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E is for Etiquette


I know that I’ve posted etiquette posts in the past, but almost every time my group hosts an open event, there are more issues that come up. From joining a coven, to attending an open event, there are some rules of etiquette that should be kept in mind. Most of these are common sense, one might think, but unfortunately, it seems that poor manners are more commonplace.

Circle Etiquette:

• If you have questions, or if there is no explanation beforehand, ask questions before the ritual begins
• If you have allergies or food issues, let your hosts know prior to the ritual
• Don’t enter, or leave the circle once it’s been cast.
• Follow what everyone else is doing, to the best of your abilities
• If you need to leave during circle for an emergency, speak with one of the hosts
• Do not touch the altar, or anything on the altar, unless invited to
• Do not talk during the ritual (unless its part of the ritual) – this is super rude and an awesome way to guarantee to not be invited again

Group Event Etiquette

• Be on time. If this is impossible, do you very best to give an accurate ETA to the contact whose info you have
• If asked to wear a certain color, do your best to wear it
• If asked to bring something (like for potluck), then do it. Don’t be that person who doesn’t bring anything and noms down on the buffet line
• Do not get wasted. Also, If you didn’t bring alcohol and there is a limited amount, abstain.
• If you want to smoke cigarettes, ask where you might be able to do so
• If you want to smoke pot, ask your host if that’s alright. Don’t just light up, even if you know your hosts partake
• Do not bring anything illegal to an event, this may include alcohol to public parks. This puts the reputation of the group, AND the Pagan community on the line
• It’s really nice if you ask if you can help in any way – this isn’t usually expected, but always appreciated
• Don’t complain about anything at the event (ie: the ritual, the lack of anything, etc.)
• Always keep in mind that these people have worked hard on the event

Coven Joining Etiquette - http://ivyartemisia.blogspot.com/2011/03/joining-coven.html

• Don’t come in with an entitled attitude. It’s likely the coven doesn’t need another member. Also please don’t expect the coven to change to meet your needs
• Expect to start at the beginning- especially with a non-eclectic tradition- you’ll have to learn the coven’s traditions, and most likely some sort of Wicca 101 class
• Just because you have 15 trillion years of experience, don’t act like you are better than anyone else
• Don’t be a kiss ass, we’ll see right through that
• As a dedicant, etc. please do what is asked of you- it’s usually for a reason, even if it’s not clear to you
• If the coven doesn’t accept you as a dedicant, try not to take it personally, it just means you weren’t the right fit for the group. Better to know now, rather than later

I might add a few things to this, it seems to be a work in progress. Anything else that you might add to this list?

Thoughts on Sabbat Ritual Timing

I may be alone in this, but I've been pulled to align my sabbat circles to different times of the day, depending on the holiday.

  • Evening for Imbolc, since for me, one main theme of Imbolc is a burgeoning spark of spring, inherent in the seeds of life. To me, this awakening takes place deep under the soil, and so, to me, it makes sense that this circle is during the dark time of the day. Any sort of night / early morning.
  • Then the flowers burst from the soil, and it’s Spring! To me, Ostara sounds a bit like a brunchy sort of sabbat, with the best time for a gathering being late morning.
  • Beltane seems an early afternoon holiday to me- definitely something during the day.
  • Litha feels like a mid-afternoon gathering would be best… as that tends to be when it’s the warmest, and it’s a holiday celebrating the sun.
  • Lughnasadh rituals might take place in the late afternoon, as it’s the first harvest, and after a long morning and afternoon of harvesting, it seems right to revel in the harvest, while it’s still light out, before the sun begins his descent.
  • Mabon is an early evening ritual for me. It’s a little cooler (usually), and it just seems right to toast the balance of equal night and day as the sun sets.
  • Samhain is a ritual that, to me, requires full dark, as it’s a time of reflection, and communion with ancestors. The darkness erases the distractions that light might bring, and allows us to focus more deeply into the mysteries.
  • Yule is the celebration of light, warmer times to come. To me, this would be a great holiday to have an all night candle vigil, culminating with some sort of ritual at sunrise.

I haven’t always followed this, and usually my energy is directed toward the coven circles, which are usually at night, but I’m going to make an effort this year to DO something during the time of day that I feel is correlated the best to each sabbat. Anyone else felt the same… or different?


