June, 2016

Merry Meet

June, 2016

Litha

 

        Welcome

 

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In This Issue…

We are packed full of great articles & lot’s of reviews this month!  Check out…

Witchcraft

 

 

A great Book Review on “Witchcraft – A Handbook of Magic, Spells & Potions,” by Anastasia Greywolf.

 

spiral

Learn how to make time for Rituals in Spiralled Edges.

 

Raven

Our Mabh Savage has a nice talk with Author Raven Grimassi on his New Book “Communing with the Ancestors”

 

coloring2acoloring1a

 

 

Witchcrafts: crafts for witches features one of today’s hottest trends, Coloring Books!

 

Plus, we have many more book reviews and articles inside, so come on in and have a good read!!

 

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Join us on Facebook, Twitter, & Etiary!

 

 

 

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Litha Correspondences

June, 2016

Date June

21/22

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, need fires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

 

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Tarot Talk

June, 2016

This month, we will turn back to the Major Arcana, and talk about The Empress. We haven’t talked about a Major for a while, so let’s review some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

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

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s start breaking down The Empress!

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is the number 3 of the Major Arcana cards, and represents the archetype of the Great Mother. The Empress, like the Great Mother, rules women and everything about feminine energy; she protects her own and responds to challenges with authority and leadership, but in a softer (yet quite strong) way. Often The Empress is perceived by male authors of fairy tales as prone to hysteria and drawn to dark powers or plots, and to some extent this can be true of the reversed Empress. But The Empress also can be a benevolent parent, using her authority to protect those who look to her for guidance and love, and seeing her own empowerment as being enhanced by her interactions with others.

The traditional image on The Empress is of a woman at the peak of feminine power dressed in rich robes often decorated with bees, sometimes wearing a crown of stars and often sitting on a throne, usually a full frontal view that tells us she represents all that is recognizable and understandable in the world. Sometimes she is cradling a scepter (often topped by a diamond, the symbol of love and of “as above, so below”) or an ankh and sometimes there is a shield emblazoned with a symbol of motherly nurturing or love at her feet. Often, she is pregnant. She is usually surrounded by green trees, ripe grains, fruits and vegetables, and other symbols of a bountiful and ripe harvest and the fertility to continue the cycle of growth to the next generation. The majority of the symbolism on this card tells of fertility, creativity, and the germination or nurturing of something new. The Empress has access to the transformative powers of Nature that allow her to rule life, as evidenced by her scepter, and that allow her to rule the earth, as evidenced by the grains, fruits and vegetables around her. The bee is a symbol of love within the family, domestic stability, and child rearing, and another reference to “as above, so below.”

The Empress is the number 3 of the Major Arcana; this number represents the creation of something new through a partnership of some kind, or the manifesting or making real of some concept or spark. The number 3 is about playfulness and self-expression, inspiration and imagination, communication and motivation. This number is quite fertile, and it shows us that when the initiating idea, force or thought of the number 1 joins with the germinating energy or fecundity of the number 2, there is fruitfulness and manifestation or action, and an outpouring of energy is created.

The Empress corresponds with the element of Earth, and thus the suit of Diamonds, the color green and the cardinal direction of North. The element of Earth represents the actual physical outcome of our efforts, the cake that is made by gathering ingredients and following a recipe. Earth represents everything physical, all of the processes of Nature, and the things we need to stay alive and healthy; these energies are stable and very slow to change. Earth represents wealth, which brings us not only physical shelter but also mental and emotional pleasure. Earth also offers a spiritual grounding that is very necessary in our day-to-day life. This element represents diligence and an interest in quality rather than quantity; it can also represent greed and avarice, and the lack of the ability to be aware of resources or to access resources. The Empress is also seen as an alchemic Major Arcana card, representing salt and the inactive principles of Nature that must be energized by a catalyst in order to manifest.

In astrology, The Empress corresponds with the planet Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, which is why harmony and beauty and physical pleasure are all associated with this Major Arcana card. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. In Venus we find the allure, the refinement, and the urge to join with or sympathize or nurture others, that are all found in The Empress. And yes, sex and sexual pleasure are a part of this too. Venus is often seen as being a twin planet to our Earth; it orbits the Sun in 225 days, spending about 18.75 days in each sign of the zodiac. It is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Empress corresponds with the Hebrew letter Daleth, the fourth letter in the Hebrew alphabet; this letter corresponds with the door or the womb, and is considered the archetype of physical existence.

