January, 2017

Merry Meet

January, 2017

newyearswitch

 

            Welcome

 

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Happy New Year!!  We have a wonderful new issue for you this month to start the year off right, with great features like..

 

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A Tarot Deck Review of The English Magic Tarot Deck.   The theme of the deck is set in the 100 years or so beginning with the Reformation Period and the reign of King Henry VIII and running through the end of the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

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An Interview with Barbara Meiklejohn-Free: The Highland Seer.  Author and Shamanic practitioner, she has a variety of hats, including flautist, singer, and seer.  She was recently in the limelight wither her magical partner Flavia Kate Peters, on the TV show Celebrity Haunted Hotel.  

 

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An Interview with Psychic Brittany Quagan.   Elfin empath goes from panic attacks to helping others heal.

 

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SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals features a Ritual for Calling Kali-Ma in this time of need and Change.  

 

…and much more for your reading enjoyment!

 

 

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Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2017

 

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February 1, 2

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.

Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil (see above)can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.

Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).

Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).

Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.

Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.

Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.

Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.

Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.

Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.

Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

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Amulets of the Goddess 12 Month General Reading

January, 2017

year

 

January – Hand with Seeds: Holding Power in your hands

You hold the seeds of change and growth. This is your time for a new start. A new way of being. The seeds of change aren’t far away. They are within your grasp. Now what are you going to do with them? Will you fling them away? Will you grasp them tightly to you? Or, will you plant them and allow them to grow?

February – Ewe: Self-Worth

Somewhere you learned to not trust in yourself. Somewhere you learned that you do not have worth. Your worth is not in who you know. Or the money you have accumulated. Your worth is an integral part of you. Your worth comes simply because you exist. Look inside yourself to find your worth. Remember the words of Doreen Valiente, “If that which you seek to find you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”

March – Comb: Self-Reliance

In your year of growth and discovery this is a month to discover that you can rely upon yourself. You are capable, you can depend upon your own words, your own strengths, and your own abilities. Trust yourself.

April – Frog: Speaking Out

Opportunities to speak out and speak up about personal or social injustices will present themselves in this month. Do not be afraid to speak up and speak out. Choose your words carefully. Let your voice be heard, but let the words you speak represent your values and your beliefs. You do not speak for others. Let them also raise their voices. Find the harmony as your words join together in a sacred song.

June – Spider: Sacred Creativity

Problems need to be addressed. Conventional means may not work. It is time to approach solutions in a new, and creative way. Look for solutions in ways yet untested. The old ways aren’t working. Did they ever work? Be radical. Do something different. Be creative.

July – Dreaming Goddess: Intuition

As you approach life’s problems in a more creative way iy is time to look closer at you own intuition. Sometimes, information seems to come out of nowhere. This is one kind of intuition. At other times your mind makes quick connections between seemingly unrelated events. This is another kind of intuition. Trust your intuition. It will serve you well in times to come.

August – Dolphin: Joy and Play

Take time to play. Play. Laugh. Giggle. Do things not because they serve a higher purpose but because they bring you joy. Perhaps you have been taking yourself too serious lately. It is okay to laugh at yourself on occasion.

September – Labrys: Personal Power

You have the power within you to do what needs to be done. Others may have tried to take this power from you. It is always okay to claim your power back. Your personal power can be used by no one but you. Stand in your power. Hold your head high and with pride. Feel your power surround you and fill you.

October – Willendorf Goddess: Belonging

You. Yes, you. You belong here. Right now where you are on this Earth. You are a part of the Earth, one of Her children. Your place, your being has a reason and a purpose. Even if you can’t see it right now. Just know that you belong. You are a child of the Earth and She holds you close to her. Feel the bear of the Earth’s heart beneath your feet and know you are meant to be here.

November – Whirlwinds: Unseen Change

Changes have been set in motion. Seeds planted long ago in January are ripening and the pods are about to open to reveal what has been growing. This is a month of great upheaval and changes. It can be so tempting to try to pull things back into order and sameness. Know that chaos must happen before change can occur. Trust the stillness at the centre of the storm.

