October 15, 2014

Hold a Dumb Supper for Samhain

Posted in Devotionals, Dumb Supper, Samhain tagged , , , , at 5:26 am by Babs

A year ago I was privileged to attend a stunningly visual Samhain ritual written by one of our High Priestesses and performed by all of the initiated High Priestesses.  This made it very special for the 1st and 2nd degree initiates, myself included.  I was asked and happily agreed to host a Dumb Supper following the circle.  Even though most of us understood the symbolism of the supper I decided to write a short “history” to provide some background to the newer members.  I also outlined the “room setup” and “rules” so members would know what to expect and what is expected of them before they entered into the dining room area.  Since the meal is silent… you have to prepare everyone before the meal starts.

History of the Dumb Supper:  While the exact origin of the Dumb Supper is hotly debated the symbolic gesture of honoring those who have passed beyond the veil with a shared offering of a meal transcends most spiritual paths. From early ritual sacrifices, to offerings of the harvest and hunt, to the Eucharist of the Christian faith, the ceremony has been celebrated in one form or another by people around the world.

In Celtic traditions, a Dumb Supper is commonly held on Samhain (Sow-en), October 31st, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. The Celts believed that it was at this time, during the dark half of the year, that the spirits hear us and may even wish to make contact with us. This is the time of death and resurrection, new beginnings and fond farewells.

As its name suggests, a Dumb Supper is held in silence. From the moment you enter the room to the moment you leave it you must turn inward and be quiet. Often it is suggested that you are symbolically crossing over to meet with your ancestor in the Summerland. During this passage you are not to speak.  Your communication with your loved one is yours and yours alone.  To further the symbolism of the crossing, many hosts/ hostesses conduct the supper in complete opposite of how it would be held in the realm of the living such as serving dessert first and appetizers last to even setting the table in a mirror image of common practice (i.e. forks on right and knives and spoons to the left). For our version, we will simply be silent and walk widdershins (counter-clockwise). Because of the nature of the meal being with spirits of those who have passed on, the space where the supper is held will be sacred space where a circle of protection is cast with sage and the area blessed.

What do you say to the deceased? Often when a loved one passes there are sentiments you didn’t get to express. Whether it’s the poignant “I love you”, “I forgive you,” or “please forgive me” to the ever-present, “I miss you,” there is always something we wanted to say. When speaking to those who have passed on it is important to share with them the important things you would have been excited to share if they were still alive; the birth of a child, a marriage, an achievement.

How will you know they are listening? As with any conversation it is just as important for you to listen as it is to share. Some people may experience a moment of clarity, while others will smell a perfume their grandmother favored, or feel a touch, a sensation, or experience a vivid memory. Some feel a sense of peace. Many may receive a sign from their loved one long after the meal is over.  Whatever your experience is, be open to it and cherish this time with them.

Commonly in larger gatherings there is often a single place setting for “Spirit” since an individual setting for each ancestor becomes unmanageable. For our Supper we will have a Goddess setting in honor of the crone Hecate in addition to a single symbolic Ancestor setting. Behind this setting will be the photos of those we have invited to join us.

So now, close your eyes and find your center, bring an image of your loved one to your mind’s eye and begin your meal together.

Dumb Supper Rules (for our circle):

Room Set Up:

  1. The dining table has been staged with the Goddess setting at the head of the table and one common Ancestor setting at the foot of the table. These symbolic chairs will be draped.
  2. All other settings will have water, utensils, and napkins ready for you.
  3. An Ancestor altar (for photos and candles) will be set up behind the Ancestor place setting. When placing your photo/ memento here, you are inviting your ancestor to the table.
  4. A buffet table with the food, drinks, ice, etc. will be set up to one side.
  5. All lights will be turned off and no cell phones or cameras will be permitted.
  6. From the moment you transition from the circle to the dining room, there will be no speaking.

Ancestor Table – The faces of the photos have been blurred intentionally.

