May, 2016

Merry Meet

May, 2016

pentalc.e

 

 

          Welcome

 

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In this Issue…

 

keli3

We are bringing you an amazing Interview with the one and only Singer/Writer Kellianna!!

 

wayoflife

 

 

A great Review of the book Meditation as a way of Life By Alan L. Pritz.

 

crystal

 

 

A New column on Crystals by our newest columnist Shiron Eddy, Crystal Connections.

and…

spellcrafting

 

Learn ways to meet the Fae in Spellcrafting: Spells & Rituals.

 

You will find those articles and tons more in this issue of PaganPages.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

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Join us on Facebook, Twitter, & Etiary!

 

 

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Tink About It

May, 2016

Tarot

I have always had a love-hate relationship with the tarot. I love the beautiful imagery and symbolism, but it’s hard to be any good in it for a perfectionist like me! It intrigued me at an early age when I noticed tarot cards in a series or movie (I think it was ‘Live and Let Die’, James Bond), although most series, books and movies don’t paint a great picture of tarot… It is mostly portrayed as something strange and/or dangerous, used by dark characters, gypsies and other ‘strange folk’. The cards Death and The Lovers are often depicted and not always in their true meaning. Still, this sparked my imagination. As a teenager I bought a deck (Universal Waite) and a booklet. I read it and did some spreads, but forgot all about it over the years. When I became more active in witchcraft I encountered people that were very skilled in tarot and the interest returned. I still had the Universal Waite, but also looked for other decks. I bought several and tried them all. A Lord of the Rings tarot deck because of my love for everything Tolkien, two cats tarot decks because I love cats, etc.

After a while I decided I wanted to learn more about the tarot and how to use it. I couldn’t find a course in my neighbourhood, so I decided to do a correspondence course with the Dutch ‘Buro voor tarot’ which specializes in courses, training and extended studies in tarot. As I wasn’t interested in becoming a professional I chose the basic course that worked with the Rider Waite deck. I learned a lot from it, so I can definitely recommend it. It’s different from self-study from a book and there are professionals who answer your every question. It’s a thorough way to get the basics.

I worked with the Rider Waite for a while. That’s a wrong name imho, it should be called the Waite-Smith deck, because Pamela Colman-Smith was the illustrator and deserves the credit! It is a great deck while exploring and getting to know all about tarot, but somehow it never really felt like the right deck for me. It feels a bit too much Christian-based and that didn’t appeal to me. I hardly ever used the other decks I owned, although I love to look at the beautiful cards. I also own several other oracle card decks. My favourites are the Druid Animal Oracle and the Druid Plant Oracle, made by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm and beautifully illustrated by the very talented Will Worthington. When I heard this trio had also made a tarot deck, I looked into it and ordered it right away. I guess you could say it was love at first sight. ? The wonderful images and the overall druid-witchcraft-pagan feel of the deck spoke to me. I could still use everything I learned from the Rider Waite deck, as the basics aren’t that different. I started working with it and developed a real connection with the deck, which made my readings better I think.

 

Tink1

 

 

There are several ways in which I use the tarot. To get acquainted with a deck (or re-acquainted when I didn’t use the tarot for a long while) I take a card each day and work with it. What do I see in it? What does it tell me that day? Not from the book but from the heart. Afterwards I look it up in the book to see how that matches; sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t! I always listen to my own intuition though. The cards are merely a tool to get things clear for myself.

From time to time I do a reading for myself or (rarely) at request for someone else. The spreads I like most are the Celtic Cross (10 cards) and Past-Present-Future (3 cards). On my birthday I do a 12 card-spread, a card for every month of my new year. I also like to experiment with other spreads I find on the internet or invent myself.

I also like to use tarot cards in a ritual setting or on my altar. For example, I place the High Priestess and High Priest as decoration on my altar or when travelling they can replace the goddess and god statues. In a ritual setting I look for cards that support and strengthen my goal for the ritual. I place them on the altar, often accompanied by runes, stones and other items with the same purpose. Of course a tarot reading can be part of the magical work in a ritual all by itself too.

Tarot can also function as a tool in meditation, to focus your consciousness and I’ve also used it in shadow work. That’s a bit much to explain here, but I can recommend ‘Tarot Shadow Work: Using the Dark Symbols to Heal’ by Christine Jette.

Like all kinds of divination, for me tarot has nothing to do with forecasting the future. It’s a tool to get an insight in a certain matter or situation, in possible consequences and solutions. It helps me to look at problems and other things from different perspectives. I look for guidance and insight, and in that way it has never disappointed me. Of course I didn’t always like a possible outcome, but that was a push in the right direction to act, do something to change it!