December – Gorgon: Righteous Anger

That anger you have inside? Now is the time to express it. Not in an explosion that cuases a lot of damage but changes nothing. Focused, pure. Use your anger to bring about the changes you need in your life. Anger is a tool. Just like fire that when focused can be used to warm a home, but unfocused it can burn that home to the ground. Your anger is real. It is right. Use it. No more allowing anger to use you. No more allowing others to use your righteous anger against you.

 

Some work with Tarot Cards, some use Runes. I have a strong affinity for the Amulets.

Amulets of the Goddess: Oracle of Ancient Wisdom comes from a book and amulet set created by author and artist Nancy Blair.

I have been using the amulets for divinatory work and for insight into what is happening in my life since 1993. I’ve been doing oracle readings for others almost as long and can now offer Amulet Readings to anyone around the world.

You can find guidance from the Amulets. If you are wondering where your life is heading, or looking for guidance on what the future might hold, the Amulets can help.

Contact me to request your personal Oracle consult with the Council of Elders, or a detailed 12 month oracle reading. Mention Pagan Pages during the month of January and receive a 10% discount off any 12 month oracle consultation.

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Spiralled Edges

January, 2017

Resolutions

It’s the time of year for making New Year’s Resolutions. Promises to one’s self that are invariably broken before the first crocuses and snow drops push up from the Earth at Imbolc.

This year, as I consider once more resolutions and people around me talk of their hopes for the coming year, I have been looking more closely at what resolution actually means and where the word comes from:

late 14c., “a breaking into parts,” from Old French resolution (14c.) or directly from Latin resolutionem (nominative resolutio) “process of reducing things into simpler forms,” from past participle stem of resolvere “loosen”. Sense of “a solving” (as of mathematical problems) first recorded 1540s, as is that of “power of holding firmly”. Sense of “decision or expression of a meeting” is from c. 1600. Meaning “effect of an optical instrument” is from 1860. New Year’s resolution in reference to a specific intention to better oneself is from at least the 1780s, and through 19c. they generally were of a pious nature.

When we think of a resolution here, we are thinking about a firm decision or a personal promise. Far from being the trivial thing that resolutions have become, a resolution was originally a solemn vow, made between one’s self and possibly one’s Deity.

Perhaps this explains why I have such trouble with making a New Year’s Resolution, and steer clear of the whole idea. An oath between a person and their Deity is not a trivial matter to be forgotten before the wheel has turned even a quarter of the way round the world.

Simply put, when I go to sit with my Gods in the coming year, I do not want to have to explain to them why I made promises to Them that I wasn’t willing or able to keep.

I have time yet to consider what vows I might make for 2017. As I write this today the New Year is still over a week away. It won’t be a trivial matter for me as I welcome in the New Year.

I shall think long and hard on what oaths I would swear to my Gods. What promises I might make in this coming year. And I will make sure that they are promises that I can keep.

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Tarot Deck Review: The English Magic Tarot

January, 2017

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The English Magic Tarot is a Tarot deck created through the combined efforts of Rex Van Ryn, the creator of the thinking behind the deck and the original artwork, and Steve Dooley, the talented artist who provided the vibrant palate of colors found in this deck, and Andy Letcher, the author of the companion book, with plenty of cross-pollination of talents between them all. This 78 card deck and the soft-cover companion book are published by Weiser Books, and they come in a sturdy and brilliantly colored box, the cover of which pictures The Fool of the Major Arcana, a fitting first look at this exciting deck for more reasons than the obvious.

The theme of the deck is set in the 100 years or so beginning with the Reformation Period and the reign of King Henry VIII and running through the end of the reign of Elizabeth I. The Elizabethan era in particular was the golden age of English Renaissance and English Magic, and makes a wonderful setting for this deck. The images of the English Magic Tarot take us through this rich and volatile period, to the time of writer William Shakespeare, explorers Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, and occultist John Dee, and surround us with hints of lay lines and stone circles, ogham and runes, evocations and charms, and magical objects and mirror script.

