Thursday, October 25, 2012


The Gift of Darkness




It is at Samhain, perhaps more than any other time of the year, that we as a culture, confront darkness. Why is this? There are a multitude of answers; because the nights have grown longer, the veil between the worlds is thin, or maybe it is because this time of year has become a cultural metaphor for the darkness within ourselves.

Samhain is a time of mystery, when the veil between the worlds is thin, yet also is the veil between our light self and dark self. It is here on this night, that culturally we confront our hidden selves and revel in them. Unabashedly and unashamed on this one night of the year we draw our masks from our spiritual selves and place them on physically, then rush head long into the dark and glorious night!

Yet there is much more to confronting our dark selves than a costume and paint. Author Timothy Roderick writes of a time, in the not to distant past when the cowan called the craft of magick the “black arts”. Black signifying forbidden. Those who would not venture beyond the light places, called it thus. As witches we should be able to walk between the worlds of light and dark, we should confront and embrace both. It is because of the shadow, that light can be seen, and understood to be light. Yet do we always remember this?



I am bout to give you a great gift..--the gift of darkness. You have lived with it all your life, yet you have ignored it, feared it, shunned it or in some other way denied it. But it has never gone away; gifts from the Gods rarely do.”

                                                           (T. Roderick, Dark Moon Mysteries)



Our darker selves complete each of us. It is the Yin to our Yang's , each containing one within the other, giving depth to our characters. If we, like in many of the new age and Judeo/ Christian religious teach, focused solely on our light selves, we would stagnate and weaken. Where would change and growth come from? We drawn not only knowledge but strength from our dark selves. We learn through challenge and adversity to become more than we are now.



The dark brings change. It reveals what was once thought forbidden in knowledge.

                                                            (T. Roderick)



By confronting and accepting our darker selves we can look into that element of our consciousness that is made of “significant fears, memories, emotions and experiences” that over the course of our lives, we have in one way or another rejected and held back from “flooding into our waking consciousness.” It is by doing this, that we can not only heal ourselves, but learn and grow. Knowledge truly is power. It is through knowing our darker selves that we can exercise healthy control and discipline for areas of ourselves that need a bit of work. Suppressing, ignoring or even trying to extract our dark selves, rather than acceptance, only allows for more extreme manifestations. All of our fears, dark memories, emotions and drives, never really go away. They only simmer beneath the surface, until they can manifest, just outside of our control.

So as the veil grows thin, perhaps rather than looking through to the other worlds, draw it aside and look into yourself. Get to know this dark side and in doing so, know yourself more completely.



Happy Samhain!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Charge of the Maiden Goddess


Listen now to the words of the Bright Maiden. She of old, who was called ;
Brigidh, Artemis, Minerva, Idunn, Rhiannon, Blodeuwedd, Parvati, Chang 'e, Kore,
Eostre and by many other names.
I am the first light of the dawn that sweeps away weariness and banishes indifference.
I am the promise of spring jutting from beneath the soft warm blankets of snow.
Life renewed.
I am the hatching egg opening from infinite potential to choose a path and
destiny all my own.
I am innocence coupled with wild abandon and lively curiosity that blow the dust off
stale knowledge.
I am the young flame that sparks inspiration, fueling a spirit of creativity and discovery.
By my hand the beauty of your art, poetry, music and smith craft burst free.
When my song fills your heart you will know me.
I am enchantment, excitement and the carefree erotic aura that send men and Gods preening.
I am the huntress running free through the woods in pursuit of my quarry, my hounds at my side.
Perhaps it is you I chase.
I am the laughter bubbling from your lips, the bright passion ignited in your heart,
I am love, new, fresh and all consuming.  The green earth trembles with desire in my wake.
Whenever you have need of me, gather when the moon glows as a new silvery crescent, drawn
from the long darkness.
Know that freedom and independence born from self responsibility are gifts given to
those who call my name.
I pour forth my blessings upon you.  From me endings transform into magickal new beginnings.
Take these unto you and dedicate yourself anew, inspired, creative, strong, powerful, compassionate,
honorable, beautiful and loved.  For I am with you always.
~Nyt 7/12

_______________________________________________________________________

The Gods seem to have been at it again !  I had been working on writing ritual for a moon, and the Maiden decided that I needed a bit of inspiration.  She has been very vocal with me this year!

Thank You My Lady for you spark of inspiration!  Thank you also to Janet Farrar for some of the imagery contained there in!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Invocation of the Sun King


By the Sun that burneth birght!
O' Great One!
We call thy name into the Light!
O' Brilliant One
thee we invoke by sun kissed shore
By arid deserts and lightened moors.
Thee we invoke where gather thine own
In groves once sacred, forgotten, alone
Come where your praises are whispered and sang!
Your altars are dressed from stones to stang!
By the sunlit meadows and the rounded green hills
Where the crops are bursting and the gardens filled
come to the charm of the chanted prayer
As the sun warms the blustering air
Evoke thy powers, that potent bide
In glistening lakes and Ocean Tides
From fiery flames of sunlite heat
In the brilliant balefire, O'er which we leaped
Come! O' come!
The drum beats rung
Come to us who gather below
As the disk through the sky rides but slow
As the willows sway and the birds sing sweet
We dance they round, glistening in the heat.
We speak they spell, chant thy prayer
From Sabbet to Sabbet ! For you we dare!
Brightest of the gods, on thee we call,
Blessing be on they creatures All!




With the coming of the Solstice, I thought this was a perfect time to share this invocation!



Just a little background on it. My first High Priestess Lady Teara Wolfrose, taught the iconic battle between the Sun King/ Oak King and the Horned One/ Holly King on the equinoxes as opposed to the Solstices. Yes I know, it is very different from the rest of the traditions. The line of thinking with this move, was that both Kings strength and power were equal at this time of year, and the battle could go either way! (Although we know it is a fixed fight). This made more sense to me, as opposed to the weak (new) King beating the strong ruling King at his apex of power. (Not that we have not seen that in real life).



I can hear you thinking, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

Stay with me here for a moment, while I explain.



My favorite invocation will always be Doreen Valiente's Invocation of the Horned One. Here I will share it with you, if you are unfamiliar with it.





By the flame that burneth Bright!
O Horned One!
We call thy name into the Night!
O Ancient One!
Thee we invoke, by moon led sea,
By standing Stone and Twisted Tree
Thee we Invoke, where gather thin own,
By nameless shrine, forgotten, and alone.
Come where the round of the dance is trod
Hoof and Horn of the Goat Foot God!
By moonlit meadow on Dusky Hill.
When the hunted wood is hushed and still.
Come to the charm of the chanted prayer
As the moon bewitches the midnight air
Evoke thy powers, that potent bide
In shining stream and secret tide
In fiery flame, by starlight pale
In the shadowy host that rides the gale
And by the fern- drakes fairy haunted
Of forests wild and woods enchanted
Come O come!
To the heartbeat's drum!
Come to those who gather below
When the broad white moon is climbing slow
Through the stars to the heavens height
We hear thy hoofs on the winds of night!
As black tree branches shake and sigh
By joy and terror we know thee nigh.
We speak the spell, thy power unlocks
As solstice, sabbat and equinox.
Words of virtue, the veil to rend
From Primal Dawn to the wide worlds end.
Eldest of the gods on thee we Call!
Blessings be on thy creatures all!





It is powerful is it not! I am sure you see the similarities already. I wrote my invocation for a public Mabon at OPC (which was then the WRCF) in 2000. My invocation was written as a companion invocation to Doreens Valiente's, as we called in both the Sun King and the Horned One to take up their weapons and meet in battle, for supremacy over the year.



It is my hope that you will enjoy it. After the many years, I still use it, it is incredibly powerful and perfect for Drawing down the Sun.

Apologies


I must apologize for such a long lapse in writing, however this year has seen so many changes  and so much activity,  that my down time usually translates to sleep :)

I continue to be in awe and amazed at our little community as well as the growth and relationships that are forming.

Beltane, was our very first public Sabbat.  Our group  Circle of the Sublime Elm, host a public Beltane for the Orlando Pagan Collective.  It was beautiful!  I want to thank all of the Sublime Elms who worked so hard to make it truly maginifcent and inspiring.  Thank you also to the members of OPC (Orlando Pagan Collective)  who welcomed us with open arms.  We love you all and look forward to building our budding friendships!