 Dumb Supper Process:

  1. HPS will enter the sacred room first to bless it, sage it, and call upon the Goddess to join the feast. She will then return to the line of waiting guests motioning each to enter the room. She will allow time between each guest to complete the following:
  2. Each guest should collect their ancestor’s photo from the ritual altar in preparation of walking with their ancestor into the dining room.
  3. Each guest will enter the dining room in widdershin fashion.
    • Walk to the altar and place their Ancestor photo.
    • Select a tea light from the basket and light it in honor of their loved one.
    • Approach the Goddess seat and in silence thank her for being with them.
  4. Each guest is then invited to the buffet to take some food, set the plate down at the next available place setting starting at the Goddess’s left, and remain standing.
  5. HPS will be the last through the buffet. Once she has set down her plate, she and helper will serve will serve the Goddess and the Ancestors some of the feast.
  6. When HPS takes a seat, everyone takes a seat, and eats in continued silence.
  7. HPS, determining when everyone is done eating, will rise from her seat. This will signal everyone to rise. Proceeding widdershins starting with the person at the Goddess’s right, each guest moves to the Goddess’s chair, pauses, and in silence thanks Her for attending. They then leave the room.
  8. HPS snuffs the candles and is the last one out after thanking the Goddess.
  9. The supper is now complete.

Dessert, Coffee, Discussion & Divination: Lights may be turned back on and all guests are invited back in for coffee/ tea and dessert. This is a social time where everyone may share any experiences felt, thought, or messages received from their honored ancestors.

This is our discussion and social time after the supper.

Final Notes: I hope this was of some help to you as a solitary or for your group.  I have held private/ solitary Dumb Suppers for a few years and you can get more elaborate in your table settings by reversing the silverware and serving alcohol.  For the group I pulled together aspects outlined in many different rituals to create this for about 25 people.  Due to the large number of participants we felt the buffet was easiest and all dishes were labeled clearly.  My advice – keep things simple.  There were hiccoughs along the way (expect them and roll with them) but most people found it to be successful and a moving event.  If you try a Dumb Supper, please share your results and your modifications.  I love trying new things every year!

Blessed Samhain to you all!

September 11, 2014

God’s Eyes = Litha Fun!

Posted in Crafts, Decorations, Litha, Wiccan Things, Witchy Things tagged , , , at 1:05 am by Babs

Recently I wrote my first ritual for my 2nd year class as an exercise.  I chose the next Sabbat and was thankful it was Litha, a favorite of mine.  After much anxiety over taking on such a responsibility, it was funny how easy it was… to sit down, center, listen to the breeze moving the wind chimes and just focus inward.  After a bit of cyber research and review of my many magickal books I had my theme and the rest just fell together on its own.  After submission to my High Priest and High Priestess for review I was surprised and pleased to learn that my exercise for class would be used in the next ritual!

My circle has experienced much upheaval over the winter and I wanted to add some activity to get people working together.  It was the first step in rebuilding the lines of communication and trust.  While it is important to learn and grow from the troubling times… it is just as important to focus on those who remain.  Forgive the hurt and put the rest in the past.  Harm None!

So to facilitate the healing effort I went looking for a craft project fitting for the time of year that people might be interested in.  I found a craft on-line that I used to make as a child… God’s Eyes!  It was perfect!  While it is commonly associated as a Christian project it was originally a solar symbol which fit in perfectly with the Litha Sabbat.  Also, the symbolism of it being an “eye” was not lost on me as I hoped to bring a theme of focus to the group.  What do you want to manifest in your life? What seeds do we sow now in order to make the most of the harvest later in the summer?

Surprisingly, we had several people who wanted to partake.  While making them up, there was great conversation, lots of laughs, and new friendships made.  Now this was the community that I wanted to be a part of and serve the Goddess with!

A sample of our God’s Eyes!

What was best, it proved a good use to all the yarn remnants I had in the house… and using sticks from my butterfly bush… it was entirely free!

August 18, 2012

Brigid – The Survival of a Goddess

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things, Imbolc tagged , , , , , , at 12:09 am by Babs

Perhaps one of the most complex and contradictory goddesses of the Celtic pantheon, Brigid can be seen as the most powerful religious figure in all of Irish history.  Many layers of separate traditions have intertwined, making Her story and impact complicated but allowing Her to move so effortlessly down through the centuries. She has succeeded in travelling intact through generations, fulfilling different roles in divergent times.  She was, and continues to be, known by many names.  Referred to as Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, Brigantia, I am using Her name Brigid here.  There are also many variations on pronunciation, all of them correct, but, in my own mind, I use the pronunciation, Breet.