The images are compelling and alive, and occasionally seem to be in motion. They are created in a comic book style, making the deck a vibrantly illustrated graphic novel that takes the imagery of a Smith/Waite Tarot, mixes in the unexpected, and brings everything to life. The keywords for The Chariot are “flow” and “movement,” and indeed the image seems ready to explode from the surface of the card. The Star shows Sir Isaac Newton using a prism to split starlight into a rainbow. The Emperor shows King Henry VIII in his later years, sitting with some discomfort on his throne as he deals with the responsibilities of his realm, with William Somer in full fool regalia peeking out from behind a curtain. The Fool, the first card of the Major Arcana, is setting out on his magical quest accompanied not by a dog, but by a hare, traditionally both wise and mad, and wearing the face of Andy Letcher!

The cards are 3 by 4¾, easy to shuffle even if you have small hands, the stock is sturdy enough to encourage regular use of the deck, and the finish is not too shiny. The Major Arcana images cover the entire surface of each card, while the Minor Arcana cards are bordered by a solid (and perhaps too wide) frame with a different color assigned to each suit: red for Wands, yellow for Swords, blue for Cups and Green for Coins. The image on the back of the cards, in keeping with the comic book/graphic novel feel of the entire deck, shows two hands hovering over two cards from the deck as if casting a spread.

The soft cover companion book has 149 pages, and is sturdy and easy to use. The cover is in color, and shows the image from The Moon of the Majors on the front (and here again is the hare, companion of The Fool), and four cards from the deck on the back, two are face down, and two, the Knight of Wands and Three of Cups, are face up, giving us an opportunity to work with the images of the deck before we even open the book. Beside the forward by Philip Carr-Gomm, the book begins with an Introduction containing a brief description of the period in which the deck is based, a definition of English Magic, and a bit of a background of the deck itself and its creation, along with some intriguing hints of surprises that might be hidden within some of the images of the cards.

The card descriptions are broken down to several parts: an image of the card, a few keywords, a Description of the image, an Interpretation of the card, and a possible Reading presented by the card. It is the Interpretation that drew my attention. Each Interpretation is worded in such a way as to draw us into the card itself and the story the image is presenting. Here is where Andy Letcher shines; he includes personal stories and bits of legend or fact regarding people and events connected to the period represented by the deck and the individual card, all meant to open our subconscious to the symbolism to be found in the image and to the story being told by the card. Some sample spreads and interpretations are included at the end of the book, along with suggestions for becoming familiar with the cards and their meanings, and instructions for using the art of memory to create a memory “theater” to assist with interpretation. There is also a resource list of books about the Tarot and high, low, Renaissance or English magic and Druidism, when something about this deck whets your appetite for more.

The English Magic Tarot is way more than what it appears to be at first glance. The structure of the deck and the interpretations of the cards are sturdy enough to offer a good foundation to a beginner, yet soft and flowing enough to encourage improvisation when interpreting the messages of the cards. If you love graphic novels or English Magic, this is the Tarot deck for you. But you don’t need to be a history buff or a Tarot expert or a practitioner of high magic to enjoy this deck. The English Magic Tarot is a bit eccentric, a bit unpredictable, and it connects the Tarot, history and graphic novel art into a sturdy and enjoyable package.

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Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

January, 2017

Four Paths of Yoga

 

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(Photo: elsavier.com)

 

Last time, I spoke of the Five Paths of Wisdom within Kundalini Yoga, the yogic tradition that I follow.

This month, I will be talking of the Four Paths of Yoga, in general.

Karma Yoga is the path of action. It is represented by mindfulness and service to others. It is very good for those whose personalities are more outgoing. Those who practice Karma Yoga give no thought to themselves or to any type of reward for what they do. They do the best that they can, tuning in to their own inner teacher and to Divinity itself.

“Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul’s energies and austerities.”

~ ~ Bhagavad Gita

Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion. It can best be described as the path of love and compassion. The Bhakti path, which is a surrendering to the Divine, tends to be a more emotional path, one motivated by love. Mantra and chanting are a large part of Bhakti Yoga.

Raja Yoga is the path of having control over both the physical and the mental bodies. Meditation is stressed, while it also encompasses yoga as a whole. It is also known as the Eight Step Path, based on the Sutras of Patanjali, which include asana, prana, meditation and other practices. The energy raised here is turned into spiritual energy. Future columns will focus specifically on Patanjali’s teachings.

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(Photo: Yelp)

Gyana/Jnana Yoga is the path of philosophy; one of knowledge and wisdom. This can be a most difficult path to follow, as the goal is to experience a union with the Divine. It is best to have mastered the other paths before attempting the Jnana path, as it is one of selflessness, mastery of one’s self, mind mastery, and an ability to deal with one’s inner self.

