Jan 1, 2012

The Sunday Stew- First 2012 Edition January 1-7

This week's stew is lucky enough to fall on the first day of the first month of the New Year. Happy 2012, everyone!

With only today and tomorrow left on my vacation, I have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do. How about you? Did you make a New Year's Resolution?

I've received several emails from people asking when I'm going to rant about the Rede, based on the internet radio show that Christian Day, Lori Bruno and Sabrina The Inkwitch hosted the other night. I'm debating it. Maybe tomorrow if I get everything else done. So Rommy, hold on to that oolong awhile longer ;)

I'm going to wait until next week for the Pagan News portion and let 2012 have a chance to produce her own news.

Happy Birthday this week to: Noodle Cat, Kit Wolf, Norie Winter, Tim Thys and Barb Ware. May this next year of your life bring you joy, peace and abundance in all good things.

Pagan Lore with Karen Szabo

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first edition of Pagan Lore for 2012!
2012 breaks down to the number 5, and here are some of the correspondences for that number -- New directions, excitement, change, adventure. Exciting, changeable and always seeking new things. The five elements / five senses (Earth/Touch, Taste/Water, Sound/Air, Smell/Fire, Sight/Light).

Sunday, January 1-- New Year's Day 
This day is sacred to the goddesses known as the Three Fates, the German goddess Bertha, the Morrigan, the Parcae, and the Japanese household gods. Many modern Witches and Wiccans around the world traditionally start off the new year with a spell for good luck and a ritual to bless the new year with peace, love, health, and prosperity for all. This is a traditional time for ending bad habits and beginning New Year's resolutions. The first day of January was dedicated by the ancient Romans to the god Janus. Janus possesses two identical faces looking in opposite directions: one to the past, and the other to the future. He is a god of gates and doorways, and a deity associated with journeys and the beginnings of things. 

Monday, January 2 
The birth of the Pagan goddess Inanna has been celebrated annually on this day since ancient times. Inanna is the Sumerian queen of heaven and earth, and a deity who presides over both love and war. Every year on this date, the Perihelion of the Earth takes place. When this occurs, the planet Earth reaches the point in its orbit closest to the Sun. Many astrologers consider this to be a highly significant event. In ancient Egypt, a religious ceremony known as the Advent of Isis from Phoenecia was performed yearly on this date in honor of the goddess Isis. 

Tuesday, January 3 

On this day, an annual fertility ceremony known as the Deer Dances is performed by the Native American tribe of the Pueblo in the southwestern United States. The ceremony, which includes sacred ritual dances performed by shamans wearing deer headdresses, is centuries-old and dedicated to the great female spirit-goddess known as the Deer Maiden. 
In ancient Greece, a Pagan religious festival called the Lenaia was celebrated each year on this date in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. 

Wednesday, January 4 
In Korea, the annual Sacrifice to the Seven Starts (Chilseong-je) is performed on this date at midnight. To receive good fortune and divine blessings, water and white rice are offered to the god who rules the constellation Ursa Major. 

Thursday, January 5 

Twelfth Night and Wassail Eve (in England) heralds the end of Christmastide. In ancient Egypt times, it was believed that the waters of the mystical and sacred River Nile possessed special magickal powers on this date. On this date in the year 1918, renowned astrologer and author Jeane Dixon was born in Medford, Wisconsin. 

Friday, January 6--Day of the Triple Goddess 
On this date in the year 1988, Circle Sanctuary of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, became legally recognized as a Wiccan Church by its local Township and County levels of government. Circle Sanctuary's attainment of church zoning was a significant victory for Wiccans around the world, for it was the first time a Witchcraft group had been publicly sanctioned as a church by local government officials. 

Saturday, January 7 
In the seventeenth century, it was customary on this day for a special Epiphany Cake to be baked with a coin in it. Whoever was lucky enough to receive the portion containing the coin was saluted by the family as a "king" or "queen" for the day. As part of the tradition, the "king" or "queen" would draw cross symbols on the ceiling with white chalk to drive out evil spirits and ward off misfortune. 

Here's wishing you every happiness in this bright, shiny New Year! See you next week,

This Week in Astrology:
The First Quarter Moon took place this morning at 1:15am EST.
"On Sunday, January 1st, a First Quarter Moon will occur when the Sun in Capricorn forms a square with the Aries Moon. There 
is a crisis theme surrounding any quarter Moon phase, as we feel compelled to take action. Shortly after, we are made aware of how our actions affect those close to us, perhaps through trial and error. Whatever project or initiative we began around the New Moon on December 24th is now off the ground, and it may face its first obstacles." http://cafeastrology.com

For those of you interested in learning about your 2012 horoscope:

Weekly Tarot: 2 of Wands
Vanessa Tarot

Well, this is certainly appropriate for the first week of the New Year. The 2 of Wands is all about personal power, responsible leadership, goal-setting, being bold and showing originality.

This is an action card, which tells you it's time to shine; time to set goals and make them happen. If you've been hiding your light under a bushel, it's time to let it shine to the world. You have all you need within you to be a success; you just have to decide to make it happen and then act upon it.

This week's Totem: Crow

This is interesting, since Crow keeps popping up all over the place lately. As many of you are aware, crows are one of my favorite birds. I've had a lot of fun and interesting experiences with crows.
My grandmother once told me that they are the smartest of all birds, and I think science might even agree with me on that one. They are known to use tools, recognize faces and even pass that knowledge down through generations. They build apartments of nests together and understand the value of strength in numbers. I've personally watched a crow and one of its blue-jay cousins team up together to chase off a red-tailed hawk in my back yard.