For Litha we stepped out of our respective comfort zones, and celebrated the Solstice Polynesian style!  In the middle of a Hurricane :P   (She was stalled off the coast).  Our Kahuna and Kahuna- Wahine (Priest and Priestess) were magickal.  Our Kahuna-Wahine was responsible for writing the ritual, as well as the beautiful recitation of the chant in Hawaiian.  She worked very hard on it , and I have to give her all the credit!

Finally I have two other major projects in the works.  The first is my next class.  One of my students, after our tradition class in ethics and the Wiccan Rede, asked me to go through the Rede, line by line with him.  From that mentoring session came the idea for the blog on the Rede.  Truly I had thought it might take up a couple of discussions.  I never dreamed it would amount to the research and channeling  that it has entailed.  So it has worked it's way into a major class series.  Which I will begin on August 27th.  and perhaps there will still more to come of it............... .

Lastly, and by the far the most time consuming and labor of love is Samhain.   Last year, we had this wild idea, that we wanted to do a public Samhain.  So we started with building a ritual, that could possibly carry it. We opened it up as a test on more of a semi public level at our temple.  It was a great success!  So this year, we have taken the same rough outline from last years Samhain and filled it in, with some amazing detail.  ( My thanks to my mentor Lemur for our incrediable invocations.)  We have been practicing since the end of May.  (lol yes you heard me right ;P).  What is stunning to me, is that during our practices,  it truly brings me to tears.  Thank you to our Sublime Elms, you are such inspirational people, and you truly are family!  I can never describe how much I love you!

So if you are in the Central Florida area, Do Join us for our Samhain 2012:  "Shadows of the Ancestors" Witches Masque and Ball.  We journey back together, to the Burning Times.
http://www.meetup.com/Circleofthe-SublimeElm/events/55499172/


As you can see my plate has been a bit full ;)  Please forgive me for the lapse in the Blog, but an amazing year has been happening!

Much Love and Light,
Nyt

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beltane Lore, Legend and Celebrations

 

Beltane, also spelled Beltaine, is the Gaelic name for either the month of May or the festival that takes place on the first day of May. It is the third of the three spring fertility festivals on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  The other two spring fertility festivals being Imbolog and Ostara respectively. Beltane is a cross-quarter, on the Wheel of the Year,  marking the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the vernal equinox  (Ostara) and summer solstice (Litha).  Beltane stands opposite Samhain on the wheel, as two very important celebrations.

Beltane, also known as May Day,  which is derived from the Irish Gaelic 'Bealtaine' or the Scottish Gaelic 'Bealtuinn', meaning 'Bel-fire', the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). He, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.

May Day , of course resides in the month of May which is named of the goddess Maia, a Greek mountain nymph.  Maia is identified as the most beautiful of the seven sister, the Pleiades, which as we will see is important to timing Beltane.  Her parents we Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.  Maia is also mother to Hermes, by Zeus. (1

Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain ('opposite Samhain'), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church's name). Roodmas came to us by way  of  Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the allegiance of the  common people's  from the Maypole (Pagan - symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross - Roman instrument of death).(1)





Timing 

Dating or Timing Beltane, can be a little tricky as there are several accepted methods for determining the date.
  • Astrological Beltane:  Following the suns track via astrology, this would be 15 degree Taurus.  Many traditions and covens within witchcraft and wicca use this method.
  • Astronomical Beltane:  The time at which The Pleiades constellation rises in the morning horizon. The seven sisters or  The Pleiades, is a cluster of seven closely placed stars in the constellation of Taurus.  On Beltane, the rise just before dawn on the morning horizon, where as Samhain begins with The Pleiades rise at Sunset.  Astronomical Beltane occurs around May 5th, however it can move within a few days in either direction.
  • Lunar Beltane: The first full moon in the month of May. This moon is also referred to as Full Flower Moon. In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.
  • May Day or the Static Calender Beltane:  On our modern calender this is celebrated on May 1st. Celebrations usually from sundown on April 30th to sundown on the 1st of May. The Static Calender date came about in 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII moved the date back 11 days in most European Countries.  Previously, Beltane was celebrated between May 11th and May 15th, when spring, in Europe was more noticeable, the weather warmer and dryer, flora was in full bloom , the animals wakened from their den and, newborns thriving.
  • Natural Beltane: The Blooming of the Hawthorn, or May Flower.
  • Solar Beltane:  (Cross Quarter) The calculation of the date and time of Beltane, is derived  as the midpoint between Ostara (vernal equinox) and Litha ( the summer solstice) from the Wheel of the Year.

What it is

Beltane and it's counterpart Samhain divide the year into a light and dark half.  Beltane (light half) celebrates Life.  The land is released from the cold clutches of winter and spring is in full bloom.  This is the beginning of summer, as the heart warms the land, drawing forth plants, tree and crops from the warm fertile soil.  This is a most important time, the depression and exhaustion of the long winter gives way  to the sun and warmth, the rebirth not only of the land  but of the renewal of the love, laughter and light in our souls.

Beltane also marks the official passage into the growing season.  While, for some such as myself in Florida, the earth has been growing for sometime, in the Northern climates of Europe, the earth is waking , and the beauty of her bounty can be seen, from the blossoms of the fruit trees, to the freshly turned soils, awaiting their seed! The desolate white landscapes, had given way, to the dreary muds of the thaws, and finally, the trees are green, the lands dries, hope springs forth, with the plant life, and we awaken to pleasure, both of the earth and ourselves.

Like it's counterpart Samhain, Beltane is also considered to be a time when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest.  This is a magickal time, when the Faeries return bent on mischief and laughter!  The Queen of the Fairies rides out on a snow-white horse, looking for mortals to lure away to Fairyland for seven years. Folklore says that if you sit beneath a tree on this night, you will see Her or hear the sound of Her horse's bells as She rides by. If you hide your face, She will pass you by but if you look at Her, She may choose you. It is a wonderful time to include Faery work in your rituals, or to honor them, as to avert mischief being directed towards you!  Much like Samhain, food  left over from May Eve's celebrations must not be eaten, rather bury it  or better yet leave it as an offering to the Faery instead.




Lore and Legend

There is much lore and legend associated with Beltane from all across the world.  Rather than an exhaustive list of lore and legend, I will include a few examples here.

Tuatha de Danaan

"Beltane has been an auspicious time throughout Celtic lore, it is said that the Tuatha de Danaan landed in north-west Connacht on Beltane. The Tuatha de Danaan, it is said, came from the North through the air in a mist to Ireland. After the invasion by the Milesians, the Tuatha faded into the Otherworld, the Sidhe, Tir na nOg."


Lleu and Blodeuwedd


"'Let us use our magic and enchantments to conjure up a woman out of flowers.' Math and Gwydyon took the flowers of oak and broom and meadowsweet and from these conjured up the loveliest and most beautiful girl anyone had seen; they baptized her with the form of baptism that was used then, and named her Blodeuwedd."
- The Mabinogion



Lleu is the son of the Goddess Arianrhod,  through the misadventure of his birth, he is cursed thrice by his mother.  Lleu's final curse, bars him from marrying a mortal woman.  His uncles Gwydion and Math, conspire against Arianrhods curses, from the flowers of Oak, broom and meadosweet, they create the Goddess Blodeuwedd, bride of Lleu.  Bloudeuwedd is the Goddess of Spring Growth, the May Queen given in sacred marriage to Lleu.  Their marriage rites are celebrated on Beltane.


Gwyn, Gwythur and Creiddylad

Where as many western tradition is witchcraft celebrate the mythic battle between the light and the dark on Litha and Yule, the Celts celebrated it on Beltane and Samhain, as the battle between the winter and summer! No place is that better illustrated then with this legend.

Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Tylwyth Teg (fair folk) and ruler of the Annwn (welsh underworld) abducted his sister Creiddylad  ( an incredibly beautiful maiden) from her betrothed Gwythur ap Greidwal. Gwythur raises a great army and leads a vicious battle between the two of them.  Gwyn was victorious, however he captured and tortured several of Gwythur's nobemen.  King Arthur intervened between the two, and an agreement was struck, that the two would battle each May Day for the hand of Creiddylad, until Judgement Day, at that time the winner would at last take Creiddylad.