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(Photo: heartofpeaceyoga.com)

As has been mentioned in an earlier meditation column, the word *yoga* means “union”, so all of these paths work separately, but optimally, together, to form the whole.

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(Photo: enlightenedconsciousness.com)

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GoodGod!

January, 2017

GoodGod!

Meet the Gods: Janus

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(Image by Samantha Sullivan)

Merry meet.

January is named for Janus, the Roman God of Gates and Doors. His name comes from the Latin word ianua, which means door. Gates and doors divide two places. Going through them, you leave one space and enter another. That makes it fitting that Janus presides over New Years Day, when we close the door on one year and open the door to another.

The god Saturn bestowed upon Janus the ability to see into the future as well as the past, thus it is appropriate that he is depicted as having two faces one looking behind looking at what has happened and one looking forward to see what will happen in the future. While the term “two-faced” is meant to be derogatory, there is great wisdom in being able to see both directions simultaneously.

Originally, one of Janusfaces was bearded and the other was clean-shaven, perhaps to indicate youth and maturity, but as time passed, he was most often depicted with a beard on each face. The faces are not always identical. Sometimes he holds a key in his right hand.

He is the guardian of entrances and exits, and as such, the Romans considered him the God of Beginnings. Originally, he was honored on the first day of every month, in addition to being worshipped at the beginning of the planting season, and again at the beginning of the harvest season. Respect was also paid to him at times of birth and marriage. As the god, too, of bridges and passageways, which also symbolize beginnings and ends, Janus represents transition, such as the time between youth and adulthood. Romans prayed to him for advice, especially in respect to new enterprises. He can also be turned to when choices need to be made. One source mentioned his role as the porter of heaven.

While there were no temples built in his name, there was an arched passageway with massive gates that could be closed (but rarely were, because the Romans were always engaged in war, and it was believed Janus left through the gates with the army to preside over its welfare). All the gates of cities were dedicated to him.

Knowing this, you may turn to him on wisdom as you ponder 2016 and look ahead to 2017; you might dedicate your front door or the door to your sacred space to him; or call upon him in times of beginnings.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

January, 2017

January 2017 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

 

Bright Blessings!

By the time you read this, Solstice, all the days of Yule including Twelfth Night, and Xmas, and New Years will be over with.

Some of you will be heaving a huge sigh of relief as all responsibilities for the Holidays will be done and over with, and you can start arguing with the kids/significant other as to how soon the decorations should be put away.

The obligatory gift exchanges, party going, and family trips and visits will be over with, and many of you (not me) will be feeling fat and guilty for all the holiday snacking and goody indulging, and will have bought or renewed gym memberships and will have new diets planned.

Those who work will be back to the daily grind, and depending on where you live, the weather may be getting more snowy and cold.

People will rein in their spending for a bit, and shopping crowds will return to normal…once all the holiday returns and exchanges are made!

I always brace myself starting the day after Samhain clear through mid January for holiday frenzy. Mid January brings a well-earned calm and hush to us as we slow down from our early winter festivities, and we catch our breath as the land falls deeper into silence.

With the passing of the Solstice, the nights will gradually shorten, as we approach Spring. The returning, strengthening light always provides a sense of hope for the coming growing season, and reminds us that growth is right around the corner for us, as well!

The time between Solstice and Imbolc can be used for this much needed quiet and calm in our lives, OR, if you are a kook like me, you can use this time to purge the house, as well as deep clean it. You can also use this time to still your heart and mind, and look into yourself to decide what new things you would like to incorporate into your already abundant life, as well as what things you would like to purge from it.

While we are “supposed” to take stock of our lives in America for New Years Resolutions if we did not do that at Samhain, the time between Solstice and Imbolc is actually a really good time to do that since there is some downtime after everything was so crazy!

Truthfully, I gave up making resolutions years ago, because I decided I wanted to set goals when I needed to, not at a set date. Some years I do tons of resolutions, sometimes, I don’t do any at all.

One resolution I set in place a long time ago was to give myself permission to do less and sometimes, do NOTHING when needs be and to do whatever it takes to recharge my batteries.

