Women’s Spirituality Trilogy

celticThroughout history, much of what has been written on paganism, witchcraft and alternative spiritual practices has led to much in the way of misunderstanding.  Witches and Heathens, as portrayed in movies sends one down the road of a bumbling idiot, maniacal evil sorcerer or vampy succubus and everything in-between.  While at times amusing and entertaining, most are based on unflattering stereotypes that hold little value in their representations.  We previously listed out some of our favorites on the Pagans and Media post, however, wanted to touch on a really great set of videos with a more authentic and respectable historical approach.

 

There are a series of videos called the Women’s Spirituality Trilogy. The three videos… The Burning Times, God Has Remembered, and Full Circle. The Burning Times provided an in-depth look at the diverse history of 15 to 17 centuries considering the worship of the goddess, manipulations of the clergy, and witchcraft of yesterday and today. Terrific numbers of witches and non-witches burned my other types of torture reminding.

God Has Remembered, examine varieties of goddess worship in different places around the world. There was footage of caves, deserts, temples, carvings and statues. The writers also touched on the resurgence of forgotten values and worship currently being practiced by both men and women.

Full Circle dealt with the manifestation of the many forms of women’s spirituality. It showed women coming together out of the shadows of men, clergy, fear and uniting in trust once again. The many points of equality and respect between the two genders were shown.

 

Watching these videos is time well spent. It was wonderful to recognize many rituals and songs that we do in our own circles. These videos had great people such as  Starhawk and Margot Adler. The dances and music were beautiful and all of the videos were represented in an informative and intelligent manner without divulging too much. The resurgence in forgotten values and practice of the old ways are alive and through this path our futures hold hope. For people newly answering the call it is a great entry resource and for those already familiar it is wonderful to see it happening in somebody fantastic ways and in living color.

Pagans and Media

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ecently, a newbie to paganism asked my husband and I for some of our favorite pagan media titles.  For pagans and people of alternative spiritualities, it used to be quite a challenge to find anything of quality that wasn’t steeping solely in stereotype.  This day and age, however, there are quite a few movies and series that are enjoyable to watch-some with historical significance, some with kernels of truth as seen in one’s peripheral vision and of course stereotypes as well and some are just purely entertaining!  There are others that may not be pagan or craft related but serve to inspire or help one think outside of the box regarding faith/spirituality/religion and subsequent moral or philosophical connotations.

Here are a list of just a few of our favorites:

Practical Magic            Ladyhawk                          The 13th Warrior
The Princess Bride     The Deceivers                   Pan’s Labyrinth
Mists of Avalon           Legend of the Witches     The Watcher in the Woods
The Witches of Eastwick-Movie and Series            The Mistress of Spices
GRIMM                         The DaVinci Code               I Married a Witch
Like Water for Chocolate                                            Book, Bell & Candle Avatar
The Cloud Atlas           Wish Upon A Spell             Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Stardust                        The Good Witch Series and Movies
The Witches                The Gift                                  Mulan
Witchcraft: Rebirth of the Old Religion                     Sorceress
Eve’s Bayou                The Spirit of Albion              My Neighbor Totoro
Thor Lord of the Rings                                                  The Pagan Queen
Hocus Pocus               The White Queen                  Harry Potter
The Seeker                 The Littlest Witch                  The Craft
Arranged                    Chocolat                                  Agora
The Celestine Prophecy                                            Anchoress
Spellbinder                  The Magicians                     The Shannara Chronicles                                           Dresden Files
The Wicker Man-Old and New version. (If you watch them back to back you will notice the differences between representations of God/Goddess as well as how female sexuality is portrayed. It struck me as quite curious).

You-tube has many documentaries & lectures as well as radio and TV interviews with pagan notables on the path of the Old Ones.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive or complete.  I did not include horror or satanic flicks.

We would love to hear about some of your favorites!