When I was thinking about this column and making a start to write it another tarot deck came into my life. I had heard about the Wildwood Tarot, and I knew I would like it! It is a complete reconception and redesign of the popular Greenwood Tarot. This time author Mark Ryan worked with John Matthews, and illustrator Will Worthington, to create this deck based on the seasonal rhythms and festivals of the ancient year. One day I noticed a friend offering it on the pagan marketplace-group I manage on Facebook. Someone had already shown interest, but nevertheless I left a comment that I’d be interested to buy it. After a while I got a message that the first buyer had pulled out, I guess it was meant to be with me! So now I have a whole new deck to explore and get acquainted with and I’m very much looking forward to it!

 

TInk2

 

 

Do you work with the tarot? Which deck do you prefer?

I’d love to hear from you.

 

Sources and more to explore:

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Beltaine Correspondences

May, 2016

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.
Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron
Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz
Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

 

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Tarot Talk

May, 2016

Well, I think it is time to talk about the Fours of the Minor Arcana. Last month we talked about the Three of Cups; if you haven’t read that one yet, take a few moments now to check it out. This month we will talk about the Four of Cups, and attempt to understand what happens to the energies of a card when we move forward from the Three.

The Four of Cups is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Cups. These two ingredients could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. Let’s get started!

The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water, and the information about Water applies to both the Three and the Four of Cups. Many Tarot decks use images of cups and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards, and that will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Water itself. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Water to our feelings and emotions, and indeed, feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water, and the suit of Cups. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious. To many of us, the subconscious is deep and dark and frightening, and a body of Water makes a perfect metaphor for the hidden segments of the Self.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, averse to change, or suspicious.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of The Solid, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience potent emotions and feelings (the Ace of Cups), and balance, caring, attraction and chemistry (the Two of Cups), in order to give birth to something new (the Three of Cups). Now the celebration is over, and inertia begins to present itself; while stability is necessary for a new creation to thrive, attempting to hold still while the rest of the world keeps moving actually means we are falling behind.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Cups offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Cups represents the Moon in Cancer, very different from our Three of Cups (which corresponds with Mercury in Cancer).

The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face. It is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth’s sky after the Sun, and although it can appear a very bright white, its surface is actually dark. Its regular cycle of phases causes it to appear to change shape. The Moon’s gravitational influence produces the ocean tides; while it appears quite changeable, the Moon actually stabilizes the Earth’s orbit. Its current orbital distance from the Earth causes the Moon to appear to be the same size as our Sun (which allows the Moon to cover the Sun in a solar eclipse). Astrologically the Moon is associated with a person’s emotional make-up, unconscious habits, rhythms, memories, moods, and a person’s ability to react and adapt to his or her environment. It is also associated with Yin energy, the receptive feminine life principal, the mother, maternal instincts or the urge to nurture, the home, the need for security and the past, especially early experiences and childhood.

Cancer, the Crab, is responsive, emotional and generous, but that hard shell can shield a person who is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, acknowledge that they experience strong feelings and emotions, and they are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be very attuned to the past, and they place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart.

The Moon and Cancer are both connected to feelings and emotions. Together, they strive to surround themselves with both the familiar and the secure. They love peace and quiet, and they are not big fans of change or the unexpected. This combination is about being devoted to family and loved ones, about being domestic and nurturing, about easily expressing joy and fun when feeling secure, and moodiness when feeling threatened. This is a change from our Three of Cups, which presents an openness for experiencing emotions and feelings and an ability to use logic and analysis as well as intuition and reflection.

The traditional image of the Four of Cups is of a man sitting under a tree, contemplating three Cups sitting before him, while out of a cloud a hand presents a fourth Cup. Some cards show a feminine figure, representing the feminine energies of this card, and she is sometimes reclining, or resting her head in her hands. There is stillness to the image, even a heavy or pensive essence, or a sense that the figure in the image is pondering or imagining or even dreaming.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

There is a common theme throughout all of these ingredients: a slowing down of activity. Serenity, like a pond of still water, easily becomes stagnation. The Thoth Tarot Four of Cups uses the keyword of “luxury,” but it is only after examining the keyword for the Three of Cups, “abundance,” that we can see the emerging pattern of lethargy and possible stagnation. Abundance is a good thing, but luxury can sometime make us soft or unable to respond to a challenge. The Llewellyn Welsh Four of Cups tells of isolation and an inability to determine what should be done next, despite the support and encouragement presented by the Three of Cups of this deck.

The image on the Shadowscapes Four of Cups portrays the energies of this card in a wonderful way. The card shows a beautiful mermaid lounging by a still pool of water, seeming to be transfixed by her reflection; self-absorption, sinking too deeply into our own concerns to the point that we miss what is being offered by the world around us.

