The Magic of 2o2o-Age of Aquarius

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t redhe beginning of a new year can be a time inspiring change in our lives.  We don’t know what the year holds for us, but we hold in our hearts the hope for new opportunities to move us forward.  It is said that it is darkest before the dawn and 2o2o is just such a moment.  We all have the amazing fortune to be not only witnessing but experiencing a historically pivotal time of spiritual and social transition.

For the World-2020 is the year where the Age of Pisces ends and the Age of Aquarius begins.  We all know in life, beginnings and endings are never black and white.  Ingrained world views and systems of belief cannot be changed overnight and thusly been quite apparent in the political, racial, social, environmental, civil, religious and spiritual upheavals taking place worldwide, especially in the last 50 years.   Never has the world been so divided on every level.

The Age of Pisces values money, power, technology, and control; hence the destruction of our planet in the name of greed and the almighty dollar, oppressive social structures, over consumerism and demonization of anything or anyone directly connected to the Gods, the Old Ways, the Divine Source.  As Sandra Weaver said, ” Throughout most of Pisces though this spiritual side is for the most part seen as the truth hidden behind the five senses. Spirituality was seen in relation to the world, not through an innate knowing of divinity“.

The Age of Aquarius values love, compassion and integrity of self which kicks off a time of healing our planet, our society and ourselves through humanitarian efforts.   It is a time that brings us back to our ancestral roots and strengthens the need to participate in our local communities.  Just as Pisces started out with the strengths of the sign, growth peaked and then became consumed in cycles perpetuated by its weaknesses; something that needs to be safeguarded against with the Aquarian traits if we are to be successful in healing our planet, society and ourselves.

While  It can be very difficult to be a spiritual person in society with its currently held beliefs, the Age of Aquarius has the potential of ushering in a more spirit-centered/connected existence.  This is now the time of embracing daily spiritual practices revering a higher power/intelligence and using our pagan understanding of our interconnectedness to the cosmos and natural systems that impact and inform our spiritual and earthly realities (which science is finally recognizing to be a truth).  The question for the year and even possibly the decade is “Who am I going to be?” “How am I going to show up?” during this time of great change and transition.

It appears as if 2o2o is going to be a year of opportunity in reforming ourselves and aligning ourselves with more profound spiritual wisdom.  For us, at Rosethorn Manor we have opted to focus our magical workings on maintaining the balance necessary in times of tumultuous change while weaving in the unique requirements of each individual.

How do you plan to ‘bring it’ for 2o2o?

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.

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.

Lughnasadh

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ughnasadh also known as Lammas, Lúnasa, Lùnastal, Luanistyn take place on  August 1st or thereabout and find us celebrating the first of three harvest rites.   While the timing is not necessarily technically middle of summer-in the PNW it is the middle of our hot and sunny season of the year and it is now that food stuffs are becoming ready for harvest and processing.

At this time in the PNW roses are still blooming and fragrant, yet the abundant hips are starting to turn a bright red signaling that there are changes coming.  Wheat and oats have ripened and are ready to be cut.  Grass hay and alfalfa have been baled and put up in our barns and fill the air with their fresh mown scent.  Vines have climbed high reaching towards the sun’s rays with hop flowers being readied for tea or beer and grapes sweetening in their ever-tightening skins to be eaten fresh or made into wine and jellies.   The puddles have long since dried and the water levels are getting lower in ponds and rivers which find little tree frogs, salamanders, bees, jackets and wasps crowding around watering holes and fish barrels.

As pagans, we have specific rites on special days as a way of bringing everyone together to raise energy that we may realign our frequency and sense of purpose to the season’s activities both internally and externally.  However, the sabbat days we celebrate together are not the beginning and ending for us, but kick off an entire season of nurturing, maintenance, gratitude and harvest.

In the season of Lugh or Lammas, we honor deity and adorn our altars with sunflowers, red hollyhocks, elfwort, heather, roses, poppies, indian corn, blueberries, blackberries, squash blossoms, nasturtiums, topaz, carnelian, yellow gold and red candles.  Ripened cereals of oats and wheat along with the first foodstuffs of corn, green beans, artichokes, crab apples, eggplant, early squash, a few grapes, mulberries, plums, pears and apples are added and generate gratitude in our hearts for the cyclic relationship we enjoy with our Earth Mother.    Grasses and grains are fashioned into a Grain Goddess with plenty of seeds to save for next year’s sowing. Flours of wheat and corn are made into fresh loaves of bread and an anatomically correct John Barleycorn is added to our altar.

At this time we call to the Goddess of Abundance of the God of the Green.  We give offerings of gratitude, enlivening our hearts and rejoicing in the abundance all around us.  We acknowledge the strong life-giving sun while recognizing the change in shortened days require a shift of duties and focus.  A noble and brave man is chosen to sacrifice himself for a time as John Barleycorn so that our cycles of give and take may continue.  We use this time to clear out our physical and spiritual storehouses of that which no longer feeds or nourish us, so that we may make room for the strongest and most nutritious energy sources to sustain us during the fallow time of the year.  At this time we have walked between the worlds and have gathered the required energies to move forward with the harvesting tasks at hand.  We drink and pay homage to the old gods and call upon their continued favor for our crops that we have the energy to continue our journey.