They also have a very distinct moral code. I've watched them turn their backs on one of their own when he failed to report a cache of food. It's been said that crows set up a sentry at night to watch out for one of their main enemies- the owl. If the sentry fails at his job, the other crows will kill him.

In many indigenous tribes, the crow is the keeper of Sacred Law and can bend the laws of the physical universe to shape-shift. Crow medicine people are masters of illusion. In ancient Ireland, the MorRhiogan shape-shifted into a crow and flew over the battlefield at the onset of the conflict.

According to Native American tradition, all sacred texts are under the protection of Crow. Creator's Book of Laws or Book of Seals is bound in Crow feathers.  Crow feathers tell of spirit made flesh.  Crow is also the protector of the "ogallah" or ancient records.

The Sacred Law Belts, or Wampum Belts, beaded by native women long before the boat people or Europeans came to this continent, contain knowledge of the Great Spirit's laws, and are kept in the Black Lodges, the lodges of women.  The law which states that "all things are born of women," is signified by Crow.

Children are taught to behave according to the rules of a particular culture.  Most orthodox religious systems create a mandate concerning acceptable behavior within the context of worldly affairs.  Do this and so, and you will go to heaven.  Do thus and so, and you will go to hell.  Different formulas for salvation are demanded by each "true faith."

Human law is not the same as Sacred Law.  More so than any other medicine, Crow sees that the physical world and even the spiritual world, as humanity interprets them, are an illusion.  There are billions of world.  There are an infinitude of creatures.

Great Spirit is within all.  If an individual obeys Crow's perfect laws as given by the Creator, then at death, he or she dies a Good Medicine death - going on to the next incarnation with a clear memory of his or her past.

Crow is an omen of change. The message for you is to look inside, find your connection to the Great Spirit, and determine your moral code. Crow medicine signifies a firsthand knowledge of a higher order of right and wrong than that indicated by the laws created in human culture. With Crow medicine, you speak in a powerful voice when addressing issues that for you seem out of harmony, out of balance, out of whack, or unjust.

Remember that Crow looks at the world with first one eye, and then the other; cross-eyed.  In the Mayan culture, cross-eyed people had the privilege and duty of looking into the future.  It's time to put aside your fear of being a voice in the wilderness and call the shots as you see them.

As we allow our personal integrity to be our guide, that sense of feeling alone will vanish, and we feel the connection we have to all other things.  Personal will can then emerge so that you will stand in your truth.  The prime path of Crow people says to be mindful of your opinions and actions.  Be willing to walk your talk, speak your truth, know your life's mission; and balance past, present, and future in the now.  Shape-shift that old reality and become your future self.  Allow the bending of physical laws to aid in creating the shape-shifted world of peace.

That's it for this week's stew. Mull, digest, enjoy!

Dec 26, 2011

The Sunday Stew (Monday Edition): Last week of 2011

This week's stew is a day late due to weekend festivities. It was a lovely week of celebrations for my family. We had three birthdays, Yule and secular Christmas to commemorate, and frankly, I'm exhausted.

This year seemed a lot more frantic than I recall, and I just didn't feel the 'spirit of the season' much. It was more like a chore. I know that's not what people want to read, but it's true. Next year, I'm simplifying this whole process. I'm mostly off from work this week (I have to work Thursday) but after today, it'll be organizing time for me in preparation for 2012. I've decided to split up my days between work and home organizing and be ready to hit the ground running on January 3.

This is the last week of 2011. It was a good year, overall (any year that we're still alive is a good year in my book). It was busy and a bit on the stressful side. And yet, I made new friends both on and offline, learned new things, and that's never bad :)

One of the things I learned about myself is how I really don't like to share intimate details about myself. I recently posted a few details about my mother's alcoholism, and so many people responded that it overwhelmed me a bit. I'm not used to being that open about things, especially online (I think it comes from that whole 'don't air your dirty laundry in public' mantra that I grew up with), and when so many people reached out with stories and how what I said touched them in some way, I realized just what a writer I'm not. I began looking at other people whose writing I do admire, and discovered how much they really put themselves out there. I am both humbled and challenged by that.

I don't really do "New Year's Resolutions" but from Samhain to this time of year, I do like to be introspective and see what I'd like to work on for the next year. I just don't resolve that I'm going to be perfect at it. So, I'm going to try to share more intimacy with you going forward. I can't promise I'll be good at it, or that I'll be consistent, but I'll work on it :)

How about you? Do you review the year and prepare for the new during this week or are you more of a wing-it kind of person?

In the News:

  • China's young people are turning to astrology and visiting witch shops
  • The Druids at Stonehenge are predicting a good 2012
  • Frankincense production could be halved in the next 15 years
  • The Wild Hunt reports that the UK has posted new restrictions on "occult advertising"

Happy Birthday this week to: Jim Sutter, Karen Delbridge, Ziggy Smith, Trixey Seymoure Coley, Natalia Semenova, Karen Tatro, Nancy-Ann Sorrell, Noodle Cat, Kit Wolf and Percival Jones. May this next year of your life bring you joy, peace, happiness and abundance in all good things!

