Litha

celticTomorrow we embark on a midsummer journey.  The Litha solstice brings us to the longest day and the shortest night of the year where the Earth is at the midpoint on her journey around the sun.  The word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which translates to “sun stands still”  Depending on the year Litha will fall between June 20-22 or the 25th which was the Old Litha.  Litha is also known as Alban Heruin and Midsummer’s Night.   Historical writings have shown summer solstice celebrations all over the world and continue today as we honor the Old Ways.

In the Pacific Northwest, we are surrounded by the lushness of summer beauty

Summer Solstice Litha Wreath

Solar Wreath fire @ Rosethorn Manor

due to the warmth.  Usually we are still experiencing some precipitation, however, this year has been unseasonably hot for us.  The gardens are bursting with roses, lavendar, honeysuckle, mock-orange, rhodies and lungwort.  The apple trees have little baby apples that we have spent many an hour culling so that larger apples may grow, but not be such a burden on the trees.  We are keeping an eye on the just budding St. Johns Wort that will be used in our protection bundles at Lughnassadh.  The promise of abundance is everywhere and continues to grow until harvested at Mabon.

At this time we approach the sacred grove in perfect love and perfect trust, setting aside our difference and stresses of the mundane world to celebrate the Goddess in her lushness.  We honor deity and adorn our altars with yellow flowers (sunflowers if I can get them to bloom in time), yellow candles, bouquets of rose, peony, lavendar, mugwort, thyme, rue, fern, cock feathers and iris.  Fruits of the garden such as early strawberries and oak & holly leaves.  Stones of lapis, tigers eye, jade and moss agate round out the frequencies we are aligning ourselves for the season of Litha.   We praise the Horned God in his passionate love for the Goddess and the abundance and life their joining brings. In ritual we call forth the Sacred Spark of light and life to ignite change within ourselves, drawing on the strong and long light to bring forth balance and sustain us in our journey.  We give offerings of honey cakes which are a favorite this time of year, remembering to leave plenty for the bees.

We close our rite by lighting a fire to Brigid and focusing on the necessary balance and changes needed in our life-sacrificing that which no longer sustains or benefits our journey so that we make room in our storehouse for the inspiration that will enable future abundance in our lives and our work.

How do you celebrate this sabbat in your own life?

Blessed be the season of Summer!

Tarot Tuesday

                                       the TOWER

“After a great blow, or crisis, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over.”
― Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men

Tower Tarot Card

celticT he Tower-change is a coming-blessed or be damned.  The Tower is a difficult card representing turmoil in our lives, there are no two ways about it.  We are trucking along thinking everything is going okay and ‘bam’ the Tower shows up, usually at the most inopportune times.  The Tower is generally known to mean danger or crisis is on its way as well as unforeseen change.  The Tower arrives to challenge the narrow structure that defines our lives or our security based on false beliefs about ourselves and our world.  It is a situation or occurrence sent to wake us up because up to this point nothing else has worked.

The major arcana cards are always an indication that our spirit is trying to speak with us…..the Tower is telling us that Spirits knocking has gone unheeded and will be ignored no more.

The Tower has always brought to mind the old stories of alchemists in the tower working furiously at magic, attempting to challenge currently held beliefs regarding the scientific order of things in the Universe as well as dabbling with otherworld energies for the wrong reasons.  The overstepping due to ignorance or ignoring the warning signs cause the Tower to explode sending everyone overboard.  Inner and outer realities collide with real-world consequences……what inner red flags have you been ignoring regarding what is right for your soul?

 

 

 

House Wine-Part II

rosyA.gif
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!

What do Witches Look Like?

w

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?

 

witcheslooklike

What Witches Look Like

Adventures of the Two of Wands

2wands

M

y card for today…. Two of Wands. This card leaves me hopeful. Oftentimes read as a card on the precipice of stagnation due to feeling hemmed in from the steadfast structure and empire we have created for ourselves and those around us. I often see this at times when people are restless and unsure of what to do next because they’ve held so tightly to beliefs about what they should be doing or how they should be doing it both for themselves and perceived by others. Generally, this card has a character with a crystal ball or the Earth the Heart Center which means I am hopeful that today will bring about information where my heart and mind can come to some alignment or agreement about the next steps I need to take on my path.
How do you all read the Two of Wands?