The myth is a variation of the Oak King/ Holly King battle, as a contest between summer and winter.


The abduction of Guinevere

Queen Guinevere  rode forth one early May morning, in the company of her knights to go a- Maying, as was customary for her to do.  She was kidnapped by Sir Mellyagraunce, from whom she must be rescued by Sir Lancelot, chief of her Queen's Knights.
 


In "Ladies of the Lake"Caitlin and John Matthews write about Guinevere.  They say she has been  wronged in successive retellings of her story, often portrayed as a weak and adulterous. They see her as the British Venus, a woman who is beautiful and perilous in her own right, "one who is totally aware of the effective nature of her sexuality." (3)

Guinevere follows her own true nature when she accepts other lovers than her husband. She has a free, otherworldly quality. She cannot be expected to be faithful to the contract with one husband when her brief is to be faithful to the inner harmonic of the Goddess of the Land. The Flower Bride is the beautiful face of the land, to be eternally fought over.The law of the Goddess of the Land is that she must be guarded by the most worthy knight and by he alone. When the man whom she has made king fails in his duty, she is at liberty to find another, more worthy champion. It is this aspect of the Flower Maid that causes most trouble. (3)

In yet another retelling of the same legend, the kidnapper is Mewas, the Lord of the Summer Country, who dresses himself in leaves (Jack the Green) while waiting for her to come along.  Like the legends of Blodeuwedd, Creiddylad, Isolt, a maiden in the middle of a triangle with an older, established man (usually King, her husband) and a new, younger, stronger, more handsome suitor.   the men maybe seen as representing the light and dark, winter and summer, battling for the love of the goddess.  The winner,  of the battle ensures his kingship through marriage to the land, as personified by the Goddess/Maiden/ Priestess/ Queen.  Waverly Fitzgerald points out the old expression of May- December Marriages, a match between a young woman and an older man.



Walpurgisnacht

 Walpurgisnacht is named for St. Walpurga, a German Abbess who came from England in the 8th century. In Germany it is believed that on April 30th, Walpurgisnacht, that witches flew on their broomsticks to mountain top gatherings where they danced round bonfires all night.  Waverly Fitzgerald observed  that,

It seems a little hard to believe that this holy woman would have her name associated with such licentious rites until you consider that early monasteries evolved from pagan colleges of priests and priestesses. On this night, St. Walpurga and her followers went up into the mountains to perform sacred rituals. (2)

Beltane is a time when the veil between the worlds is indeed very thin, and that contact with supernatural spirits  is possible.  It is considered to be very much like Samhain.  Today it is mainly celebrated in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latavia and Germany. The Christianized version of the holiday today, is a time to drive out evil spirits - usually with loud noises!



 
Walpurgisnacht on  Heidelberg

Bel Fires

Traditionally on the eve of Beltane all fires were extinguished and then relit from the embers of the Beltane Fire.  The fires, were actually two large bonfires created from the nine sacred woods.  (Apple, Cedar, Dogwood, Holly, Juniper, Oak, Pine, Poplar and Rowan).  It is believed that the Bel fires were an invocation to Bel, the Sun God, for His blessings.  the herds were ritually driven between them to ensure their fertility, as well as to purify and protect them.  they were then taken to their summer grazing grounds.

 The fires are a celebration of the return of life and fruitfulness to the earth, offering protection, healing and purification to anyone that passes by or jumps over them.

Today , The Beltane Fire Society, holds a festival as a spectacular revival of Beltane. It takes place on the 3oth of April every year on Calton Hill.  It is an amazing festival.

beltane fire festival3 Beltane Fire Festival



Beltane Customs and Celebrations

There are many customs and celebrations for Beltane, some include; "beating the bounds" or walking the circuit of ones property, repairing fences and boundary markers, relighting the hearth fires from the bel fire.  To ensure the fertility of the crops and groves, women heavy with child (pregnant) would walk through the fields and groves bestowing their blessings.

 Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying". Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers. Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring. (4)


Bringing in the May

Most May Day customs and celebrations revolve around flowers and green branches,   May Birching or Boughing for example involves  flowers woven into wreaths , hung on door, placed in baskets or exchanged between those whom have a love interest in one another. Hawthorn (the May Flower) is most honored, as it begins to bloom as soon as the weather is warm enough for planting.   Anyone finding bloom hawthorn branches in the woods would bring it triumphantly into the village, thereby bringing in the May!

Young men and women wandered into the woods before daybreak of May Day morning with garlands of flowers and/or branches of trees. They would arrive; most rumpled from joyous encounters, in many areas with the maypole for the Beltane celebrations. Pre-Christian society's thoughts on human sexuality and fertility were not bound up in guilt and sin, but rather joyous in the less restraint expression of human passions. Life was not an exercise but rather a joyful dance, rich in all beauty it can afford. (3)

 However, the woods were reserved not simply for the young!  It was also a custom in some areas,  for those who were older and married to also enter into the woods.  Since Beltane like Samhain, is a time outside of time, what occurred there was outside of the marriage.  Children born of these "greenwood marriages" were often seen as gifts from the gods or children of the gods, they were also called merry begots, Jackson Hodsson or Robinson, referncing Jack the Green, Hod ( a woodland spirite) or Robin Goodfellow (robin Hood or another form for the Green Man).


The May Queen

The Queen of the May is typically a young woman or girl chosen on the eve of Beltane.  She was crowned with a wreath of flowers and presided with the May King over the festivities and celebrations  of the day.  The symbolism of the Queen and King however, hearken unmistakably back to the roots of Beltane, the sacred union of the goddess and her consort, which are venerated by the festivities. 


The May Pole

Images of Beltane


The Maypole is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Beltane.  It is a tall pole, decorated with long brightly colored ribbons, leaves flowers and wreaths.   The pole itself, is a symbol of the phallus of the God, buried deep within the warm, fertile, earth of the goddess.  In many traditions the ribbons are red and white, red symbolic of the menstrual blood, and white of the life giving sperm.  Wrapping the ribbons in a dance around the pole, is accomplished with two circles of dancers, standing far from the pole at the length of the ribbon.  The dancers weave the ribbons, one group moving clockwise, the other counterclockwise, until the weave has reached the base of the pole.  As the dancers, dance gaily around the pole, energy is raised and sent down into the earth's womb, bringing Her full awakening and fruitfulness (4)

Morris dancers are also traditionally found dancing around the Maypole in many places. Morris dancing is thought to have originated many centuries ago as part of ancient religious ceremonies, however it seems that Morris dancing became associated with Mayday during the Tudor times, and its originating history is not all that easily traced.  However, it is the though the height of the leaps of the Morris dancers, is an indication of the height of the crops of the coming year.



Handfastings

Beltane celebrates the sacred marriage of the Goddess to the God, it heralds to re awakening of the earths fertility, to its fullest, culminating in the union from which springs forth all life.
 It is on a Spiritual level, the unifying of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine to bring forth the third, consciousness. On the physical, it is the union of the Earth and Sun to bring about the fruitfulness of the growing season. (4)
 Handfasting, or trial marriages, occurred at this time.   One thing to note, real marriages were discouraged in May,  this is where the adages of June Brides came from. It was considered bad luck to marry in May.  However, a trail marriage was something a bit different.

 Trial marriages, are today often referred to as engagements, in more ancient times, they were in fact marriages.  Handfastings would occur , for the space  of a year and a day, upon the statement of intent by the couple.  It was not legally binding.  the couple would then live together as man and wife for the a fore mentioned space of time.  Any children ensuing from the marriage are considered legitimate.  If the trail was favorable, the couple would then enter into the legal and committed marriage, usually in June.  However, should it prove unfavorable, the couple could part and move forward to find more suitable mates.


Beltane's Blessings

Beltane and May are a time of reawakening, revitalization, quickening, unbridled desire, rapturous abandon and joy, it is the invigoration of our spirits, a vibrancy to all of our senses.  Life has sprung forth anew and we with it!  No matter what observances you make,  renew your connection with the earth, welcome in the summer and celebrate life!  As much as this renewal is a gift from the gods, lets us share it with each other, and in the sharing be renewed spirit and soul!