Visualizing goals and dreaming of the future are not bad things, and having someone to support us and assist us is one of the benefits of community. The Four of Cups reminds us that too much dreaming of the future can end up causing us to miss the opportunities that are around us now, and depending only on the efforts of others without doing our own part will make us soft and weak. As humans we are able to experience pleasures of all kinds, but overdosing on pleasure will only serve to deaden the senses. When this card shows up in a spread, we may need to counteract our tendency to look inward and instead, connect with the outer world, and the connections and motivation to be found there!

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MagickalArts

May, 2016

The Circle of art and Creating Sacred Space

Let the space be readied

Let the mind be opened.

By Blue Flame and

Power of Sacred Four

We call forth the

Divine Spark within.

May the Gates be opened

And the Sacred Journey begin.

Before we enter the space that will be the place of your magick, the preparations leading up to the actual crossing of the threshold into what will become sacred space serves to make ready for the shift in energy, dynamics and consciousness that we hope to achieve. The casting of the Circle of Art takes the mundane space and transforms it into the appropriate container to hold the energies that will be used.

There are many ways in which to cast a circle; but the basic goal is to enclose a working space within a sphere of energy that will be sufficient to hold the energetic patterns of the work to be done. The actual scribing of the circle is symbol of the continuum of all natural cycles and the seamless construct that connects all time and matter. There are many ways to cast a circle and often the method will be selected that sets the tone for the working or celebration within its confines. Toning “Om” while the circle is being scribed adds the component of sound to elevate the vibrations naturally occurring from the movement of tracing the circle by the caster. During the process of the designated person casting the circle energy is directed towards that individual to blend and intertwine as bolster to what the caster is already connecting with and generating. If you think of the circle as a sphere, each strand of energy being sent from those standing along the perimeter of that sphere are like spokes of a wheel which all meet centrally and feed into yet another and smaller circle within the very core.

Igniting the Blue Fire

magickalarts

The work of the casting of a circle is to form a point in time and space where all may converge towards a place of transformation. It is alchemical in its creation and the principles of alchemy used are the stuff from which many of the protocols and principles of mundane science are derived. The energy that is directed into the casting of a sacred circle is often described as a blue flame. If we look to science for basis of reasoning for use of a blue flame the rationale lies in Chemistry. In Organic Chemistry flames have different areas of temperature. Even in an ordinary candle, the temperatures are separated into several different regions visualized by the varying colors of a flame. The blue region which is the innermost part of the flame is the hottest. The yellow and white portions are the lowest in temperature and furthest away from the initiating component that maintains the light and heat. This is also noted when blowing out a candle, the bluish glow often being the last to fade before complete extinguishing.

The hottest point of the flame is both the meeting inwards of what feeds that flame and the combustible outpouring of what generates or initiates the flame. So too, the casting of the circle is the initial thrust of energy which then feeds and fuels itself from the central place of Spirit.

From a Qabalistic perspective we could compare the color and dynamics of the blue fire of the circle to the energies and dynamics of the sphere Chesed. Chesed is the last sphere ascending the Tree before crossing the abyss (Da’at) that separates the pure Divine essence of the Supernal (Godhead) Spheres of the Tree. Its energy is that of coalescent, refined and summation of experience afforded the spheres leading up to this point. This sphere is considered the Hall of the Masters; the point where choice is made to either remain on the wheel of incarnation to serve humanity or to ascend beyond the realm of physical world expression and be fully reabsorbed into the source of all creation. Descending the Tree, Chesed is the first sphere of actualization. The point where flow and form have merged becomes the potent juncture that acts as the beginning of the work towards actualizing the concept or idea of manifestation so it may begin its journey into a place of reality.

If we take into account the energies and attributes of Chesed these are easily framed within the context of a magickal circle. We are creating a space that carries within it the memory and gnosis of all that was, is and will be. We are connecting with the Universal Mind and bringing it into a contained space where it may be used and accessed in accord with the intent of the ritual via the understanding of the magic worker. We have also, hopefully gained enough mastery over our physical being to raise sufficient energy for an effective circle and done the necessary research into who and what we wish to into presence for our ritual.

The Blue of Healing

Blue is the color of healing energy, lends its iridescent hues to the waters that hold the energies of the tides, and is seen in the delicate brush strokes within the beauty of the sky’s palette. All of these dynamics are present within the circle of casting. There can be great healing (at all levels of being) that occurs in connecting with Divinity. The ebb and flow of the waters within and comprising a large portion of our body intimately connect us to the ebb and flow of energy that presents itself within the circle and the limitless nature of the sky and what it holds above are the pinnacles towards which we strive as we do ritual, declare sacred space and work our magick.