The Season of Yule

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ule, also known as the Winter Solstice, Brumalia, Saturnalia, Modrinacht, Tammasmas Nicht and Albun Arthan is a festival steeped in historic traditions and rooted in many pagan societies, whereby our ancestors gathered in the deepest darkness of night to pay homage to the twins of dark and light (the Holly King and Oak King) as well as the Goddess in her life-giving capacity.  It is also one of the most recognized and largely shared pagan celebrations across the world(followed by Samhain). It is one that is so powerfully felt due to the mass numbers of people in the northern hemisphere with open hearts celebrating together.   It is quite amazing and moving what people engaged in a single purpose simultaneously can energetically accomplish.  If only all of our open hearts could be brought together for a single positive purpose all year long, imagine what we could accomplish.

Opposite of the Summer Solstice, Alban Arthan is the shortest day and the longest night of the year, signaling another change in our turning wheel.  For three days the sun stands still and pauses, before starting on its journey once again.  The  Season of Yule is one of quiet expectancy, with the shifting of energy focused on the outward movement and expression of life, though it is hard to imagine spring at times during the hardships of winter.  The subtleness of a longer day in the addition of an extra minute of light can also be lost on us when snow, clouds and rain are the order of the day or we are socked in by fog.  However, the depth and void experienced at Samhain helped clear away the final chaff of the year, which now allows the quietness and stillness of the new solstice light to be felt, even if we are unable to see it.

At this time the Goddess in the cave labors to birth new light, hope and love in the world.  A new baby in our family circle opens our hearts and as a soul tribe we are all called upon to participate in the love, care, nurturing and success of this new light in our lives.  In this same manner, we are now called upon to love, honor, protect, nurture and engage in the long journey that brings fruition to the little seed of light within ourselves. With our hearts open it is also so much easier to give of ourselves to help birth the light in others.

At this time in the PNW, November winds have blown off the fall leaves on the trees, thunder has sounded and the driving rains are welcome after our hot summer.  We are chipping ice out of the water buckets and horse troughs.  Snow has intermittently fallen and the birds are relying on hawthorn berries, beauty berries and blackberries for sustenance as well as scraps from our chicken coop and seeds in the feeder.

On the first weekend of December, our family treks out to find the perfect noble tree.  Sometimes the ground is frozen with snow and sometimes we are wading through mud.  When our tree is in its stand we do a small rite to welcome the tree and give thanks for its life and the reminder of eternal life and the ability to thrive during all stages of growth.  The trimmings from the tree are gathered along with grand fir, cedar, douglas and pine to fashion a Yule log to be burned on the Solstice.  The fragrance of the season is both calming and uplifting, while also comfortingly reminiscent of family gatherings past.

Our altars are bedecked in evergreens, wintergreen, sprigs of bright green prickly holly with bright red berries and pure white snowberries.  Mistletoe is strategically hung in an open doorway.  White candles, statues, garnet, bloodstone and tigers eye grace our altars alongside offerings of homemade butter cookies, herbs and nuts.  For several days before the solstice tales of Gods and Goddesses are told.  On the eve of the solstice, fires are lit and flames are kindled to call forth the light, more stories are told as we indulge in festive treats.  The kids will open a small gift from the Winter King before retiring for the night.  Solstice morning we arrive around the fire ring to cast herbs of pine, grand fir, cedar and wintergreen berries into the needfire and burn the Yule log while we join hands to sing a song or two before wassailing and libation pouring in the orchard.  Everyone quickly makes their way through the frigid morning air into the house, fragrant with brown sugar and cinnamon french toast and hot chocolate.

In a larger group, we come together to collectively create sacred space and call in the blessings of the season.  We invoke the God and Goddess of Yule and give our energy to the birthing of the new divine light.  In turn, our open hearts receive a piece of light and life to take out into the world that we continue to make the Lord and Lady manifest once again.  We make merry as we share in a feast and heady wassail punch before heading out to the bonfire.

