to feeding the construct and image of what this new coven’s energetic signature will become. Ultimately, those who become the Charter Members of the new coven, hold the mantle of responsibility as co-creators with leadership of what that Coven looks like, what its work will have potential to be and, most importantly, what the flavor of future members will be.

Just as with any good recipe, there should be flexibility built in to adjust the finished product to what the tastes of those experiencing are; while holding true to the basic idea of what that recipe consistently produces. And, those that will become classic tried and trues become those covens and groups that are sustainable and have the greatest longevity.

There is no finite timeline in the birthing of a new coven. There are markers of historical significance that rise to the surface and of course, all of the “firsts”. First class of the study group that fed the new group. First charter member accepted. First planning meeting together. First group ritual. First open ritual. And, the day of dedication of the new coven, and more. And, the lack of finite determination, leaves room for growth, expansion, contraction and everything in between that ensures that the coven, as well as its membership continue on a path of spiritual growth.

The point of synchronicity is when the seeker finds their place of spiritual home in the group that has been birthed with the intention of attracting those who are just the right fit and resonance for the Great Work of Community.

Blessings of this New Year!

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She who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2016

Isis

I have chosen Isis for this month’s column because I do believe it is time for us and Her to reclaim Her name from those who use it to bring terror, evil, murder and injustice into our world. She is a Goddess from the beginning and She is still worshipped today. Let Her name be heard and live beyond those who dishonor her.

There, in the beginning was Isis, Oldest of the Old, She

was the Goddess from whom all Becoming arose.

She was the Great Lady, Mistress of the Two Lands,

Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of

the House of Life. She was the Unique. In all Her

great and wonderful works, She was a wiser magician

and more excellent than any other.”

~ ~ R. E. Witt

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(Photo credit: nasrinsafai.com)

Our beloved Isis was the first daughter of Nut, the Sky Goddess and Geb, the Earth God. Her twin sister-Goddess was Nepthys.

Isis was kind to her people, spending time with them, teaching the women how to grind corn and make bread. She taught the people agriculture and reading.

One of the stories surrounding Her is the anger she felt at Ra’s uncaring and cruelty to the people. She fashioned a snake out of mud and Ra’s saliva, which she had stolen. When Ra was subsequently bitten by this snake, becoming very ill, he ironically called for Isis to cure him due to her powerful healing magic. She refused to do this unless he gave to Her his secret name of power. Continuing to feel ill, Ra agreed and whispered his secret name to Her, realizing that from that point on, Isis would then have power over him.

While Isis loved Her people, She most loved her beloved brother/ lover/consort/husband Osiris. Overcome with jealously, their brother Set, who wanted Isis for his own, killed Osiris. Isis went into mourning, deeply grieving for him. She set out to search for his body.

In her travels, She came upon the Phoenician Queen, Astarte, who did not recognize her and hired her as a nursemaid for her child. Isis attempted to gift this child with immortality, laying him within a fire. The Queen saw this and became angered, pulling the child from the fireplace. As she turned to face the nursemaid, She revealed Herself as Isis. In atonement for her anger against the Goddess, Astarte revealed that Osiris’s body was hidden in a nearby tamarisk tree.

As Isis is returning to Egypt, Set comes upon Her and steals the body of Osiris, dismembering it and hiding each part separately. Once again, Isis searches for Her beloved. She finds each piece but one. She fashions Osiris a new penis out of gold, anoints him with oils and brings him back from the land of the dead. He impregnates Her and their son, Horus, is born.

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(Photo Credit: ancienttreasures.com)

Isis was also known as Au Set, Auzit, Eset and Isis, the All Goddess.

These are but a few of her names. As Her own powers grew and as She took on the powers of lesser Goddesses, her names also grew.

Her name is similar to Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtoreth and it has been suggested that they have a common distant origin. She was associated with the Goddess Hathor, with whom she has sometimes been mistaken and had a close relationship with the Goddess Bast, who’s name is “Ba-Ast”, or “Soul of Isis”. There were always cats in the temples of Isis.

She was known as “Isis Myrionymos” or Goddess of Ten Thousand, which we know Her as still today.