A Circle is A Sphere

When you observe someone casting a circle it appears as though they are moving around the perimeter and tracing a single circular line of energy. In reality, the casting of a circle is more like a sphere. The energy of the working is contained on all sides in all directions at once and simultaneously at all ends and all points along the continuous curve. This imagery demonstrates the relevance of the adage “as above, so below”. This is the rising of the vibrations set into motion and streams of energy put forth as the casting progresses and are mirrored back to one another. It is again a mirror like reflection of the microcosm within the macrocosm. A sphere that is moving through the planes of time and space that is “not a specific time, nor a specific place; but a breath of potency that is between the worlds”.

How To:

Generally one person is selected to do the casting of the circle and the calling of the quarter energies. Traditionally the circle is scribed with the athame, but you may also use a wand, staff, crystal, sword (although a bit risky and unwieldy if very long) or your index finger. If it is a group working, the remaining participants take hands as they send a stream of energy from one to the other; forming an inner circle.

Moving deosil (clockwise/sunwise) around the circle and beginning in the East, the caster draws in breath and energy from his/her central core (remember we did the grounding prior and formed an energetic balance of earth and sky. It is from this blending that the energy is drawn to cast or lend support to the casting of the circle) and begins the tracing of the circle with right arm outstretched holding the athame. Visualize the blue flame of energy pouring out and through the tip of the blade and filling the space as you walk slowly around the perimeter of the circle. If group work, the person casting should be in the outermost area of the perimeter with those participants held within the center of the circle. Continue around the circle breathing gently into the energy as it streams forth until you arrive once again at the East.

Next you will be calling the quarter energies in to the sphere of art. Some traditions will fold the calling of the quarters and the casting of the circle into one singular pass around the circle. In this form; beginning in the East, you would invite the energies of the quarters into the circle; open the Gates of that quarter and then draw that energy around the circle as you stop at each quarter in turn. Again, you would end in the East. Personally, I prefer to establish the boundaries of the space and then invite the energies of the Elements or Deities into the prepared and readied space.

A Final Note For Consideration:

As with all magickal work, casting a circle takes practice. Because there are multiple levels of understanding and expertise that formulate the final product, a Circle of Art, as it is sometimes called- the more information you have about first and foremost-YOURSELF-the more effective any magickal working will be.

If you are a novice, take each piece of casting the circle apart and spend some time reflecting on how each of those pieces relate to you and your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual natures. For example, some questions to consider are:

What does the image of the blue flame mean to you?

Are you able to easily visualize this color and also hold the sensation of what that specific energy may feel like?

Change the color to yellow or red. Does it feel the same? Is there a sound that is emanating from this color and form?

As you walk what you have established as the perimeter of the circle, what thoughts move through you as you take each step? What other sensations are you experiencing?

Remember! The first steps towards learning how to direct energy are taken in learning as much as you can about its natural generator, container and conduit-YOU!

And It Is Done!

When the work is complete and it is time to leave sacred space, we walk the edge of Circle once again and bid farewell to those energies of the quarter elements we have called to aid our rite. Each quarter is thanked and the Gate to that elemental realm closed. We draw the energy of the circle back through the tool used to create it and send that energy down into the sacred earth of Mother below to assimilate and disperse, knowing that all that was accomplished within that sacred space is durable and lasting in its effects.

The circle is complete

Time has etched out the way

God and Goddess have graced

Us as we offered devotion each day.

 

The elements have gathered

In balance deep within

And, the alchemy of energy

Was carried on fire’s breathy wind.

The time for return, to review

And reflect is now close at hand

In the circle of the Old Ones

In the space of service

Hence forth, we shall stand.

Next Month:

Crafting Effective Quarter Calls

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Warrior Women

May, 2016

Queen Liliuokalani

Warrior

This is the very sad story of the last monarch of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, the trials and tribulations of the indigenous Hawaiians and her extended battle with the rich American plantation owners who eventually coerced her to give up her throne.

Liliuokalani was born in Honolulu on September 2, 1838, and, in keeping with a very interesting Hawaiian custom, she was adopted by another family, Abner Paki, his wife, Konia, and their daughter, Bernice Pauahi.

As I write this I wonder why Bernice wasn’t adopted by another family. My first thought was perhaps it was tradition only in royal families, but Konia was the granddaughter of King Kamehameha l, so that theory went right out the window. (More research would solve the mystery, I think.) If you want to learn more about the custom of adopting newborns from other families, go here: http://www.hawaiian-roots.com/researchproblems2.htm )

Liliuokalani, and her brother, Kalakaua, were educated “in the ways of the foreigners.” It was standard practice, beginning in the 1830s, for the children of royal families to be taught to speak, as well as read, English. Consequently, Liliuokalani was able to negotiate with the American plantation owners who wanted to acquire the islands as a protectorate of the U.S.