E is for Equinox


Two equinox events grace our calendar this year. One in the Spring and one in the Autumn. During the equinox the days and nights are of equal length. From Mid December to Mid June, the nights grow shorter, and the days longer. The equinox in mid-March represents the halfway point, where the days and nights are the same amount of time. From Mid June to Mid December, the nights grow longer, and the days shorter, and the autumn equinox in September bisects these solar events, and once again, the days and nights are of equal length.

The Spring equinox represents the safe time to begin planting seeds, if you haven’t already. Spiritually, it’s a time to make some small changes toward goals chosen at Imbolc, or the new year. Themes of the Spring Equinox include new beginnings, the planting of seeds (spiritually and physically), and balance. Maiden energy reigns supreme, and the spark awakened at Imbolc now begins the first few steps to fruition. It’s a time of hoping and dreaming. Symbols include what the mainstream sees as symbols of Easter: rabbits, eggs, pastel colors, and what we think of as spring: seeds, flowers, and buds on the trees . Goddesses associated with the onset of spring: Flora, Hebe, Bloudewedd, Ostara, Persephone, Aprodite, Artemis, and Maiden goddesses.

The Fall equinox is the second of the three harvest festivals. The first harvest being at Lughnasadh/Lammas, and the final harvest at Samhain in October. Also known as Mabon, it’s a fruit harvest. This is the time to sit back, and look at what you have created during the fruitful part of the year. What have you accomplished? What should you adjust? It’s also a time to be thankful, and people include a thanksgiving rite as part of their Fall equinox festivities. Symbols of the harvest include acorns, fruit, wood and deep harvest colors- yellows, oranges, browns, as well as deep forest green and purple. Goddesses commonly honored at this sabbat are Persephone, Modron, Cerridwen, Hecate, The Morrighan, and Crone goddesses. Here are some more ideas for your Mabon/ Fall equinox.

The equinoxes are great times to center yourself, find balance, work in your garden, and align with the wheel of the year as it turns.

Spring Equinox Evocation of Hebe


Hebe is a goddess that is often honored in the spring, being that she’s a goddess of youth; the archetypical maiden. She is a goddess of spring, of flowers and of new growth. She was the cupbearer of the gods, and served ambrosia at their feast. A daughter of Zeus and Hera, she attended Aphrodite, and was eventually given in marriage to Herakles.

Spring Equinox evocation of Hebe

Fair maiden,
Daughter to Zeus and Hera, Bride to Herakles
Devoted daughter and sister,
She who bears the divine cup of ambrosia
Golden-crowned one,
Grace us with your presence, as we honor you in our rite of Spring!

New Tarot Spread

Found this amongst some notes, and wanted to share. I don't see why it couldn't be used for runes, as well.

D is for Doing


It’s been a crazy week, so it’s short, today.

Doing sounds like an odd choice for a D word for the Pagan Blog Project, but there’s a reason I chose this seemingly non-Pagan word. There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to DOING witchy things (spells, ritual, meditation, etc.). One school is all about intent. Intent is all that matters. Do the spell you feel like doing when you feel like doing it. Don’t force yourself to meditate, if you aren’t in the mood. Don’t force yourself to do a ritual because you feel like you should celebrate the sabbat. The other school of thought is that of the doing. Do devotions to your patron/ness weekly, even if you don’t feel like it. Celebrate the sabbats, even if you are tired. Meditate regularly, even if it conflicts with other things. While neither of these paths are inherently bad, and most combine these two spiritualities, I like to err on the side of the doing.

To me the path of intent is a self-centered one, in its most extreme. I know that has negative connotations, but I mean that in the most literal of ways. I will pray when I feel like it, will do ritual only when I’m in the mood, will go to circle if I have nothing else to do and feel like it. The path of the doing, is the other extreme. I do devotions for the goddess, I do ritual to honor the celebration of the seasons/ nature and the gods, to take my place within the turning of the wheel. I go to meetings with my sisters to better not only my growth, but to contribute and maybe help someone else. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it, of course – it’s very fulfilling, and the positivity tends to come back in spades. There is a fine line, however between too much structure and commitment to a path, and being lackadaisical in the following of a path. Everyone needs a break now and then to refresh, relax and process. So, we’re tasked with finding that balance.

One who follows the path of doing still needs to be self-aware of their energy and how they affect others, but all in all, I find that doing things for the gods, others, and nature rather than for oneself, is a very spiritually fulfilling attitude to pathwalking.

D is for Degrees


No, I’m not talking about how cold it is outside, or to what temperature to heat your oven. At least not today. I was ill last week, and missed my second C post for Pagan Blog Project, but today I’ve decided to write about degrees, and what part they play in a coven training atmosphere.