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(Photo Credit: ahanaenterprises.com)

She is the Mother of the Sun, She is the Moon. She is the Goddess of the Earth and Stars; the Goddess of Healing and Magic, as we have seen from the two previous stories; She is the Goddess of Love and Motherhood. She is the Goddess of Medicine and Wisdom. She is the Giver of Life and Guide to the Underworld, protecting all with Her outstretched wings.

She was also known as the Goddess of the Sea, known as “Isis Euploia” or “Isis of Good Sailing”. One of Her festivals is the “Isidis Navigium”, held on March 5. There was joy, music and dancing as boats were dedicated to Her, as She held the power of the seas and the tides.

Other of Her festivals are the “Going Forth of Isis”, held on October 7, when Her image was decorated and proceeded to “visit” the temples of other deities.

June 14 is the “Night of the Tear Drop”, to commemorate and remember Her mourning of Osiris. It is said that when She wept, the Nile flooded.

Of course, one must not forget Her birthday celebrations on July 30.

Some of Isis’ many symbols are the full moon, the stars, Her diadem headdress (moon with horns), the ankh and the sistrum, used in Her many celebrations.

Of the many temples that were dedicated to Her, the one in Abydos was said to pre-date the pyramids. Of course, there were temples to Her in Alexandria, Petra, which was used for healing, Coptos and at least one in Roman London.

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(Photo credit: dreamstime.com)

Some of these temples have been removed from Egypt. The Temple of Tafla is now located at the Museum of Antiquities in Leiden in the Netherlands. The Temple of Debad is in Municipal Park in Madrid, Spain. The one closest to my heart, as I have been there several times, is the Temple of Dendur which now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, USA. Please see this month’s “Sacred Place/Sacred Space” column for more on the Dendur Temple.

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(Photo Credit: Susan Morgaine)

I wish you peace and the blessings of Isis.

**Personal Note: In my quest to reclaim Isis’ name, I currently have her on my Yule altar. After the new year, I will be putting together a ritual to continue this. If anyone is interested in joining me, please email me at [email protected] and I will be happy to send you the ritual when it is finished.**

Resources:

The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

The Mysteries of Isis by DeTraci Regula

Isis Magic by M. Isadora Forrest

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Interview with George Nicholas of Cernunnos Rising

January, 2016

George Nicholas: Cernunnos Rising

 

George

 

