Reflecting on a Year of Loss: Embracing Sunshine

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I don’t know about you, but it feels as though this year has been one of loss and heartache, at least for my family and friends. We’ve had loved ones pass away, both sudden and expected, but it’s never, ever easy. Others have been diagnosed with scary illnesses that may endanger their lives. I can only imagine how tough it must be for them to keep their spirits high. Many of my friends have also faced financial loss- of jobs, and homes, and other issues of security.



I was reading on the myth of Frigga and Baldur, as those are the deities we plan to honor at my coven’s annual open Yule rite, and one lesson jumped out at me.


Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, what we want is not in the cards; it’s out of our hands.


Baldur is the son of Frigga, a Norse goddess associated with motherhood and the sky. They lived in Asgard, and Frigga and her husband Odin ruled over the Aesir, the principle race of the Norse Gods. Frigga began having awful nightmares about her son, Baldur, dying before his time at the hand of his blind brother, Hod. After conferring with Baldur, it was known that he had been having very similar dreams. Odin invoked the prophetess Wala, and she also confirmed that Baldur was destined for the Otherworld before his time. Frigga, panicked, took the names of every living thing and set about visiting them to gain their oath that they would not harm Baldur in any way. Having received the oaths, they threw a lovely banquet in celebration. The other gods threw objects at Baldur, as it was entertaining to watch them hit the god, but Baldur remained unharmed.


Loki, the trickster, dressed as an old woman and cornered Frigga at the party, asking her questions about the oaths taken to do no harm to Baldur. He asked many questions until Frigga told him quietly, that the only oath she did not receive was that from the mistletoe, as she felt that it was too small and innocent and was unable to do harm to her son. Loki took that information and fashioned an arrow out of mistletoe. He then asked Baldur’s brother Hod why he wasn’t participating. When Hod replied it was because he was blind and couldn’t shoot arrows like the others in fear of harming anyone, Loki offered to help. Hod took the arrow from Loki and notched it in his bow. Loki helped Hod aim the arrow and shot it at Baldur. His aim was true, and Baldur died, fulfilling Wala’s prophecy. Aldur’s wife, Nanna died shortly thereafter, of a broken heart.

At the funeral, Frigga and Odin sent Baldur and Nanna to the Otherworld in a burning boat. Receiving the boat was Hel, the Goddess of the dead. Never had Asgard grieved so much. Frigga was inconsolable. Hermodur, the divine messenger was so touched by Frigga’s grief that he went to try to persuade Hel to let Baldur return. He rode for nine days on Odin’s eight-legged horse until he reached the realm of Hel. Hel didn’t want to give up Baldur, as it was well known that once one enters Her realm, that they will never return to the realm of the living. Finally, Hel broke down and agreed to release Baldur and Nanna, but only if every living creature upon the earth would cry tears for Baldur. Driven by hope, Hermodur raced to Asgard to give Odin and Frigga the news. Frigga implored every creature to cry tears for her beloved Baldur, so that he might return once again to Asgard. Every creature cried. Every creature, but one. Loki had transformed himself into a giantess, Thokk, who refused to cry for Baldur, and so Baldur still sits in the realm of the goddess Hel, and will remain there, until the end of the world, Ragnarok.

No matter how hard Frigga tried, and no matter how many tears fell for Baldur, he remains with his wife in the Otherworld. He’s not hurting, he’s not in pain, he’s waiting to be reborn in the new world. Like Frigga, we cope with the possibility of loss by trying to circumvent it, in any way we can. With treatments, and love, in energy and in prayers, we try to control the situation. This is natural and good, and within our means to do so. Sometimes it works out in our favor, and sometimes it doesn’t. Still, I can’t help but feel as though we get some sort of cosmic “credit” for trying. That the energy we put toward the health of our loved ones, financial stability or happiness is thrown out unto the universe. Not only may the universe apply it where we hope, but also, that this energy, with our pure and good intent might come back to us in some way, guided by the law of return. Perhaps this might be in the smile of a child, a message from a loved one, or in the warm, loving energy of family at the holidays.