Pagan Lore with Karen Szabo

Welcome to the Pagan Lore, covering the entire last week of 2011!

Sunday, December 25 
Birthday of the Invincible Sun (Dies Natalis Invicti Solis). Before being Christianized as the Mass of Christ (Christmas), a festival honoring the god of the sun was celebrated on this day in ancient Rome. It was made a public holiday by the Emperor Aurelian in the year A.D. 272 and consisted of the lighting of sacred bonfires. 
On Christmas Day, according to German folklore, a Yuletide Witch known as the Lutzelfrau flies through the sky on her broom, bringing mischief to mortals who fail to honor her with small presents. Another Yuletide Witch of German folklore is Perchta. In the southern regions of the country, it was an old Yuletide custom for children wearing masks and carrying besoms (Witch brooms) to go door to door (in "trick or treat" fashion) begging for gifts in the name of Perchta.

Monday, December 26 
On this day, the first day of Yuletide begins. It continues until the Twelfth-day (January 6). 
The Junkanoo festival takes place annually on this day in the Bahama Islands. Old gods are honored and ancient magick is reinvoked as music, dancing, and costumed marchers fill the streets until the crack of dawn. 
This day is sacred to various deities from around the world. Among them are Frau Sonne, Igaehindvo, the Star Faery, Sunne, and Yemaya.

Tuesday, December 27 
On this day in the year 1959, Gerina Dunwich (eclectic Witch, professional astrologer, and author of many Witchcraft books, including the one you are now reading) was born in Chicago, Illinois under the sign of Capricorn with a Taurus rising. 

The birth of Freya (the Norse goddess of fertility, love, and beauty) is celebrated on this day. Annual Pagan festivals in her honor are celebrated throughout the world by many Wiccans of the Saxon tradition.

Wednesday, December 28 
On this day, an annual festival of peace and spiritual renewal is celebrated in parts of China. Offerings are made to gods and spirits, and a paper horse containing the names of all the members of the temple is set on fire in the ancient Taoist belief that the rising smoke will take the names up to heaven.

Thursday, December 29 
During this period, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights (also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah) is observed by Jews throughout the world. On each night of the festival, one additional candle is lit on a ceremonial nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah. 
In ancient Greece, a Pagan religious festival called the Day of Nymphs was celebrated on this day in honor of Andromeda, Ariadne, and Artemis (the Greek counterpart of the goddess Diana)

Friday, December 30 
On this date in the year 1916, Rasputin (a famous Russian mystic monk, occultist, and court magician) was assassinated by his enemy Prince Feliks Yusupov. Rasputin, who was drowned in the frozen Neva River, presaged his own death.

Saturday, December 31 
New Year's Eve. The modern custom of ringing bells and blowing horns to usher in the new year at midnight is actually derived from the old Pagan custom of noisemaking to scare away the evils of the old year. 
In certain parts of Japan, young men put on grotesque demon masks and costumes made of straw and go door to door collecting donations of money, rice cakes, and sake. This traditional New Year's Eve custom serves to drive out the demons of misfortune and ensure an abundant harvest for the new year.

That's all for now -- see you in 2012!

The astrologers this week all seem to be on strike or vacation, so I'm skipping it for now.

This Week's Tarot Card: Death
Rider-Waite Tarot

I find it interesting that I pulled this one, as it's a card of endings, and we are about to end the secular year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tarot, the Death card is rarely (if ever) about physical death. It's about endings and clearing the way for new beginnings; sudden change; freeing one's self from the shackles of the past; shedding the old for the new. 

Think about what you'd like to shed in order to be ready for some new adventures and paths to take. This is the card to help you do just that.

This week's Totem: Snake
I promise, I didn't plan this:

Snake medicine people are very rare.  Their initiation involves experiencing and
living through multiple snake bites, which allows them to transmute all poisons, be they mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional.  The power of snake medicine is the power of creation, for it embodies sexuality, psychic energy, alchemy, reproduction, and ascension(or immortality).

The transmutation of the life-death-rebirth cycle is exemplified by the shedding of
Snake's skin.  It is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and the ability to
experience anything willingly and without resistance.  It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation, and that those things which might be experienced as poison can be eaten, ingested, integrated, and transmuted if one has the proper state of mind (this is a common belief among the indigenous tribes of North America).

Thoth, the Egyptian god, who later is seen as Hermes-the father of alchemy, used the symbolism of two snakes intertwining around a sword to represent healing. Complete understanding and acceptance of the male and female within each organism creates a merging of the two into one, thereby producing divine energy. 

This medicine teaches you on a personal level that you are a universal being. Through accepting all aspects of your life, you can bring about the transmutation of the fire medicine.  This fire energy, when functioning on the material place, creates passion, desire, procreation, and physical vitality.  On the emotional place, it becomes ambition, creation, resolution, and dreams.  On the mental place it becomes intellect, power, charisma, and leadership.  When this Snake energy reaches the spiritual plane, it becomes wisdom, understanding, wholeness and connection to Great Spirit.

As this week's totem, the message from Snake is that there is a need within you to transmute some
thought, action, or desire so that wholeness may be achieved.  This is heavy magic, but remember, magic is no more than a change in consciousness. Become the magician and transmute the energy and accept the power of the fire.

PS. For those who've asked, I'll post a picture of Draco, my California Kingsnake, on Facebook later.