Liliuokalani Kalakaua, were clever, well-read and cultured. They both understood the formalities and protocol of court life. However, they also felt comfortable with ordinary Hawaiians and, as a matter of fact, were apprehensive about their future happiness.

In 1874, Kalakaua became King Kalakaua, ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and, upon his death in 1891, Liliuokalani became Queen. Her reign was one of treason, treachery and turmoil. Less than two years after ascending the throne, Sanford Ballard Dole, with other American plantation owners, removed Queen Liliukalani from the throne in a bloodless coup. She stepped down, against her will and under protest. Dole appointed himself president of the new republic. That was the end of the Hawaiian monarchy. This is what Queen Liliukalani had to say:

“I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom.”

In a desperate, but ill-fated attempt to regain her throne, Liliukalani had hidden guns in her garden, or had knowledge of their existence. (Two stories exist concerning this issue.) She was found out, arrested and sentenced to five years of hard labour. The sentence was not enforced. Instead, she was placed under house-arrest for less than a year, then was pardoned.

Queen Liliukalani fought hard to keep her beloved home an independent and sovereign nation, but she was no match for the rich plantation owners and the American government. On Aug 12, 1898, Hawaii became an American territory. The Incorporated Territory of Hawaii was born.

I have great admiration for this woman. She was intelligent, resilient, strong-willed, and discerning when it came to the future of her citizens.

She held on to her beloved Hawaii as long as she could.

Queen Liluokalani, last monarch of the sovereign nation of Hawaii, died on November 11, 1917. She was mourned deeply by all who knew her, native Hawaiians and Americans alike.

(PS: Queen Liliuokalani had quite an artistic talent. She wrote 165 songs, one of which is the popular Aloha ‘Oe. You can listen to it here:

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1bIxMYPlas[/embedyt]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1bIxMYPlas )

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Elements of a Personal Cult

May, 2016

There is a sense in which the favorite deity has already chosen the devotee, and an early step in establishing a devotional relationship is to examine any unusual dreams or waking experiences that seem to be messages from someone. Think back through your past, looking for experiences that preceded important turning points in your attitude and approach to life. The experiences themselves need not have been unusual in any obvious sense, making their influence on us all the more mysterious. I can remember one morning long ago when I was up at dawn walking to breakfast. I had had a personal disappointment the night before, when suddenly a bright-eyed old lady, the only other person around, looked at me as she walked vigorously by and said “We’re the only ones up!” I am unable to account for why that event has stuck in my memory, but my life seemed to take a different direction after that; I felt healed where I had felt injured within, and my attitude changed to hope from despair.

In some ways a devotee is like a fan of a movie star or rock musician, in a state of enthusiastic identification. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a Scythian (the Scythians lived in what is now southern Russia) named Anacharsis who traveled widely and came to adopt Greek religious customs. This fellow was a devotee of the Mother of the gods, and when he was back in Scythia, as it was a sacred occasion, he celebrated the mysteries of the goddess in a clearing in the forest, pinning the sacred pictures to his clothes and dancing around ecstatically. A Scythian got wind of him and reported to his local king, who declared he would not tolerate Greek religious ceremonies in his realm and ordered the devotee killed with an arrow. 1

Like a fan, a devotee will put up pictures or an idol of his deity. He will study his deity’s myths and celebrate or mourn them as appropriate, following whatever rituals still survive. He will celebrate the birth of his god or goddess on the appropriate date. He will follow the preferences of his deity if these are recorded in the myths. For instance, in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the goddess comes to Eleusis and is offered a drink of wine, but declines it in favor of kykeion, which was a sort of barley-water flavored with mint. 2 A devotee of this goddess will therefore abstain from alcohol, at least during his re-enactment of the wanderings of Demeter in search of her daughter Persephone, drinking kykeion instead as a sort of communion with the divine. 3

Thus through prayers, offerings, examination of dreams and omens, ritual enactment of myths, assumption of the deity’s preferences and perception of the deity in nature, the devotee seeks to be as close to his god or goddess as possible. The key practice, however, is repetition of the divine name, often with the deity’s titles included. The Hindus call this japam; it might be called a way of taking the color of the deity, coloring one’s own experience with his or her divine presence. That japam was performed in the West as well can be seen from Jesus’ preaching against praying “as the heathen do; for they think that by much repetition they will the more readily be heard.” This of course is a misunderstanding of the purpose and results of japam. Japam is performed at set times, 4 as well as at random moments when the mind is idle. During the set periods, a devotee will often make use of a string of beads or dried seeds as a way of ensuring that a certain number of repetitions are done without bothering the mind with counting. Hindus call these beads rudraksha, and it is so effective an instrument that Catholics have adopted it in the rosary, and even muslims make use of it. Among witches it was known as a ‘witch’s ladder’. 5