It’s important that we acknowledge our loss, but it’s also important that we do not allow our losses to cloud our lives permanently. Depression and sadness is part of loss, it’s part of the grieving process, and it’s crucial that we allows ourselves this time to go through the cycle. However, we shouldn’t allow our loss to completely take away our ability to see good in our lives. The gods will things beyond our control- and we aren’t always going to understand it. It's not easy to move past it, it seems like a new lesson every time. But we should do our best to live our lives the best we can, finding our joy wherever possible.


Open your heart; do not shut it completely, waiting for another loss to come. There will always be loss, such is the nature of life. But there will also always be love, always be sunshine. Don’t let the possibility of shadows chase away your sunshine. Live in the moment, love your family, appreciate what you have today- and embrace your sunshine.

Winter Solstice Altar 2011

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This shot is not the best light. On the right is my Yule Log candleholder, the center is the offering dish... Wiccan stuff and my Brighid healing candle on the left. Three healing candles in the front. Green stuff is my green onion experiment- put white rooty parts in my skull shot glass with water. I already posted this on my FB, but wanted to post it here so I could find it next year!

"Sausage," Egg and Cheese Biscuits

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So, my husband really likes the Morningstar Farms Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuits. They come three to a pack, and when they aren't on sale, they are $5.50. For three little biscuits? I'm not that great at math, but I can tell that that's kind of a bad deal. I think it comes out to around $1.80 per biscuit.

I decided to take it upon myself to see if I could make something similar that would cost a little less. I mean, I have to come up with the money to pay for my $9 bottle of Aveeno lotion, right?

So, here we go. Be jealous of my badass cell phone photography. I won't tell anyone.


Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of Grands! Biscuits (I bought original, because I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and figure you couldn't go wrong with original)- [$4 ~ $2 each]
  • 2 MorningStar brand sausage patties- 6 come in a box (I guess sausage crumbles exist, but not at my market) [$1.66 ~ the box was $5]
  • 4-5 eggs (depending on size) [approx $1.25]
  • Whatever shredded cheese you have in your fridge [barely enough to count, but I'll say $.50]
  • You'll also need Pam and a muffin tin

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.


Scramble eggs. I mix them up and add some milk, but you probably know how to do this part already. I let them be a little wet (not well done), because you are going to bake them anyway.



Cut up your sausage until it resembles crumbles.



Spray eight holes of your muffin tin with Pam or other cooking spray. Yep, we use our pans in this house!


Open up a can of biscuits. I had never done this before, but I smacked it on the counter and it practically exploded. It's entertaining! Do this- it's more fun than using the spoon.





Take a biscuit and separate it half, into two layers. Place them in the muffin tin, and work them up the side a little bit.






Do this for all eight (you should have 4 biscuits left). Then add your sausage, egg, and cheese.


Once this has been done, again, slice the biscuit in half, lengthwise and then place over your yummy stuffing, working it down the sides until it touches the bottom layer of the biscuit.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and pretty. Do that again with the other can of biscuits. Voila!



All together, my ingredients for 16 biscuits came to $7.41, which makes each biscuit only $0.46! Much better than the $1.80 cost of Morningstar. For 16 Morningstar biscuits, it'd cost over $28. Plus, these are larger, and my husband says they're better tasting than the Morningstar biscuits. I plan on freezing most of them.


















Protection Correspondences

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During this dark period between Samhain and the Solstice, I find it's a good time to do reflective and protective work. In addition to the Fiery Wall of Protection Powder, here are a few more correspondences:

Herbs: Angelica, Agrimony, Anise, Basil, Bay Laurel, Betony, Black Cohash, Black Pepper, Comfrey, Dragons Blood, Dill, Eucalyptus, Garlic, Hyssop, Horehound, Juniper, Lemongrass, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Nettle, Peppermint, Rosemary, Rue, Sage, Thistle, Vervain, Yarrow

Crystals: Amber, Agate, Amethyst, Black Onyx, Fire Agate, Hematite, Jet, Malachite, Obsidian, Quartz, Ruby and Selenite

Ok, so now you have this information, what should you do with it? You can do just about anything with it. Make a gem elixir, a powder, an incense, an oil. With information like this, you open up all kinds of possibilities.