On the Tree of Life, The Empress represents Path 14, running between Binah (female receptive energy, the origin of form and structure and the top of the Pillar of Form) and Chokmah (male in the electric sense, dynamic energy, the origin of vital force and polarity and the top of the Pillar of Force). She is the connector or conduit between the two primal forces of Form and Force, and she connects both Wisdom and Understanding, neither of which can function without the other. Path 14 is one of the Paths that merges imagination and reality, and offers us ways to transition the Abyss and pass beyond the Dark Nights of the Soul that are a necessary part of spiritual evolution in order to perceive the Machinery of the Universe.

In the Tarot, The Empress is one half of the Major Arcana representation of the Sacred Feminine (along with The High Priestess), the half that is about creativity, fertility of all kinds, a deep connection to Nature and the nurturing of others, and an enjoyment of the senses. The Empress, who is the mother of Form, tells of Creative Intelligence; she reveals the concepts and hidden knowledge guarded by The High Priestess, and she encourages us to immerse ourselves in the manifestations of the physical world.

The Empress is the sprouting seed, the life force that gives birth to all creation and the vessel that contains that creative process until it is ripe and ready to be born. She manifests her wisdom, power and authority by nurturing and healing both herself and others. She creates rather than destroys and she is able to let go of the need to dominate or control.

The Empress is powerful in part because she perceives her own self, her body, mind and emotions, and she perceives Nature and the world around her; she is able to access those powers by harmonizing with their natural rhythms and through this harmony, she gives birth to new ideas and a better, more healthy and balanced way to live. She encourages us all to get in touch with our physical body and all of its senses in order to perceive the world.

The Empress reversed is certainly able to smother us with her love and become too controlling, and she can nurture others to the point of neglecting herself. She can become emotionally needy, or she can close up her rich and giving heart and become emotionally barren. She can be selfish, and she can focus on being sophisticated or catering to the opinions of others rather than celebrating and embodying her own natural self. The wicked stepmother of fairytales is based on the reversed Empress!

But usually her more positive energies are triumphant. The Empress brings us aspiration and inspiration, freedom, majesty, inner strength, and a hope for a bright future. She reminds us that the healing we need is usually found within us, and communicating with our inner self is the best first step to healing outer challenges. She also reminds us quite firmly that while aspirations and inspirations are important, it is also important to enjoy the many experiences and sensations that are gifted to us through life and through the living of our lives within a physical-world body. To The Empress, this moment, this “now,” is beyond value, and we should enjoy this moment to the fullest extent without harming others and without judging ourselves.

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ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

June, 2016

Dont Just Smell Them – Eat the Daisies!

Craft

Merry meet.

I take delight in introducing edible flowers to people I meet in all walks of life. Come late June, a vast amount of flowers are in bloom.

Found and gifted flowers are the least expensive, but a few plants even purchased at a nursery put in the ground or in a whatever containers you have on hand can add inexpensive dazzle to your recipes and rituals.

Consider incorporating edible flowers into your Litha celebration, mixing up a fairy cake recipe, and brewing petals to make tea or freezing flowers into ice cubes to add to your drink for cakes and ale.

Some flowers are mild, while others are slightly bitter or peppery. Some taste sweet while others taste like they smell.

A woman who was very in touch with the Fae living behind the house she rented first introduced me to the concept of eating flowers to receive their powers realizing we are what we eat spiritually as well as physically. If harvested with respect, I sense the Fae are pleased that we are aware of these energies that can help transform our very cells.

Here is a short list of some edible flowers, with most also listing magical uses. Be aware that different sources will yield different information, so trust your instincts and go by what rings true for you.

Remember to never harvest flowers growing by the roadside, or take them from plants sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Be sure all flowers are identified exactly right; if in doubt, do not eat it.

Daisy: Add petals to salads, sandwiches and omelets. Magically, daisies resonate with the energy of Venus and the element of water. They are used to represent youth, simplicity and future telling.

Lavender: Use flowers fresh or dried to flavor sugar and milk; add them to baked goods such as muffins. Brew into tea or substitute lavender for rosemary in savory recipes (doubling the amount of amount of rosemary called for). Magically, lavender works for love, protection and sleep.

Lilacs: Snip off the small, individual flowers. Great in salads. Brush with egg whites and sugar to crystalize them and use on desserts. Magical uses include protection, compassion, happiness, pleasure, youth and beauty.

Marigold: Pull apart and use the leaves. Enjoy their spicy, peppery taste. Great to add color to salads. Also mix with lettuce on sandwiches. Protection, truthfulness and inner vision are associated with marigold, which corresponds to the element of fire.