Included within I will add some correspondences and ideas for Beltane, what is most important I think!  Is the celebration of life!

I wish you the joy of the season!
Happy and Blessed Beltane!


Beltane Correspondences and Activities:

Beltane:  Also known as :May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)
  
Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite, Artemis, Bast, Blodeuwedd, Cerrnunos,  Diana, Faunus, Flora, Lleu, Maia, Pan, the Green Man, the Horned God, Oak King, Sun King, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility. 

Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz


Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, angelica, ash,  blessed thistle, bluebells, broom, cinquefoil, clover, daffodil, daisy, damiana,   Dittany of Crete, dogwood, dragons blood, elder, fern,  foxglove, frankincense,hawthorne,  honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, nettle, oak, primrose, rose, thyme, woodruff
basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose, ylang-ylang

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Magick: Spells to ensure prosperity, conservation, purification, safety, and love.

Activities:  
  • Decorate your altar, with a green cloth, and an abundance of flowers!
  • Jump the balefire.
  • Ashes from the balefire can be scattered in the fields as a fertility charm. Modern pagans can ritually purify tools or other things in the balefire. Jump the dying embers of the fire for summer blessings.
  • Dance around the maypole
  • Gather the first wild herbs of the season.
  • Go a-Mayin' by going to the woods and fields to gather flowers. Take a picnic.
  •  Make paper baskets (use yarn as a handle) and place real or silk flowers in each basket. Hang them on door knobs of neighbors and family members but don't let them know you did it!
  • Wash your face in dew at sunrise on Beltane for beauty in the coming year. (Traditionally the dew from the hawthorn tree, but dew from grass and flowers will do.)
  • Make daisy chains and fresh flower wreaths and chaplets (head dresses) to wear and to place atop the maypole. Braid flowers in your hair. Make and wear leafy green masks to represent the Green Man who has returned.
  • Fertilize, nurture or boost your existing goals with magick.
  • Plant seeds, begin a garden.
  • Walk your property, bless it's boundaries.
  • Make a wish at the hawthorn tree, a tree associated with faeries. Place strips of cloth symbolizing your wish in the tree (the color should be appropriate to the nature of your wish, i.e. blue for health, pink or red for love, green or gold for prosperity). Take some time to attune to the tree. When you feel you have contacted its spirit, visualize your wish coming true as you hook the cloth on one of the tree's thorns, chanting your wish. When you have finished, leave a gift for the tree.
  • Make love in the woods. Beltane is the time of year when the Goddess and God consummate their passions. 
  • Hold a Handfasting, a trial marriage for lovers of a year and a day. If the feel they a ready for a commitment, the marriage can be planned for June.
  • Make a dish of fruits, berries, nuts and leave in the wood for the animals and fae folk to enjoy
  • Mark the boundaries of your circle with oatmeal, a traditional Beltane grain.
  • This is a night for bonfires, torch-lit processions and the high revelry of witches, preferably in high places.



Sources

Nichols, Mike " A Celebration of May Day" , Micromuse Press, ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/religion/neopagan/Rituals/Holidays/Beltane/nichols_about

Fitzgerald, Waverly, "Celebrating May Day" School of the Seasons, http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/mayday.html

Mathews, John and Caitlin, "Ladies of the Lake" Aquarian Press, 1992

Aubin, Christina  "Beltane", Witchvox, 2000

Circle of the Dragon's Crystal Unfolding

 (Happily our tradition information was posted on Witchvox in March!  I am sharing the article, which can also be found on Witchvox at http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usfl&c=trads&id=14913)


We strike a spark,
Against the dark,
Tween the shadows and the stars,
That we may see the way.

~Opening of the Unfolding Circle Casting

Founded in 2001, The Circle of the Dragon's Crystal-Unfolding (more commonly called just "the Unfolding Path") is based on the Draconian Path of Wicca/Wysardn.

The Draconian Path is itself an amalgam of Welsh Celtic, Celtic Traditional Wicca and Wysardn Colleges, founded in 1986 by progenitor Lord Ash who brought Wysardn teachings from Europe and melded it with the workings of his Floridian coven. Wysardry is a survival of the druids of Britain who fled the Isle of Mona and spread throughout Europe during the three Burning Times.

Incidentally, there are more than a few groups who also use the name Draconian. The one from which we come is neither the Salem one, the one founded from a Japanese book, nor the one related to Voudou. While they are no doubt valid paths, they are not those from which we descend.

The major difference between Unfolding and Draconian is that we have dispensed with the requirement to climb both ladders of Witchcraft and Wysadry...somewhat. The original reason for that requirement was that Lord Ash felt that there were many wysards who were not balanced with the tempering of religious/moral teachings, and many witches who couldn't magick themselves out of a paper bag. Thus the Draconian path was required to stay in balance with their elevations as wysards and their initiations as witches/priests.

Unfortunately, wysardry is not for everyone. The path is scholarly and highly challenging. While a lofty goal, we found that the result was that certain excellent priests and teachers were held back. Therefore, in the Unfolding path wysards are still required to study as priests and keep their elevations in balance with their initiations, but those who do not feel the call to wysardry may climb the ladder solely as priests. (Though they are still highly encouraged to study the wysardly arts and sciences.)

Core Beliefs:

At the essence of our path is belief in the Dragon, an ancient Celtic term for the All-That-Is. We do not see this as an actual dragon, nor do we worship "dragon gods" but instead as the living, breathing, sentient Power of the Universal All, which is both contained in us and of which we are a part. The Dragon is the grass on which you trod, the computer screen before you, a star shining light on planets far beyond your grasp, the heartbeat of our own living Earth and a child crying in Somalia. All is one and one is a shard of the All, ever merging and evolving within Itself.

Perhaps the seed of the idea of calling the All "Dragon" is that dragons are mystical, larger than life beings of power, which guard hidden secrets - the treasures of our inner selves.

Although our roots are in the main, Welsh/Celtic, "Unfoldings" are not required to worship any particular pantheon. Our main facets of deity, below the Dragon Itself are seen as Goddess and God, with those faceted into four main faces of each: Maiden/Mother/Matron/Crone and Lover/Father/Warrior/Hunter.

We follow the Rede, however with such a large base in wysardn teachings, most Unfoldings consider themselves "witches" rather than "Wiccan", and as with our progenitor tradition, we find we are evolving toward something that is not strictly "Wiccan" in nature.

Personal responsibility is seen as essential. Responsibility being defined as "the ability to respond". Keep in mind, however that to maintain balance (and sanity) as a person, one can only respond to a limited number of situations at a time. Self-responsibility also includes the student’s need to direct the course of his or her own learning, asking for what is needed.

Balance is seen as an imperative as well. While we have grown from the Draconian insistence on balancing the ladder of study, our ideal is to be neither White nor Black, Light or Dark, but the Grey of understanding, equality and the ability to see both sides of a matter. Light is an aspiration, an ideal to reach for, while Darkness is that inside which if brought to balance can become one's greatest strength. In staying to the Grey, we allow ourselves to nurture the Rainbow of possibility that shines from our growing facets of perfect becoming.

While our worship tends to be more Apollonian than Dionysian, there is room for both forms of expressions. Our magic has much that is ceremonial at its core and our teaching focus has a strong scholarly bent.

Standards

Self-Responsibility and Self-Motivation

Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own speed of growth and learning. Everyone learns at his/her own pace and may find certain lessons challenging while others are easy. Because of this, your teacher may not know if you are having trouble, or if your interests lie in a direction that is not being fulfilled. Ask.

The answer might not always be what you'll like. Sometimes it will be, "not yet" sometimes "no and this is why" and sometimes it will be the "yes" or "yes...and". Remember, "the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked".

The Unfolding Path is one of self-direction. Dedications, initiations and elevations come only when the recipient asks for them (assuming they are prepared) and not on any specified timetable.

Is It A Test?

Yes.

In the Unfolding philosophy, Life is itself a test. The purpose is not to "ace it" but to grow and evolve.