Random Cat Photo- November 14, 2011

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Southwestern Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Southwestern Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:
5 bell peppers
1 can of black beans
2 cups of rice (I used brown rice)
1 little can of tomato sauce
1 can rotel (diced tomatoes and chiles)
3/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup onion, chopped
Chili powder
1 tsp garlic, minced
Shredded cheese

Directions:

Get your peppers ready- cut off the top, and then remove the core, seeds and membranes. Put them in a glass baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a saucepan or deep skillet, throw a little olive oil down, and turn on your stove. Put your onion and celery in the oil, and saute until onions are translucent and soft. Add garlic. Sprinkle some chili powder on it. It's not pretty, but that's okay.


Add the rice, tomato sauce, rotel and beans. Mix it all up. At this point, I added a handful of cheese, because hey- cheese can't hurt, right? Mix it up and let it cook for awhile, stirring occasionally. When you get sick of stirring, turn off the heat. Spoon into the peppers, then cover the tops with shredded cheese.



Place in 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes. Then top with sour cream, if you want to. Yours should look like the two cheesey peppers. I had a few, um, mishaps. But they tasted good. I made this with four peppers and had leftover mixture that I froze for next time I had a random pepper, ready to get squishy. :)


Roasted Vegetables for Samhain

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I made this super simple recipe for the coven's Samhain ritual this year.

Preheat your oven to 350%.

Cut up any sort of solid veggies:

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Onions
  • Red Potatoes
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Bell Pepper

Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray and layout all of your veggies. You'll want them spread out, and not on top of each other.

Put in the oven for 45 minutes. If you aren't vegan, you can take out your tray at 35 minutes, and sprinkle parmesean cheese over it, then put it back in for 10 minutes. Then, eat!

Pinterest

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Lately, I've been in love with a site called Pinterest. On this site, you are presented with a page of images. If you click on an image it will take you to a page where you can continue on to the site from with the photo originated. You can "repin" images to boards- like a virtual bulletin board where you can categorize them for later reference.You can also "follow" peoples boards, much like twitter, so that anything posted on a followed board shows up in your default feed. Pinterest is especially great for crafts and recipes, but I also have boards for each sabbat for food ideas, decorating, etc. If you'd like an invite, request one from the site, or let me know your email and I'll send one to you.

I'm at http://www.pinterest.com/barefootwitch. Check out my boards if you like!

Samhain Altar

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Here's a photo of my Samhain-season altar. It doesn't have the photos of my ancestors up on it yet, as I'm still getting that together for next weekends coven rite, but you can see my little pumpkins, as well as a few healing candles I burned this week for others, and my three re-dedication candles that are still there, waiting for my personal re-dedication (post-Samhain). These three candles are the candles that I originally dedicated with over a decade ago.

Arrow Tarot Spread

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Here's a tarot spread that I developed and have been using recently.
Click it, to see it in more detail. :)

Moon Phase Magick

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As the Harvest Moon is tomorrow, I wanted to share some moon phase information I got many years ago from http://www.sacredsax.com/phases.shtml. I like the correlations that it makes to the growing cycle. We can use that in much of our moon magick. I posted the quick chart here, at the top, and the details below.



New Moon
Seed
Gestation
Crescent Moon
Waxing
Sprout
Laying Down of Roots
First Quarter Moon
Waxing
Leaf
Crisis of Commitment
Gibbous Moon
Waxing
Bud
Struggle for Survival
Full Moon
Flower
Illumination
Disseminating Moon
Waning
Fruit
Pollination
Last Quarter Moon
Waning
Harvest
Climax of Fruit or Seed
Balsamic Moon
Waning
Compost
Decay / Letting Go



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New Moon (Dark Moon) Seed: Gestation Contained within the darkness of the Earth, the seed pulses with life and prepares for its journey.
Here we find the Sun and Moon in conjunction with eachother.
Under the influence of the New Moon we may feel impulsive, passionate and intuitive. This is the time to plant our seeds for there is great energy and potential for any new journey.
The New Moon rises and sets with the Sun.
-----------------------------------

WAXING PHASE: Build up and Strengthen Absorption of nutrients or substances is accentuated. This is an excellent time for action and growth.

Crescent Moon Sprout: Laying Down of Roots The seed pushes down through the Earth and reaches for the Sky.
This is an excellent time to break from the past to create your own destiny.
Crescent Moon rises midmorning and sets after sunset.