Many covens and groups mark growth within their program using a set of degrees. Traditionally, at least in Wiccan covens, there is a set of three degrees. Elsewhere, you’ll see four or five degree systems, sometimes aligned with the elements, or other Pagan concepts. Other groups may align their degrees with the Kabbalistic Tree of life, or other mystic systems, giving them many more degrees to achieve. Each degree system is specific to a tradition or a coven. This means that a degree achieved within a coven or tradition only holds meaning within that group; it is meaningless in context to other groups or traditions.

I start with this statement, mainly because I have encountered seekers who have acquired a second or third degree in another tradition who expect that this will be honored when dedicating to the group I lead. Of course, it’s honored, meaning that we accept that you have this degree in XYZ Witchcraft. However, it doesn’t mean that a seeker can come into our tradition as a second or third degree. Since there are no ‘across the board’ requirements in regards to cross-traditional degrees, I don’t really know what knowledge or experience is expected of a second degree in XYZ Witchcraft. I know that it won’t align exactly with what our tradition’s degree program entails, as our degree program requires our tradition training. I am a third degree in the Twilight Wiccan tradition, but if I was to join another tradition or coven that isn’t Twilight, I would expect to begin at the beginning.

This being said, there is a general assumption of the following in regards to degrees, at least in the Wiccan or Wicca-influenced Pagan groups:

• Dedicant/ Neophyte- taking classes, probably in traditional concepts

• 1*- new to the tradition, probably new to Wicca/ Paganism, but has a working knowledge of concepts, tools, holidays, deity and magick

• 2*- has practiced many years, can lead a ritual in the tradition, probably working on Shadow work, specializing in one or two facets of Wicca/ Paganism, can teach concepts

• 3*- is able to lead a coven, channel deity, establish teaching programs, create transformative ritual, handle difficult group dynamics, is willing to help those who need teaching by either teaching them, or guiding them to other resources

The way a witch moves through a degree program will wildly vary from one group to the next. Some have clear, structured activities, while others have a mutable, personal approach. In the tradition of Twilight Wicca, a Dedicant takes structured classes, following a syllabus. If they complete all work asked of them, and they are a good fit for the coven, they will be allowed to initiate. At initiation, the witch receives her first degree. From first degree to second degree, the witch finds herself in a self-paced program, involving reading, writing, projects and exams, all meant to produce a well-rounded education. Once this has been completed, she will be elevated to second degree. Every initiate is expected to get to second degree- it’s not terribly difficult and can take less than a year to accomplish, depending on the witch’s background. Upon receive the second degree, if the witch wants to pursue the path of the high priestess, then she informs her high priestess of her desire of coven leadership- third degree studies. From second degree to third degree, the witch finds herself in personal sessions with the high priestess, if she already possesses strong core priestess skills (ritual leadership, organization, teaching). If the witch has challenges in regards to core priestess skills, the high priestess will work on resolving those first, before advancing to the more in-depth sessions. After all is completed, and the high priestess feels the witch is ready, she will be elevated to third degree, and hiving will be possible. This can take anywhere from one year to ten years, depending on the witch.

Most groups use something visual to denote degree levels. Some use different colored cords, sashes or stoles. Others use different robes, tattoos or jewelry. Some don’t use anything at all, really.

Having a clear training program involving degrees will result in clear expectations. Many covens and groups falter in their first year due to not having clear expectations communicated. Members of the group know what they need to accomplish in order to ‘move up’ in the coven. It also gives the witch the tools she needs to improve her witchy education and challenge herself. The caveat is to remember that just because you achieve a certain degree in one group or tradition doesn’t give you much bragging rights when seeking another group or tradition. It is an achievement, and once conferred, cannot be taken away, but a degree is non-transferable.

C is for Coven


This article is geared toward those who wouldn’t ever work in a group.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they would never work within a group. When asked why, they usually cite hierarchy and power trips, or that they don’t get along well with others. Some people have had bad coven experiences. Some don’t like the word “coven”, and some just don’t really want to make the time commitment as many do in a structured coven. Practicing solitary is great, but sometimes group work can be amazing. And the holidays are really fun when celebrated with other like-minded people.