Just before Yule I was fortunate enough to catch up with a favourite interviewee of Pagan Pages, George Nicholas of Pagan band, Cernunnos Rising. George was kind enough to bring us up to speed with what’s been happening since he last spoke to us.
MS: It’s been five years since we last spoke to you, and there have been two more Cernunnos Rising albums in that time. How has the band evolved? Who are you working with currently?
GN: Albums to date have been Cernunnos Rising, Wild Soul, Urban Druid, and the latest is Nature’s Child. The band members are now Martin Robinson on flutes and keyboard; Phill Orme on various instruments, vocals and lead guitar; Terry Gallagher on bass; Carla lewis on vocals and Eric Smith on drums. I tag along too.
MS: Going back to your third album, the title Urban Druid will no doubt resonate with many Pagans who live in our ever increasing cities. What was the primary inspiration for this album?
GN: My primary inspiration for creating the Urban Druid album was living in London; years of commercial business and hassle, and a feeling of being disconnected from nature in particular. I would seek out green spaces whenever I could and write my poetry and songs. Many of the songs are about trees, in fact, and some of their lost lore and mythologies. One song in particular was inspired by an ancient Yew tree I use to visit whenever I could, up in Borrowdale in the Northern Lake District; still alive thousands of years later, and going strong.
MS: What made you decide to use the theme of different trees throughout Urban Druid?
GN: The theme of trees seemed to sit well for me on the Urban Druid album, because trees and wild natural places occupied my mind so much when i was surrounded by concrete and city structures. It was my method of escape: visualising, drawing and writing about trees, and their ancient myths and legends.
MS: Is there a particular tree you connect to spiritually and why?
GN: I have no particular favourite tree really. I love them all, from the acorn decorated oak, to the essential apple tree, to the Elder tree with her beautiful, rich berries and aromatic flowers, to the ancient thick dark verdant Yew. All of them, special.
MS: Are you still an Urban Druid yourself, or are you more surrounded by nature and the countryside these days?
GN: I have seriously made it my business to spend the remaining years of my life enveloped and surrounded by nature. I live in an open aspect upon a hill. I welcome the clear vista of the sun arriving in the east, and relax and admire the beautiful sunsets that this aspect allows me to enjoy of an evening. I also spend much of my time on my land where I have my own stone circle with a central fire pit, surrounded by a mixture of trees; my peaceful little Nemeton.
MS: When and where do you feel most connected to nature or your spirituality?
GN: I feel most connected to nature and in the moment when I’m in a storm, or swimming in a cold mountain stream, or diving in the sea, or hang gliding, or skiing, climbing or in caves; in fact any aspect of land, sea and sky and in all seasons.
I certainly feel divorced from nature stuck in front of the T.V. or glued to a computer or mobile phone in a built up, urban scenario. Dissolves the soul.
MS: Tell us a bit about this year’s album, Nature’s Child. How has this latest album differed from your first two? Has it been more of a challenge, or as you create more albums, does the process become easier?
GN: The Natures Child album is different from the other albums in as much as I have mixed up the treatment and styles of the songs, as not to follow any format. There are personal songs on there; there are heartfelt ecological concern songs and protest songs on there; even new mixes of older popular songs, particularly Blessings Of Beltane. I had my Daughter Katie and co singer Carla do a much more sensitive and feminine version. I feel they have a quality in their combined voices i could never achieve and their version is closer to the Goddess.
MS: Do you have favourite tracks from the albums? If so, which are they, and why?
GN: I’m afraid I don’t have any favourite tracks from my albums. It’s the same with my artwork or paintings; once I’ve completed it I no longer like it! I instantly move on to the next creation.
MS: Do you have any gigs coming up over the festive season?
GN: There are many gigs we are considering at the moment, including a very large one in North Wales. We like to visit and play to our fans at our usual yearly venues like Pagancon in Preston, Lancashire etc. We will be confirming our dates in Jan 2016. Our last gig for this year will be our Yule event for the Merseyside Circle of Pagans at the `Casa Liverpool city centre.
MS: What has been your favourite gig to date, and why?
GN: My favourite gigs to date have been PaganCon as it is so friendly and warm, and a wonderful communitas has developed. Also I loved playing in the beautiful wooded areas of Silverdale for Wood Spirit Camp.
MS: How many of you are there when you play live, generally?
GN: 6 or 7 usually in the band when we play live, but can cut down to 3.
MS: Which do you prefer: composing, studio time or performing?
GN: I really like studio time. It seems like  a magical creative process, where things come to life and the last drops of inspiration jump from the cauldron and add to the tale.
MS: Do you consider yourself a Bard?
GN: People describe me that way… I consider myself a ‘creative’, be it poetry, music, art, sculpture. I consider myself fortunate and blessed.
MS: Who have been your biggest musical inspirations? Is there anyone you would absolutely love to work with, given the chance?
GN: Again, I try not to follow another’s style or skill. I don’t want to have musical inspirations if i can help it. The words and lyrics are my own, and the sound of the songs just happens, although some of my songs seem to me to have a formula. For instance Urban Druid has a jazzy twist, Beyond Us is the Cost has a Spanish feel, etc.  I’d love to work with Kate Bush, Nigel Shaw of 7th wave music, Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance, Mike Oldfield, Loreena McKennitt… Ha ha, don’t want much do I?

 

George2

 

MS: What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

GN: I have projects upon projects!! My charity takes up so much of my time it’s hard to get anything done, but I’m doing a new album, launching The Werebears (my character creation) again, various mural projects, possibly building a roundhouse meeting centre and devising a new book.

MS: And finally, how will you be celebrating the festive season?

