Beltane Traditions-How we celebrate

 

rosyAs the stark harshness of winter gives way to the gentle unfurling of spring our minds and activities turn toward spending time out of doors.  Spring and Fall are two seasons I love in equal measure due to all of the changes big and small that can be both seen and felt.  It is a time when the explosion of green buds, grasses and plant life in every direction hails the quickening of the earths energy towards growth, attraction and communion.

The energy of Beltane is abundant in activity, with birds singing, bees drunkenly overwhelmed in pollen and bunnies mad with the chase, while shyer plants and animals take their time.  The sun and warm moisture have returned along with a bit of food~browse and nectar aplenty for the animals, whilst we are busy harvesting fall sown carrots, kale and salad greens.  During this season we’ve been busy planting seed flats full of herbs, vegetables and flowers. There is nothing more rewarding than heading out to the greenhouse to take in the smell of damp soil and checking out all the little emerging seedlings-there is something new to appreciate every single day.

The returning light at Candlemas started slowly bringing our awareness from within, whereas the verdant lushness of Beltane slowly awakens our bodies and seduces our senses with the softness of new leaves and the intense sweetness of spring blossoms.  There is nothing like the fresh life-giving breath of spring to fill our lungs with the fragrant air and bathe our bodies in the brilliant greens surrounding us to heal and engage our heart chakras on a whole new level.   It is truly a season of growth and renewal as the burgeoning energy tangibly builds to a climactic burst of life. beltanewoods

During the Rites of Spring, we celebrate fecundity while also giving offerings to our ancestors, land spirits, fey and kin.  We decorate our altars to welcome the energy of the season and prepare for the coming celebration by creating our Beltane Bundles of sacred woods, baking bread, infusing May wine with Sweet Woodruff and preparing a feast of seasonal foods.

It is also traditional to collect the first dew of the Bel morning, considered sacred, it is believed to bring healing and physical beauty.
dewcollected I collect the dew in two different ways.  The night before I like to lay out a clean tea towel in a bowl on the grass.  When I collect the towel the next morning I will run my hands over the cool dew-soaked grass and pat my neck and face.  The towel will be rung out into a small vial so that I can add it to the sacred waters for our rite.  I also like to collect dew into a little egg cup off of the lady’s mantle leaves. I will use this on my skin or add to a spell working.

Two favorite feast recipes are the May Wine and Beehive Bread with rosehip honey butter.  Traditionally May Wine was used to celebrate the sabbat and call in the old gods being symbolic of the union of the God and Goddess.

It is best to plan ahead as this recipe takes about 24 hours to steep so that the herb imparts the essence of the woodruff.  My favorite wine to use for this recipe is a homemade apple wine we make in the fall.  If you do not have that tasty brew available then my next favorites would be a light Riesling or a Gewurztraminer.  You can use dried woodruff for a more vanilla-like flavor, however, I try to use the freshest and newest grown of all I can on my Bel altar.  While sweet woodruff is safe to use in small quantities such as in wine or altar cakes,  this is not something you are going to want to add to everything as it has been known to cause dizziness and vomiting in large quantities.  It also contains small amounts of coumarin and was used to thin the blood.

May Wine
Sweetwoodruff1 bottle of apple or white wine (representative of the maiden goddess and everlasting life)
20 or so springs of Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) leaves and blossoms (is said to bring about protection and enliven male sexuality)
1 Tb local honey (amazing immune booster and sacred to the Goddess, powerful spellbinding ingredient)
10 Strawberries (adds a maiden’s blush)

Add clean organic blossoms and leaves of Sweet Woodruff to a bottle of wine.  Let steep 24 hours.  Strain and decant in a bowl, add a few fresh Woodruff flowers and some sliced strawberries.