Some are disinclined to agree with hierarchy, feeling it breeds power trips. Not all covens are hierarchal- some are egalitarian, where priestesses take turns presiding over ritual. Generally, there’s one person who is the main organizer and keeps everything together. Even if a coven is hierarchal, that doesn’t automatically mean that the high priestess is on some power trip. A good high priestess will get input in the decisions made. A good high priestess allows members to be involved in rituals. When a high priestess is on a power trip, the coven WILL collapse. People will vote with their feet. We don’t have enough time to waste it spending it with people we don’t want to gather with. There is a great lot of trust placed in a high priestess, especially when you are checking out a coven to join. You don’t know if she’s making up a bunch of bullshit, or really is as knowledgeable as she seems.

The key is to look at the people she surrounds herself with. Is she surrounded by pretentious douchebags? Is she surrounded with friendly, knowledgeable people? Are the other members of the coven obvious sycophants? You can tell a lot about a person by the people they are close to. Like Lady Gwen Thompson’s Rede of the Wiccae says, “With a fool no season spend, lest ye be counted as a friend.”

Some people say that they just don’t get along well with others. Those people usually say it as though it’s a badge of honor. Seriously? Why would that be a good thing? It’s basically saying that you aren’t friendly, and aren’t able to be part of a loving group of perfect love and trust. And you aren’t willing to try to be nice to people. To me, that’s not a strength. The fact that it’s even said usually takes me aback, as the people who usually say this to me are usually friendly, or at least nice and polite. I think that these people usually can get along with others, but I think they could, if they found the right group.

Finding the right group is key – and it’s not easy. To find the right group, you need to locate a group that is within driving distance from you. Then, their beliefs and practices need to be similar enough to yours that you feel you can work with them. They need to be a good fit into your lifestyle- the amount of meetings and circles need to fit into your schedule, if you are in alcohol recovery, and they drink wine, it might not be the place for you. And ultimately, you need to really like the people, and they need to really like you. That’s a lot, but it does pay off.
Some have had bad coven experiences. This is tough. Some covens are led by assholes. Covens can be super flaky, and meetings are disorganized and fall apart. People cancel out on rituals, leaving those who worked hard on the rite disappointed and feeling betrayed. Some groups are led by those on a power trip, who get off on manipulating other people. Many of those who have been part of my coven have come from flaky groups, and they really liked the organization and structure of a group where you can count on people.

The trick as a high priestess is to make your group somewhere that people want to be. It’s not wholly unlike being a manager. You are not only in charge of the spiritual guidance and organization of the group, you also need to find a balance where you aren’t expecting too much from your covenmates, but allow them to continue to grow. One can’t do that making the ritual a “high priestess show” where the high priestess takes on all of the roles. A balanced coven allows all members to participate in the ritual in ways other than a guest might participate. Seek out a group where the high priestess has the greater good of the group in mind. If your high priestess takes everyone’s needs into consideration, and doesn’t just do what SHE wants, you’ll have a better chance of success in a coven.

Some might just have very unique spiritual paths. If you have a unique spiritual path and won’t really fit in any sort of coven, as no one has a similar path, try joining a social group. In our social group, we sometimes do eclectic circle work, involving a very diverse group of women. These have been some of the most amazing rituals I’ve been lucky enough to participate in.

Coven work isn’t for everyone, but there is something to be said for finding like-minded people with whom to discuss ideas and to possibly do eclectic circle work. Other people talking about similar issues, and to sometimes commiserate with can really help us grow spiritually. Even if it’s just a few friends, it’s fun to celebrate Pagan holidays with a nice dinner and a small circle.

My latest trip to the Goddess Temple of OC

So, a few weeks ago, a friend pointed me to a page created by those banished (or left of their of own accord) of the Goddess Temple of Orange County. Having about zero drama in my life, I was interested in the drama from a non-emotionally invested perspective. I seriously should have been an anthropologist, or sociologist or something similar. Between rape accusations, defamation lawsuits, and more, these women have a serious hate-on for Ava and Morrighan. I love just watching people, and trying to figure out their motives, and untangling them... wow, that's distracting. After a couple of weeks, friends and I started talking about going to the Temple.

The last time I had been to a Sunday Service was well before Morrighan (the first priestess) came onto the scene. At that point, Ava was the only main priestess. The vibe was a little different, much more serious, and stilted, and, while I enjoyed it, I felt left out, as there was liturgy I didn't know, etc. Where to turn, etc., wasn't explained, and while I did get a tour of the temple, those who were the volunteer type people there, were friendly, but weren't terribly warm. I didn't feel like they cared about me, which was fine... I mean, why should they? I'm just some random person who dropped in. My favorite part of the Sunday service before, was the part where they asked those who needed healing to come forward, and us to give them our blessing, or healing. I thought that was a lovely way to help and involve the congregation. It was nice, and I'd plan on coming again, but I wasn't going to come every week or anything.