Nasturtiums: While they are perhaps the most common edible flower (you can also eat the seed pods), they are also among the best. They come in range of colors and have a sweet and spicy taste. Add to salads, use for garnishes, and stuff flowers with a mousse or crab salad for an appetizer. Associated with air, nasturtium flowers are used in potpourris for spells having to do with aspiration, ethics and festivities.

Pansy: Regardless of color, they then tend to have a slightly sweet, grassy flavor. Use in salads, as garnish or as you would lettuce in, say, a tuna salad sandwich. Pansys magical uses include love and divination.

Peony: Add to water for a summer beverage, float some in punches and lemonades, or steep for tea.

Phlox: The tall, perennial variety (not the creeping phlox) has a slightly spicy state. Using them adds pinks and whites to all sorts of summer salads.

Rose: Remove the bitter white portion and use petals in salads or as a garnish. Freeze fresh petals into ice cubes for summer drinks, or brew into tea. The most fragrant tend to have the most taste. Use rose magically for love, healing, luck, protection and psychic powers.

Violets: This family includes pansies and Johnny jump-ups, also known as violas. Put in salads, freeze in punch and adorn desserts. Magically, violets are associated with tranquility and peace. Petals are said to bring healing, luck and protection, and enhance nighttime magic. Dried, they can be used in dream pillows.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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Book Review: Witchcraft – A Handbook of Magic, Spells & Potions by Anastasia Greywolf

June, 2016

WITCHCRAFT – A HANDBOOK OF MAGIC, SPELLS AND POTIONS

BY ANASTASIA GREYWOLF

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MELISSA WEST

Witchcraft

When I first opened the book to do a quick scan, I thought, “look at all of these spells, what fun!” I thought it very reminiscent of the witchcraft spell books that were around a few decades ago.

Ms. Greywolf starts with an introduction to Witchcraft, and what it means to her, recognizing that it means different things to different people. She describes how she would cast a circle. There is a small section on some of the tools of witchcraft, such as a wand, smudge stick, knife, etc.

The bulk of the book is just chock-full of spells. They are broken down into chapters, such as “Safekeeping Spells”, “Power Spells”, “Healing Spells”. There are “Spells Against Your Enemies” and “Counter Spells”; “Love Spells” and “Fortune Spells”; “Spells for Animals” and “Weather Spells”.

One of the things I liked the most was that the spells come from different traditions and cultures. In the section on “Safekeeping Spells”, there were Gypsy Incantations, Pow-Wow Spells, ancient Hindu incantations, and something the author calls “American Magician Spells”.

There is an ancient Macedonian Charm for banishing pimples, and a Gaelic Charm to cure drunkenness.

In the “Counter-Spells” section, there are spells against one who practices hostile magic, to exorcise a spirit, and strangely enough for a Witchcraft book, a European Magician’s spell against Witches, as well as a spell for a Witch to not be allowed to leave a church.

In this age of casinos popping up everywhere, the “Luck and Fortune” section has spells for success in gambling and a Pow-Wow charm to win every game of cards, which consists of tying the heart of a bat to your right arm with a red silken string.

Since everyone is usually most interested in “Love Spells”, there are spells to arouse passionate love in both a man and a woman, as well as those for obtaining a husband, or a wife. All of these, by the way, are Hindu Incantations.

“Power Spells” include a Cherokee Shaman’s ritual to find something that has been lost, and American Witch’s Spells for flying and making a truth serum.

There is a chapter on “Communing with the Dead”. While I personally do not believe this is something you should be doing unprepared or without years of training, there are European Magician Rituals and Charms for making a circle for a séance and getting answers from Spirits, as well as making those Spirits obedient.

The one thing I did find rather odd is that in several Pow-Wow and Gypsy Spells/Charms, the spells call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost/Spirit. Other than attending many Pow-Wows (at which the Christian God has never once been mentioned), I decided to do a little research on my own. As far as the Roma people, they do not have any official faith and there are those that have converted to Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. For the Native Americans in our country, there are many of them that have converted to the Christian faith, but they also honor their own tribal spiritual beliefs and customs. This would indicate that there may be charms in both Roma and Native American Traditions that call on the Christian deities, depending upon how ancient these charms may be.

The last two chapters are dedicated to symbols and omens, and the best day to do a conjuration. The omens are both good (seeing an animal in an unexpected place indicates the finding of a treasure) and bad (it is unlucky for three married brothers to live in the same house). There is also a listing of the meanings for the different colors. For conjurations, we are told that Tuesday is best for conjuring Lucifer and each of the other days of the week are best for conjuring other varied demons.