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Bee Hive Bread
6 c flour
4 1/2 tsp or 2 pkts yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c warm water
1/2 c honey
1/2 c cold butter grated
2 large eggs

Mix warm water a bit of the honey and yeast, letting stand for 15 minutes or so.  Add beaten eggs, remaining honey and salt to water mixture.  Add flour and mix then cut in butter.  Knead until elastic and let rest until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven.  Push down and turn over a couple times in the bowl until a ball forms.  Cover large ovenproof glass bowl with a sheet of foil.  Make ropes and coil starting at the bottom and work your way to the top in the shape of a beehive.  Brush with egg white for a glossy crust.
Bake @ 375 for 30 minutes.
While bread is baking mix 1 c softened butter, 1/3 c honey and a few drops of vanilla together.  Butter is best when whipped with immersion or hand blender.
When bread is done remove from oven and let cool before peeling away foil.  Serve with honey butter.

This Beltane season gives us much to be thankful for.  Regardless of what is taking place in the world at large-we have our faith, our beautiful practice, each other and another turn on the wheel.  From our Homestead Coven at Rosethornmanor to our pagan brethren wherever you are lighting your Balefires-we wish for you an abundance of opportunity and prosperity in these trying times.

Happy Bel and Blessed Be!

Season of Ostara

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stara, also known as Alban Eiler, Eostre, Summer Finding and Vernal Equinox, is a fertility festival celebrated on the spring equinox, which falls sometime between March 20th and March 22nd.  On the spring and fall equinoxes, day and night are of equal lengths. Ostara begins with sunrise to celebrate the light overcoming the darkness and the heralding of spring, burgeoning growth and potent prosperity.

The feminine aspect of the Spring Maiden and the masculine aspect of the Horned God are called upon so that we may align with the necessary balance required for gentle growth getting ready to burst forth at Beltane.   The external focus of the Ostara season is coaxing new life forth.  We recognize that the length of our days have been growing ever so slightly since Yule (even though it does not feel like it at times) and this light is sending signals to the animals, our brains and plants around us to start mating and growing.  The balancing act comes in reading the signs correctly.  In the witch’s garden hellebore, witch hazel, snowdrops, early crocus and daphne are all blooming, however, if temporary warmth is coupled with too many full sunny days, some plants unable to withstand freeze start popping up and then buds are killed by the frost.  If we misread the signs and become too eager to start our gardens, the plants in the end become listless and weak.  Just as God and Goddess are learning what it is to grow the masculine and feminine energies necessary for the hieros gamos at Bel; spiritually cycles of woman and man play out similarly as we too learn to be priests and priestess in our own lives and embody the sacred energies.

At this time in the PNW, most of the snow is gone and we welcome yellow forsythia brightening the hedge as well as early daffodils and little purple-blue lungwort.  These early risers along with fragrant purple hyacinth, daphne and witch hazel are placed around our homes and spring altars along with pastel-colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, rose quartz, jasper, birch, potted shamrocks, early pussy willow and seeds for blessing.  While there are many stories about bunnies once being a bird and transformed to lay an egg on Ostara, there are more practical reasons for the symbology. Bunnies are associated with the goddess due to their gentle nature and nocturnal habits.  They tend to be prolific in numbers and make more of an appearance during the day, chasing each other before breeding.  Egg laying picks up around February, we tend to see a huge upswing in production around this time, which is welcome after so few eggs in the winter.  The allegorical theme arises from the Goddess bringing forth the birthed World Tree egg of life and mystery to be laid bare before the Sun God so the fiery spark of heat and light quickens the seed within.

At this time, we come together to pay homage to the Spring Goddess and Horned God.  We align ourselves with the vulnerable tendrils of equinox season, seeking balance before taking our next steps.  Additionally, we give an offering of gratitude for the returning light seen in the joyous bright colors and intensely scented blooms.  We call for the blessing of our seeds, so that they may be strong, healthy and abundant. New beginnings are cast through the seeds of our Grain Goddesses with plenty of water to nurture us until Beltane.

We dye eggs a brilliant red to represent the life-giving blood of the goddess.  Each egg contains a message to guide the potential we have within.  The shells are then used to plant wheat and nasturtiums or cast into the garden.

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;

Sow an act, and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, and you reap a character;

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

       – Charles Reade

 

What have you planted for the coming year?

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.