The only issue I had, this was years ago, was when the offering (basket, I think?) was walked around, and I didn't think to bring any cash... I don't usually carry cash, and I didn't even think about it. The woman who carried the basket around gave me a dirty look because I didn't grace her basket with my coin. And she whispered to another woman who kind of sneered at me, as well. I totally understand that churches need money to run. I GET that... but it was a mistake, and her mean look really turned me off of the temple. Now, I know that that woman wasn't a reflection on the clergy... but I am NOT a morning person, and if I get up early on a Sunday morning, it's because I really am looking forward to something, NOT to get a guilt trip because I forgot my cash. Perhaps I would have mailed something in, or something, but not after a mean and dirty look.

So, that was my experience with the Goddess Temple until this morning. I'm always going to be a little freaked out when meeting new people, as I have social anxiety (and it's not socially acceptable to drink before noon :). Everyone I met this morning was super nice, and friendly. It reminded me a bit of the old festival of Pacific Circle, where it took me a bit to understand that people are just talking to me because they are nice and friendly, and not because they want something from me, or have a question. People just like to talk. I did settle in, alright.

Many things had changed. Before, we chanted our lineage all simultaneously. This time, we went around the circle,each  saying I'm ________, daughter of _________." This aligned us all with one another energetically, and put us in a much more personal space than before. The quarter evocations, rather than being something printed on a sheet to read, was something that one of the priestesses evoked. They did a lovely job, and it was easy to follow along. The candlelighting ceremony was great, as well. People were invited to come up and speak, and for the first time, I felt comfortable to stand up and do this.... well, I didn't actually DO that. But I seriously felt comfortable enough to do so, which is a big deal to me.

Another thing that was new to me was moving to different altars, where the Naiad and Votress priestesses attended the congregation in many ways.  Cleansing, and helping, and incense... I felt completely comfortable, which is strange for me. I'm an overthinker. There is part of the service where the priestesses (Presiding and First, and Naiads, and Votresses), sit in the front of the congregation and receive blessings from the congregation (they gave us their blessings during the devotional altar part described above, and as priestesses in our own right, we give our exchange of energy). I feel like this took the place of the part where those needing healing received healing from the congregation. I missed the healing part of the circle, as that used to be my favorite part... but it was super obvious that the priestesses were emotional and appreciative of the energy given to them - it was NOT an ego thing. I gave reiki, and felt it was received well.

Overall, I was really impressed. Reading about lots of the drama, I had expected a crazy yucko vibe, but was REALLY pleasantly surprised. I am a high priestess of a small coven, as well as a leader of a large social group who circles together, and understand how challenging having a lot of people in a circle can be. Ava and Morrighan and their priestesses have found a great balance between finding humor and having a good time and keeping the quiet sacredness of circle. It's NOT easy to giggle and laugh, and come back to a ritual mindset, but you can tell their solid hive mind really helps with this. It's obvious that their priestesses find happiness in helping other people, and you can't ask anything more from anyone in your circle. 

In regards to their detractors, it's easy to point fingers. It's also easy to forget that clergy are people too. If Ava and/or Morrighan said some shitty stuff... well, fuck! They are people, too. They are allowed to have feelings and say what they think. I am super sick of people who think that their clergy/ kids teachers, etc... are above everyone else, and shouldn't say shit if their mouth was full of it! That was something my granny used to say. :) GTOC is Ava's baby. I understand this, as the coven (and tradition) that I started is MY baby. If someone is an asshole, I can tell them to eff off. It becomes a little different, when you are in a non-profit corporation, but I think that we all can respect that Ava has created something unique. And the camaraderie between her and Morrighan is palpable, and not a bad thing. If your kid is acting like an asshole, or you come to circle high or fucked up, why wouldn't I say something to you? I think that many people nowadays are completely too entitled. You don't "have the right" to come to temple, or say something on an internet forum, so if you are behaving badly or break a bylaw, you can expect to have to explain yourself and be asked to leave. My eighth grade algebra teacher had ONE rule: Don't be an asshole.