Ms. Greywolf does include a list of her sources toward the end of the book.

All in all, it really is a fun type of book. I do not believe that those who are actually pagan/wiccan/witches would find much use in many of the spells included here, although I do think there may be a couple of hidden gems; that being said, I do think they would enjoy reading them. For non-pagans, it would be a very entertaining read.

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2016

Summer Solstice

Bright Blessings.

As I reviewed my past Summer Solstice materials, I was deep in thought about community, the upcoming Pride march, which I wrote a bit about last time, and I wanted to learn something new I could share. I had thought to do an article about some aspect of healing used at Solstice time, but all I could find was that some people did pilgrimages to find medicinal herbs- because they were in season and it is time to go get them. Somehow, that just did not spark my interest enough to dig much deeper.

I am a flighty, finicky person, and I write best when inspired by something or another. So, I kept researching, and I found something by accident that not only inspired me and sparked my interest, but it completely blew me away. It is new to me, and has to do with a Pagan celebration of Summer Solstice.

What I learned about was a whole Pagan tradition I’d never heard of before and about their HUGE Summer Solstice celebrations. I also took time and thought about the healing I had read about. It’s simply gathering of herbs.

Healing yesterday as opposed to today

While we may think of ancient Pagan healing rituals as just a bunch of chanting and raising of energies, it was so much more than that. There was use of plant knowledge, lore and dogma to call a god or spirit to help, and then the presence of the trusted healer who had studied with the elder healer, who had studied with a different elder healer and so on and so forth. Plant knowledge is scientific knowledge of which plants chemically counteract infection, injury, or disease to make the body whole again. It’s the same knowledge any modern herbalist, apothecary, doctor, or pharmacist gets in university classes instead of years of study under a trained Pagan healer. It was proven in studies that something called the placebo effect can influence healing. If you believe you will be healed, it helps you feel better. In days past, the village or townspeople had faith in their healers, or healing techniques, whereas these days, if your doctor has a good bedside manner, and assures you all will be well, you will feel relieved, and your stress levels drop, which helps the body to fight disease better.

Ancient healers- especially in small settlements, knew their people quite well. They knew your parents, their parents, your siblings, your friends and neighbors, and everybody else. You might have grown up with them, or maybe your kids grew up with their kids. Not only did everybody know everybody else’s business quite often, but your local healer usually knew what you were allergic to, what you were comfortable with, what old injuries you had, and they likely knew your personality well enough to understand what made each individual tick. Whatever scared you or made you most relaxed were things they kept in mind when treating each individual. Modern doctors, be they medical doctors, or psychiatric doctors do all these things as well. The difference is they no longer call the gods for help in healing.

Infections and diseases that would have wiped out a whole population of people in a matter of weeks have been completely eradicated thanks to modern medicines, and no amount of praying away said infections used to keep people alive. Smallpox is a very good example.

The first evidence of smallpox goes back as early as 10,000 BC, and during the 20th century, as many as 300-500 million people died from just smallpox. Due to vaccination, it was declared eradicated in 1979. While it is common knowledge that Native Americans were contracting and dying from smallpox as early as the 1500’s, some of which was deliberately given to them, it is not common knowledge some people actually had smallpox gods.

A Hindu goddess named Shitala was worshipped, and devotees believed praying to her could cure or prevent smallpox. While some believed she healed or prevented smallpox, others believed she CAUSED it, and put bowls of water on their roofs because they believe it warded her off. To this day, a whole festival day is devoted to her worship in Springtime. Here is an interesting article from Om Ashram about that.

http://www.omashram.com/news/78-the-day-of-shitala-devi

A Time Magazine snippet discusses smallpox pre- vaccinations, and this shows that despite the devotions and prayers, people still got smallpox in India- and vaccinations are what helped.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2027479_2027486_2027524,00.html

As a religious individual, I certainly do not advocate to give up faith in healing from the divine and just forego prayers and devotions. But I do know prayers alone can’t assure healing. Nowadays, we have our modern doctors, hospitals, labs, and you name it, but Pre-Christian Pagans did not. And coincidentally, at times of certain religious celebrations, certain herbs that could be used medicinally would be ready to harvest.

Gathering the herbs

As to these healing herbs gathered at solstice time, in Spain for example, this was done by women, who gathered fennel, fern, rue, rosemary, dog rose, lemon verbena, St. John’s wort, laburnum, foxgloves, and elder flowers. (Wikipedia) Each plant has certain healing qualities, but typically, instead of using them herbally, they were either tied in bundles and hung above the door, or dipped in water and left outside all night so they would also have morning dew on them, and people would wash their faces with this in the morning.