The Gates of Samhain

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amhain is one of the most anticipated sabbats of the witch’s year.  The leaves are burnished with red and gold, pumpkins, corn and squash are at the end of their ripening and the smell of fall fires are in the cold crisp air.  On the winds we hear the call of our ancestors voices that are beginning to reach us and in our peripheral vision spirit activity is more visible.

Samhain (pronounced Sow-een), also known as Samhuin,  Oíche Shamhna, All Hollows Eve or the more modern Halloween is a sabbat with Celtic roots marking the darker/lighter, end of summer/beginning of winter halves of the year.   At this time, much like at Beltane, the veil between the worlds is thinning and it is at this time that spirits journey across the hedge and seek out their kin.  As with many things in life, the demarcation line in spiritual matters is not so simple as black/white, opened/closed and this parallels the reality of the thinning veil. Image result for remedios varo's paintings

During Samhain we can hear the echo of the Goddess’ words from the Charge of the Goddess, that ‘no mortal shall ever see that which lies beyond my veil, for I am indeed mistress of the mysteries and keeper of the keys’.   The Veil that we speak of is the wall or membrane that separates the land of humankind from the land of ‘other’; be it Fey, Summerland, the Underworld, the God and Goddess, Spirits and Ancestors, etc.   The withdrawal of the Goddess across the veil is felt in lessening light of the Sun God shining upon her and as she withdraws her energy, so goes life until all lies still, quiet and fallow.

The Season of Samhain kicks off on or around October 31st, however does not reach its peak until around the 6th or 7th of November, when Sun is 15 degrees to Scorpio.  Scorpio is ruled by Pluto (Hades) the God of the Underworld, who is now coming into his full power.   Similar to Beltane, the veil is the thinnest and spirits activity is most prevalent. While Beltane energies are drawn upward and outward in the tree of life, toward the land of the Fey and Summerland; creation, fertility, light and life; Samhain energies are beginning to spiral inward and downward towards the underworld and spirits, death and decay, introspection and reflection.

Each one of these places all vibrate to a specific frequency, so to speak, which determine the placement of each of the ‘others’.  Our rites focus on aligning with these frequencies to make it possible to more easily commune with our ancestors.  Does this mean that we are unable to contact these other frequencies at different times of the year?  The short and long of it is, No.  The reality of it is, it is much more challenging to do so.  Many of us venerate, libate, pay homage and speak with/to our ancestors all year long.  The constant connection is often able to keep our most recently departed connected longer as well as aid in the petitioning of help or wisdom from our ancestors.   There is, however, a lot of static at other times of the year.  Imagine sending your call or your will through the eye of a needle in the dark when the wind is constantly blowing your thread around.  At Samhain those winds cease to blow for a time and the energies become still.

The withdraw of the goddess energy is reflected in the highly spiritual practices that aid us in turning inward, more aptly allowing us to connect with the inner planes and attune ourselves to what is taking place.   Energy goes where life flows and I believe that when one is aligned with and linked to deity/nature, our essential connected selves will follow where we can.  Thusly, as the Goddess crosses that veil, we follow to the liminal outer reaches but are unable to cross.  We know she’s there, we can feel her, but she’s not as easily accessed.  Simultaneously, those on the other-side have awaited her presence and as the Goddess crosses over the veil is much more permeable to those with no corporeal body. Those who still yearn for their kin or have been petitioned regularly are eager to connect with those in the land of the living and make the precarious journey at this time.

Alternatively as the Goddess of life crosses the veil she transforms into the Crone of Darkness who had journeys forth from the Underworld.  It is she who presides over the Cauldron that contains the essence of all mysteries, knowledge, life and the birthing of possibilities found in the matrix of unorganized and unformed chaos.  It is the Cauldron of the Crone in which we seek visions of knowledge as we process our year and move toward spiritual understanding and enlightenment.

Samahin’s third and final harvest of field crops and butchering provide the required sustenance for the sabbat season.  Those who walk the path of the old ones understand that where there is birth and death, there is blood and energy that will open portals and draw spirits.  Our Samhain rites give the much needed energy and spiritual food necessary to make the journey here and back across the hedge safely.   The rites also aid in protection against those convoluted soul energies that have breached the veil with more nefarious tasks in mind.