Each area around the world has smells that speak of the seasons and for us in the summer season, it is bilberry/blueberries, blackberries and apples.  It would not be summer in the PNW without the sweet pungent smells of those fruits baking in the sun. Blackberries, blueberries and apples are so nutritious and are eaten fresh, made into pies, syrup and wine.   Can’t get enough of the blackberries!  The lavendar has dried and been stripped of their stalks to be added to spell-workings and Full Moon Shortbread.  The beauty and abundance is all around and fills my heart with gratitude.  Though I will admit that all of the hard hot days of work see me longing for the cool crisp autumn nights and I relish the casual relaxed evenings with my family, the bbq’s, cool down swim time and midnight desserts.  We ponder the work/life balance, knowing the necessary hard work in the next weeks leading up to Mabon and continuing into Samhain will end with a cozy firelit evening to rest and contemplate further the journey of our souls.

How do you celebrate the summer harvest and what smells signal summer for you?

Bright Lughnasadh Blessings to you and yours!

The Witch’s Garden…..and Sacred Space

“If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will love her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”   Sue Monk Kid

lugh afternoon

Raised beds and stone circle @ Rosethorn Manor

I The Witches Garden

step into my witches garden full of intoxicating scents and sights that fill my soul.  T’ween dusky dark and evening dew……these two magical times of day see the garden wrapping around its witch in a hug and beckoning me to commune and engage in the magic that surrounds.  I am embraced and enchanted by the scents of spring roses, heady lilacs and early blooming wisteria.  The freshness in the season of Beltane is a spring tonic for the soul that chases away the cobwebs of winter.

Earth magic is one of the oldest, easiest and most general forms of magic

Beltane Bouquet

Lovers Beltane Bouquet @ Rosethorn Manor

practiced, for we are but star seeds enrobed in earth.  The earth is our bodies and the blood of the ancestors sing in our veins, informing our DNA, our frequency and the very core of our magic.

For a Witch, the land is sacred and we have many rites and rituals that honor her and express our gratitude.  For me and mine, our land is also representative of our relationship with deity.   We have lived and worked this land at Rosethornridge for over 20 years.  Our land sits smack dab in the middle of older forests and new replants and is acreage that was originally logged and left.  She was very sad and a bit crestfallen when we purchased her and took up residency.

Through the years we have worked very hard to bring back balance and harmony to our little neck of the woods.  Intense practices of planning, organic farming, permaculture and forest scaping our space have created a haven for people, animals and nature spirits alike.  We have built beds for flowers, shrubs and trees that nourish the soul, heal and feed the body, while aiding in our spiritual practice.  Natural places have been incorporated to keep the wild mystery of the old ways alive.  There are places to work and spaces play, perches to rest with a glass of sweet tea and contemplate the greater mysteries.

Every working on our place is created with intention as it is representative of my family’s relationship with deity, the trinity of the God, the Goddess and us.  The blood, sweat, tears, love, joy and thoughts throughout the changing seasonal sabbats are our conversations with deity.

Butterfly & Delphinium

Butterfly & Delphinum @ Rosethorn Manor

The consistent and intentional cultivation of our space also intensifies our magical workings since herbs, flowers, roots, seeds, buds, leaves and other offerings of nature have been recipients of our attentions over many weeks, months or even years.  Each plant has been welcomed to Rosethornridge,  sown into the earth and nurtured through the love and attention it receives.  When we dig roots for dark moon magic or gather roses and lavender for a lovers enchantment we have now, in turn, become recipients of the energies of the Earth.  By creating sacred space and offering our gratitude through mindful intention, we have formed a bond and aligned ourselves with the plant energies long before they are ever harvested.

As with all worthwhile endeavors it has been a process to be sure.  After many years of mindful intention, a frequency is now present that allows the spirit energy of God & Goddess to be made manifest on the earthly plane, independent of its residents.  We endeavor to continue our symbiotic relationship with the land as an expression of our spiritual lives and practice.  How does your garden grow, we would love to hear from you.

Blessed Be & Happy Cultivating!

Beltane Blessings

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he wheel turns once again and we find ourselves at Beltane.  Beltane, also known as May Day falls on May 1st.  Though really what we are saying is May Day kicks off the Season of Beltane, with the thinning of the veil most prominent around May 5th.  There is a quickening of spring energy that pushes animals and people to pair up, bees have awoken and are starting to pollinate the spring flowers and trees.  We look for the sign of burgeoning spring in the apple blossoms to know when to plant our carrots, beans, peas and cabbages. There is so much creative energy spurring a frenzy of activity and we are holding hopes of creative and fertile abundance to manifest in our lives.  This is still also a liminal period where a profusion of starting buds and blooms can be killed off by late frosts and still need to be safeguarded.  The Sacred Marriage is the focus of Beltane where we celebrate the fiery and passionate union of the God and Goddess that energize the earth and put the fertile fire of creativity into our bellies.