Brigid is the traditional patroness of healing, poetry and smithcraft, which are all practical and inspired wisdom.  as a solar deity Her attributes are light, inspiration and all skills associated with fire.  although She might not be identified with the physical Sun, She is certainly the benefactress of inner healing and vital energy.  Also long known as The Mistress of the Mantle, She represents the sister or virgin aspect of the Great Goddess.  The deities of the Celtic pantheon have never been abstraction or fictions but remain inseparable from daily life.  The fires of inspiration, as demonstrated in poetry, and fires of the home and the forge are seen as identical.  There is no separation between the inner and outer worlds.  The tenacity with which the  traditions surrounding Brigid have survived, even the saint as the thinly disguised Goddess, clearly indicates Her importance.

As the patroness of poetry, flidhect, the equivalent of bardic lore, are the primal retainers of culture and learning.  The bansidhe and the dilidh – women of the Fairy Hills and the class of the Seer-poets, respectively, preserve the poetic function of Brigid by keeping the oral tradition alive.  It is widely believed that those poets who have gone before inhabit the realms between the worlds, overlapping into ours so tha the old songs and storeys will be heard and repeated.  Thus does Brigid fulfill the function of providing a continuity by inspiring and encouraging us.

The roles of the smith in any tribe was seen as a sacred trust and was associated with magickal powers since it involved mastering the primal element of fire, molding the metal (from Earth) through skill, knowledge and strength.  Concepts of smithcraft are connected to stories concerning the creation of the world, utilizing all of the Elements to create and fuse a new shape.

Brigid is also the Goddess of physicians and healing, divination and prophecy.  One of Her most ancient names is Breo-saighead meaning fiery arrow, and within that name is the attributes of punishment and divine justice.

Three rivers are named for Her – Brigit, Braint and Brent in Ireland, Wales and England, respectively.  In modern Britain today She is shown as the warrior-maiden, Brigantia, and venerated not only as justice and authority in that country, but also as the personification of Britain as is seen on the coin of the realm.  There is a story, coming from the 12th century, in which Merlin is inspired by a feminine figure who represents the sovereignty of the Land of Britain.  She causes his visions to reach through British history, on, so it is said, to the end of the solar system.  Taliesin also describes a traditional cosmology, inspired by Brigantia.  She is central to many heroic myths, especially those concerned with underworld quests and sacred kingship.  This seems to relate to her concern for the development of human potential.

Her important association with the cow, coupled with its critical necessity in Celtic culture and history, relates to the festival of Imbolc.  This celebration, which is so completely Hers, involves itself with the lighting of fires, purifications with well water and the ushering in of the new year (Spring) by a maiden known as the Queen of the Heavens.  The significance of Imbolc is to deep that it deserves an entire section within any work relating to Brigid.

To fully grasp the significance of Imbolc it is necessary to understand the life-and-death struggle represented by winder in any  agrarian society.  In a world lit only by fire the snow, cold and ice of this season literally holds you in its grip, only relaxed with the arrival of spring.  Although the Equinox does not arrive until later and spring is celebrated with Ostara nd Beltain, Imbolc is the harbinger and the indication that better times are coming.

During the cold months, certain issues become pressing.  Is there enough food for both humans and animals?  Will illness decimate the tribe, especially in the case of the young, the old and nursing mothers?  And what of the animals whose lives are so crucial to our own?  One of the most burning questions would be with the pregnant cows and ewes since their mild is used for drink, for cheese and curds which might mean the difference between life and death.  By Imbolc these animals will have birthed their young and their milk would be flowing.  Milk, to the Celts, was sacred food, equivalent to the Christian communion.  It was an ideal form of food due to its purity and nourishment.  Mother’s milk was especially valuable, having curative powers.  The cow was symbolic of the sacredness of motherhood, the live-force sustained and nourished.  This wa snot a passive cow giving milk but an active mother fighting for the well-being of her children.