Herodotus’ tale of Anacharsis is a cautionary one, and in general pagans thought little of excessive devotion to a single deity, or even to deities in general. Euripides’ play Hippolytos warns against devotion to Artemis at the neglect of Aphrodite, while his play The Bacchae warns against the rejection of the worship of Dionysos and thus of ecstatic religion per se. Here, as always, the Greeks believed in pursuing a balance, in the latter case a balance between religious sobriety and religious intoxication. So whichever god or goddess takes your fancy, be careful to set limits to your devotion. One way to ensure this is to have second and third favorites among the gods, practicing minor devotions to those deities as well as generally attending to all gods, demigods, and spirits. This was common in antiquity, with devotions to one’s special god or goddess balanced out by devotions to family or clan deities or a patron deity of one’s trade. 6

Nor should the pagan devotee expect to be always especially devoted to the same god or goddess. It was a practice since late Sumerian times 7 to switch allegiance to another chosen deity if one felt betrayed or somehow let down by the old one. But even if there has been no let-down, our needs shift as we go through life and Aphrodite will understand if a middle-aged man turns his attention at some point to Hermes or Demeter. In that case, the pious pagan made a special offering to the god or goddess being left behind, signifying a voluntary surrender of his or her divine gifts. Thus, young girls entering on puberty hung up their girdles in the temple of Artemis; perhaps that is where the expression ‘better hang it up’ originated!

Reflecting on my own practice, I have identified five elements that must be present in any fully developed relationship with a pagan deity. These could be called the deity’s

(1) locus, (2) signs, (3) myth, (4) discipline, and (5) occasion for prayer.

The locus is the external dwelling or vehicle of the deity, whether outside or inside. Some deities, like the sun god or goddess, have a single locus (the sun, obviously); others have a generic locus, such as the oak tree for Cernunnos or Thorr and other cognate deities. These would be outdoor loci, whereas an idol or shrine would serve as an indoor locus. The traditional indoor locus for Thorr (judging from 17th century accounts of Lappish religious practice) was the house pillar, which held an iron nail at shoulder height; the head of the household would sit next to the pillar and grasp the nail during thunderstorms, to feel the power of the god. The locus, whether indoor or outdoor, would be the proper place to pray to the god and leave offerings. In case of a generic locus such as an oak tree, the worshipper should select that oak (if any) that seems to contain the most power and direct his or her devotions to it on a regular basis.

The signs of a deity are more ephemeral, being omens or communications from him or her to the worshipper. These can be external (weather signs, sacred birds) or internal (dreams, sudden inspirations, moods). The reading of bird-omens was common among the ancients, the raven for instance being associated with Othinn and Bran, and the dove with Aphrodite.

Dreams were commonly channels of communication with one’s partner god or goddess, and can still be used as such by anyone attentive to dreams and their figures. They are also effective ways to talk with the dead.

Internal psychological events were regularly regarded by the ancients as links to deity, especially at times of crisis. Thus, when Achilles is about to draw sword in wrath against Agamemnon, Athena restrains him; a moment of sober restraint, putting off retribution till the right moment, was regarded as an epiphany of that goddess, as was saying the right thing at the right time, or being inspired with a winning stratagem. Another example would be the sudden quiet that sometimes descends on a gathering, which caused the Greeks to say “Hermes is in the room,” an expression later changed by the Church to “an angel has passed through the room.”

The myth of a god or goddess is often linked to the calendar, and provides special sacred occasions for worshipping a deity and celebrating his or her exploits. Cernunnos, worshipped by Celtic witches as the year-god, has a myth tied very closely to the change of the seasons, with special celebrations at the winter and summer solstices, when he changes his aspect from the god of the waning to the god of the waxing year, and vice versa. The Greek deities each had a ‘birthday’ celebrated on a particular day of the lunar month; some deities’ births were celebrated on the same day. The festive or sacred occasion is a sort of locus in time. Some deities’ myths, such as that of the sun in Tuscan witchcraft, also involved the worshipper’s view or his or her own destiny. The Tuscan witch expects to reincarnate on Earth until reaching a certain stage of spiritual evolution, at which point he or she will go to the astral world of the sun and there be transformed into a being of light, possessing a ‘stellar’ body. 8

The gifts of a god or goddess generally depend on a certain ongoing discipline on the part of the worshipper who hopes to receive them. No amount of worship and offerings to Aphrodite will win her gifts without attention to personal attractiveness, for instance. And if a pagan is already committed to a certain discipline, finding the appropriate deity to serve as its sponsor is an effective way to integrate him or her into one’s religious life. Thus, as Cernunnos is depicted shamanistically on the Gundestrup cauldron, I have dedicated my own shamanic practices to that god, and thank him whenever I am reminded to do them.