I read article after article and report after report about how Americans work the most hours and achieve the least amount at work compared with other Nations.

Many of us spread ourselves way too thin, during the Holidays especially, and then wonder why we are overwhelmed, exhausted, sick, and cranky.

People like to make snippy remarks to me when I say this. “Well, maybe YOU can slack off, but I CAN’T! I have (fill in the blank)” Kids, a husband, a job that is demanding, a social circle, you name it.

There was a time when I had all of the above except kids, and people with kids sometimes like to look down on people who don’t who say they need to take some things off their plate because they are overextending themselves. Some even go so far as to resent the hell out of childless adults, and then talk about all the things they would have LOVED to do with their lives has they not had children. I always just let them recite their epic monologues of how much having kids takes out of them, and then just excuse myself, or if I am feeling very brave, will ask if they have heard of contraception.

I find that a lot of the folks who do not have kids, but are extremely busy love to brag about how important they are, and how much they accomplish. They proudly proclaim how crucial their roles are in their community, or job, or social circle, and how people just can’t get by without them. This is because it makes them feel good, and I like to point out the same thing to such people that I first had to accept for myself. Nobody is so important that the World will fall apart if they are no longer around. We need to get over ourselves, you see. I am not saying we are not important in any way,or that our loved ones would not miss us of we were gone. I am saying there are some people who believe they are more important than they actually are. I used to be one of those people.

I find a lot of us complicate things unnecessarily, and could stand to simplify. I got my ass climbed years ago by a younger woman who informed me I needed to learn to work SMARTER, not HARDER! It took a few years to sink in, but I got the message.

I started paying attention to what things I was doing unnecessarily, and what I could get by nicely without. I noticed in not only my work life, but also my personal life, I had the tendency to overcomplicate things.

I had too much stuff, so I purged my stuff. I cleaned out closets, decluttered walls, dusted, cleaned the fridge and cabinets out, thinned out linens, and even cleaned out my car. My biggest area of clutter was in the papers I squirreled away and hoarded. All my college papers got pitched, because I decided I had no need of them. I thinned out my book stash by at least 75%, and stopped buying books all the time. I got rid of most of my media, and even thinned out my jewelry and craft supplies.

In my personal life, I took a good, hard look at some of the relationships I was allowing into my life. I was horrible at setting boundaries, and nobody was to blame but me. The result was, I had some very unhealthy relationships, and I made the difficult decision to purge those as well.

My diet was examined. I admit, I treasure sausage biscuits at McDonalds above most other breakfast foods. However, I was eating too many processed foods, too much sugar, was ingesting too much caffeine, and ate on impulse. We started cooking most of our meals at home, and bey9nd that, I had to eliminate certain foods completely from our diets. This took about two years, and it is still a work in progress.

My work life was literally killing me. I am an anxiety sufferer and was working in a high-stress field where competitiveness crosses over into heel biting and pettiness at best, and backstabbing and throat cutting at worst. The career had to go.

I was actually even using too much hair product, so I cut it out.

Large things, and little things were drastically changed to create a better life and a better me.

The way I did it was not magical. It was mundane.

However, MAGIC is using your will to move energy to create a change. The change started in me with a change of mindset, which created a change of habits, as well as a change of material things, and it manifested a newer, better life. Pretty darn magical!

It also created the habit of making changes regularly, and regularly assessing my habits, and revising them.

I’ll break down the simple process I used, and share a very simple spell to get you started.