Slavic Neo-Paganism

The Pagan tradition I mentioned earlier is Slavic NeoPaganism often called Rodnovery. They seek to recreate Slavic pre-Christian Pagan traditions and have been around since the early 1900’s. Belaris, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Donbass region, and Estonia are all listed as places that have some form of population of adherents to these traditions. Because some adherents worship Norse gods, some white supremacist and anti-Semitics claim this as their faith- but like modern Norse Heathenry, not everybody adhering to these religions is

anti- Semitic or racist.

An excellent article listing a little history after Christianization as well as the names of some of the specifically Polish Pagan gods is given here.

http://www.polishtoledo.com/pagan/

Interestingly enough, some of these groups seek to restore worship to the way it was in pre Christian times with historical accuracy . I will share two short films from YouTube.

The first is called Pagan Novosibirsk, The Movie- and it is about 20 minutes long. It’s interviews that have subtitles because the speakers do not speak English. It is about these Pagan movements and what some of the adherants have to say about it.

Kupala Night

The next is a short clip of Slavic Pagans celebrating Summer Solstice, which is called Kupala Night. This video is under five minutes and shows festivities at the festival. It reminds me of historical reinactments in a lot of ways, and it’s so beautiful to see how devoted these people are.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55KsaPhcEXI

According to Jacob Grimm, Kupala was what the festival was called, referring to the bonfires lit. Other sources say that is refers to Kupulo, a harvest god, and a feast day of St John the Baptist was substituted because purification by water occurred at the holy day.

Bonfires to drive away evil spirits are burned, and couples leap over fires together, hands joined, and it is believed to prove they will not break up if their hands do not come unclasped during the jump. Single women also don beautiful wreaths of plants in their hair and go into the woods to hunt for the flowers of the fern – a plant that does not flower, by the way. If one were to find this bloom, it would mean they would be blessed with prosperity! The men go in after them…and while a fern might not flower, a relationship just might!

Flower wreaths , as well as floating candles are released by women in hopes of learning about future relationships and men sometimes try to catch the wreaths, in belief they might catch the interest of the girl who released it.

Some of these things are still observed by Christian devotees at St John’s Day, but a lot is done by Pagan adherents.

What the Shrink has to say…

One last thing I will share is a tidbit I came across while researching. It is a scientific article that discusses resurgence of Pagan belief and it’s relationship with mental illness in Russia. While this article had precious few patients involved in the study, and reveals little- it has a lot of information and history listed in it. Plenty about Summer Solstice is in there as well. It will be interesting to see how many mopre studies about mental health and pagan beliefs are conducted over the years as Paganism becomes more widespread.

http://www.wcprr.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/jan061220.pdf

While these things in Slavic areas may be different than what modern American Neo-Pagans do, I was very excited to share what I learned from our Slavic cousins for this article!

Wrapping it all up…flowers and all!

While an enormous bonfire or fertility workings are not what I am going to put into my ritual, a blessed floral or herbal bundle like some folks from Spain create will. As opposed to the power of water and moonlight and morning dew, I suggest blessing this bundle with the power of the sun.

At Solstice Time, the Sun is at its most powerful. The days are longest, and the nights are shortest. What this means is a lot of sunlight for the development of growing plants, and the plants we eat, but also extended daylight hours give lots of vitamin D and heat to human beings which translates into energy.

Suggested Working

On the day you celebrate Summer Solstice, go and gather flowers or greenery someplace. If you don’t have access to hand-picked plants, you can absolutely go buy flowers at the store! Just make sure that whatever plants you get mean something to you- even if you just LIKE the plants. You can use your favorite color, or even just get all greenery to symbolize life and growth. Snippetts from ordinary shrubbery can absolutely suffice. Next, tie your plants or flowers into a bundle together, and once that has finished, hold them up towards the sum, and say something like

Hail the invincible sun, bringer of heat, life, and growth.

Bless these blooms with your lifegiving energy on this day

when you are at your most powerful.

May the strength, power, healing, and lifeforce

from you go into this bundle,

where it will be hung in my home/car/office to bless me

and all who enter with prosperity, healing,

new life, growth and progress,

and all things good and blessed.

So mote it be!”

You may leave some form of offering to the sun if you like- something like planting a flower or something you will nurture, burning incense, or a small fire in your firepit, or even just a little flour or perfume released to the wind. Leave the bundle in the sun until nightfall, and then hang it where you want its blessings.