First Quarter Moon Leaf: Growth - Crisis of Commitment Roots run deep, stems shoot up; we grow in both directions.
Here we find the Moon squared to the Sun. Bodies are strong. Old structures are cleared away to provide room for new development.
First Quarter Moon rises close to noon and sets close to midnight.


Gibbous Moon Bud: Struggle for Survival The pulse of life wrapped beautifully in itself is ready to expand.
This is an excellent time to refine and purify. Utilize spiritual tools as you seek your truth.
Gibbous Moon rises midafternoon and sets before dawn.
-----------------------------------

Full Moon Flower: Illumination The Seed has become a Flower and shows its self, its beauty, to the world.
Here the Sun and Moon are in opposition with each other. The Full Moon fulfils the potential of the New Moon. The Full Moon casts the greatest amount of light at night providing us with the ability to see into the dark or unconscious. Our awareness and sensitivities are heightened. Emotions swim close to the surface and creativity needs full expression. We are called to release the inspiration and energy accumulated during the Waxing Phase.
The Full Moon is visible from moonrise to moonset.
-----------------------------------

WANING PHASE: Complete and Release This is an excellent time for detoxification, dieting or introspection.

Disseminating Moon Fruit: Pollinating / Dispersal of Knowledge The Flower enjoys the Fruits of its labour.
This is a time when we see our purpose, life has meaning. We have learned from experience. Our ideas and wisdom is shared with others.
The Disseminating Moon rises midevening and sets midmorning.


Last Quarter Moon Harvest: Climax of Fruit or Seed The very life of the Fruit and Seed are given to sustain the lives of others.
Here, once again, we find the Moon square to the Sun. This is a time of powerful reflection and transformation. The internal and external worlds are balanced under this Moon.
The Last Quarter Moon rises around midnight and sets around noon.


Balsamic Moon Seed: Compost - Decay / Letting Go The soil which originally contained the seed is now rich with nutrients and ready to nourish the new seed.
This is a time to access wisdom and insight. Patience and understanding are our tools as we show our prophetic selves to the world.
The Balsamic Moon rises before dawn and sets midafternoon.

Ritual Themes and Ideas for Mabon

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Below are a few themes and ideas for your Mabon rituals. :)



Balance


In circle:

• Do a guided meditation in regards to balance

• Honor Ma'at, an Egyptian goddess of justice and balance

• Figure out what is causing you imbalance, and do a bit of petition magic, burning it away



Outside of circle:

• Take some time out in nature to really feel the energy of the earth as She comes back into balance.





Thanksgiving/ Fruit Harvest

In circle:

• Have everyone bring a fruit and ask the god/dess for blessing, then make fruit salad and eat!

• Put a bunch of grapes on a plate. Pass it around, taking turns- state something that you are thankful for, eat a grape, and them place on in the offering dish

• Face each direction and give thanks to each direction, using the correspondences to guide your thanks- Finances and job (north), Passion, hobbies (south), knowledge or travel (east) and relationships or psychism (west). Come to the center, and thank the god/dess.

• Honor Abundantia- a Roman goddess of abundance and prosperity



Outside of circle:

• Actually harvest your (or neighbors) garden

• Volunteer at a soup kitchen or do a food drive

• Make mead or fruit wine

• Go apple picking





Goodbye to Summer/ Wheel Turning

In circle:

• Raise energy to aid the gods in the turning of the wheel

• Bless collected pinecones to place on the altar until Yule

• Cut open an apple to find the pentacle inside

• Honor Demeter, a mother goddess of the harvest



Outside circle:

• Do fall crafts: create a harvest wreath, make pinecone birdfeeders, apple dolls

• Shoot off any leftover 4th of July fireworks (if in America :)

• Do the last of your summer activities

• Do some canning of your harvest bounty so you'll have it in winter

• Gather leaves, seed pods, sticks- whatever calls to you





Crone/ Approaching Darkness

In circle:
• "Shadow side" work

• Work on facing your fears

• Honor Hecate- a Greek crone goddess

• Anything that you feel is dark and mysterious

• Have a croning ritual, for any crone witches in your circle



Outside of circle:

• Spend some time in the dark, getting to know it

• Honor actual crones in your life

• Volunteer at a nursing home, some of those ladies love to talk, and their stories impart wisdom

My Latest Harvest Altar

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Here are a few photos of my latest altar, and Aphrodite shrine. We're talking about them a lot in the SoCalSisterWitches yahoogroup, and so I fixed mine up. It's been up, but I added a few touches to it.