Imbolc divides winter in half; the Crone months of winter are departing and the promise of the Spring Maiden is around the corner.  This holiday eventually became modern-day Candlemas with Saint Brigid’s Day and the Feast of the Purification of Mary being celebrated during this period of time.  This celebration was definitely a feminine festival.  Women would gather to welcome the maiden aspect of the Goddess as embodied by Brigid.  Corn cakes make from the first and last of the harvest were made and distributed and this practice remains a part of Her celebration.  During these festivities, She was commonly represented by a doll, dressed in white, with a crystal upon Her chest.

This doll, usually a Corn Dolly, was carried in procession by maidens also dressed in white.  Gifts of food were presented to the Goddess with a special feast given by and for the maidens.  Young men were invited to this feast for the purpose of ritual mating to ensure that new souls would be brought in to replace those lost during the cold times.

The holiday has pastoral connections due to the association of the coming into milk of the ewes.  Although Brigid is designated as an all-encompassing deity during Imbolc She is honored in Her capacity as the Great Mother.  She possesses an unusual status as a Sun Goddess who hangs Her cloak upon the rays of the Sun and whose dwelling-place radiates light as if on fire.  Brigid took over the Cult of the Ewes formerly held by the Goddess Lassar who also is a Sun Goddess and who made the transition, in the Isles, from Goddess to saint.  In this way Brigid’s connection to Imbolc is completed, as the worship of Lassar diminished, only to be revived later in Christian sainthood.

Brigid long transcended territorial considerations, providing some unity between the warring tribes in Western Europe and the Isles.  Her three sons gave their names to the solders of Gaul.  The cult of Brigid exists not only in Ireland but throughout Europe as well; She has an ancient and international ancestry.  Her name meaning high or exalted.  As Mother Goddess, Brigid united the Celts who were spread throughout this area.  She was the one feature upon which they all agreed, no matter how disparate they were in location or traditions.

In addition to Her totemic animals of the cow and the ewe, She is also associated with the cockerel, the herald of the new day and the snake, symbol of regeneration.  In this way She is related to fertility goddesses, many of whom were also shown holding snakes and shares with Minerva the shield, spear and crown of serpents.  Serpents are also a common theme in Celtic jewelry (another product of smithing) with many torcs displaying this sinuous symbol of power and divinity.

She began as a triplicate of sisters, common to Celtic lore.  She is the daughter of Dagda and the Morrighan and sister to Ogma, a Sun God and the creator of the Pgham.  With Bres of the Fomorians, She had three sons – Brian (Ruadan), Iuchar and Uar – and Brian’s actions in the Battle of Moytura figure largely in Her evolution to a Goddess of Peace and Unity.

To understand the significance of this battle it is necessary to know a little bit about Celtic tradition concerning family.  Matrilineal, meaning ancestry was traced through the mother’s line rather than the father’s, the most important male in your life would be the oldest male kin to your mother, often an uncle and not necessarily a grandfather since his lineage to her many not exist.  All blood relationships of any importance came through your mother’s line.  This tie was so tight that children of sisters were considered to be siblings rather than cousins.

Motherhood demanded the utmost reverence.  Rape was a crime of highest severity, subject to the greatest punishments and not pardonable or subject to leniency.  Later, in Her evolved role as the Lawgiver, Brigid would make certain that women’s rights were retained in some form within the new religion.

The marriage of Brigid to Bres was essentially an alliance to bring peace between two warring factions.  She was the Danu and he of the Fomorians.  With the intermarriage, war was hopefully averted.  Ruadan, Brigid’s eldest son, used the knowledge of smithing given to him by his maternal kin, the Danu, against them by killing their smith, a sacred position within the tribe.  This smith killed Ruadan before dying himself.  Brigid’s grief and lamentations were said to be the first heard in Ireland and were not only an expression of mourning for the loss of Her son but also for the enmity between maternal and paternal factions of the family.

This was seen as the beginning of the end for the Old Ways.  And so, the Irish story of Original Sin, was the act against maternal kinship rather than that of sexuality since sexuality, which brings the sacred position of motherhood, was seen as positive by the Celts.

Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend.  She acts as a bridge between the two worlds and successfully made the transition back to Goddess again with most of Her traditions retained.  The worship of Saint Brigid has persisted up until the early 20th century with Her Irish cult nearly supplanting that of Mary.  She is commemorated in both Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland.