Lastly, Samhain is a Holy Day where open the portal or the guesting door, we light bonfires and hearth fires in the darkness to guide our beloved home for a spell as we call out the names of our ancestors and give thanks for their life blood that gives us life and runs strongImage result for remedios varo's paintingsly in our veins.

So……take a moment to rise up proudly, call your ancestors names loudly and drink heartily!

Blessed Be

 

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!

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

Dark Time….in like a Lion out like a Lamb. 

Dark Time-by Holly King

March 2000

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irthdays are among the most sacred of personal holidays and more often than not greeted with mixed emotions.  Some people await the day with bittersweet anticipation, while others look upon the day with dread.  For many there is the apathetic acceptance that it is just another day full of yet more wrinkles with a foot in the grave.  Unfortunately, the lack of proper understanding around this sacred day means a missed opportunity for deeply quiet rest and self-reflection.

History has shown that birthday ceremonies of past potentially began as a form of protection.  It was believed that people were more susceptible to the influence of evil spirits and demons as the veil is thought to be thinnest for people close to the time of their birth.  It is plausible given the vulnerable place that people find themselves in the weeks preceding a birthday.  I would also entertain the possibility that it offered an explanation of peoples out of character actions.

As pagans, we live our lives attuned to both the nature around us as well as the sun, moon and stars above us.  The more attuned we are the more we feel the impact of the movement of the planets that went into our creation and also affect our daily lives.  In our natal charts and daily horoscopes, primary attention focuses on what role the sun plays in our lives with less acknowledgment of the other planets.  In this instance it is to the stars we can look to help us understand the science of what we experience as we listen to our intuition to help us navigate this sacred liminal time.

Each year, approximately six weeks before our birthday’s changes start occurring as the transiting sun progresses towards the natal sun in its solar return.  The activating presence of the sun normally stimulates us into action and provides the outward expression of our moon personality. It is also an important aspect in foretelling the conditions and activities of the coming year.  As it heads toward the same position it held at birth, it slows the stimulation and physical activity as it transitions to a new cycle.

This slowing of the suns stimulation makes way for a period known as the Dark Time. This period is associated with the Moon as well as Saturn.   The Moon represents the continuing cycles of ebb and flow and governs our internal dialog. Saturn is the planet of obstacles and self-undoing, destroying false ideals. The two together draw our center of attention inward and perpetuates a need for spiritual and physical hibernation.   It is very similar to what occurs during a woman’s menstrual time or the 2-3 day period when our birth moon occurs in the month, though on a much grander scale.  When one pays close attention, the very real sensation of the inward spiral can be felt as the protective veil of the birthing womb is drawn around us and the outer senses become numbed.  We struggle as we buck the demands of others to engage our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves and do what or essence is intuitively inclined to do.

Being renewed and prepared for birth is an exercise in trust and letting go.  There is not a choice given as to whether it will happen. Rest assured, whether it is by grace or force, it will.  The only choice is how we engage this sacred period proceeding rebirth.  Engaged properly we are provided with a period of purging, cleansing, healing and renewal on all levels.  It is a time to dream, rest, reflect, meditate and follow the meandering path where intuition often takes us.  It is a time to process the old year and listen to what your essence is telling you about what does or does not work in the progression of your spiritual journey.  It is at its simplest, the time to just be and allow the natural unfolding of yourself so that recovery of your soul may take place.  It is a time to be gentle with yourself. This is not a time to enter in and out of relationships, bind yourself in contracts and agreements, take risks or make big life-altering decisions.

Realistically, in our busy world, it sneaks upon us unaware as we fight what we don’t understand. When this happens we invite chaos, apprehension, anxiety, and feelings of impending doom into our lives.  People get divorced, depressed, commit suicide, get into accidents, become clumsy and make bad decisions on a whim-only to find the hole of despair a deeper place than remembered.  The Dark Time, no matter how one chalks it up, is frustrating.  The very strengths that we rely on are gone.

What does this look like in the real world?  I am sure if you look back over the time preceding your birthday a pattern will emerge.