The first photo is my main altar. The left side has my goddess candle, one of my singing bowls, my holy water in the blue bottle, a few small dishes, a candle and my ceramic water cauldron. Right now, the coven's Artemis candle is there too. In the center is an offering dish and a few Lughnasadh things. The right side holds my clay pentacle, crystals, my scrying mirror and my salt in the brown bottle. My fairy incense holder and chalice are over there, too. In two weeks, it will be completely different, so wanted to post a photo now. Also posting my shrine. :)





Everyday Prayer to Aphrodite

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Blessed Lady Aphrodite,
I honor you with each step I take upon this earth.
With every breath, I take in your beauty and love.
Today, Aphrodite,
I ask that you might see me through this day.
Give me strength to keep moving forward.
Grant me the clarity to stay organized and focused.
Lend me your gifts that I might see beauty in all things.
Help me find my work easier to manage.
Aid me in finding the balance I need to make it through this day, energized and centered.
In Your presence I walk,
Blessed be.

Witchilicious Terminology and Misconceptions

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Many books and Pagan websites use several terms interchangeably, so I thought I’d write a short entry about the terms (as I see them) and what they mean.


Pagan is a term that encompasses most non-Abrahamic religions. While Christians often refer to anyone that is not of their faith as Pagans, the modern explanation of this term is one that includes Wicca, Asatru, Druidry, and other nature and polytheist related faiths. Some include Hinduism and Buddhism under the umbrella, while others do not. The original definition for Pagan is “country dweller,” and was adapted as a religious term as those who lived out in the country often practiced local religious traditions, some incorporating folk magic, while others honored spirits of the land. Someone who incorporates many traditions and beliefs into their practice, creating their own personal belief system is called eclectic Pagan.


Wicca is a specific religion, with specific traditions. If you are Wiccan, you honor polarity in both the God and Goddess. You honor the eight sabbats and the esbats, and do so within a ritual structure. This includes casting (and sealing) a circle, calling quarters, evoking deities. You heed the Wiccan Rede (more about that next), and if you are in a coven, your structure is hierarchal. This is not to say you can’t honor MORE than just one God and Goddess. It’s also not saying that you can’t also celebrate other holidays. It simply gives a structure within what Wicca is. Wicca isn’t whatever you want it to be – that’s more along the lines of eclectic Paganism. If you do the above, but do not practice within a coven’s tradition, then you are eclectic Wiccan.


The Wiccan Rede is eight words and is not a LAW of Wicca. It’s not the long poem written by Lady Gwen Thompson- that’s the Rede of the Wiccae. There is no “law of Wicca.” It’s assumed that you are mature enough and are aware that what you do can come back to you. The word “rede” means advice- the Wiccan rede is advice to those who practice. That’s it: An it harm none, do as ye will.


Traditional Wicca is Wicca within a tradition. A tradition is a set of beliefs and/or practices that governs the way you practice your spirituality. For example, my coven practices the Twilight Tradition of Wicca. We do things a certain way, have certain traditions while crafting this coven tradition. If you don’t practice within a tradition, then you are eclectic.


British Traditional Wicca is where Wicca began. Each BTW initiate can trace their initiatory lineage back to Gerald Gardner, who really brought Wicca out from the shadows. The lore says that he learned witchcraft from a coven in the New Forest area of England, and used that Book of Shadows to create his form of witchcraft, now called Gardnerian Wicca. Most initiates of BTW believe that any other path calling itself Wicca that is not BTW, should not call itself Wicca. They don’t believe that they are the one true path, but as the founder of these paths was a cornerstone of modern Paganism, they feel as though it’s a misnomer to call non BTW traditions Wiccan.


There is nothing wrong with being eclectic ANYTHING. Each person’s path is their own. Some people are drawn to structure and tradition, some are drawn to a more free-flowing and mutable eclectic practice. Nothing is wrong with either.