Be aware that as part of the Unfolding teaching method, your teacher may at any time be setting a test for you. You may not even realize it is a test. The Universe, the Dragon itself, will also set tests for you.

When in doubt, the answer is probably, "yes."

Perfect Love/Trust

Perfect Love and Trust are not merely the watchwords of the circle, but should ultimately become a way of life.

Perfect Love means caring about your fellow coveners/seekers even when your relationship with them is challenging. Remember that they are a spark of the Dragon just as you are, and that you are part of them and they part of you.

Perfect Trust requires honesty with both yourself and others, and remembering that none of us are perfect, but we are all perfect for the lessons we are experiencing right now.

Initiation/Elevation

In the Unfolding Path we have two courses of study.

Priest (Initiations) :

We define the word "priest" as servant. This is the religious/spiritual side of the path, where we place ourselves in service to the gods, our own growth and each other.

Seeker - The base learning stage, this is where you find out if the Unfolding Path feels right for you.
Dedicant/Novitiate - dedication in service to the Gods and your own growth, but not yet committed to the Unfolding Path.
1st Degree - Priest to Self: a time of solidifying your own growth and preparing for leadership.
2nd Degree - Priest to the Circle: a time of leading your own circle and preparing for greater stretching.
3rd Degree - Priest to the Community: pretty much says it.
4th Degree (Honorific) - Priest to the Dragon: attained by parenting a daughter-coven.

 Wysard (Elevations) :

Wysardry is the magickal side of our studies. Although we are magickal in our approach to spirituality and spiritual in our magickal workings, it is this side of our path that is founded in Druidry, ceremonial magick and the Court Magicians of Europe going back many centuries.

1st through 4th: Each elevation requires mastery of 5 of the 20 arts and sciences. The first 5 are set, after which you may study them in any order you and your teacher choose.

In the Unfolding Path, a Priest (or witch) may rise to any level. If they choose to study wysardry, they may not be elevated to a level higher than their degree, and first degree must come before first elevation.

As with most things in Unfolding, you must ask for initiation and elevation. There is no set timetable though a year (at least) between each initiation is standard.

The Unfolding Path may or may not be for you. Initiation is not guaranteed. Wysardry is doubly not guaranteed. However you may find that this path is the one for you, and if so, well come.

The Unfolding Path is based in Orlando, Florida and southern Colorado. Currently the group is private open only to those members and seekers of the Tradition. We do offer seekers classes on occasion, if you are interested in knowing more about us, or possibly attending a circle check our official website located


http://www.wix.com/tordenstorm/cdcu

Contact info and forums are accessible on the contact page.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eostre and Ostara


Ēostre and  Ostara

Fresh green grasses soft under our feet
Downy yellow chickadee's chirp and peep
Blooms spring forth from budding stems
As sleep is shaken from those hibernating in dens

White, pink, lavender, yellow and peach
The colors of rainbows within our reach!
A swath of your hand and wink from your eye
The hard, dead winter waves it's last good bye.

Awakening, and stretching the inhabitants of the glade
Revel joyfully in your work, your plans well laid.
Beautiful, gracious Eoster, Maiden of Spring
We call to you lady, growth and fertility do you bring!

Equal does time stand, as night gives it's way
Thus the Sun rides high waxing to Solstice Day!
Joyful ! Fulfilled, Spring plants and Vegetables sprout
We thank you Lady for the bounty which will be wrought.

Eoster, Gentle Maiden  of  Spring
Sunshine, warmth  and rain do you bring
Joy, love, life and sustenance to us
Lovely maiden, Spring Noblesse.
                                                              ~Nyt 01/12

 Ostara
March 21st or 22nd Vernal Equinox
Cross Quarter Sabbat


Ēostre or Ostara is a Teutonic Goddess of the Spring.  Her rites and festivals were celebrated in what corresponds to the month of April, (referred to as Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth)  Our only written documentation of  Ēostre come from
author  Bede, who  refers  to her in his eight century work "De temporum ratione".   He states that her veneration and celebration had long since ceased as of his writing and had been replace by the Paschal Month (celebration of the resurrection of the Christ).  There are connections to her and ancient  Germanic Easter customs of colored eggs and Hares. 
Writing in 1972, John Andrew Boyle cites commentary contained within an etymology dictionary by A. Ernout and A. Meillet, where the authors write that "Little else [...] is known about [Ēostre], but it has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity."

So what is Ostara to paganism today? 

Ostara is of course the spring celebration of the Goddess Ēostre.  Today it is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox.  A time when the light and dark are perfectly balanced.  The dark however gives way to the light, as the year waxes onward. 

Ostara, like the Christian Holiday Easter, (Christianity derives the holiday name from the Teutonic Festivals of Ēostre), is the celebration of rebirth and the renewed life of the earth, brought forth by the spring! Like the spring goddess from which it derives it's name.  The symbolism of this rebirth and renewal permeates through nature.   The young chicks, lambs  and the first birth of the herd animals have come.  Those sleepy inhabitants  hibernating in their dens , yawn and stretch, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. It seems that the entire earth is waking, to an enchanting morning!   The first spring vegetables are poking their heads up from the soft  earth.  Growth is everywhere!

My fondest memories of this time, come from my childhood in North Carolina, the dogwood blooms  covered  the  trees  like snow,  the bright  azalea's in every hues of pink, white and orange painted a swaths of color across the landscape. 

As a celebration of rebirth and renewal, brightly colored  and  painted eggs, Hares, equilateral crosses, butterflies, chicks are familiar symbols at this time.   Brightly colored eggs of course symbolic of fertility and seeds as the holders of life and infinite potential.  Hares and  Bunnies, of course, unbridled sexuality.   If you ever owned a bunny you well understand the idiom, multiplying like rabbits! Butterflies, emerging from their cocoons, transformed, reborn beautifully bright in color.  Chicks  of course  fertility, and new birth,  the waxing times of our lives, bright, soft  and  new!

Important and key concepts to keep in mind for our celebrations!  Renewal, Rebirth, Growth, Fertility.  Ostara is an excellent time to renew your own vows , or rededicate your self to your path.   Many traditions in paganism and witchcraft use Ostara as a time for dedications and initiations. 




So what are some fun things you can do to celebrate Ostara?
    • Precisely on the Equinox, place and egg, wider  end down, on the ground.   The egg should balance perfectly.
    • Make equilateral crosses  to hang around the house.
    • Bless seeds for planting.  This is a great time to start your spring planting.
    • Color eggs,  paint pagan symbols on them, bless them. Decorate you altar with them, use them for egg hunts!
    • Ham, is traditional for feasting at this time, the last of the cured meats from the winter stock!
    • Bright spring flowers, tulips , daffodils, hydrangea, lilacs, are wonderful to fill your home with!
    • New clothes!  Yes this is where Easter finery comes from.  Treat yourself to something bright and hew to lift your spirits and shake off the winter.

One thing interesting to note in traditional observances of Ostara.   The God  is a young man, just coming towards sexual awakening.   He is getting ready for the marriage to come at Beltane with the Goddess.
He is the Green Man, the Oak King/ Sun King.  His own seed quickening and readying to fertilize.   In many traditions, you have no doubt read, of the fight between the Oak King and the Horned One/ Holly King.  Many traditions place these battles, on the Solstices.  When the Kings are respectively at the apex of their powers.  However, my first High Priestess taught it a different way.  We celebrated the battles of the Kings at Ostara and Mabon instead. Light and  Dark are equal. The Kings well matched for their fights.  The outcome of the battle deciding the turn of  wheel of the year.  This was always one of the most enjoyable aspects of festivals, so now I pass it on to you.