In order to incorporate Brigid into Christian worship and thus ensure Her survival, Her involvement in the life of Jesus became the stuff of legend.  According to the stories in The Lives of the Saints, Brigid was the midwife present at the birth, placing three drops of water on His forehead.  This seems to be a Christianized version of an ancient Celtic myth concerning the Sun of Light upon Whose head three drops of water were placed in order to confer wisdom.  Further, as a Christianized saint, Brigid was said to be the foster-mother of Jesus, fostering being a common practice among the Celts.  She took the Child to save Him from the slaughter of male infants supposedly instigated by Herod.  She wore a headdress of candles to light their way to safety.

There exists an apocryphal gospel of Thomas that was excluded from the Bible in which he claims a web was woven to protect the infant Jesus from harm.  This is in keeping with Her status as the patron of domestic ars, weaving wool from Her Ewes, increasing the connections as pastoral Goddess.  Due to the original differences between the Roman church and that which was once an extremely divergent type of Christianity practiced in the Western Isles, particularly Ireland, many of the older deities made the transition from Gods and Goddesses to saints, some experiencing Church inflicted gender changes along the way.  Often thinly disguised pagan worship was continued in monasteries and convents which were built on or near the sites sacred to the Celtic pantheon.  Many of the great monasteries – Clonmacnoise, Durrow and Brigid’s own Kildare – were great centers of learning and culture, with information disseminated from these sites to Western Europe.  This is much the same as the great Druidic colleges and it is not surprising to find that places sacred to the new religion were built upon the foundations of the old.  These cloisters are thought to have kept alive and preserved much of classic culture in Europe throughout the Dark Ages.  During this period of time, wars were decimating the populations.  Mary, as the Mother in this new religion, was embraced by women who felt a similar experience of sacrificing their sons to a political and religious machine.

The Triple Goddesses were replaced by a Trinity, but the Old Ways lingered in worship.  Brigid’s role as Mother Goddess was never completely eradicated and reappears throughout Her entire career as a Catholic saint.  As Saint Brigid, there are rays of sunlight coming from Her head, as portrayed as a Goddess.  Themes of milk, fire, sun and serpents followed Her on this path adding to Her ever-growing popularity.  Compassion, generosity, hospitality, spinning and weaving, smithwork, healing and agriculture ran throughout Her various lives and evolution as well.

Her symbolism as a Sun Goddess remains, also in the form of Brigid’s crosses, a widdershins or counterclockwise swastika, found world-wide as a profound symbol, reaching Ireland by the second century BCE and is still used there today to protect the harvest and farm animals.

One of the stories of Her life as a saint supports Her original attribute as a solar deity.  During Her infancy the neighbors ran to Her house, thinking it was afire.  This radiance came from the infant saint, a demonstration of Her grace bestowed as by the Holy Spirit.  A prayer to Saint Brigid requests Brigit, ever excellent woman, golden sparkling flame, lead us to the eternal Kingdom, the dazzling resplendent sun. Even in Her new incarnation as a Catholic saint Her previous existence is affirmed.  The eternal flame at Her convent at Kildare suggests its existence as having been pagan and/or Druidic.  The shrine at Kildare is assumed to be a Christian survival of an ancient college of vestal priestesses who were trained and then scattered throughout the land to tend sacred wells, groves, caves and hills.  These priestesses were originally committed to thirty years in service but, after this period, were free to marry and leave.  The first ten years were spent in training, ten in the practice of their duties and the final ten in teaching others, similar to the three degrees of initiation found in most traditions.

These women preserved old traditions, studies sciences and healing remedies and, perhaps, even the laws of state.  At Kildare their duties must have involved more than merely tending the fire.  This perpetual fire at the monastic city was tended by nineteen nuns over a period of nineteen days.  On the twentieth day, Brigid Herself is said to keep the fire burning.