Magick is changing something to be in accordance to your will using energy. Magick can include spells, ritual, charms, and other practices. In a Wiccan ritual, each part of the ritual is magickal – you cast a circle to create an energetic boundary so that what you need to stay in, stays in, and what you want to stay out, stays out. That in itself is a magickal act. The lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram- a ritual primarily used in ceremonial magick is performed to clear a space or a person (depending on who you ask) of energy. This is also a magickal act. A spell or working to achieve a specific goal is also magick, as can be a hands on energy healing. Sometimes it’s something you can see, hear, or feel- sometimes not.

Witchcraft is a practice, like yoga or prayer that can be applied to spiritual principles, or religion. This practice includes the practicing of low magick or folk magick, magick that usually focuses on the physical world. Many people call witchcraft their religion, as they focus mainly on the physical world, and the energies within, rather than Gods and Goddesses of the ancients.



A pentagram is a five pointed star. A pentacle is a five pointed star with a circle around it. Others say that the five pointed star traced in the air is a pentagram, whilst a physical representation of the same star (whether there is a circle or not), is a pentacle. I disagree.


Terminology isn’t important to everyone, after all, the meanings for names can change, as evidenced by the word Pagan. However, while communicating with other Pagans it’s especially helpful to know and understand the meanings for common terms, to avoid miscommunications.

Creating a Daily and/or Personal Practice

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Have I written about this before? I probably have, as it’s something I’m gone over and over in my head a million times. I think when people think about starting a daily practice, it seems daunting. Living in Los Angeles, it seems as though there is never enough time for everything I want to do in a day. Personally, I cut back my activities – way back—thinking that it would be helpful. Nope. Still not enough time. What I didn’t realize is that there’s almost always something to fill that time. So, make your time filler something you WANT to do.



This being said, we make time for things we WANT to do, not things that we feel we should do. That’s why we roll our eyes at the treadmill, and watch our favorite TV show instead. So, I feel that the key to starting a daily practice is: make it something you like to do, and something that you will feel is easy to do. Don’t over commit, and don’t try to make it the most super deep, transformative activity. I’m sure sometimes it will be like most of our practices, where we have wonderful experiences that produce sensational UPG, but other times it will be mundane, but it should always feel good to do. For me, besides coming up with a short daily prayer to say to my patron goddess, I’m going to start doing divination on the new moon. The thing that holds me back the most, is that I always feel like I should record everything for posterity- this takes the fun out of a lot of it. So, I’m going to break free of my WRITE IT DOWN issue, and divine for fun and introspection, then follow that up with meditation. That’s it. Divination and meditation, probably in a compacted ritual format. That’s fun, manageable, and can take about a half hour of my day.


Besides this, I’d like to try a short period of meditation each evening before bed (I’m not a morning person, so that shining, happy morning yoga person inside of me DOES NOT EXIST). What could you adjust in your life to make room for a personal practice?

Kentucky, Part 1

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I write "part 1," as I'm sure there will be other parts. This photo is the view out the back of my husband's mamaw's back window. It leads up the hill, to a larger, lush, green hill, where the deer come out to play. At dusk, it seems the entire area is alight with the twinkles of fireflies. The front yard is beautiful, too, and across the street is a green field, beyond that lush green hills. It's seriously beautiful here. It makes it easier to understand how one of my best friends came home, packed her stuff and moved out east. The allure of a slower lifestyle is very attractive. There is MUCH less to do out here. While I have four Targets within a half hour at home, out here, one has to go about an hour or so to get to a Target. They do have a WalMart. Also, they have some really cool shops. I bought a bunch of stuff while out here, and I have to say, I'm looking forward to Cato and Shoe Sensation eventually making their way out west. People seem to be more polite and nice, and prices here for just about everything seem more reasonable. At Chili's in Charleston, WV, I had a beautiful red tomato on my sandwich. I'm not a tomato person, usually, but it tasted amazing. Since farms are out here, the food seems to be much more fresh. I've spent a lot of time with my nieces, playing games, watching movies and hanging out- it's been a blast! I am still me, though, and am struggling with some major anxiety. And homesickness at night. I miss my hubby especially, but I found my ring this morning, put it on and feel better about missing him.

It really is beautiful out here, and I'd love to move out here if it would be possible. But the closest big offices (if I could transfer) would be Columbus- which is also beautiful, and Charlotte. It just seems like there is more DAY here, to be had.