Correspondences for Ostara:

  • Alternative Names/ Celebrations: Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Ostara, Esther, Eostre, Ostarun, startag', Eastre, Eoastrae, Oestre, Lady Day, Alban Eiler (Druidic),  Summer Finding (Asatru), Naw Ruz (Persian New Year), Alban Elfed, Festival of Trees, No Ruz, Rites of Spring
  • Symbols  & Decorations Eggs, rabbits, hares, chicks, sprouting plants, coccons, butterflies, bees, lambs, pussy willows, four leaf clovers, baskets, budding twigs, birds, spring flowers, colorful ribbons
  • Dieties:  (archetypes) Maiden, young God, Green Man, Oak King, (specifc) Astrarte, Asasa Ya (Ashanti), Aurora, Brigit, Cybele,  Ēostre, Eos, Flora, Freya, Persephone (as Kore) ,Ares, Mars, Attis, Adonis, Osiris, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Dionysus, Nayame, Saraswati (Hindu)
  • Ritual Work:  rebirth, renewal, new beginings, growth, fertility, new life, balance, planting, cultivating, love, health, healing, agriculture, prosperity, purification, dedication, initiation, mysteries
  • Colors:   red, greens (soft), blue (robins egg) pastels
  • Animals:  dragons, hares, rabbits, chicks, lambs, butterflies, snakes, robins
  • Stones: Carnelian, coral, agate, brown jasper (orange stones), amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, red jasper
  • Plants: crocus, daffodil, dandelion, forsythia, echinacea, golden seal, hibiscus,  honeysuckle,  hyacinth, iris, irish  moss  jasmine, lilly, narcissus, oak, peony, primrose,  snowdrop, thistle, tulip, violet., woodruff, all spring flowers
  • Incense/Oils: ginger, jasmine, lavender, lotus,  magnolia, rose, sage, strawberry,  violet,
  • Foods: seasonal foods,jelly eggs (jelly beans), edible  flowers, fish, chocolates, lamb, eggs, seeds, honey cakes, leafy green vegetables, spiced or flower cupcakes, fruits, hot cross buns, ham, sprouts, honey cakes, unleavened bread, fresh fruit, milk, dairy,  nuts, asparagus

I wish you a most enjoyable Ostara and May the Blessings of Spring be yours!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wiccan Rede: Let Love and Trust be our guides again

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)


Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let Love and Trust be our guides again.


Honor the Old Ones in deed and name

While this seems like a very easy concept to understand or define, however I thought it might be interesting to look at the word Honor.  Since we as a culture toss it about quite a bit.  Back to Merriam - Webster

Honor:

: good name or public esteem : reputation b : a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>
2: privilege <had the honor of joining the captain for dinner>
3: one whose worth brings respect or fame : credit <an honor to the profession>
4: chastity, purity <fought fiercely for her honor and her life — Barton Black>
5 a : a keen sense of ethical conduct : integrity <a man of honor> b : one's word given as a guarantee of performance <on my honor, I will be there>
I love little words, that mean so much !!  So in looking at honor, specifically relating to Diety, the Old Ones. We can understand much of what the rede is trying to say.
1.  Understand that you as a follower of the Old Ones, are a reflection of them.  Always guard your reputation, and your name that it may reflect well upon them!  In other words.  Project a positive image.  Stand by your word.  Follow through with your promises.  Be a good and decent person, that others may hold you in esteem.  For as much as they esteem you, they will also honor those whom you follow.
2. Understand that it is your privilege to be a follower of the Old Ones.  You are not here just because it's a fun thing to do, and you want to freak out your friends and family.  If that is your purpose, you are in the wrong religion.  As you  pay respect, and honor the Old Ones, so will they do likewise to you.  Drawing you close to them, revealing their work to you, as well as those things about yourself you are constantly seeking.
3. Bring credit, respect and fame to the Old Ones through both your word and your actions.  Let them both
reflect solidly on one another. 
4.  That through your actions and words you reflect yourself to be pure of thought and intent.  
5. That you value , yourself, your word, your bonds and hold it and yourself with integrity.  In doing so, so will others hold you, and those you follow.
Honor them in deed and name.  Both by your words and your actions!  Do not simply mumble to the Gods, I honor and venerate you.  Actually do it!  Treat them with respect.  Treat yourself and other with respect as you are all children of the gods!  Do not simply go through the motions.  We all know the christian metaphor of Sunday Morning Saints. ( On Sunday morning everyone sits in the pews, clean, well dressed and pure in thought and deed.  They sing and praise their Gods, then they go home and proceed to do exactly opposite of their religious teachings.)  If you are a follower of the Old Ones, then by all means follow them.  Pay heed to this advice, have a strong moral and ethical code and follow it!  Don't be "that" person who says the right words, yet there is no intent, passion or emotion behind anything you do. Trust me, the Gods, know your heart.  An open heart to them is soon filled.  Walk your walk, with love , honor and yes some pride! 

Let Love and Trust be our guides again.

Remember our discussion on  Perfect Love and  PerfectTrust earlier?

Erich From had addressed love saying the active character of true love involved four basic elements; care responsibility, respect and knowledge.

Put this in perspective with what we have been reading from this entire stanza.

Bide the Ancient Laws ye must, in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live ye well and let to live; fairly take and fairly give.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little: listen much.
Heed ye flower, bush and tree. By the Lady, Blessed Be.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let Love and Trust be our guides again.

Wondering if I am the only who sees all of From's elements here?  From all of our discussions thus far, all of the From's elements are literally written in huge letters all over them! 

Trust, as we defined earlier from Merriam- Webster is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed, as well as responsible charge or office, and care or custody.

Again, is that not exactly what we have been talking about , this entire time ? So what the rede is saying, by following this advice, living our lives in accord with nature, the gods, and paying respect to all things from the followers of the earth to our fellow humans.  We will be living in perfect love and perfect trust.  Truthfully, how beautiful is that!! 



Resources:

Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary :http://www.merriam-webster.com
From, Erich, The Art of Loving , circa 1956

(Next Blog: Cast the Circle thrice about!)

Wiccan Rede: By the Lady Blessed Be

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)


Heed ye flower, bush and tree. By the Lady, Blessed Be

Heed ye flower, bush and tree


The word heed is an interesting choice here.  According to Merriam- Webster it means literally to pay careful attention to.  Why is it so important to pay careful attention to plants?   You can actually approach this two ways.  First, understand that plants and trees are the subjects of which element?  Ahem.... Earth!  Excellent.  As subjects of said element, they are metaphors for her as well.  

Earth, Gaia, is a LIVING planet with which we live in a symbiotic relationship.  We are the cells to her planetary body.  As  sentient beings, (likening us to brain cells), it is our responsibility to provide stewardship to our lady.  We realize, or should realize what consequence our  actions have our the earth.    In recent years we have heard spoken, in the news the concept of our ecological  footprints upon the earth.   The ecological footprint specifically measures humanities demand on nature. 

The ecological footprint estimates the amount of land and ocean required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your waste on an annual basis.  As stewards of the earth, it is our responsibility to lessen the impact we have on nature.  To pay careful attention to what the consequences of our actions are, and to work towards correcting the damage done by others.  This can be as simple as using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, composting your waste, utilizing woven reusable fabric bags at stores instead of plastic and paper.

So in essence, paying attention to our own impact on nature and the earth, is paying her heed.  Treading lightly, through out our life, treating nature as the Goddess she is.  That spark of the divine, which is in all things, from each of us, to every trees, plant, seed, stone and speck of sand.   This also brings us to a second way of looking at the rede.

 As we said all things carry within them a spark of the divine.  Each an energy and yes sentience of it's own.  If you don't believe me spend some time with a rock !  The energies are very apparent, after meditating with one, you will also realize there is a  sentience.  While not as rapidly processing as our own, understand it is something which has existed for millions of years, with processes much slower than our own.  The point being that each plant, flower and tree has something to teach.  From understanding the correspondences when working within the craft, to opening yourself to their individual lessons through meditation.  There is much we can learn from our the other cells of our Mother Earth.  So do pay them heed.

By the Lady Blessed Be

Quite simply,  by honoring our Mother Earth, paying careful attention to how we tread upon her.  By working to lessen the impact we leave as a species, restoring the oceans and protecting species endangered as consequence to our modern life.  We will reap the blessing of our Lady.  From clean water, to bountiful plant life, refreshing out atmosphere, and sharing our home with all the species which make her truly special, we will realize how blessed we are by her.  Through understanding our relationship with our fellow plants, stone and brethern of fur and scale we will truly move in tune with nature, as part of her, instead of  the parasitic existence that many of us employ today.

Let us work together to preserve and honor our Lady, and in doing so reaping her bountiful blessings.