Finally, the occasions for prayer and offerings to one’s chosen deity will depend on the other elements and whether they are all present in one’s life. If one’s god or goddess has a locus like an oak-tree, being by the oak-tree will provide an occasion for devotion. The same is true of a special date in the calendrical myth of that deity. Lacking a spatial locus and at other times than festivals, one may select a time of day appropriate to the bodily or mental occasion to pray. For instance, if the devotee holds communication with the deity through dreams, praying just before going to sleep will be an obvious choice, as will praying when awakening in the morning. Occasions when one or more signs of the deity are evident will also serve, such as sudden windfalls for Hermes or inexplicable moments of panic in the woods around noon for Pan.

In addition to elements pertaining to the object of a personal cult, the attitude or posture of the devotee will enter into the character of the cult as a whole. I myself lack an ecstatic devotional temperament, and my relationship to my personal deity is one of pupil to master. From antiquity, the Hindus have recognized five different attitudes one can take towards one’s personal deity, depending on temperament. These are called ?anta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhur.

?anta, a characteristic attitude among the sages of ancient India, is the serene attitude. It does not involve intense feelings of love, and for that reason is rejected by the more devotional Hindus as genuine; but it might suit many of us nowadays, and in any case is a logical starting-point for anyone choosing a personal god or goddess. For this attitude, it is enough to know (and bear in mind) that the god or goddess is there.

Dasya is the attitude of a servant towards his (or her) master (or mistress). This is an appropriate attitude for someone who feels a need to accomplish some great work or task for the personal deity, such as organizing a coven, and also comes closest to my own attitude of pupil.

Sakhya is the attitude of friendship. One sits before the idol as one sits with a friend, just hanging out. This is also an appropriate view to take nowadays, as we may not feel love for our deity but may come to like him or her, especially over time.

Vatsalya is the attitude of a mother towards her child. It could also apply to a father or other parent figure. It is protective and nurturing, and perhaps entered into cults of the infant Hermes and Zeus, the latter especially in Crete. One can imagine it being the attitude of a pagan towards little idols and fetishes.

Madhur is the attitude a man or woman has for his or her paramour; it is said to contain the other four attitudes. It is not necessarily sexual (that would be hazardous with the Olympians) but is definitely romantic or, in cases of deities of the same sex as the devotee, is like hero- or heroine-worship. This was no doubt the attitude of Hippolytos towards Artemis, and of Anacharsis towards the Mother of the gods. As we have seen, this last attitude can run into trouble if not kept moderate. 9

I hope these observations prove useful to those who wish to bring one or more deities more fully and intimately into their lives. And one note more: it goes without saying that pagans, being polytheists, will not have time or energy for building cults of devotion to all the gods and demigods in their pantheon. In this matter we do not differ from the pagans of antiquity!

Bibliography:

ATHANASSAKIS, Apostolos N., trans., The Homeric Hymns, Baltimore and London, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

GUPTA, Mahendranath, or ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.

HERODOTUS, The History, trans. By David Grene, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1987.

NIKHILANADA, Swami, trans., The Upanishads, in four volumes. Reference is to Volume 2. New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.

1 Herodotus, The History 3: 76 – 77, p. 308.

2 Some scholars also believe the kykeion contained hallucinogenic herbs or fungi, at least during initiation into the mysteries at Eleusis.

3 Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 205, p. 7. See bibliography.

4 Japam may be done mentally, or silently with the lips moving, or aloud.

5 The witch likewise will practice chanting spells, such as the cord-spell, perhaps adding an invocation of the Lady.

6 Scholars have noted that ancient Mesopotamians often prayed to deities other than those whose name formed part of their own given name, suggesting that they began in life attending to a family deity and later took up with one they chose themselves.

7 Around 2000 BCE.

8 A similar myth can be found in the Hindu Prasna Upanishad I:9 – 10, pp. 158-9. See Bibliography.

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9 The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 115.

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She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

May, 2016

Maia

goddess

(Photo Credit: femcompetitor.com)

Maia is the Goddess for whom the month of May is named. 

Various meanings of her name are *grandmother*, *midwife*, *wise one*, *She Who is Great*. In Rome, she was also known as “Maia Maiestas”, meaning “Maia the Majestic”.

While much of Her story has been forgotten, there are a few things we do know about Her.

She was the eldest daughter of Atlas and Pleione, the oldest of what came to be known as the Pleiades; as such, in Greece, She was also called the Goddess of the Night Sky.