June's Lunar Calendar Correspondences

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Mead Moon (June)


Nature Spirits: sylphs, zephyrs
Herbs: skullcap, meadowsweet, vervain, tansy, dog grass, parsley, mosses
Colors: orange, golden-green
Flowers: lavendar, orchid, yarrow
Scents: lily of the valley, lavendar
Stones: topaz, agate, alexandrite, fluorite
Trees: oak
Animals: monkey, butterfly, frog, toad
Birds: wren, peacock
Deities: Aine of Knockaine, Isis, Neith, Green Man, Cerridwen, Bendis, Ishtar
Power Flow: full but restful energy; protect, strengthen, and prevent. A time of Light; Earth tides are turning. Decision-making, taking responsibility for present happenings. Work on personal inconsistencies. Strengthen and reward yourself for your positive traits.

Vegas ~ Veggies ~ Glowtoys

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Lots of things going on, lately. Went off to Vegas last weekend with the hubby and my mother-in-law- had a blast! This upcoming Friday, I fly out on vacation for two whole weeks! Yep. My MIL and I will be going to visit my sister in law and my nieces! We fly out on Friday, then on Thursday jump on a cruise ship. Though I'm missing many events with my coven sisters, including Litha, I look forward to finding a creative way to celebrate it on the ship. If possible, I'm hoping to greet the sun on Litha morning. Maybe there will be other Pagans onboard- I can only wear my pentacle and hope.

In the garden, my cucumbers are blooming and my hearloom pear tomato plant is over three feet tall. It's outgrowing it's little cage, and I finally have little bitty pear shaped tomatoes. Early girl is doing alright, and have quite a few tomatoes coming up, too. I really hope they wait until I get back from vacation to do their thing! I can't wait for the heirloom pears to ripen- we are going to have yummy BLTs, for sure. Zucchini is finally finding it's feet, since I've thinned it out- the flowers are blooming. No veggies yet, though! I've been harvesting a few green beans here and there and putting them in the fridge. No peppers yet, but my orange and purple pepper plants look happy! Lots of veggies in such a small area.

I purchased a sport-weight hula hoop a few months back, and have been hooping on and off, as well as practicing poi. I find this so much fun, as I've always loved dance and dancing with toys. I love listening to the music and feeling the flow. I have traditional poi balls from Hawaii, but want to purchase glow poi, and possibly a LED hoop at some point. I figure if I can manage the sport weight hoop, at some point, I'll get a dance weight hoop - the LED hoops are expensive, so I want to make sure I can stick with it. I've been into poi on and off since the fifth grade. I'm pretty much in for the long haul, there. Another fun glow flowtoy that is popular is the glow staff. It's 4' long and glows. Well, I did tall flags in high school about *coughcoughcough* years ago, and loved it. LOVED it. So much so, that if they had an old person club for it, I'd join. My flag was about 5; long, and so I want to MAKE a glowable staff that size. That would be pretty neat, I think. If so, I'll post a tutorial, of course. Sharing knowledge and experience is where the power really is.

Memorial Day 2011

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This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the US, a time to honor our veterans who have passed through the veil. This link is a good reminder that Memorial Day is not just about softball tournaments, barbeques and sunshine. It’s because of these men and women that we have the chance to enjoy our rites of summer. So, light a red, white or blue candle this weekend, for those who have passed. Even if you don’t believe in the war, know that these soldiers believed in it enough to put their lives on the line for us, and make the ultimate sacrifice. Light a candle for the families and friends of our fallen heroes.

Themes of the Summer Solstice

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Litha is fast approaching- it falls on June 21 this year. I will be on a cruise during the longest day this year, but planning on celebrating the best I can- maybe greet the sun as he rises. There are many ways to celebrate the summer solstice, also called Midsummer and Litha.


Some themes of Litha incude:

• The God at his strongest
• Fire festival
• Faerie festival
• Anything sun-related, especially honoring sun-related gods
• The greening of the earth
• Battle of the Oak and Holly kings
• Relaxation and enjoyment

In your ritual circle, you might stage a ritual drama of the Holly King defeating the Oak King, or use your time to tend a ritual garden. You may honor sun deities, such as Apollo, Ra or Helios. Evoke the fey into your circle and leave offerings out for the faeries. Drum and sing around a bonfire, or work some fire magic. This is the time between the planting season and the time of harvest- it’s time to relax and enjoy while the earth does the hard work, making food! Decorate your altar in green and gold, with flowers and objects that make you happy.