Saoirse’s Simple Magical Formula for Creating Life Change

  1. Get pen and paper- Sit down and write out what you need to do away with, reduce, or increase. Revise the list all you need to.
  2. Now, list what you want instead.
  3. Next, list what it is you are going to need to do in order to make the changes happen. This is the tricky part. You may plan what it is that is going to be crucial to create the change. Unfortunately, until you start working at that, you don’t really know that it will work. Revise as necessary and as often as necessary. Like with changing my diet, which took two years, your change might take a long time as well. Remember, change is not a short-term project you give your all to for a time, and then stop. Change is permanent and for life.
  4. Write out a contract to yourself. Remember to be as specific as possible, but be realistic! If what you want is to settle down and get married, don’t put yourself on a deadline to have done so by a certain date. If you want to move out of State to be nearby family, but need a new job first, and money is tight, don’t have a date you expect to be there by. The problem with both magic AND change is that we tend to become impatient and expect instant results, but the World does not always work that way. Remember that the details in the contract can, and should be revised as needs be. This is a process, not a project to be completed, and then forgotten about.
  5. Get a candle and go into a dark room and look into the mirror. Read the contract to yourself, looking into your own eyes in the mirror. When you finish, say, “I deserve the benefits of making these positive changes in my life, and I understand this is a process. I will focus on the journey, not the destination. Blessings, wisdom, and joy on this path. So Mote It Be.”

Then get out there and make the change happen, one step at a time.

Blessed Be!

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She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2017

ACHLYS

Achlys (pronounced Akh-Loos) is the name, and personification, of Eternal Night.

goddess

(Photo: Pinterest)

She is also known as Mist of Death, which is another meaning of Her name. It describes the mist that fell before one’s eyes before dying. As such, Her likeness was borne upon the Shield of Hercules.

She is a pale, thin Goddess with long sharp fingernails, which she will use as claws, which in turn explains Her bloody cheeks. Her teeth are as fangs. She is covered in dust, as She roams the world. Her incessant crying gives her the name of the Goddess of Misery and Sadness.

One of Her myths is that She is the only being to precede Chaos, and that the entire world came from her. This makes Her a primordial, creative being, akin to Shakti, in the Hindu world.

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(Photo: ninecircles.co)

She is the Mistress of Poisons, who could create poisonous flowers by just summoning them, and not a few of Her potions could turn humans into animals.

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 143 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic 5th century AD):

“[Hera spies the nurses of the infant god Dionysos:] Hera, who turns her all-seeing eye to every place, saw from on high the everchanging shape of Lyaios [Dionysos], and knew all. Then she was angry with the guardians of Bromios. She procured from Thessalian Akhlys (Achlys, Death-Mist) treacherous flowers of the field, and shed a sleep of enchantment over their heads; she distilled poisoned drugs over their hair, she smeared a subtle magical ointment over their faces ,and changed their earlier human shape. Then they took the form of a creature with long ears, and a horse’s tail sticking out straight from the loins and flogging the flanks of its shaggy-crested owner; from the temples cow’s horns sprouted out, their eyes widened under the horned forehead, the hair ran across their heads in tuft, long white teeth grew out of their jaws, a strange kind of mane grew of itself, covering their necks with rough hair, and ran down from the loins to feet underneath.”

(Wikepedia)

Goddess myths don’t always make sense. As we know, Goddess stories and myths from around the worlds can become confused; names are similar, some Goddesses become combined with other Goddesses. It is no different here.

To contradict the origin myth of Achlys, it is also said she that she was one of the Keres/Ceres, the female death spirits, who were the daughters of Nyx, whose name means “night”, similar to Achlys’ Eternal Night.

The Keres’ names were Moros, meaning *Doom*, Ker meaning *Violent Death*, Hypnos meaning *Sleep* and Theoneiroi meaning *Dreams*. The description of the Keres being dark and mysterious beings with sharp teeth and claws, wearing bloody garments is similar enough to that of Achyls to let you think that She was one of their number. The Keres hovered over battlefields searching for wounded and dying men, as they relished the violent and cruel deaths that battle and murder wrought. Perhaps Achylis joined them, dropping the Mist of Death before the eyes of these men, before the Keres would take their bodies and souls.

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(Photo: Pinterest)

As this quote shows, it is believed, too, that the Keres were released into the world by the opening of Pandora’s box; this would have included Achylis:

Hesiod, Works and Days 90 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :

“For ere this [the opening of Pandora’s jar] the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills (kakoi) and hard toil (ponoi) and heavy sickness (nosoi) which bring the Keres (Fates) upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman took off the great lid of the jar (pithos) with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Elpis (Hope) remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aigis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds. But the rest, countless plagues (lugra), wander amongst men; for earth is full of evils and the sea is full. Of themselves diseases (nosoi) come upon men continually by day and by night, bringing mischief to mortals silently; for wise Zeus took away speech from them. So is there no way to escape the will of Zeus.”