That's it for this week. I wish you all a very safe and happy New Year's Eve.. see you in 2012!

Dec 18, 2011

The Sunday Stew- Yule Edition 2011

This week's stew is in preparation for the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, Jul, The Longest Night, and I do believe Chanukah is taking place this coming week as well. (Chag Sameach Chanukah to all of my Jewish friends!)

Wow, the time between Samhain and Yule has just flown for me! I want more time to cocoon! I want more introspection! I want some snow, damnit!

This week, I only have to work on Tuesday, but I'll be busy on the home-front with Solstice preparations. We like to make pine-cone bird feeders and set them out in the woods for our feathered friends, and I went to the farm yesterday to get some assorted nuts for the squirrels as well.I also got some cranberries to string up and put out on the pine trees. Cardinals and Blue Jays in particular seem to love them. I miss living up in Cecil County. I made friends with a family of crows up there. The mother figured out which bedroom window was mine, and if I didn't have food out for them by 5am, she'd caw and peck at my window until I got up to feed them. I had such a great time with that family. I can't seem to get the crows here to warm up to me like that, no matter what I've tried. They'll get close, but not too close. I really should write about my adventures with the crows. They are the most astounding and entertaining creatures.
 If you have any other suggestions for 'giving back' to our wild friends of the forest, please do share!

My daughter's 23rd birthday is on the Solstice this year. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

I'll probably share some more throughout the week, if I have time. I would love to hear from you about your Solstice plans (or whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year) and preparations.

In the News:

Pagan/Witchy news
  • Hudsonville neighborhood note calls Christmas light displays 'Pagan'
  • Yule, or Winter Solstice, is a Celebration of Life
  • Germany Rehabilitates Its Persecuted Witches

Fun links:
Learn about Chanukah
Santa tracker at NORAD
Cookie Recipes at Christmas Central
Stonehenge  Winter Solstice Private Tour (this is to sign up for 2012 in person)
The Solstice explained, scientifically
Pagan Kids Coloring Pages
The Pooka Pages Yule Edition (for kids)
Yule Crafts
Yule Recipes
The Pagan Household's 21 Days of Yule

Happy Birthday this week to Chris Stanton, Tara Callahan, Debbie Coulter, Gail Wood, Jann Jones, Michelle Brooks, Casey Stephenson Scott, and my baby girl- Lyssa! May you all have blessings of bounty, abundance in all good things and happiness wherever you go in the next year of your life.

Pagan Lore with Karen Szabo

Welcome to another week of Pagan Lore! Busy, busy week with all sorts of holidays taking place -- how are you celebrating the season? 

Sunday, December 18 

On this day in Latvia, the birth of the god Diev and the rebirth of the Sun is celebrated annually with a four-day winter festival. Houses are festively decorated and traditional feasts are prepared to welcome the four gift-bearing celestial beings who are the heralds of the Winter Solstice. It's also the second day of the Saturnalia, when the ancient Romans celebrated the Eponalia (a feast dedicated to Epona, the Celtic Mother-Goddess and a patroness of horses).

Monday, December 19 
This is the third day of the Saturnalia, on which the ancient Romans celebrated the Opalia, a feast dedicated to Ops (Goddess of Abundance, the harvest Goddess of fertility and success, and consort of the god Saturn. This day was also sacred to the Roman fertility goddess Sabine. The Hindu Goddess Sankrant is also honored annually on this date (approximately) by a Hindu Solstice celebration called Pongol.

Tuesday, December 20 
Today in the year 1946, famous Israeli psychic Uri Geller was born in Tel Aviv. He is renowned for his psychokinetic ability to bend metal objects by stroking them with his fingers, and ability to stop clocks simply by gazing at them. His metal-bending and mind-reading abilities developed at the age of five when he was accidentally shocked by his mother's electric sewing machine. He began his career as a full-time professional stage performer in 1969.

Wednesday, December 21 
On the first day of Winter (which normally occurs on or near this date), the Winter Solstice Sabbat is celebrated by Wiccans and Witches throughout the world. Winter Solstice (which is also known as Yule, Winter Rite, Midwinter, and Alban Arthan) is the longest night of the year, marking the time when the days begin to grow longer and the hours of darkness decrease. It is the festival of the Sun's rebirth, and a time to honor the Horned God. The aspect of the God invoked at this Sabbat by certain Wiccan traditions is Frey, the Scandinavian fertility god and a deity associated with peace and prosperity. Love, family togetherness, and accomplishments of the past year are also celebrated. On this Sabbat, Witches bid farewell to the Great Mother and welcome the reborn Horned God who rules the dark half of the year.

Thursday, December 22
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Capricorn. Persons born under the sign of the Goat are said to be ambitious, practical, loyal, and often reclusive. Capricorn is an earth sign and is ruled by the planet Saturn. On this day in the year 1970, famous Wiccan authors Stewart and Janet Farrar founded their own coven. The Farrars wrote many popular, well-respected books on Witchcraft together.

Friday, December 23
In early times, a Pagan religious ceremony called the Laurentina was held in Rome annually on this date, celebrating the recovery of light from the darkness of the Winter Solstice. It was dedicated to the goddess Acca Laurentia or Lara, the mother of the Lares. The demigod Balomain is honored annually by the Kalash people with a weeklong festival called the Chaomos, which begins on this date.