The site for the monastery at Kildare was chosen for its elevation and also for the ancient Oak found there, considered so sacred that no weapon was permitted to be placed near it, with fines collected for the gathering of deadfall within its area.  The word, Kildare, comes from “Cill Dara,” the Church of the Oak.  The entire area was known as Civitas Brigitae, “The City of Brigid.”  The preservation of the sacred fire became the focus of this convent.  The abbess was considered to be the reincarnation of the saint and each abbess automatically took the name, Brigid, upon investiture.  The convent was occupied continuously until 1132 CE with each abbess having a mystical connection to the saint and retaining Her name.  At this point, Dermot MacMurrough wished to have a relative of his invested as the abbess.  Although popular opinion was against him, his troops overran the convent and raped the reigning abbess in order to discredit her.  After this, Kildare lost much of its power and the fires were finally put out by King Henry VIII during the Reformation.  During the  time the convent was occupied by the saint Herself, She went from the position of Mother Goddess to that of lawgiver, paralleling Minerva, once again.  Her ability to move between categories is the secret of Her continuing success.  When the laws were written down and codified by Christianity, Brigid figured largely to insure that the rights of women were remembered.  These laws had been committed to memory by the brehons as part of the extensive oral tradition.

The Old Ways were still practiced, although not often openly and, in order to make certain that people would not stray from the new religion, many aspects of the olde were incorporated into the new.  In keeping with the Old Ways, men were not permitted to impregnate women against their will, against medical advice or the restrictions of her tribe.  A man was not permitted to neglect the sexual needs of his wife.  Irish lay also provided extensively for the rights of women in marriage, for pregnancy out-of-wedlock, and for divorce.

In one incident, clearly defining the position of women in this new warrior class, a women petitioned Brigid for justice.  Her lands and holdings were about to be taken from her after the death of her parents.  Brigid, however, ruled that it was the woman’s decision to either take the land as a warrior, being prepared to use arms to protect her holdings and her people.  If she decided not to take on this privilege, half her land should go to her tribe.  But, if she chose to hold the land and support it militarily, she was permitted to hold the land in its entirety.

The shift from Mother Goddess to Virgin Mother to Virgin Saint presented difficulty.  Even thous it insured Her survival and the emergence of Her power in Neo-Paganism, the emphasis on virginity stemmed completely from the Christian patriarchy.  She derived power at the expense of other women, removing motherhood from its revered position in Celtic society.  As the Mother, Brigid keeps the traditions alive and whole, offering a means of guidance that sustains through any circumstance.  In Her capacity as the Lawgiver Her attempts to carry the Old Ways through the storm to the present day, much as Merlin’s work would extend to the limits of the solar system, have been successful.  Paganism still exists and in a form that may well weather the storms present at this moment.  However, seeing Brigid as the unbroken vessel, Her virginity being wholly symbolic, Her loyalty is not compromised by allegiance to one lover or husband.  Beyond the grip of any one tribe or nation, She can mediate to ensure unity for the good of all.  She protects us as we walk through the labyrinth but also makes us face the reality of ourselves.  Her fire is the spark alive in every one of us.

by Winter Cymres, 1995

October 31, 2011

Dumb Supper for Samhain

Posted in Dumb Supper, Samhain, Wiccan Things at 11:25 pm by Babs

Samhain (pronounced Sow-when) is the time of year when the wheel has come full circle.  The veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and it is now that many pagans attempt to connect with their ancestors who now reside in the Summerland.  Commonly known as Halloween, it is the eve of the witch’s new year.

To celebrate this turn of the wheel it is common for many pagans to set up an ancestor table with pictures and mementos of those who have passed on.  Another common theme is to perform a dumb supper.  Dumb stands for the fact that it is totally silent.  It is a time to honor the ancestors by sharing a meal with them.  This ritual has many options but it is my experience to go with what feels right to the participants.  This can be one or many people celebrating for many different ancestors.  In the end, it becomes a very personal experience for each individual.

At sunset, I held a private dumb supper to honor my mother who passed this year.  It seemed like something I should do alone to allow for a quiet, reflective and emotional tribute.  I read a lot about how others use black, table cloths, napkins, plates, etc.  I didn’t feel this was right for me.  Mom liked color.  So I set the table with colors of the season… and cooked a meal I feel she would have loved… but it was a new meal.  One we will share together for the first time.

I placed several candles on the table, with roses from her funeral that were dried.  A crystal ball in case Mom wants to share something with me and of course several pictures of her during happier times.  I wrote a note for her and had a cauldron to burn it in.  Before serving dinner, I smudged the house to raise the vibrations and cast a circle of protection.