(next blog: Let Love and Trust be our guides again.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Wiccan Rede: Speak little and listen much

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)


Soft of eye, light of touch, speak little; listen much

Soft of Eye

Soft of eye is exploring perception.  It is plumbing our own inner depths, and achieving something more than a static model of looking at the world. 

All of us are consciously aware, when we focus our vision.  Honing our gaze to a fine point, to discern what we are looking for.  Such as searching for an item within a puzzle.  This type of fine focus, is used during periods of high concentration.  It also references a person who is overly critical or judgmental.  Such as the metaphors stemming from " long hard gazes" or taking a "hard look".  During this type of activity, the eyes tense, the body develops a rigidity, and everything perches upon on edge.  Careful someone doesn't tip you over!

Soft of eye, on the other hand is a different way of viewing the world.  In "The Second Ring of Power"  Carlos Castaneda writes  that his teacher Don Juan , taught him to open his view, and flood his awareness, by taking the focus off of any particular object, and keeping them unfocused just above the line of the horizon. In doing this he had to feel with his eyes, everything in the 180-degree range in front of him.

Tai Chi and Aikido Masters also teach this same lesson. Through use of a softer focus, the ability to stay calmly aware of all of ones surrounding, and take and easier, less judgemental viewpoint, Masters were able to counter attack after attack from all directions. We all have seen examples of this from martial arts demonstrations to movie magic.  It seems that the master is moving in slow motion.  He is.  The magick to this, is the change of focus, which in effect changes the master' s perception of the world, allowing him to entered into an altered state of consciousness.  All things are visualized and realized, allowing for thoughtful right action, as opposed to hurried reaction.  Starhawk defines magick as the changing of consciousness at will.  Welcome to Magick 101.

Parker Palmer in his book "The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner  Landscape of a Teachers Life"  wrote that he made a conscious effort to help himself and his students develop soft eyes when confronted with something new.  " I believe it will allow all of us to have more authentic responses and think new thoughts."

Parker also went further writing that soft eyes were an evocative image for what happens when we gaze on sacred reality.  Our eyes are now open and receptive, able to take in the worlds greatness and the grace of great things.  "Eyes wide with wonder we no longer need to resist or run away when taken by surprise.  Now we can open ourselves to the great mystery."

Another perspective of Soft eyes, is the counter to the more critical hard looks, and fine focus.  Soft of eye is also a gentler, more open and accepting way of looking at the world.  Putting aside our overly critical and judgmental viewpoints  and accepting people for who and what they are, in all their glory.   We are each human with our own idiosyncrasies, rather than divide and separate, we should explore, accept and embrace.

Soft of eye, is that ability to blur our focus while heightening our awareness.  Allowing us to take in everything.  It is not harsh, critical or judgmental.  It is open and accepting.  This blur of our focus allows us to take our eyes from the distractions and instead see what is of importance.  Bringing ourselves into tune with nature and the divine, allowing our conscious to slide back, and our unconscious to begin it's work.  Each moment a lifetime of it's own, allowing for thoughtful right action and authentic responses.  It is a new perception, fresh and refreshed.

Light of Touch

Light of touch is a more familiar concept to most people, or should I say it's opposite.   The metaphors of  "heavy handed" , "firmly under control" and similar  ones, all demonstrate a method of control.   Most of those connotations are negative.   Much the same as "hard look" , the relate a critical and judgmental nature. In truth, have we not all been guilty of doing so at one time or another.  

One who is heavy handed, is a micro manager.  They do not trust others to be able to perform , even simple tasks without direct supervision. To further insure that the  projects are seen through to their perceived correct completion, heavy handed folks will add stiff penalties for failure to comply, with their general direction.   Yes we all know them, and perhaps are them.  In truth when we look in this particular mirror, it is not always something we like to seeing looking back!

Light of touch, is much like soft of eye.  The tension accompanying it's opposite, flows out, and the individual is more relaxed. Physically, the individuals voice drops low,  the body language is open and accepting , action is taken, thoughtful right action, as opposed to reaction.  Actions are more fluid and their touch is light, only to reassure. As opposed to heavy driven by purpose.  Light of touch in an individual is the manifestation of perfect love and perfect trust.  Nothing is hurried, all things are seen, understood, and trust in the abilities, intent and thoughtfulness of those around the individual is accepted, as well as that of nature and the divine.

Carried further our light of touch is also about the imprint we live behind us.  Both with those who we interact, nature and the gods.  It is about treading gently upon this earth.  Taking out position as stewards of this magnificent living planet seriously.  Living, walking and working on it, with reverence, honor and grace.  She is our mother, we should honor her accordingly.

Remember when we first began our journey with the rede, we spoke of ancient laws being laws governing personal interaction and magick. The rede spends a great deal of time on the importance of right personal interaction, be it with people, nature, other entities or the divine.


Speak little; listen much

When was the last time you listened to someone when you were talking?   Seriously think about it.  Talking actually require a great deal of attention, to yourself.   When you are in discussion, and speaking, you pay attention to your words, order your thoughts, so that you can make your point.  You are also observing to a smaller extent to see how your words are received.  When you are in a conversation and not speaking.  We half listen to the other speaker, and relate their words to ourselves, and determine what course we wish to take the conversation, when our turn comes again.  So are we really paying attention?

Lemur, my mentor, pointed out long ago, that observation is one of a Witch/ Wysard's greatest tools.  Speak little and listen much is as much about observation as the act of listening.

Active listening is a skill taught in many medical institutions around the world.  Active listening involves giving the recipient (the person you are listening ) your complete attention.  Your body language should reflect your mindset, open and accepting. (Does any of this sound familiar yet?) A gaze can be soft, relaxed.  Critical and very focused gazes, can send mixed signals on judgment.  You should hear everything they say, as well as those things they do not.  This is the perfect time for observation.  Notice the recipients body language, their surroundings, even their clothing.  Each part is a piece of the puzzle of the person with who you are speaking.  In active listening you are engaged in the conversation, with very little talking.  You may repeat what the recipient has said, to verify to them, that you are indeed listening and what they have said is important to you.  A light touch to reassure the recipient of your engagement is also encouraged.    Active listening very much distills all of the concepts we have been addressing in this post.

Advice of the ancients you say?  From my perspective it is timeless. Soft of eye, light of touch, speak little; listen much, is very much the epitome of right personal interaction.  It includes all facets, from all  of our senses, and integrates them together. I would say it is fine advice indeed.



References:

Casteneda,  Carlos ; The Second Ring of Power, 1977
Palmer, Parker; The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner  Landscape of a Teachers Life, 1997

(Next blog:  By the Lady Blessed Be.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Wiccan Rede: Fairly Take and Fairly Give

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)

Live ye well and let to live; fairly take and fairly give.

Living Well

Many websites, commercials, and books are dedicated to the art of living well.  Our consumer driven society is obsessed with it.  What does it really mean?  From a material point of view to live well, might be to live comfortably from a financial standpoint,  have a few things that make you happy.  Have a few people with whom you are close to and  exist  in a somewhat enjoyable manner.

Lets look at this from a different perspective.  Living well, can also be a standard to which to hold yourself.  We as wiccans and pagans, actively work to create a better life for ourselves, better communities and a better world.  In doing so, we take on the role of the steward, the caretaker.   As stewards we have a responsibility to our charge, namely the earth, our communities, families and selves.  Thats a heavy burden!  We are taught that one person CAN make a difference.  It is true.  As a single individual, there is a finite amount of work we can complete.  We have a short life (this incarnation) and can physically only effect so much.  How much can we effect as a spiritual being.  By living well, holding ourselves to our highest standards, and living according to them.  We do not even need, to shout our ideals from the highest mountains, it would fall on many a deaf ear.  Instead we need to simply live our highest ideals, and let them radiate from our beings.  In doing so we become illuminators, and much like our butterfly effect, both our illumination and our physical work, will leave a far more profound effect on ourselves, families, communities and world, then we could have otherwise.

Let to Live

As easy of a concept as this would appear to be, most people have a difficult time simply letting others live!  How often has the well mean local religious proselytizer ended up on your door step touting the salvation of their paths?  Perhaps the well meaning co-worker who is a bit to nosy on your personal life?  The friend who feels that they can best advise you on a course of action with your personal life.  How often have you done these same things?  Ahhhhh the mirror is not as comfortable is it? 