Saturday, December 24
Christmas Eve. According to Finnish folklore, the ghosts of departed loved ones return home each year on this night. It is a Christmas Eve tradition in Finland and in many other parts of Europe for families to light white candles on the graves of their ancestors. According to superstition, if a man proposes to his beloved on Christmas Eve and she accepts, they will surely enjoy a happy and love-filled marriage.

And that's the Pagan Lore for this week. Hope you all have a blessed Yule, and enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate with your friends and family!

This Week in Astrology
Venus moves into Aquarius on December 20.
The Winter Solstice takes place at 5:30 UT on December 22 (12:30am EST) this year.
Here is another article which gives the science behind the Solstice. Many Pagans stay up all night or get up early to watch the first sunrise and honor the return of the Sun.

The Sun moves into Capricorn on December 22.

The New Moon  in Capricorn takes place on Saturday, December 24 at 1:06pm EST.
"This lunation symbolizes a new beginning in the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn. It's a time during which we can focus on some of the constructive traits of the sign of the Goat--tenacious, resourceful, disciplined, wise, ambitious, prudent, constant--and consider how to positively incorporate these qualities into our lives. Now, we can focus on practical and attainable long-term goals, work on developing maturity and common sense, prepare for the future, make commitments and recognize responsibilities, and nurture our dreams in a realistic manner." ~CafeAstrology

This Week's Tarot: Ace of Swords
Circle of Life Tarot
Aces are about new beginnings. Swords are about intellect, thought processes, ideas. So, a pregnant woman is a perfect depiction in my opinion. A thought is forming- one that could bring about a victory. It could be a new way of communicating something. If you look at the young mother,  you can't see her face, but you get the sense that she is happy and trusting (naked in the woods). The nudity could also represent something as simple as naked truth. Honeybees are about community, and the pumpkin usually represents a good harvest. It seems as though she and her baby are protected all the way around.
This is a very appropriate card for the week of the Solstice. New beginnings, new year. What truths will you uncover? What new challenges will you overcome with your creative thinking? How will you communicate differently now? In what ways will you and your community come together to protect new ideas,creative projects and harvests in the year to come?

Weekly Totem: Butterfly

The power that Butterfly brings to us is akin to the mind, and the ability to know the mind or to change it.  It is the art of transformation.

To use Butterfly medicine, you must astutely observe your position in the cycle of self-transformation.  Like Butterfly, you are always at a certain station in your life activities.  
You may be at the egg stage, which is the beginning of all things.  This is the stage at which an idea is born, but has not yet become a reality.  

The larva stage is the point at which you decide to create the idea in the physical world.  

The cocoon stage involves "going within": doing or developing your project, idea, or aspect or personality.

The final state of transformation is the leaving of the chrysalis and birth.  This last step involves sharing the colors and joy of your creation with the world.   

If you look closely at what Butterfly is trying to teach, you will realize that it is the never-ending cycle of self-transformation.  The way to discern where you are in this cycle is to ask yourself: 
(1) Is this the egg stage:  Is it just a thought or idea?  
(2) Is this the larva stage: Do I need to make a decision?  
(3)  Is this the cocoon stage: Am I developing and doing something to make my idea a reality? 
(4) Is this the birth stage: Am I sharing my completed idea?
By asking yourself these questions, you will discover how Butterfly is relating to you at this moment.  When you understand where you are, Butterfly can teach you what to do next to continue in the cycle of self-transformation, (or in assisting others in their cycle.)

Using the air, or mental powers, of this medicine is done with ease.  As an example, if you have been feeling exhausted and have asked how to heal your fatigue, take notice of the colors you have been drawn to recently.  Does your body feel better in green or blue?  Could this mean that you need to eat more green vegetables?  This type of thinking is an inspiration from Butterfly medicine.
Butterfly can give clarity to your mental process, help you organize the project you are undertaking, and assist you in finding the next step for your life.  The main message is that you are ready to undergo some type of  amazing transformation.

That's it for this week's stew. As always, mull, digest, enjoy!

Dec 16, 2011

The Friday Frolic: Let's go visit Wendy Callahan

This is going to be a quick frolic today, as I'm swamped at work and trying to get done in time for the dreaded big shopping weekend. I have told you that I hate shopping and that you should totally feel sorry for my oldest daughter, yes? Take me to a hardware store (especially the lawn/garden center) and you can't get me out of there, but malls, etc..? Ack!  Ok enough of that.. let's go blog visiting to my buddy Wendy Callahan's pages:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WendyLCallahan?sk=wall
Blog: http://wendycallahan.blogspot.com/

Wendy is the author of the following:
"Dead Wrong", Damnation Books, June 2011
"The Gossamer Gate", Persephone Press, October 2011

"Heart & Fire", Eternal Press, April 2012
"The Pain Maiden", Persephone Press, June 2012

And here's a pic of Wendy:
Cool chick for sure!! Go visit and tell her I sent ya.

Happy Friday!

Dec 15, 2011

A Great Escape. Warning: This gets personal

It's been a long week. Actually, a long year. At this time of year, while our sales are slowing down, it's insane at work. It's time to wrap up revenue reconciliations, clean up the hard drive and email box, and prepare to hit the ground running in January. In my department, we're going to be launching several new product lines, and since I'm in charge of them, it's a crazy time for me- extremely stressful and my brain was absolutely fried this afternoon.