After serving dinner and before being seated I approached her place setting and stood a moment to honor her.  Then, we shared a meal together in silence, in candlelight.  Between courses, I read the note (silently) and then brought it to her place setting… and then finally to the cauldron to burn.  This is symbolic so that the message can be received by the spirit world in the smoke from the burning.  Be safe… and use the cauldron for the burning rather than holding in your hand!  Then I served dessert.  Mom did not have a sweet tooth but I hoped she would humor me.

June 1, 2011

The Month of May

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things, Nature Things, Samhain, Statues, Summerland, Wiccan Things tagged , , , , at 7:40 am by Babs

As this month draws to a close I am happy to see it go.  This was a bad month for me as I lost my Mother to a long battle (18 years) with ALS.  While this is unusual in the length of time… it is still hard to “let go” of someone you love.  In the pagan path we believe (generally speaking) in a concept called “crossing the veil”.  The veil is metaphorical but apt.  Similar to Judeo/Christian beliefs when one dies one passes over to the other side.  Christians see the other side as the “kingdom of heaven”.  For pagans… mainly Wiccan oriented pagans, it is the Summerland.

The essence of the Summerland is that it is a resting ground where souls can reflect on the life they led, see if they learned the lesson they had intended on learning, and then try again in due course. The Summerland is not seen as a place of judgment, but rather as a spiritual self-evaluation where a soul is able to review its life and gain an understanding of the total impact its actions had on the world. Some may believe each particular lesson (and hence, life) is chosen and planned out by the soul itself while in Summerland, whereas others may believe that lessons are planned by an external party (deities, a spirit guide, etc.).

As you can see, my concept of the afterlife has a contemplation phase and then a reincarnation phase which is similar to many polytheistic (multiple god) religions.  What ever path you follow in life, take comfort in your individual beliefs.  Grief and loss are hard to deal with but faith in your path will help guide you as one who has been left behind.

Often to reconnect with our departed loved ones, we attempt to honor/ remember/ communicate with them at Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) which is a time when the veil is considered to be the thinnest.  This is the beginning of the Wiccan year and is more commonly associated with Halloween.  But that is many months from now.  Now is the time to let go.

September 29, 2010

Pagan Pride 2010

Posted in Crafts, Mabon, Pagan Groups, Pagan Pride, Wiccan Things, Witchy Things tagged , , , , at 1:33 am by Babs

Of all days to forget my camera… but of course, friends had decided to fill the role of paparazzi this year leaving me to shop!  The Eastern Massachusetts Pagan Pride event was held in the new location of Palmer State Forest.  What a huge location to welcome the growing gathering of friends, teachers, organizers, vendors, artists, musicians and pagans of all paths.  What a beautiful day to mingle with a other fellow pagans! 

What is wonderful about the Pagan Pride gatherings is the amount of knowledge and community spirit in one place.  The above dolls were all purchased or won in raffles at present and past Pagan Prides.  They are really well made and each have a memory of happy times.  I am hoping to get a copy of the pattern for the knitted Venus of Willendorf above (striped doll) so gift giving will be extra special this year for Yule! 

Workshops are ongoing during the day and this year I attended a basic herbal with a wonderful witch who really knew her stuff.  It was fun to learn of recipes for simple things like Poison Ivy.  Did you know that Jewelweed grows right next to Poison Ivy and its properties are to alleviate the poison in ivy oil?  Seems nature has a built in ESC button!

The day ends with a Mabon celebration and open circle and spiral dance.  The energy raised was wonderful and electrifying.  The cost of admission is canned goods for a local food shelter.  We have delightedly raised tons of food in years past and hope to top the record every year.

September 27, 2010

Lammas 2010

Posted in Alters, Lammas, Networking Things, Pagan Groups, Wiccan Things, Witchy Things tagged at 10:20 am by Babs

Glinda the good witch opened her home and yard to all of the local area pagans to celebrate Lammas.  This harvest celebration was a wonderful circle event.  Glinda went above and beyond to make the ritual, the offerings, the atmostphere just perfect for the event.  Most participants camp out in the yard and make it an overnight… complete with singing, drumming and of course a camp fire! 