Even if you have a giant hate-on for them, you can respect their ceremonial structure, and the work that goes into putting something like this morning together. Yes, much of that is the Naiads, and the Votresses, and Ava and Morrighan completely acknowledge that. Even if you disliked Ava and Morrighan, I think it would be possible to be part of the Temple, at least at Sunday Service and stay emotional divested from the main clergy. If it was all about ego, and a power trip, then priestess Mata wouldn't have had the ability to create this mornings beautiful altar. The other ladies wouldn't be doing a lot of what they DO. So, for those who do read about the drama, go to a Sunday Service before you becoming emotionally invested in either side.  I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and I'm going to buy a tambourine to add to my pile of drums and other percussion toys.

B is for Balance


Most of us have busy lives. We rush around, dividing our day between working our day job, taking care of the household chores, spending time with our loved ones, and developing our spiritual path. That’s a lot on our plate. It’s no wonder that many people are on medication for depression or for anxiety. It’s also no wonder that of those four things, developing our spiritual path is the item that is most likely left out.

Spirituality is easily pushed off for another day. We need to work in order to pay our bills and keep a roof over our head, and household chores waits for no one- someone has to do the grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning. With all of this, we need to also make time to spend with our loved ones, both here and far away. Some of us need to exercise or go to the gym. And we only have 24 hours in a day. Many Pagans that I know feel bad about not making time for their spirituality… but we only have 24 hours in a day.

Many tend to have these grandiose ideas of what we want our spiritual practice to be. I want to meditate every day, do more tarot readings, read a new witchy book each week. I want to do devotionals for my patron goddess, and circle at the full and new moons! I want to read every blog involved in the Pagan Blog Project! And leave comments! Again, we only have 24 hours in a day, and we also need to figure in downtime. We tend to try to put these large scale ideas into action, but then just end up feeling worse, when we can’t find time to meditate every night, or we lose track of when the new moon occurs. This doesn’t make us ‘bad witches,’ it makes us human.

So, what do we do, in order to add spirituality into the already precarious balance of a regular, busy life? Here are two options:

Option 1) Create a routine. Make a schedule, and stick to it. Come home from work, make dinner for one and a half hours, then go to the gym, then shower, then meditate, and THEN do whatever you want. Schedule your time. Create a colorful calendar, and put it where you can see it. If you want to schedule, but need a little bit of flexibility, use post its to block off your time. Then you can move your schedule around, but still keep all of your blocks of time.

Option 2) Get realistic. Instead of these big ideas, begin small amounts of spiritual work, and integrate it into the day. When I come home from work, I usually will check my facebook, and do healing work and light candles for those who need it that evening. This doesn’t take much time at all, and the candles can burn while I’m doing something else. You can meditate in the shower, or right before you go to sleep. Instead of an intricate devotional ritual you pressure yourself to do every day, create a short one. Write a prayer to recite, or light a candle.

Spirituality is important to my life, and I try to integrate these little things into my life. I’d love to be a full-time witch, hosting intricate sabbat dinners, and parties. But I have to work, and it can be difficult and easy to get spiritually disconnected. By incorporating small workings here and there, it allows me to find the balance I need.

B is for Bees


Bees are crucial to our everyday life. Sure, they sting on occasion, but only when they feel threatened. They may seem like a sweet bug, flitting from flower to flower, but they are crucial to pollination and the production of our fruits and vegetables. I learned this lesson the hard way the past spring.

In the past, I’ve planted a few veggies, just for fun, but this past year, I went all out and planted a bunch of plants- 4 different tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, etc. A BUNCH of plants. They all sprouted beautifully, but it became very clear that there was a problem- especially with the cukes and zukes. My first few cucumbers were beautiful, but then they started looking very crooked and gourd-like. They still tasted fine, but man, they were UGLY. My zucchini gave me a few fine fruits, but then, I started having some issues with blossom end rot and stunted growth. Even my tomatoes took a little longer to bear fruit. I used the google machine and found that these problems are usually due to poor pollination. My little, fragrant flowers were dwarfed by the vegetables, and that seemed to be a leading cause of the problem.

Bees were honored in many cultures. The Greek goddess Aphrodite was honored in her temple at Eryx as “Melissa-” queen of the bees. Her priestesses were called Melissae. Honey is the only consumable food that is produced without harm to a living creature, and also is the only food that doesn’t spoil. I’ve always kind of wanted to keep bees (yum, honey!), but I haven’t been in a living situation conducive to it. When I was a really little girl, my grandmother had a beehive in her backyard, and I used to love playing with the bees. I would go out there and play for hours and hours, and never got stung. Not once. My mother and grandmother would beg me to come back, and when they would come through the bees to get me, they’d inevitably get stung. It was ironic, because one of my given names means honeybee. I really appreciate and honor the honeybees- even if I no longer want to play with them, and have to staunch the compulsion to run, as was taught to me in elementary school!