Outside of your circle, you may want to make fairy wings, sunbathe (safely), weed your garden, or gather flowers. The first fruits of the garden tend to be coming up around this time in many areas, and you can imbue your meal with this energy by cooking or baking with some of your first veggies, fruits or flowers. To me, June is a month of salads, light food like grilled chicken and roasted veggies. Add berries or other garden fruit to your salad to align your energies with your garden. Wash that down with a crisp white wine or sangria (lemonade or sweet tea for those who don’t imbibe alcohol).

Beans!

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Just so excited- had to share a picture... my beans are beginning to sprout. This is the first time I've ever tried to grow green beans, so I'm pretty darned excited.


Connecting with the Four Elements Ritual

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Earth, air, fire and water- these make up the four most widely known elements of life. Rarely passive, these elements are dynamic- always energetic. We can tap into these energies and use them to balance ourselves, and to connect with the world around us. The four elements are almost always moving, their energy manifesting in their physical being. Rarely do you see a body of water very still- it's usually full of ripples, a babbling brook, the ebb and flow of the tides. Fire leaps and crackles as it gives off heat. The air moves with breezes and currents, and the earth is ever moving- not just the plates- but the soil being worked beneath our feet. Here is a short and easy ritual you can do to connect (or reconnect) with these building blocks of life.

Set up your area with a colored candle at each of the four compass points. Red in the south, blue in the west, green in the north, and yellow at the east. At each point, also place a physical representation of the element. I suggest a bowl of water in the west, incense at the east, a separate candle in the south, and a bowl of salt in the north.

Cast a circle if you wish- this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you are comfortable doing so, do it.

Approach the east side of the circle and light your yellow candle. Hold it and envision everything that represents air to you, how you have experienced air in the past. Has it been windmills, a warm breeze in the desert, a cool chill of the winter air? Envision this with all of your senses. Taste it on your tongue, feel it on your skin. Say out loud: "Air." While you are envisioning these manifestations, say words that you correlate to this air element. For example, breeze, communication, Mercury, knowledge. This is your personal connection to air, so don't feel as though you have to be "traditional." When you feel like you are finished, light the incense and walk it around the perimeter of your circle (even if you didn't cast circle, still trace it). Envision a yellow line of energy demarcating your circle. Replace it next to the yellow candle and move south to your fire candle.

Pick up the fire candle and envision fire. How have you experienced fire in the past? Bonfires, candles sunshine? Envision it with all of your senses. State words that you associate with the element of fire, like passion, will, candle, flame. When you feel as though you are finished, light the other candle and walk it around the circle. "See" a line of fire energy around the circle, overlapping and weaving in with the yellow energy placed there by your incense. Replace your fire candle and move to your west quarter.

Light your blue, water candle. Envision water as you have experienced it. Have you swam in the ocean, a pool, a river? Have you felt the water move around you as you swam? Feel this and imagine waterfalls, brooks, or a serene pond. Speak aloud words you associate with water- intuition, dreams, serenity, peace. When you are finished, pick up the bowl of water, and sprinkle it around the edge of your circle, adding a blue thread of energy intertwined with your red and yellow energy. Place your bowl back near your water candle and move to the north.

Pick up your earth candle and light it. How do you see earth? Do you see it as the trees and the plants? Do you see it as the soil, warmed on a summer day? Feel your connection to the earth as you have experienced it in the past. As you are feeling this, state words that you feel connect with earth: green, new beginnings, security, life. Take up the bowl of salt, and like the water, sprinkle it upon the perimeter of the circle, seeing a green strand of energy among the yellow, red, and blue already there. Once you return to the north, put down your bowl of salt.

Take a few moments inside your circle. See in your minds eye, the four colors that make up your circle edge. Feel the constant movement of the elements at all four quarters. Really take the time to feel your connection to it all.

Once you are finished, return to the east. Say aloud, "blessed be, air," and blow out your yellow candle. Envision the yellow energy making up your circle to dissolve. Move to the south, and say, "blessed be, fire." As you blow out the candle, "see" the red thread of energy release and dissolve. Repeat with the water, and the earth candles.

If you cast a circle, uncast or open it. Take a few deep breaths and ground, if necessary.