                

This celebration also marks the death of the Sun God (bringing on autumn and winter) and the celebration of the Feminine Divine… so I noticed that many of the female participants had painted toes… so we gathered around the penticle and “put our right foot in” with smiles all around. 

Each participant in the circle was to bring a fruit that began with the letter of their first name.  All of these were offered during circle to Lugh who was to die this sabbat… and from the offerings we made a fruit salad for all to share.  It was a perfect way to celebrate all that we harvested in love and light this year.

June 21, 2010

Sweet Summer & Litha

Posted in Litha, Wiccan Things tagged , , , at 10:00 pm by Babs

In June– usually around June 21 or 22 – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.”  In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water.  This may be due to water countering the effects of the sun’s heat either in cooling the skin or drenching the fields during drought.

In some traditions, Litha is a time at which there is a battle between light and dark. The Oak King is seen as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and the Holly King from summer to winter. At each solstice they battle for power, and while the Oak King may be in charge of things at the beginning of June, by the end of Midsummer he is defeated by the Holly King.

Some contention follows this holiday as it is not known if the ancients celebrated this sabbath.  For me, Litha is a great time to celebrate outdoors. Go for a swim or just turn on the sprinkler to run through, and then have a bonfire or barbeque at the end of the day. Stay up late to say goodnight to the sun, and celebrate nightfall with sparklers, storytelling, and music. This is an ideal Sabbat to do some love magic or celebrate a handfasting since June is the month of marriages and family.

May 12, 2010

Beltaine 2010 – Welcome Summer!

Posted in Alters, Beltane, Wiccan Things, Witchy Things tagged , , at 1:25 pm by Babs

This year the turning of the wheel found me at a wonderful circle amongst great friends.  The ritual was so well done that every person was involved.  We didn’t have a May Pole from which to hang ribbons and perform the dance which is very common in ritual observances during this sabbat.  However, we strung several garlands of ivy together with flowers and ribbons entwined and then strung the garland on a flowering dogwood.  Just spectacular.  Lots of drumming and singing and noise making really made it fun and thankfully the weather was perfect!! 
Traditionally this is the time of year to celebrate the fertile mother earth.  The Goddess and the God consummate their marriage which fertilizes the fields.  In circle this can be symbolized by dipping the athame into the chalice which represent the joining of the male and female respectively. 
Our intentions in circle were for healing and health for the coming year.  If written, they were released in the Beltaine fire.  May the blessings of the season find you hail and hearty! 

March 18, 2009

Ostara & Spring!

Posted in Crafts, Nature Things, Ostara, Wiccan Things, Witchy Things tagged , , , , , at 8:42 pm by Babs

Finally, my crocus planted in the lawn last fall are starting to sprout… and the promise of spring is in the air.  This is the wheel turn I anticipate with the most enthusiasm!  The Spring Equinox will occur at 7:44 am EDT on March 20th this year… and I personally am so excited. 

History:

The origin of the word “Ostara” is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it’s also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season. Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons.

Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged giving rise to the popular phrase; Mad as a March Hare!

Celebrations for Solitaries

To observe this turn of the wheel of the year, go outside and take notice of the smells, sights and sounds.  The earthy smell of the land, the sprouting of new flowers and the birds chirping are much different from the relative silence and blandness of winter.  Often solitaries will go out and experience nature and make an offering to the land in the form of milk and honey.  This can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.  Search for alter decoration ideas and ritual ideas on the internet for more information.

Craft Projects:

This craft is fun to make and send along to your fellow Spring/ Ostara enthusiasts. 

You will need:

  • Card Stock or Pre-Cut Blank Cards
  • Envelopes
  • Seed Packets
  • Glue (not hot glue!)
  • Pens, Markers & Other Craft Supplies

Select a packet of seeds for each greeting card. Use the glue to attach the packet to the front of the card. Don’t use a hot glue gun for this, because the heat can damage the seeds inside — use either a glue stick or regular craft glue.

Use your markers or other craft supplies to write a Spring message inside. You can use something like this if you like:

Wishing you blooms and abundance at Ostara!

or

Roses are red, violets are blue,
I picked out these seeds, just for you!

Ostara blessings to you and yours!

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