Blessed Solstice.

Blessed Be.

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Spiralled Edges

June, 2016

Spiralled Edge: Setting Time Aside for Ritual

Rituals are a part of our daily lives. They are the traditions that bind us together as a people and that bring a semblance of order to what may otherwise be a chaotic life. So why is it so difficult to make time to actually do rituals?

Every once in a while, I start getting an urge to make time for ritual in my daily life. There is the part of me inside that tells me, “You’re not being authentic in your spiritual and religious life if you don’t include ‘real’ rituals.” By real ritual, I mean clearing a space, doing a full ceremony with all the bells, smells, and candles.

I’ve looked for inspiration in books that try to present ideas for a daily Pagan ritual practice or inspirational reading. None have really been workable that I have come across. They seem to be set up for people who don’t have children or a busy life, or people who are already working within a group that can provide a level of group support.

spiral

 

 

Get up a half hour or an hour earlier these books say. Well, I already get up between 5:30 and 6 each day. No, I’m not sacrificing an hour of needed sleep when I know already that I don’t get enough sleep most nights.

Doing a daily spiritual practice is infinitely easier when you don’t have a daily secular life. This is why the medieval churches had hermits and anchorites, and other religions have their holy men and women who live apart from the world. They locked themselves away from the secular world so that they could devote their lives to spiritual practices.

When I accepted the mantle as Priestess of The Cailleach recently, I was beset by a panic that in order to be “authentic” as Her priestess I would have to do some sort of daily devotional work for her, and I needed to learn how to do it the right way from so. Slowly though, She is reining me in, and showing me that I don’t need to learn from others how to be Her priestess, because that is what I have been doing over the past 25 years. I just didn’t know it at the time.

My daily rituals of devotion are in the tiny acts that I do each day. My morning cup of tea, observing the changing seasons over the year, noticing the fox beside the pavement as I walk. The Cailleach is not a Deity who wants pretty smells, fancy incense or candles. She is a primal Goddess of craggy hills and overgrown dirt paths through wood-filled lands. Her rituals can’t be done sitting in comfort in an artificially heated or cooled room. Her rituals are the quiet minutes spent walking through a nature preserve, only stopping to sit in quiet contemplation on a fallen branch or dusty rock. Nothing left behind put perhaps a footprint in the dirt.

The secret I have been learning is not to try to carve out time for more and longer ritual, but to find the ritual in the simple every day acts I am already doing. Making my bed is my time to give thanks for a safe place to sleep through the night. Brushing my teeth a time to honour the water coming through the tap. Just because this is water piped in does not make it any less sacred.

Each of the elements in turn present themselves to me over the course of a day in one way or another. They do not need to be set up on an altar for me to honour their place and importance in my life. Likewise, the Gods are always present. They are especially fond of engaging me in conversation when I am driving, something I don’t encourage if I am trying to concentrate.

I would still like to find a way of incorporating a time of quiet contemplation into my life, but not on a daily basis. I don’t life on a mountain in a cave. I’m not dwelling in a single room cut off from the trappings of the secular world. I am a single mother of two teenagers, I interact with the world every day all day in one way or another, and sometimes sleep or spending time just talking to my kids with no distractions is more important than contemplating the fuzz in my belly button.

While my spiritual practices are in a constant state of revision and change, right now I am learning to understand and accept that however I am doing it, I’m doing it the right way for me.

Image of footprints in the sand in the public domain.

 

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The Kitchen Witch

June, 2016

Skillet Pork Chops with Rice and Tomatoes

There is nothing like an heirloom recipe. I cherish the ones I have from both of my grandmothers and my mother. To me, it’s a way of preserving the magic that they instilled in me from an early age – that of kitchen witchery. I doubt that they would have looked at it in that way – I know my mother wouldn’t! – but magic in the kitchen is magic in the kitchen, no matter how you term it.

This is an old recipe of my Gramma Mac’s. Like so many recipes of that era, it doesn’t give very good directions and in the ten years or so that I have been making this, I have tweaked it numerous times to improve it.

The original recipe called for four pork chops but I think that chops must have been must smaller in the old days because it never works for me with four whole chops. I generally get three or – like I did this time – I get pork steaks. Personally, I have never been a fan of pork steaks but, as they say, “the price was right”!

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Take them out of the package, salt and pepper them, and then brown them in about a tablespoon of olive oil. When they are browned on both sides, add a cup of onion slices (it depends on the size of your onion, but half a large onion, sliced) and half a green pepper, sliced.