(Theoi.com)

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(Photo: paleothea.com by Hein Lass)

Whatever Her true myth and origins, there is no doubt that Achlys is one of the many Dark Goddesses. While we may wish to turn our head, the wise know that without the Dark, there is no Light; without Death, there is no Life.

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Notes from the Apothecary

January, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Holly

 

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(Image credit: Pere López via Wikimedia)

 

The holly, dark green,

Made a resolute stand,

He is armed with many spear points

Wounding the hand. (Cad Goddeu, The Book of Taliesin, 14th Century.)

Holly immediately conjures up images of snowy woods and midwinter frosts, and it has been a staple of solstice celebrations since at least Roman times. The festival of Saturnalia ran for a week or so around the shortest day, and holly was included in wreaths and garlands, it’s evergreen leaves and red berries a promise of the spring that was to come. Also, as a sacred plant of Saturn, holly was seen as an offering to the patron god of these festivities, and this is how it became tied to the solstice, and much later on, to Christmas.

The Kitchen Garden

Don’t eat holly! Though the jewel-like red berries may look appealing, they are for the birds and not for you! Don’t leave them within reach of children or pets; they are poisonous and can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Also, it’s worth remembering that as the beautiful boughs dry out, the berries can fall to the floor where they may be picked up, so keep an eye on your holly, and if in doubt, remove the berries and place them out of sight of small hands or paws.

The Witch’s Kitchen

 

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If invoking or evoking Saturn, Holly leaves or berries are an ideal offering. Saturn is linked to agriculture, harvests and time itself, so may be called upon to aid in seasonal spell-craft, particularly around the winter months. His sickle represents the end of the final harvest, but also the creation of things, as he used it to castrate hi father which separated Earth from Heaven, and created creatures such as the furies and the giants. The crescent shape of the sickle represents the cyclical nature of our world, and Holly, Saturn’s sacred plant, is a reminder that all things return in time.

As with all evergreens, holly is a symbol of summer within winter. For Wiccans and similar paths, it is a reminder that although the Holly King vanquished the Oak King at the summer Solstice, the Oak King merely rests, waiting to rise again, his blood the resting sap in the trees. After the Winter solstice, or Yule or Saturnalia, a sprig of holly reminds us that although the Oak King is now the powerful spirit waiting to rise up once the earth warms again, the Holly King is still alive, in the evergreen leaves and blood red berries that remind us of fire, passion, and the life that will surge back in spring and summer.

Holly is traditionally a protective tree, and the wood has been used to ward off witchcraft and evil magic for centuries. At one point in Britain, some builders crafted the doorsteps of houses out of holly wood, so that witches could not enter the building. Drinking from a cup made of holly wood helped purge the sickness faster.

Holly has also been used for divination, particularly to learn the identity of a future spouse. The leaves are supposed to be able to bring prophetic dreams.

Effigies built of holly represent the masculine, and their counterparts were often made of ivy, which is seen as the feminine evergreen. The effigies would be burnt as part of midwinter festivities, to hurry along the warmth of spring.

A sprig of holly was given as a token of good luck in Roman times, so always accept a gift of holly gratefully.

Home and Hearth

 

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Soak holly leaves in water or oil to make a protective liquid. Pick the leaves at a full moon if you can, place them in a jar with clean tap water, or rain or spring water, or an oil of your choice. Shake daily, and imbue with your intent as often as you can. The liquid will reach potency at the next new moon. Sprinkle some in your sacred place as thanks for the magic. Dab on wrists or at the neck. If irritation occurs, immediately discontinue use! However, this should be physically mild, whilst metaphysically powerful, protecting you from ill will and negativity.

If you are pricked by the holly leaves, it may sting, but as long as you clean the wound, it is seen as very good luck, particularly between winter solstice and Imbolc.

At Imbolc, burn a piece of holly (safely, preferably outdoors) to symbolise the end of winter. The Cailleach, the Irish or Scottish hag-like spirit of winter, threw down her wintery rod beneath the holly tree, admitting defeat in the face of spring.

I Never Knew…

According to Scott Cunningham in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, throwing holly at a wild animal will cause it to lie down and not molest you. I don’t recommend this in the case of bear attacks!

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