I am both cursed and blessed to experience my Dark Time in the fall.  My birthday falls on or near Mabon and this time is extremely busy making the most of the harvest season.  My ‘burning daylight, need to keep going till it’s done’ mentality that usually works for me causes me to be slapped upside the head as my hibernation period descends and I’m left wondering what the hex and hades is going on.  I move forward in action like everything is normal, unaware that I am losing pieces of myself little by little.  Over the years this has expressed itself in many ways as it seems all of the very things I excel at, all of my strengths I take for granted, are gone.  I am left feeling defenseless.  My ability to organize-gone, ability to cope-gone, language, spelling, communication skill-not happening, my easy going nature:-(limited as it is) not there.  I get along with most everyone because I’m only half functioning.  Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  The amazing thing is that if you don’t consciously turn inward your body will do it for you.  I found myself half functioning like a zombie while my body did the turning inward for me.  It’s like walking in a thick fog with droplets of water here and there working like a telescope magnifying the outside world.  One also learns that when stripped of the very skills we take for granted we are forced to find and discover one(s) we weren’t aware of.  Even while we go within we are still being taught awareness. I have experienced an inability to communicate, I couldn’t write what I was thinking, I couldn’t spell, and my flow of thoughts was garbled.  It has resulted in stupid actions such as backing over a bucket of newly dug potatoes in my jeep.  It was one of those things where I put them in the way so as to remember to put them away.  Needless to say, I didn’t see them as I stepped around them to get to the jeep, them remembered them just before the potatoes went flying and the bucket shot out from under the tire….obviously too late. I have proceeded to blow a small hole in the roof corner of my porch with my 22.  in my angry haste to scare the horses off the fence because I didn’t stand out far enough on the porch.  Those are just a few highlights.

When I finally started recognizing the signs of my impending dark time and wanting to take that time for myself, it seemed as if there never was any available.   In reality, one must make the time.  This is not an act of selfish need, but one of necessity. If not, you’re turned in by force.  Our bodies will do the work even if we won’t.  This ancient call goes beyond any calendar. In retrospect, I always come out on the other side with a burst of energy and a new appreciation for my life.  I’ve been burnt and stripped of everything, only to arise from the ashes like the Phoenix, though the beautiful feathers apparently were not included in the packed deal.

Blessed be!

DToilsblog

Dark Time Oils

Remember….

The quieter you become,                                                                                 the more you can hear.                                                                                            ~ Ram Dass

Mysteries of the Dark Moon, by Demetra George

Moon Watching, by Dana Gerhardt

Parkers Astrology, by Julia & Derek Parker

Myth, Ritual & Religion, by Andrew Lang

Continue reading

Carbon Footprints and Mindful Consumerism

Posted: March 28th, 2010                                                                                                              Times Viewed: 2,878

Do you know what your carbon footprint or pollution rate is? If you don’t, you should find out and there are several websites that are helpful in determining this based on your lifestyle. This blog spot came about as a result of conversations with coven members and attendances at past pagan events. As Pagans and Witches we know-or should know, about environmental issues, waste and recycling, the acres of debris choking our oceans and its effects on our sacred lands.

Carbon footprints (or shall we call them troll prints) and pollution go hand in hand. It has been a long standing problem starting in the Industrial Age and has snowballed out of control. From what I have seen it seems that many people see an issue aired on Oprah or in a magazine and get up in arms. For a while that may affect some change, but it’s never consistent or long enough. I’m not saying that every little bit doesn’t help, however if lasting change is going to happen it has to be built on responsible lifestyle choices all of the time, even when these choices are not convenient.

As pagans we recognize the earth is sacred, what we do to her, we in turn do to ourselves. We are quite literally, in every way made up of atoms from the earth and through the elements we are linked to the web and life force of our planet. With this sacred bond also comes the understanding that we are connected to all life on this planet, whether it be elemental, human, or animal, “fur, feather, scale and skin-different without but the same within”. When one is highly attuned to this web we know the joys and beauty of the network as well as the very physical pain that comes with pollution.