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Let them cook a little bit and then add a third of a cup of rice. My grandmother’s recipe said half a cup but I’ve found that a third of a cup works better. You want to spread the rice around so it browns a little bit in the flavored oil.

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At this point, my grandmother’s recipe said to add a can of whole tomatoes. I used to do this and I would break up the tomatoes to facilitate the cooking process. And I started adding seasonings… At first, Italian seasonings – basil, oregano and parsley but that didn’t seem to work too well. So then I started adding chili powder and cumin and that worked much better. So that’s how I do it now.

BUT. This particular time I did another cool tweak! I bought this can of tomatoes:

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If you don’t have this particular brand in your store, I am sure you can find something similar – Ro-Tel or something like that. Adding this instead of the whole tomatoes meant that I could cut the seasonings in half and WOW! What a flavor!

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Of course, after you add the tomatoes, you will have to add a little water to the pan to give it enough moisture to cook the rice. If I have white wine, I’ll add the wine but if not – water is just fine! You just want enough fluid to cover the meat and vegies. Cover it up and let it simmer for twenty or so minutes.

And here it is, all ready to serve:

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So, give this a try and maybe give the recipe a few tweaks of your own. And create some kitchen witchery of your own!

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Tink About It

June, 2016

The Making of… Mr. & Mrs. Deer

A few years ago after a full moon celebration with friends we were drumming and talking about making our own drums. Most of us had never done that before, but together we shared some experience. We decided then and there to get this show on the road! We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into though…. We prepared the best way we could and started fresh. We couldn’t find a lot of info on the www, except for some video’s on YouTube. I decided to document the process in pictures, for ourselves and for others that might be interested. Here’s the ultra-short version:

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We wanted to make everything from scratch where possible. I decided to use the frame of my first bodhrán (of which the skin was ripped). Ron (my husband) wanted to make a 13-sided drum. We chose birch (my frame was birch too) and started searching. We found a local entrepreneur that has a sawmill for hobby. He knew exactly where the wood came from, he cut the tree down himself. The planks were beautiful but rough. Ron sawed them smaller and into pieces. I made calculations to see what edge to saw. To make a 13-sided drum we needed a 13.8 degree edge; 13 pieces of 13 by 9 cm made a drum with a diameter of approximately 54 cm (21.26 inch). That’s big, but Ron is tall and strong. Because we knew we would often use the drums outside in all kinds of weather we decided (even though it’s not natural) to lacquer the frames with a special weatherproof yacht varnish.

We got the skins for the drums from a butcher. They were ‘leftovers’ that otherwise would have been destroyed. We did a ritual to honour and thank the animals for the skins (and the tree for the wood). The deer were hunted by professionals with permission for population control. The skins weren’t very clean; we had to cut quite some flesh away. That was hard work of which Ron did the major part. He used the back of a double-handed curved cheese knife (a tip from one of the many YouTube-video’s he watched). I did the finer work with a smaller very sharp knife. We rinsed the skins a few times to clean them. Ron stitched a hole with a suture needle and thread.

The other people used parachute cord to tighten the skin to the frame. Ron and I wanted to use only natural material. Ron made the lacing out of the leftover skin, I used tvinningsbennen (or lucet) to make a cord of light and dark (real) sinew. We watched a lot of YouTube-video’s to find the best way to stretch and tighten the skin around the frame. We used a hole punching tool to make the holes, because that gave less risk of tearing the skin. We tightened the skin wet (both skin and lacing). The drying took quite some time. After a few weeks we gave the lacing an extra layer to tighten it even more. In the meantime we had made beaters from leftover birch wood and leather.

We wanted the drums to have the complete skin with hair, but they were too thick for a good sound. So we shaved the skins with a hair trimmer, a little bit each time until we were satisfied with the sound. During the process I had nicknamed our drums Mr. & Mrs. Deer with the intention to find a real name later. The names suited the drums remarkably well though, so we kept it at that.

It was a long process (months), but it was very worthwhile and rewarding. Perhaps we’ll make more drums in the future but I don’t think we’ll make more drums from scratch as we did this time, because that was very time- and energy-consuming. You could use ready-made frames and prepared skins; you put your own energy and time in it to make the drum your own.

The drums feel so good, they sound wonderful together. Mr. Deer has a deep and healing sound, and Mrs. Deer definitely has her own charm and slightly higher sound. The spirits of the deer connect with our energies and that works out amazingly well. We’ve been using them for quite some time now. Outside we sometimes have to tighten the skins by keeping them near a fire, but most of the time they sound great. When they aren’t used they hang on display in our hall, so they are never far and easy to grab for a drum session. 