For many of us, the festivities shall continue over the days in visits with family and friends.  For our family, festivities culminate in a large family gathering.  Presents and breakfast are shared in the morning.  We visit throughout the day with the menfolk making merry around the firepit with a libation in their hand and children playing with their new toys.  Women visit in the kitchen and living room while a feast of roast beast, salmon, mashed potatoes, roast vegetables, pear and blue cheese salad and rolls are cooked up.  Snacks are munched on throughout the day since breakfast is early and dinner is a bit more formal and later in the evening.  The evening ends with the ladies convening on the front porch to share a drink and cigar (a carryover tradition of my mother’s Austrian family from the old country).Yule bird bath

To our pagan brethren across the globe, we raise a pint of wassail to you and wish bright blessings on you and yours!  Blessed Be!

We would love to hear what traditions your family engages in to bring forth the light.

House Wine-Part II

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t Rosethorn Manor-we work hard and we play hard.  While I admit, I do on occasion love the punch of brisk and sweet southern tea on a roasting day, I normally cannot consume things so sweet.

In our house my husband, son and I all three have different tastes when it comes to tea….kind of like the three bears, which is why the second house wine in line is Herbal Sun Tea (this is actually a tisane, however for the sake of common generality we will use them interchangeably).  There are certain flavors this pagan girl craves in the summer heat and it is mint and lemon and nothing better fills that craving as fresh herbs from the garden.  This spring we have been especially lucky to have my four favorite tea herbs of sweet mint, lavendar, lemon balm and sage already showing growth and ready to use.

All four of these herbs, along with chamomile, make a healing sun brew that can be consumed all summer.  I have the particular challenge of dealing with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and the combination of these herbs go a long way in helping deal with the symptoms while also aligning my body with the healing energies of earth and sun.  This particular tea is good for all women whether you have female ailments or just want a healthy healing concoction for your lovely bodies.

House Wine Part II

Tisane herbs from the gardens of Rosethorn Manor

Lemon balm has a refreshingly bright lemon flavor and is a feminine herb known for its association with the Melissa-Priestess of Bees.  It works to balance the hormones and boost circulation as well as acting as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal; it reduces cancer cell size, lifts depression and aids in menstrual discomfort.  Its sedative properties reduce anxiety and stress and gives the tea a soft smooth quality.

Sage has a sharp pungent flavor (so I go easy on this in the tea and adjust the flavor accordingly).  It is related to the rosemary plant and has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant properties.  It is beneficial for bones, brain, skin and the immune system.

Lavender is an amazing all round feminine super herb that I use in every area of my life cooking, cleaning, healing and spell working.  Definitely one of my herbal totems and allies.  As a tea it reduces stress and anxiety, aid in sleep and relaxation while still keeping the mind present, it reduces the pain of cramps and calms the overall system working as an antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory.  A wonderful ally with endless uses.

Mint, in general, is a cooling herb that tastes amazing and is known to help reduce testosterone.  Spearmint, in particular, is known to decrease androgen levels and reduce the levels of free testosterone in the blood, which is especially important if you have PCOS.  Mint is a digestive and anti-oxidant and serves to lift depression as well as combat some cancers and clear the mind.

Chamomile has antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic and serves to soothe the body inside and out as well as aid in sleep.

I also like to add stinging nettle when in season and fennel seed which is wonderful for the female systems.  I used to use hops from our vine outside the front door, however, I have learned that hops contain high levels of phytoestrogens which are not good for me.  For most women it can be a lovely addition to their tea blend, however, if you have PCOS, make sure to check your hormone panel to see if you are high or low in your estrogen.

Feminine Balancing Herbal Sun Tisane recipe
1 large handful of Chamomile or 6 Chamomile tea bags (while I grow chamomile I really love the flavor of Celestial Seasonings Honey Chamomile)
3-4 sprigs Lavendar 

1 large handful of Lemon Balm

 

House Wine II Tisane

House Wine II Herbal Tisane

1 large handful of Mint -though flavor-wise I go easy on the Spearmint as its pretty strong
1-2 large springs of culinary Sage

Place all the herbal darlings into a 1 gallon glass jug or sun tea pitcher (not plastic) and place out in the sun for the day.