The Pleiades were the 7 Sisters who were nymphs in the company of Artemis. Their name became the name of the 7 star-cluster constellation in our night sky. They were born in a cave on Mount Cyllene, where Maia continued to live, quite secluded.

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(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Apparently, she was not quite secluded enough as Zeus found her, and in due course, She gave birth to Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods. She is sometimes called the *Grandmother of Magic*, as it is said (but highly doubtful) that Hermes invented magic. Maia was also given Arcas, Zeus’ son by Callisto, to raise as Callisto was turned into a bear by the Goddess Hera, who was ever jealous of Zeus’ extra-marital relationships.

In Rome, She was Earth Goddess; the goddess of youth, love, birth and sexuality. She was the goddess of plants and of Spring. She was also a Fire Goddess, who ruled growth, warmth and sexual heat. She was paired with the God Vulcan, as he also was a deity of heat and fire. She was

honored in Rome in the month of August at August Volcanalia, a festival to ward off fires that were caused by the dry weather and extreme heat that could destroy the harvest.

She was celebrated as the Goddess of Spring, welcoming in the renewal and rebirth of the new season, shedding the death of winter. She represented growth and fertility and was honored with an abundance of flowers at her festival on May 1st. This festival was eventually changed to honor Mary as the Queen of Flowers, but it will always belong to Maia.

goddess2

(Photo Credit: greekgoddesses.wikia.com)

In both Greek and Roman cultures, Maia was strongly identified with Mother Earth, who in Greek was Gaia to the Roman Terra. She was also identified with Bona Dea, The Good Goddess.

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(Photo Credit: listal.com)

May all the joys of Spring be yours!

Many blessings!

)O(

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Sacred Place, Sacred Space

May, 2016

Last month in April, as we looked for the sacred in the mundane world, I shared information and photography of The Angel Oak in Charlston, SC. This month, I share with the beauty and majesty of The Luray Caverns. All photos taken by Susan Morgaine and Joe Stanley, Jr. Enjoy!

The Luray Caverns, Virginia (US)

Sacred1 Sacred2 Sacred3 Sacred4 Sacred5 sacred6 sacred7

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SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

May, 2016

Welcoming the Fae

spellcrafting

Merry meet.

Those in some traditions celebrate the magical link between the Fae and humans. For many, Beltane is one of the times of year when the veil between their world and ours is the thinnest.

The Fae are faery folk, or nature spirits, thought to be an ancient race that have existed alongside humans for thousands of years. They tend to be shy and keep to themselves. It is polite not to intrude.

Its said the Fae will appear under a full moon in a grove if it is populated with oak, ash and hawthorn. Celtic legend associates the Fae with caverns and springs, making those magical places. I have sensed them in the center of a stand of lilacs and in undisturbed sections of old overgrown gardens.

Here are a few suggestions for ways you might welcome the Fae this Beltane:

  • Arrange a circle of stones in an unused area of your property. You might also try acorns.

  • Place a small wooden table and chairs in your garden, and allow vines such as morning glory and ivy to wrap themselves around and over them.

  • Construct small houses or grottos made of stones where they will remain hidden under bushes, in hollow tree trunks (especially oak), where mushrooms grow or in other secret places.

  • Hang tiny bells or wind chimes from tree branches; include a gazing globe or a garden statue. Avoid objects made of iron or steel.

  • While each flower has its own fairy that cares for it, I believe some plants attract other nature spirits as well, including bluebells, cowslip, lily of the valley, hollyhocks, foxglove, lavender, cosmos, roses, daisies, pansies, violets, honeysuckle, thyme and others. Plant some in your garden or near your door to encourage the Fae to draw near.

  • Consider adding a water source such as a birdbath.

Treat the space as a sanctuary for the Fae; refrain from disturbing it. While weeds should not be allowed to take over, an unkempt patch of indigenous wildflowers, however small, is fine.

A short ritual to formally invite them could include casting a circle around the area and dedicate that space to their use.

Work to earn their trust.

Common offerings are food and tiny treasures. Consider leaving gifts of cream, honey, bread with or without butter, wine and anything that sparkles.

A faery altar can also be established indoors, incorporating plants and fresh flowers, items that shine or sparkle such as crystals and coins.

Know that fairies are not all glitter and giggles. Yes, they are playful, but they are also powerful. They can easily be offended and are not to be trifled with. They wont stay where theyre not wanted. The Fae deserve respect. They can be mischief and do something such as hide your keys, but they can also help you find lost items, such as the keys you misplaced.

If you choose to welcome them into your home, you might try a little door. I have one in my living room and one in my bedroom closet.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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