 

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Interview with Author Raven Grimassi

June, 2016

Raven Grimassi: Communing with the Ancestors

Raven

I was sent a copy of Raven Grimassi’s latest book, Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies and the Cycle of Reincarnation, and was immediately intrigued by the beautiful style of writing and the inclusive nature that encompasses people of all paths. A full review of the book will be available on Pagan Pages next month, but in the meantime, I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask Raven some questions about this fascinating volume.

Mabh Savage: Tell us about Communing with the Ancestors. What was your main aim with the book, and what type of reader will get the most out of it?

Raven Grimassi: The primary purpose was in deepening the work of connecting with the Ancestors.    It’s important that we enlist the aid of the Ancestors.  I feel that the readership for this book is anyone who wonders about the purpose of Life and about the role of reincarnation.

MS: You say that in your book you avoided focusing on any one particular cultural view or practice, which makes this book very accessible. What culture so you most identify with though, when communing with your own ancestors?

RG: If I had to focus on just one, then I relate most to my Italian heritage.  However, I am also German and Scot and I do not ignore this lineage.

MS: Is everybody capable of making a connection with their ancestors, or the ancestors?

RG: Yes, definitely.  The Ancestors are part of our DNA, they reside within us to the cellular level.  Even adopted people who don’t know their lineage can connect deeply with their bloodline heritage.  The Ancestors have never lost track of them for they reside within them.

MS: You speak of ‘getting out of the way’ during the writing process. Can you tell me more about that?

RG: When I struggled with writing this book, I head the inner Ancestral voices say “Stop trying to write this book and let this book be written.  I had to stop forging and directing the work, which meant I had to let things come through me as opposed to from me.   The hands on the keyboard were mine, but the material was coming from some other source.

MS: How did you first come across the concept of the Spirit Rider?

RG: Like so much else in the book, it was passed to me from the Ancestral voices. At the core was a concept I found in studying the Mayan Vision Serpent, an entity intimately connected with the Ancestors. I had also run across some material on the Hawaiian Huna concept of connecting with the Ancestors through a Shamanic technique that requires projecting consciousness outward from the tailbone of the spine. The purpose was to meet the Ancestors. From this two concepts, something formed and was passed to me. I was given the imagery of the Spirit Rider as a serpent form in which the Ancestors can connect with us through our spines.

MS: You write in a beautiful, metaphorical style. Do you think there is magic in poetry?

RG: I think that the essence of magic can be conveyed through poetry.  Poetry can also initiate a magical consciousness that can open inner portals that lead to visions and enlightenment.

MS: You mention that in writing the book you became a student to it. What further lessons have been imparted since the completion of this volume?

RG: It’s been an ongoing process.  The most activity has been around trying to firmly grasp where the persona worn by the soul comes from, and what exactly is the “pool of consciousness” that legends suggest was the original of the human consciousness.

MS: The ancestral realm you speak of; is this what lies beyond what many Pagans refer to as ‘the veil’?

RG: I’ve come to see the Ancestral Realm as the residing place of those who came before us.  It is connected to the Earth Plane and the Elemental Plane, even though technically it is in the Otherworld or Inner Dimensions.  That being said, I think that what is found on the other side of the veil is the Afterlife Realm, a temporary realm in which the Dead dwell for a time.  This is different from the Ancestral Realm.

MS: What part of the landscape gives you the closest connection to the ancestors?

RG: In general, areas with distinct rock formations seem to hold memory best.  This includes manmade formations such as Stonehenge.  Caves are excellent gateways to the Ancestors, and lakes and wells are also good points of access. 

MS: Are you working on any more books at the moment?

RG: I always have at least two books going at one time.  My primary focus at present is to complete a book I started over 30 years ago.  It is an examination of the Witch Lore contained in the writings of folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland.  In the book I will also present new findings about his “Witch informant” and the authentic tradition that she revealed to Leland.

MS: The writings in Communing with the Ancestors sound like quite an intense process. How did you relax or take time away from it?

RG: I actually don’t take time away from a manuscript that I am submitting to a Publisher. I work every day on it, and the process takes months to finish (anywhere from 3 to 6). I often take my meals while writing, and there are no days off.

MS: And finally, what are you most looking forward to over the next few seasons?

RG: Reconnecting with family and with old friends. Too much time has passed while pursuing my work.

Raven’s latest volume can be purchased here and more information about his previous words can be found at his website http://www.ravengrimassi.net/.

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