A few years back , the news ran many reports about how the number of honeybees were declining. My coven did a full moon ritual for the honeybees, and it seems as though they were everywhere after that, at least in my own personal bubble. I've made honey cakes for offerings when we honor the Greek gods, with much success.

I love the bees. I’m learning to not run from them, and to not be afraid of them, as they do their queenly job. They are very important to the cycle of life- without them, the plants wouldn’t get pollinated, and we’d have no food- even the animals we eat (if you are an omnivore), depend on them for their food.

A chant to NOT be stung by honeybees
(I think it’s by Trish Telesco- I’ve been using it for years)

Blessed be thy little wings,

Keep far from me your hurts and stings

The recipe I use for Greek Honey Cake (from Rumour at allrecipes.com)
I’m not linking, because the amount of calories per serving might put you off. ;)


• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon orange zest
• 3/4 cup butter
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup honey
• 3/4 cup water
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.

4. For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

A is also for the struggle I have with Air


My PBP entry for this week is about Air. Most people know that air is one of four core earthly elements. Most people also know that it usually corresponds to the eastern quarter of a circle, and the associated color is usually yellow. Air is most often represented in ritual by incense, as it’s a small and easy way to be able to ‘see’ the usually invisible element. Air is at the upper left point of the pentagram, and is also associated with the suit of swords in the tarot. Air, as a crucial element is a relatively modern addition to Pagan practice. Most non-Wiccans don’t utilize it in their practices. It’s thought that the inclusion of Air was done by Gerald Gardner, as he melded part of the teachings of the Golden Dawn with local folk witchcraft to create what we now call the Wiccan faith.

As I am a Wiccan, the element of Air is a crucial part of my practice. I understand that it’s one of the four elements. I honor air within my circle. My censer sits upon my altar, the little charcoal disk enticing me to light it and watch the element of fire sparkle across its surface. However, it’s always been very difficult for me to really connect with the element of Air. Fire, earth, water, we can all see, but air is relatively intangible. Even incense needs fire in order to manifest the smoke. In the past, I’ve been drawn to ADF practice, and I think part of that is the honoring of sky, sea and water. Their rituals also include honoring the fire. Logically, I realize that air is important. Fire needs air to start, Air can drive the sea to large waves, like hurricanes. The earth nourishes the trees that also need air to survive. But, there can be a long distance between understanding something logically, and being able feel connected to it. Understanding and connection can sometimes go hand-in-hand, but not always. Usually understanding a concept really helps me connect with it, so it’s been a pretty frustrating trip with air. Air is also associated with knowledge, probably because, knowledge too, is intangible.

I love the feeling of the breeze – it’s my favorite part of going to the beach! I love reading- it’s my favorite pastime. My main challenge is connecting those feelings and connections to the incense on my altary. It’s not that I NEVER connect with air, I have my moments. However, it’s the element I struggle with the most.

The Rede

I really am beginning to wonder what people believe the difference is between Wiccan and non-Wiccan. I suspect that many people who say that they are not Wiccan, may have Wiccan leanings. I’ve found that most people think that what delineates the Wiccan/Non-Wiccan traditional boundary is the rede. If they don’t follow what they see as the Wiccan rede, they feel that they aren’t Wiccan. Even if they follow a Wiccan ritual structure, honor the eight sabbats, honor polarity in their gods, etc., if they do any harm (or manipulation) as part of their practice, they feel that they aren’t Wiccan. Some are sad about that, others are happy, since many think Wicca is a fluffy sort of tradition. They couldn’t be more incorrect.

One of the biggest Wiccan misconceptions is that of the rede. The rede- eight words- “An it harm none, do as ye will.” That’s it. The misconception is that this is an ethical law that all Wiccans must abide. Or else! The first point, unfortunately, is that there is really no possible way to harm none. I’m pretty sure that the head of lettuce that your salad was made from is pretty pissed off about being killed for your food. I’ve read a few studies that illustrate that plants have feelings, too. We have to eat, it’s part of the natural cycle, and we must harm something to eat, and stay alive. Would you squash a black widow spider who made the poor choice of weaving her web on the your baby’s crib? We all harm to different degrees- it’s impossible to follow the rede as an ethical law.