I did something I don't normally do on Facebook- I posted exactly how I was feeling, asked for help, and sure enough, my friends came to the rescue. Namely, my buddy, Rommy Driks. For those of you who participated in the "What Makes Your State Great?" project, you'll know Rommy from her amazing ability to find at least one musical video for each of the 50 states, including Rhode Island. Well, Rommy did the same for me tonight. She began posting a couple of music videos on my page, and reminded me of one of my two childhood escapes- music.

This is going to get a little more personal than I normally do on this blog, so if you'd like to stop here, I promise not to be offended :) At least you've been warned.

I didn't have a great childhood. My dad and mom divorced when I was 3. He pretty much became scarce in my life after that. I have very vague memories of him being around when I was that little. My mom was a person who should really never have been a parent. She does okay with kids until they turn 4, then she's really no longer interested in them. I am the oldest of four girls (she always wanted a boy). My mother remarried when I was 6, and my stepfather made it very clear that he wasn't interested in being a dad to me and my sister, who was less than a year younger than me (for five days we're the same age). He was also not really around much. He worked 90 hour weeks, smoked heavily and didn't eat right. He died when I was 16.

I showed a propensity for music when I was 5. I began taking piano lessons, then violin, then guitar, then moved into marching band in jr. high school, playing clarinet (only because mom wouldn't let me play sax and because I really loved Benny Goodman & big band music).

My mother is also an alcoholic. Oh, you might not know it if you met her. She wasn't a violent one, and certainly wasn't a 'sloppy drunk'. Most of my high school friends loved my mom. She is one of the most charming people you might ever meet. She drinks a lot, but you won't see her behaving badly. She'd save that for behind closed doors. You know how we Southerners are- don't air your dirty laundry in public.

She never hit us. In fact, she'd fire a babysitter who spanked. She was just very verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive and very much an absentee parent. I became her 'whipping girl' for anything that went wrong in her life, and at a pretty young age. She actually lost some very dear friends because they had come to visit, and one of them just couldn't take it anymore. He spoke up and told her (right in front of me) how she made a huge difference between me and the other kids, and that he couldn't take her abusing me like that in front of him anymore. I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room because I knew she was going to blame me for it. The next day, I came down and our visitors were gone. We never saw them again.
My mother would accuse me of things without actually telling me what they were. For example,
Mom: "I know you stole something from me."
Me: "What are you talking about?"
Mom: "You know what I'm talking about. Give it back or face the consequences."
Me: " I honestly have no idea what you're accusing me of.. please tell me what you think I did."
Mom: " You have 10 minutes, then you're on restriction for the next 8 weeks."
I never did know what to do, so I'd end up on restriction. When that restriction was over, believe me, she'd find something else I did wrong. I was never allowed to get less than a "B" as a grade on anything or I'd face 9 weeks of restriction until the grade came up. No pressure or anything. Just be perfect- or else.

In high school, I was a majorette. In West Virginia, that was a big deal. We had a huge majorette festival in the fall, and we'd literally spend the entire summer (from 7am until it got too dark to see a baton, 6 days a week. One week off for vacation) practicing for this big event.

The night of my last festival (my senior year of high school),  I came home from school and started getting ready to go to the festival only to find out that I couldn't take my car, nor would my mother drive me to this. Now, understand that this is a school band function. If I didn't show up for it, I would fail band for the year. I became nearly hysterical over this.. and finally called my best friend's dad (she wasn't in the band) and asked if he could come and get me ( I would have walked, but she waited until it would be too late for me to do that, and this was at a time before cell phones. It was a five mile walk to the school). He agreed, and then we both found out that my mom had been listening in on the phone. She jumped in and told him that she was taking me.. she said didn't know what I was talking about. She fumed the whole drive over there because I called him, and I was an emotional wreck. My friends saw me get out of my mother's car, and came running up to find out what had happened. To this day, I have no idea what I did to cause my mother to behave that way. She never would tell me what I'd done.

I ended up getting my picture in the local paper as the representative majorette of our school, and my mother bought up a bunch of copies of the paper. I came home to her on the phone bragging to her friend about me. She never did see me perform.. not there or at any other function, but if I did something to get recognition, you bet she was right there- ever the "proud parent".

These are just slight examples of what I went through at home. When my stepfather died, she basically shut down except to go to work, come home, drink and go to bed.

When she would go into these crazy episodes, I'd escape. There was a piano in the basement. I'd lock myself in there and play for hours. I'd listen to the radio, sing my heart out and just go somewhere else in the music. It was my lifeline for my youth and teenage years. She'd leave me alone because she liked hearing me play and/or sing.. perhaps it soothed the beast inside, I don't know.

Anyway, I got out of the house, went to college for a year, then headed into the Navy and from that point on, I lived my life my way. But, music was always my friend. I sang in the Navy's Bluejacket Chorus and I even sang in a touring gospel group for awhile during my Christian days. Music has never failed to help me through a heartbreak, pull me out of a slump, un-fry my brain or cheer me up when I was feeling down.

How I forgot that is beyond me. In the last year, I haven't really done a lot of listening to music. I've just dealt with things as they've come and really been moving on fast forward the whole year. So, when Samhain came around, I was determined that during this introspective time of year, I'd revisit those things that make me happy. Rommy reminded me today of my friendship and love of all things musical.