April’s showers continue into May, though gentler and a bit warmer.  This winter has seen a lot of snow in the mountains and the colder temperatures have kept snow longer in the foothills surrounding our home. However the grass grows lush, rich and green for the horses, sheep, deer and elk.  The surge of new life can  be seen in the prevailing apple blossoms and spring bulbs while the rabbits chase each other around our stone circle in their frenzied mating dance.

Beltane is a rite that takes as much preparation as Samhain and has a special importance as it is the brightening of life when the veil is the thinnest.  We honor deity by adorning our altars with pink and green candles, early rose buds, honeysuckle, apple blossoms, hawthorn, lilacs and ivy.  Stones of malachite and rose quartz along with a drinking horn bring the beauty and frequency we are aligning ourselves with for the season.  Ivy wreaths have been wrapped with pink, purple and green ribbons.  The bonfires have been laid ready for lighting and the ribbons have been attached to the oiled maypole awaiting the dance.  Offerings of milk, honey, cinnamon and woodruff have been left out in a beautiful bowl on our sun dial.

Sacred woods of apple, willow, birch, hawthorn, oak, ash, elder, holly & hazel have been gathered and bundled for the ritual need fire.  Each and every wood has a purpose and frequency that when combined have a power all its own to bestow great blessings upon its maker.  This wood is of course all chosen with specific intent and gathered in a sacred way with many offerings.  As pagans we work diligently to listen and read the signs around us, not taking what has not been offered and always giving something back.

In the PNW, May is an extremely beautiful but contrary month for us in regards to weather. For that reason we always start our rituals indoors and set our sacred ring. We move outdoors to leave an offering to the Outsiders as well as a libation to our Maypole, the symbolic phallus of the Lord of the Rite. We circle the pole and dance the ring, reveling in the bawdy joy and sensuality of the season. With ribbons unfurled and wrapped around the pole in song and dance the ritual hieros gamos plays out and the piercing of the veil commences with the drifting down of the virginal ivy crown. The doorway has been ritually and energetically opened so that the welcome presence of the Lord and Lady is made manifest in our earthly realm. The energy by now is running very high and there is a tangible quality of connection and vibrancy among covenors, especially among mated pairs.  Some of the energies are kept under wraps until festivities later in the evening, since we have children who are in attendance. After we have danced the Maypole and planted our fairy charmed tree (all between the raindrops on many occasions) we light our three ritual needfires and head back in to expand upon our rite of celebrating the magical union of polarities both externally and internally. We call forth fertility, passion, joy, a new birth, good-fortune and creativity as we jump through the purifying and blessed powers of the balefire (remember to be careful what you wish for). Sometimes we might have a lovely handfasting ceremony to add to the festivities.  Once our rite is closed and the feast is had, children are put to bed or head home. Couples depart and participate in the Great Rite among the gardens or orchard or possibly on a spicy ride home. There is nothing like riding high on the energy that has been raised in circle and grounding it in the promise of future manifestations for our family, kin, Mother Earth and our fellow beings.

Another small project we like to do during the season of Beltane is to place the red eggs that have been planted on Ostara with nasturtium sees calling forth blessings for our beloved kin and tribe as well as those whom there is no love lost and those who are searching seed.
balefirejump We do this on the first family ritual of the month along with a mini Maypole that has been kissed by all the ladies is planted in the pot.  It is later watered with holy water and the blessed alchemy of the Great Rite. We then set the pot out of doors to enjoy the light of the sun & moon and await the growth of each of the blessings we have called upon.

How do you celebrate the Season of Bel?

Blessed be in this season of Beltane!

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Mini Maypole wand & Ostara Eggs @ Rosethorn Manor

What do Witches Look Like?

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What do Witches look Like?  This is a question that we often get asked and one that has no specific answer.

There are many preconceived notions of what witches are supposed to look like, however, these notions are more often than not a big departure from reality. Depending on how we dress or present ourselves in the moment, we receive responses that range from yes you’re everything I expected a witch would look like or huh?!, you’re not what I expected.

It can be amusing and I know I don’t let myself be bothered by it as we’ve all had similar notions on other subjects until we are educated. Being a witch is not about how we express our spirituality through the clothes we wear (though we often do). The reality is witches and pagans come from all walks of life and upbringings: we are construction workers, bartenders and teachers, dignitaries who work in the White House, ambassadors, doctors, psychiatrists and everything in between.  We are not defined by what we wear or what our profession is, but who we innately are inside.
We are curious as to other witches and pagans experiences?

 

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What Witches Look Like