I do sweeten with honey at times, however, I do this last because it will start to ferment on the occasion you forget it.  When it’s really hot out I will leave the tea out overnight to bathe in the full moon when she is out and just generally cool down before placing in the fridge.  Though you will want to have two pitchers because as soon as one is made it will be drank and another needs to be brewing.

Blessed (Bee) and Enjoy the Season of Sun Tea Brewing!

House Wine-Part I

Preferred House Wines of the Witches of Rosethorn Manor

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othing quite quenches the taste buds on a hot day than iced tea.  People all over the world have some form of tea obsession.  At Rosethorn Manor, the house wine-nectar of the Goddess is tea.  We drink it year round for slaking our thirst, warming up, cooling off, comfort and healing.  Opinions in our house are split between the herbal sun tea and southern sweet tea (ask any southerner or my son and the world just isn’t right without some sweet tea).

We grew up drinking iced tea in the summer with crushed mint from my Grandma’s garden and I just couldn’t get enough of it.  However, it had very little if any sugar in it.  Sugar just wasn’t something my sis and I had much of growing up and I never really developed a taste for it.

Fast forward into the future 20 years….I’m in college the second time around…….and along comes a Virginia Boy.  Well, this Virginia Boy and I become fast friends and he waxes on about his Mamma’s southern sweet tea…he can’t find it anywhere up here in the north, people have tried and nobody, but nobody can make tea like a southerner he tells me.  Well, having spent time in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, I can attest to the fact that this Virginia Boy is correct, our tea is not made so sweet~as that is known as hummingbird water up here in the Pacific Northwest.  BUT…this boy has thrown down the gauntlet and I am not known for walking away from a challenge (and I’m just plain tired of hearing him whine about tea).  Off I go, bound and determined to conjure this homesick boy some Southern Sweet Tea.  Now mind you…..this witch can cook and this witch can conjure, so this witch is pretty darned good at figuring recipes out.

Down the road a couple batches and I am just not getting the recipe correct and it’s making me a little pissy (this was in the day before everything was all over the internet).  It was never sweet enough and something was just a little off.  I asked this Virginia Boy what was in the recipe and how much of what?  He said he didn’t know as he’d never made it, but he knew it when he tasted it.  Finally, I broke down and asked if his Mamma could possibly be sweet-talked into parting with her Sweet Tea recipe?  The Virginia Boy gets on the horn with his Mamma, who very graciously parts with her recipe.  What was the missing ingredient you ask?    Baking soda and waaaaay, way more sugar than I was using.  The finished product was actually something I couldn’t quite stomach too much of, but it was taste-tested by the Virginia Boy, who said it tasted just like his Mamma’s.   I did tease him and reminded him I was a northerner.  The Virginia Boy just smiled and told me I must have a southerner’s heart to make southern sweet tea.  I will admit the baking soda threw me for a loop, however it does really smooth out the flavors of the tea.

The recipe for this Southern Sweet Tea is as follows:

6-7 tea bags-(Liptan is okay, but Luzianne in the red box is better and trust me, it does make a difference in flavor, I don’t know why)

1 1/2 -2 cups of sugar

Place these in a bowl or 4 cup measure and pour boiling water to the top.  Stir the sugar until dissolved. When somewhat cooled add a pinch of baking soda and stir.
Garnish with fresh mint or lemon

Now….in reality, I just cannot make the tea with this much sugar.  My husband doesn’t like things so sweet either, however, I have a teenage son who believes the more sugar the better.  For years I got away with making it with a lot less sugar,  though my son just returned from visiting family in South Carolina and has experienced the difference.  Since I can no longer pull the reduced-sugar wool over his eyes, I make it with a combination of sugar and stevia or just stevia.  I know southerners are probably rolling their eyes skyward, but as I said-in this house that’s hummingbird water.  We still love us some Southern Sweet Tea though.

Southern Sweet Tea and Herbal Tisane

House Wines @ Rosethorn Manor

To see the second preferred house wine by the Witches of Rosethorn Manor please continue to House Wine Part II