The second point is that the rede isn’t a law at all. It’s a piece of advice. The word rede means advice. It advises you to do no harm, mainly because it will come back to you. Regardless of trad, most Pagans believe in some sort of Law of Return, Law of Three or karma. This is no different from the rede, really. The witch takes in the situation, calculates the possibility of any consequences, and acts accordingly. Wiccans may do harm, if the situation calls for it, same as any other witch. Each witch, regardless of what path they align themselves with, will have their own personal ethical code.

My Poor, Confused Garden


We’ve had some unseasonably warm weather, lately, and I’m assuming that’s part of the reason my tomato plants are still producing. What’s really interesting to me is that I had a whole lot of pollination issues this past growing season that manifested in crooked cukes, zukes with blossom end rot, and TINY grape tomatoes. Now that they aren’t really competing for pollinators, my grape tomatoes are back to being grape sized, and before it gave up the ghost due to mildew, my zucchini gave us one more actual zucchini. (The gardener cut it back, I think. He probably wanted to mow the lawn, and the zuke plant had crept out about 10 feet into the lawn. )

So, it’s about time to clear out the front garden. I didn’t make time to do so this weekend, but I will soon enough. I need to clear away weeds from my raised bed, and start buying bags of soil for the big planter we’re doing this year. I think most of my bonus money (if we get a bonus this year) will be going to our drip irrigation system my hubby wants to set up for me *swoon*. In the front, we have this big dirt patch that I tried to plant melons in last year (I think the gardeners thought my seedlings were weeds). This year, I bought some wildflower mix!

My wildflowers bring all the bees to the yard!

I’m going to put them in the front of the windows, and in some pots to place throughout the garden, hopefully to encourage better pollination this year. I also bought butterfly weed to grow, as well. I am learning more each year that I grow things. It’s so fun. And it’s only two more months before I start my seeds. If the weather continues to be this nice, though, I don’t know if I’ll even have to start new tomatoes.

Altar Pictures


Just some pretty altar pictures to go along with this weeks submission for the Pagan Blog Project... most of these are from the Coven of the Twilight Moon, but a few are mine.

A is for Altar


I’m participating in the 2012 Pagan Blog Project. For more information, go to this URL- http://onewitchsway.com/pbp2012/

The premise of the Pagan Blog Project is that each week, myself and other Pagan bloggers will write about at least one thing related to our spirituality, practice, or Pagan way of life. These posts will always be released on Friday. This week, the prompt is that we start with the letter A. Pretty fitting, for the beginning of the year. New beginnings and all that. I’ve chosen to write about altars.


One thing that has always been important in my home is my altar. No matter how my space has changed, I always have had some sort of altar up. My very first altar was a TV stand that I purchased at Walmart, with just a few carefully chosen tools on it. When I first started practicing, I shared a room with my little sister, but everyone was supportive of my path…. or at least not outwardly uncomfortable with it. I have film photos (before digital cameras were developed) of many of my seasonal altars as a beginner. Not much Work was done at these altars, as I was just getting comfortable with my practice, and rarely did full circles or spellwork while I was getting used to the basics. During my subsequent home moves, my altars changed in many ways, and now I have a pretty large altar.

One common thread that bound together all of these altars is that of careful creation. When putting together an altar, each item chosen is for a reason. Some reasons are practical- “I need a bowl placed here to pour my water into,” and some are spiritual- “the seeds represent new beginnings.” Altars are a place to do the Work, whether it’s spellwork, ritual or other spiritual work, and so will naturally be a blend of practicality and spirituality. Some believe that altars hold more energy that other places, because of the energy work done at the altar.

My current altar is all dressed up for Imbolc. I practice a Wiccan tradition, so in addition to the seasonal touches on my altar, I have my bottles of water and salt, along with dishes for them, my candle, and my incense, collectively representing the four elements. My God and Goddess candles are easy to pick out, elevated above the rest of the altar. My altar cloth is red, and I have my Brighid’s cross out, as well as my statuettes of a sheep and a cardinal. In the center of my altar, you’ll see the offering bowl, and my pentacle. Offerings go in the offering bowl, and the pentacle charges any items that lay upon it. My practice includes healing work, so I have my Brighid healing candle as part of my altar, as well as three smaller candles that I charge, write symbols upon and use for distance healing.

My altar is my focus during ritual, but when I’m crafting together oils, etc. I usually craft them elsewhere and bring them back to the altar for consecration or charging. When I feel energetically “stuck,” I find that the act of creating the altar helps to get the spiritual energy flowing. It’s a big part of my spiritual life- just looking at my altar can bring my attention back to being mindful. Altars can inspire, as well as be a powerful tool in power raising and ritual work.