We each have our own paths to trod in this life, our own lessons, our own successes and failures.  This is part of our acknowledged lessons before our incarnation, and it is the playing out of our respective karma's.  While each person comes into your life for a reason, and you into theirs.  you are each part of the others lessons.  There does come a point, though, when your will, to help, assist, teach, overrides the person with whom you are interacting.  At this point, the lesson becomes lost to them, and you instead interject yourself into their lesson, and possibly into a karmic cycle similar to theirs.  Wisdom is to know when to share yours, and when to step back and let them walk on their own. 

What of more serious lessons, such as drug abuse or alcoholism, as an example?  We have all seen the shows like intervention, and the profound effect someone can have stepping in.  Sadly, I will say as someone who has worked with those suffering from addiction.  Your intervention, may free the person for a time,  the addiction never goes away.  From my experience , addictions are incurable.  We can, however find ways to live with them.  they will continue to be a battle fought for the rest of our lives. That is a lesson I think everyone should understand.

The take away lesson here, is that we all teach, effect and influence each other.  The wisdom of the rede is to understand that we have to let each person experience and work through those lessons to fulfill their growth potential.

Fairly Take and Fairly Give

Ah yes, we can all be greedy little bastards can't we?   Everyone loves to receive things.  We do love to give as well, there is a satisfaction, a joy  and yes we get something in return when we give.  What the rede is talking about here, is setting up flow.

Think for a moment about a river, lets say the Nile. The Nile would flood each year, bringing in silt-laden waters; when the waters receded the silt would stay behind, fertilizing the land,the silt would be helpful for growing crops. If a flood was too large it would wash over mud dykes protecting a village. A small flood or no flood at all would mean famine. A flood must be of just the right intensity for a good season.  You can see flow on several levels here.  The flow of nutrient rich  silt, which is important for the growth of the crops. The growth of the crops and the ability to feed the people directly corresponds to the growth of the population, and thus to the civilization.  the ebb and flow of the Nile corresponds to the ebb and flow of the people who draw sustenance from her shores.   

Now what would happen, if we put a dam in that river?   We horded our resource.  there are points of the river bed which would revert  to the desert, It would dry out, farmlands would die out, and the people would dwindle or migrate, as would the wildlife.  The areas of water held by the dam, would flood and override the shore, covering valuable farmland, and creating new farmlands and marshes.  The dam, or hording would stop or hinder the flow of the river.

Now apply this to your life.  You take fairly, never more than you need.  that which you need to live comfortably and exist in this world of ours.  Then you let it flow from you.  Money is usually the best example, since we are a consumer driven society.  However, the same may be said of our skills, time, energy, and power.  Power ?? 
That's an interesting thought.  Back to flow, when it is coming in, it moves through you unhindered and out to those who are in need,  The flow out making room for more to flow in.  So we really like our time, money, energy, power ....... we want to keep it!  Now we decide to horde it!  My precious!  Because we have halted the flow out, the flow into our lives will dwindle.  As it dwindles, so does the opportunity for lessons, growth and development.  Until we stagnate, and die.  Ouch!  Doesn't sound like silly advice does it?


(Next Blog : Speak ye little!)

The Wiccan Rede: Ancient Laws, Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

(This is a continuing discussion line by line of the full Wiccan Rede.  See the first post in February for the full rede and beginning of the discussion.)

Bide the Ancient Laws ye must, in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Advice of the Ancients

Bide the Ancient Laws ye must,


Wait a minute, what the heck is an ancient law?  We are talking about a religion that has officially been around since 1950.  Even though we understand that the concepts and practices have been either handed down through time, reconstructed from information available,  drawn from the collective unconscious or "downloaded" from the Divine.   I haven't seen any scroll hanging out with ancient laws!


Ancient laws are not the laws of man, but more specifically the laws of the universe or universal laws. 
The Universe uses natural and moral laws combined with regulatory vibrations to maintain balance.  Just as with current, when you work within the flow of a current (such as swimming), your actually expend less energy, and generally attain a positive outcome,  within a smaller space of time.  (think swimming in a river with the current) Now think about working against the current.  As a swimmer it is harder, if not impossible, to move forward, and if it is done, it is with considerable energy cost, and outcomes are not always as positive.  It is not to say that you can never work against a current, simply that it is much more difficult.


There is much debate on how many or what all the actual universal laws are.  A few that you may or may not be familiar with would include Karma, Harmony ( Balance), Manifestation, Resistance, Attraction, Magnestism etc.

Ancient Laws are laws of interaction, more specifically personal interaction and magick.



In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust


"Perfect", where did that word come from.   Perfect as a concept, that we are taught from child hood, is unattainable.  The highest form, most correct or beautiful state. That's an interesting idea .  Lets dive into this a little more. 

What is perfect:  As defined by Miram- Webster perfect is:
a : being entirely without fault or defect : flawless <a perfect diamond> b : satisfying all requirements : accurate c : corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept <a perfect gentleman> d : faithfully reproducing the original; specifically : letter-perfect e : legally valid 2: expert, proficient <practice makes perfect> 3a : pure, total.
There are some big and scary words in there when we look at doing something in perfect love or trust.  Flawless comes to mind first.  Thinking on perfection, and periods of perfection in your life. do they exist?  A point at which things have just come together and fit, result in a STATE of Perfection!  That's the idea!  Perfection, comes in periods, bursts, more like the AHHH! moment, the epiphany.  It is transient and in it's transience, it motivates us to work towards achieving that state again and again.  So by it's very nature perfection,  perfection propagates itself by motivation, through desire.


What about Perfect Love?  Erich Fromm, a psychologist and social philosopher, in his 1956 book The Art of Loving,  observes that real love "is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. All his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he trys most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement. Or anyone can ask himself how many TRULY loving persons he he known."  Fromm goes on to state  that the " active character of true love involves four basic elements: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge". That is a bit interesting to see from a pagan standpoint!  It also correlates to our elements; care (water), responsibility (earth), respect (fire) and knowledge (air).  Each of these elements will vary  markedly from person to person, based on the people involved and circumstance within their lives at any given time.  Seen in this way we find that love is hard work, however it is the most rewarding type of work!

 Fromm also addresses self love.  To love one's self, applies the same elements: caring about   oneself,  taking responsibility for oneself, respecting and knowing oneself. For example, be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses.  To ever truly have the capacity to love another, first one needs to be able to love ones self in this way.

"Love is an active power in man, a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. "  Fromm

Well this is all fine philosophy, but what does this have to do with hoping into a circle with Perfect Love?  One of Fromm's points is that modern humans are alienated from each other and from nature, I will go on to conjecture, from the Gods. .  We tend to seek refuge from our aloneness in romantic love and marriage.  From the point of view of a Priestess,  when we enter circle, most of us will go through the motions of Perfect Love, however, it is truly something for which we long.  We long to be united with others, the elements, the gods, to have our sense of aloneness and alienation drop away, and feel the magick and power in our unification.  Perfect Love is that active power of love.  It is each one of us stepping into that circle with care, respect, responsibility and knowledge of our fellow circle mates, the elements and the Gods , as well as ourselves!


So we have love down, what about trust?  Mirram-Webster defines trust as an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed, as well as responsible charge or office, and care or custody.  Any of this sound familiar yet?  Perfect trust "blossoms" from love.   Through our active power of love, the ability to trust springs forth.

We step confidently in our circle, knowing that our ability to love, frees us to unite with our circle mates, the elements and the Gods.  Through our power to love and unite we are assured that the strength and truth of those will act in our best interest, and that they as well, are working towards perfect love.  Because our of care, responsibility, knowledge and respect we have the foundation upon which to lay our trust, as we come together to work in the most intimate way, to touch each other with power and magick, to join and become one.


So mote it be!


( Next Blog: Fairly Take and Fairly Give)
References:
Fromm, Erich;  The Art of Loving , circa 1956
Sutphen, Dick;  Lighting the Light Within May 1997, Vally of the Sun Pub. Co.