The degradation and pollution of our planet is consistently a topic among my pagan friends as we try to solve it for ourselves and see where we are responsible through our life choices for helping or hindering the war on pollution. One of the biggest factors is understanding our personal relationships with deity and how we see ourselves in relation to what is going on around us, how do our actions and waste effect our environment?

Through the years I have come up with many things I do to take responsibility for my family and our carbon/pollution footprint. One of the major ones, of course, is to recycle. However, it is taking it one step further and buying products that use the least amount of packaging and required the least of a footprint to produce. I do not have a lot of landfill waste; however I did look at the contents of my recycled plastic and aluminum. I made lists of the most often consumed item and then chose to can or make those that I could such as the basics, mixes, as well as chili, soup, pizza sauce, root beer, even Irish cream, etc. I save and purchase everything from pastas and nuts to teas and spices in bulk. It all takes time and is a project of organizing your home and pantry to make it work. As a single parent ‘doing it all’ time is something I have very little of it. I don’t necessarily want to be ‘doing’ all of the time, but as I said it’s a lifestyle and a choice that is responsible for less waste. I compost food waste for the garden and shred much of my paper in a shredder to compost so it’s not being burned and wasted.

As a pagan, I go through a lot of candles and incense. I keep all my candles that I use for Sabbats wrapped up and labeled so that they can be used the following year if they don’t burn all the way down, if I need a new altar cloth in the past, I wait till the material is on sale or do without. I make sure to buy quality and have enough now that I shouldn’t need to buy those for a very long time. I take all my incense powder in the bottom of bags and boxes and keep it in an old baby food jar. I use this to make my own incense or add to spell workings. I grow as many of my own vegetables and herbs as I can-of course aided by my compost. I have found that it is important to think about every item I purchase in terms of what it took to make it and what waste it will be in the end. I also made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t bring something into my house if it didn’t have a use. I want beauty and function and if I bring something in, something goes out. Quality over quantity. There has been a movement to try and stop waste by having people ask themselves how much do you need, what do you need versus want? Yet it seems to me when I look around that people will rationalize a want into a need, so it only partially cuts down on waste. I’ve heard people say that everything they have is needed. Is that really true? I read an article wherein a man suggested that people, ‘RETHINK ESSENTIALS’. It makes much more sense to buy only what you need. Anyone can rationalize a want. But ‘rethink essentials, ‘ I think, says it all.

A few years ago I joined thousands of other people and spent 18-months buying no new consumables except food. (I did draw the line at undergarments, but everything else was used). You know, it wasn’t really that hard and it does a good job of pointing out your own impulse buying or the rationale ‘I just have to have that’.  I did do without some things, however there was nothing that was really missed in the end.  I remember going out with some friends and one forgot the camera at home. What did they do? Went and bought a disposable. How about taking responsibility for the fact that you forgot it and must do without? We see this all the time in the need for the latest gadgets and junk. If one really requires that stuff in his/her life maybe priorities need to be rethought. What is each person willing to do without somewhere else in order to offset that gadget or technology? It is said that one should plan for seven generations ahead of you. When people try to rationalize to me their choices I have to ask why? Would one not feel shame at the lack of responsibility in terms of one’s own relationship with the Earth and Deity and future generations?

As Pagans I think it is time that we rethink our essentials by being mindful of every single item that is brought into our homes and the waste that leaves it. If the Earth is our Mother, then what are we doing? I go to events or pagan gatherings and find myself scratching my head as I look around and see the waste. Being a pagan and a witch means living an integrous and morally responsible life day in and day out. It is doing the work within to know who we are as people, thereby knowing what drives our needs, our wants and our triggers. It is knowing what is going on in the world around us, educating ourselves and having our voice heard by how we spend our dollars.

We must ask ourselves: would we treat our Mothers the way we treat the earth? Would we bring the mess of junk into our mother’s home or discard the junk there or waste her resources with such disrespect? If you were to look around your home and/or property does what you see bring honor to your spirit, honor to the spirit in which you practice, honor to your relationship with Deity? What do you think? How do you help or hinder? What do you do to consume mindfully and take responsibility? I would love to hear what your experience has been or what you have done to lessen your carbon footprint.