GN: I`ll be celebrating the season with family and friends, with music and laughter… and prayers and deep thought for those now and in unborn time who the British government decided to turn to dust and exterminate. /I\

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Finding the Pagan Way

January, 2016

A Conversation with the Muse

I found myself in a large cave, and my goddess, who as you may know is also my muse, was looking every inch a faery queen. Her beauty always leaves me breathless. She seemed to be wearing a circlet of pearls woven into a silver band made from many fine strands. The strands of silver seemed to branch out from the core and formed interweaving spirals, between the pearls. Her ebony hair flowed down into the shadows and her deep brown eyes filled my mind with half-forgotten memories of sun-drenched foliage and warm moist air.

You have not visited us for a while”, She said softly. Her voice seemed to carry concern and a faint hint of humour at the same time. “I have been writing”, I said, defensively. “Sit down!” she said, and I noticed a plush sofa. As I sat, I felt a bony knuckle rap against the crown of my head. Looking up, I realised that she had changed personas. She was the ancient crone. Grey hair was tied into a scraggy bun with what looked like a leather thong and her perfect cheekbones stretched against the weather-beaten skin of her face. “You foolish child! how can you write anything of true value if you do not listen to your heart? You have wasted your valuable time in fretting about popularity and promoting your books! Listen and learn!”

I felt her bony fingers touch my forehead as the scenery faded and memory drew me back through time. I found myself at an age when age does not matter, and sitting on the floor in my maternal grandmothers flat in Ringsend, Dublin. All around me were treasures. Tiny little glass bottles of many colours and shapes. She had taken them from the glass cabinet for me to play with. I was totally engrossed in the reflection of light through the bottles and the feel of the cool hard glass. Some were thick clear, uneven glass that distorted everything like a hall of mirrors as I looked through them. The glow of sunlight through the window shone golden through the amber vials. The green flasks made the room look colder and darker. Even on a summer’s day, the fire was lit and I could recognise the unforgettable smell of turf burning. Life was simple and safe. I was too young for fear or anticipation and my past had barely begun. I sensed, rather than understood, my grandmother’s love and her satisfaction in seeing me playing with her collection of old glass containers.

I felt a touch on my forehead and I was back in the ornate cave. Flaming red hair framed her vibrant green eyes and billowed about my goddess, then swept down and around a flowing robe of green as she danced and swirled. “Write for me! She commanded. I felt puzzled. She laughed. “You are sitting at your laptop, aren’t you?” Suddenly I am here and looking back at what I have written. Have I been dismissed? I suppose I must relax and see what it is that I must write. I decide to make a cup of tea first, and I can hear her giggle somewhere in the back of my mind, so I know that she is still very near. While the kettle boils, I search for an image to inspire me. Do I have one as beautiful as her flaming red hair and laughing eyes? It hardly matters to a goddess with a thousand faces. I choose a picture to match my mood then sit and wait for inspiration as I sip my tea. The first few lines are granted, and I begin.

PaganWay

 

My Lady Moon

Within that world, where ancient mysteries lie, unshared with few, except the brave.

I walk the sacred path, determined that I keep the promises I made.

I had sworn that I would live a life that was devoted to the truth and to the Fae.

I had promised I would strive to live my brand-new life, immersed in magic every single day.

A childlike heart is wont to stray within this night-time world of loving Fae.

Where fireflies flit between the flowering moonlit trees to guide your way

I stretch my mind to fill my senses with the beauty of this glowing aerial display,

For, soon I must return to all the trials and all the complications of the day.

I will walk the lonely path of mankind’s world and spend each moment longing for my kin.

I will count each weary day until my promise is fulfilled and I return again.

Here among the dancing trees where laughter floats on every floral scented breeze,

I will rest a little while, and I will find my smile again, among the flowers and bees.

Join me! – If you dare, in my sweet world where children dance and sing without a care.

Walk the starlit path that shines down from the moon and weaves between the trees.

Here, in the woodland glade, where lovers promises are made beneath her silver light.

My Lady moon will take you to a world where all is love and all is pure delight!

Patrick W Kavanagh 12/12/2015

Art by Bill Oliver boysoblue.com

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