In case you are wondering about my other escape- it's being outside. Preferably in the woods by the river (and now, most definitely with my wolf-dog). I feel more at home in the woods and at the river than I do in any place built by a human. And to my BFF, yes.. I still want my cabin in the woods :) But, today it was raining and the sun had set by the time I got off work. So, I took a little adventure trip with my buddies on Facebook and music. Thanks to both of them for making this day SO much better!

PS. A shout out to my girls who sent me Viggo Mortensen photos and had a drool-fest with me over him as well. As many of you know, I was supposed to marry him (of course this was after my break-up with Sting) but he goes for the younger women so my dream was shattered. *sigh*

Dec 14, 2011

John Bradbury: My Ancestor

See it on Amazon

I posted about this on Facebook yesterday, but I think I probably did nothing more than annoy people with my excitement. This post really is more for me to record some things I've discovered, and to share my joy in what I've found. So, it's not a rant, not a big educational thing, and my feelings will so not be hurt if you're not interested in reading it :)

I have known for awhile that I was a descendant of John Bradbury (my dad's middle name is Bradbury in honor of this), and that he had authored at least one book, but I had not really ever taken the time to find out much about him. Yesterday, I looked him up and am now more than a little impressed.

I've always had an interest in being a Naturalist, and writing is something that's come naturally to me as well. So, to find out that I come from the line of someone who discovered 40 new species of plants in the United States, who was friends with Thomas Jefferson, met with Daniel Boone (at Boone's request) and was cited by Washington Irving as a major contributor to his own works about blew me away. Not only that, but he was the only person with a scientific background to have been an eye witness to the New Madrid Earthquake in what's now known as Memphis TN.  The more I read about him, the more impressed I become. I'm simply amazed.

So, I've ordered his book and I'm looking forward to reading it. I love learning about my ancestors!

For more on John Bradbury:

Dec 12, 2011

Christmas: You're doing it right!

We had carolers come to our door last night. Yes, CAROLERS! CHRISTMAS carolers, no less. A very sweet young man of about 11 or 12 knocked on my door, handed me a post card (see photos) and said, "We're caroling!". Of course, I called all of my family to the door (they were just as thrilled as I was) and we listened to a group of lovely folks of all ages sing "Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" better than a choir of heavenly host could ever do. They then waved at us and yelled in unison "Merry Christmas!!"
You better believe we all clapped, cheered and yelled "Merry Christmas!" right back. The postcard was a lovely idea. See that they invited us to their church for Christmas services, had their address, phone number and website right on the back and there was not a pushy thing about it. They brought the joy of the season to us through song and happy faces. There was no war, no one telling them to go away, no one screaming, "It's HAPPY HOLIDAYS, DAMNIT!"  and it made our night.  After such a heartfelt, loving invitation, I may just join these lovely people on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of their savior with them.

That's what I'd call doing Christmas right!

Let's all see if we can catch people doing it right and share the love of the season with the rest of us. I think that's what this time of year should be about, anyway :)

Dec 11, 2011

The Sunday Stew: Politicians, Coins and Snakes, Oh My! ;)

Cerridwen at the Cauldron
This week's stew is bubbling over. It seems this past week was a really volatile one for so many people.

As many of you know, I posted what I would have termed as a mini-rant, and it went viral. I've received literally hundreds of responses to it- some commented and others simply emailed me to express opinions. I've heard from people of all faiths, and several of my atheist friends as well. It was so heartening to see how many people from these very diverse beliefs all want to keep our nation secular and welcoming to all.

This coming week is a busy one for many of us. It seems that most people begin taking their holiday vacations the last two weeks of the year, so this week tends to be the last real working week. I know in our business, we have use-it-or-lose-it vacation time and have to take the time. So, for those of you who are working so hard (and especially you folks in retail) I send you lots of positive thoughts for the coming week.

In the News:

As many of you who read my rant or watch the news are aware, Rick Perry came out with a video this week that states he's not afraid to say he's a Christian. He disparages gays in the military, claims Christian children can't celebrate Christmas or pray in schools, and says he'll stop "Obama's war on religion" in this country. He claims faith is what made America strong and can make Her strong again. Here's a great response to that video (best one I've seen):

  • Here's a great article on how America came to have the Santa Claus we know today.
  • Looking for a Pagan Holiday Playlist?
  • Cool article on a 'witch cottage' that's been unearthed in the UK.
  • For those of you who've been following the Turner family and the discrimination against their child in school, here is an update.

Pagan Lore with Karen Szabo
Welcome to another week of Pagan Lore, covering December 11 through the 17th. Is everyone breathing a little easier? Mercury moves out of retrograde on the 14th (whew)! While we're all getting ready to celebrate the upcoming holidays in our own way, let's look at some ancient festivals, celebrations, and customs!

Sunday, December 11 

This was the day of Bruma, when the ancient Roman Goddess of the winter season was honored by Pagans in Italy with an annual festival. This day is also sacred the Snow Queen Goddess Arianrhod and to Yuki Onne.

Monday, December 12 
The triumph of good over evil and light over darkness is celebrated annually at sunset on this date with the Zoroastrian fire festival of Sada. In Mexico, the annual religious festival honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe is held on this day. It's a day sacred to the Goddesses Coatlique, Tonantzin, and to the Black Madonna as well.

Tuesday, December 13 
This is Saint Lucia's Day, when a candlelight festival in Her honor is celebrated throughout Sweden. The first-born daughter of each family wears a flowing white gown and a crown of candles around her head, representing the ancient Pagan symbols of fire and life-giving light. The daughter traditionally serves her parents breakfast in bed on this morning.

Wednesday, December 14 
On this date in 1503, famous French prophet and astrologer Michel de Nostradamus was born in Saint Remy de Provence. He experienced many psychic visions during his childhood, and in his later years studied the Holy Qabalah, astrology, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics. The first collection of his uncannily accurate visions, written in the form of rhymed quatrains, was published in 1555. Three years later, a second and much collection of his prophecies, which extended into the year 3979, was published. Nostradamus died on July 1, 1566.

Thursday, December 15
This begins the Halcyon Days. According to ancient legend, the seven days before the winter solstice and the seven days following are a special time of tranquility and calm, due to the magickal powers of the halcyon (a fabled bird who nested on the sea and calmed the wind and the waves during the winter solstice). In Puerto Rico, the Yule Child is honored by a religious festival called Navidades, which begins annually on this day and is celebrated until the sixth of January.

Friday, December 16
In Mexico, the Yule Child is honored by a religious festival called Posadas which begins annually on this day and is celebrated until the twenty-fourth of December. Today is sacred to the Pagan wisdom-Goddesses Athena, Kista, Maat, Minerva, the Shekinah, and Sophia. The Soyal ceremony is celebrated annually on (approximately) this date by the Hopi Native American tribe in the southwestern United States. The rites of the Soyal celebrate the return of the sun (Life) and commemorate the creation and rebirth of the Spider Woman and Hawk Maiden.

Saturday, December 17
Today begins the Saturnalia, which lasts until the 24th of December. The Roman god Saturn was honored in ancient times during this annual midwinter festival of feasting, merriment, gift-giving, charades, and the lighting of torches and candles.

That's it for now -- See you in next week's Sunday Stew!

Happy Birthday this week to Sadhbh Ni Tomas, Dave Bailey, Bridgett Deem Nelson, Linda Agrella, CeCe Taylor,  and Eamonn Loughran! May this next year in your journey here be filled with happiness, peace, joy and abundance in all good things!

This Week's Tarot: 3 of Coins (Pentacles)
Vanessa Tarot

The 3 of Coins is about  hard work, planning and organization. The message here is to idealize your efforts onto a more spiritual level, not only doing your best, but finding fulfillment in your accomplishment.

This is about the constructive use of your talents and the expression of artistry in your workmanship. Think of it as using the conventional as a medium for the exceptional, in order to build something of greatness.

This Week in Astrology
After the Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse this weekend, Uranus going direct at the same time, and the volatility of this past week, we have a few things to be happy about.
As Karen mentioned in her Pagan Lore piece, Mercury goes direct this week on Wednesday.
The Last Quarter moon takes place on Saturday at 7:48pm EST. "It's time to begin finishing up the details of that which was conceived at the last New Moon on November 25th. What revelations did you have last week? What did they mean for you? What can be done now?" ~cafeastrology.com

Medicine Cards
This Week's Totem: Spider

Spider wove the web that brought humans the first picture of the alphabet.  The letters were part of the angles of her web.
Deer asked Spider what she was weaving and why all the lines looked like symbols.  Spider replied, "Why Deer, it is time for Earth's children to learn to make records of their progress in their Earth Walk."  Deer answered Spider, "But they already have pictures that show through symbols the stories of their experiences."  "Yes," Spider said, "But Earth's children are growing more complex, and their future generations will need to know more.  The ones to come won't remember who to read the petroglyphs."
So it was that Spider wove the first primordial alphabet, as she had woven the dream of the world that had become manifest.  Spider's dream of the physical world had come to fruition millions of years before.
 Spider's body is made like the number eight, consisting of two lobe-like parts connected at the waist, and eight legs.  Spider is the symbol for the infinite possibilities of creation.  Her eight legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions of the medicine wheel.
 Spider weaves the webs of fate for those who get caught in her web and become her dinner.  This is similar to humans who get caught in the web of illusion in the physical world, and never see beyond the horizon into the other dimensions.
The web of fate also represents a wheel of life, which does not include any alternatives or solutions.  It is typically human to get caught in the polarity of good or bad fortune without realizing that we can change it at any time. If we are not decisive enough about changing our lots in life, we may end up being consumed by our fears and limitations.
Spider is the female energy of the creative force that weaves the beautiful designs of life.  Her web has hundreds of intricate patterns which catch the morning dew.
If Spider has dropped from her web to speak to you today, she may be telling you to create, create, create! Look for new alternatives to your present impasse.  She can also be warning you that you are coming too close to an entangling situation.  Spider could be asking you to use a journal to write out and review your progress.  If you do this, you will not forget how you are creating a new of different phase in your life.
Spider brings a message of a different kind when she sees you becoming a bit too involved in the weaving of your life plans to notice opportunity at the outskirts of your web.  If this is the case, Spider gets your attention so that you notice that something you have woven has borne fruit. Congratulations!  Spider caught you just in time, before you missed the opportunity on the edge of your web of reality.
 The most important message from Spider is that you are an infinite being who will continue to weave the patterns of life and living throughout time.  Do not fail to see the expansiveness of the eternal plan.

That's it for this week's Stew. As always- mull, digest, enjoy!