This is a thank you to all of you who sent me comments here on the blog, emails and personal messages of concern. Our immediate 'crisis' is passed and the healing process begins. Your kindness and generosity is well-noted, and I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends and readers.
For the first week of the letter 'F', I'm going with the word, "fecundity". I think it's appropriate, given that next week is the Vernal Equinox, or Ostara as some call it. This is the official beginning of Spring.
1. the quality of being fecund; capacity, especially in female animals, of producing young in great numbers.
2. fruitfulness or fertility, as of the earth.
3. the capacity of abundant production: fecundity of imagination.
Many of us look forward to the beginning of Spring, as it portends planting season, the budding of the leaves on trees, flowers in bloom and warming temperatures. Mother earth, who has been sleeping, is now awakening to bring new life.
We perform rituals and workings to bring about a fecund harvest in the physical realm, but also in our spiritual lives as well.
In the fall and winter, we turn within to reflect upon the previous harvest, rid ourselves of that which did not grow corn for us, and prepare our 'soil' for the next year's planting.
At the winter solstice, we welcome the return of the Sun and begin to turn our thoughts toward the coming year.
For those who celebrate Brighid's Day or Imbolg, we begin to set our goals for the coming Spring.
We ask ourselves:
What will we plant?
What do we want to harvest this year?
What will bring us the most abundance and fecundity?
How will we care for this crop?
Since different plants require different types of soil, amounts of water and sunlight, etc... how will we manage this crop differently from last year?
The Equinox brings about the change from thinking to doing. We are about to implement the plan. We celebrate on the Equinox and welcome the awakening of our Mother, and afterward comes the busy time.. the time of action that brings about fecundity.As you become busier in your life, do not forget to appreciate all the bounty that you have, and to smell the beautiful flowers you have worked so hard to plant and nurture.
May your crops both physically and spiritually bring you a bountiful, fruitful harvest of good things in this coming season.
I've recently started using an mp3 player for my walks, and it's helped tremendously in keeping me focused. My buddy Rommy suggested a song that I had forgotten about and really love. It's Fighter, by Christina Aguilera. Yes, I am an unashamed fan of hers. That young lady can sing like nobody's business as far as I'm concerned.
The song is about betrayal and not allowing someone else to make you bitter about it, but to take that energy and use it to make you stronger.
I was an emotionally and mentally abused child. I then became an abused wife whose children were also abused. I remember actually being at a point where I felt robotic. There was nothing left of me but the person who took care of everyone else... nothing, but what felt like a very tiny orb of soul/spirit/spark that was buried- way down inside. Something happened that ignited the spark, and caused me to want to live again. Not survive, but thrive. But, (as in all things in this world) something had to die for the real me to live.
And, it took the death of the abused girl/wife/mother to create a new, vibrant and alive person who is thankful every day for who she is now and for what she knows she is capable of doing and accomplishing. I had to kill her off and start over.. re-mold, re-shape.. become something new. It was really hard, painful, awful work. There were times where I got really discouraged. There were times when I wondered if it was worth it (one look at my children answered that question quickly). So, for those who've asked how I went from a right-wing christian fundie to a strong left- progressive Pagan, this was the impetus... becoming my true self. Believing what I know is true, and living that truth, no matter what.
I can never be thankful for the things that were done to me and my children, but I can be thankful for our survival and will to fight. So, that's why I love the song. The person(s) who abused me/us didn't make me a fighter, that came from within.. but, I went from being someone that never fit me inside to being authentically me; and for that, I am grateful.
This week's stew encompasses a famous Irish holiday, and one that I celebrate, even if it's in rebellion.
March 17 marks the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick, and I'll be drinking to his DEATH, and not to his myth or his life. May the 'snakes' of Eire return and prosper, to never be driven out again.
And with that, it's on to the stew...
Happy Birthday this week to: Dolphin Brown, Samuel Charles Salmon, Sondra Graber, Lyn Thurman, Skytiyia Stormcloud, Tom McDonough, Diane Hughes, Monika Hubner, and Laura Ellsworth. May this next year of your life be the best you've ever had and filled with blessings in abundance.
SLUTS.. aka The War on Women
I don't think there are too many people who haven't seen the Republican War on Women lately. Not only in the legislature and political rhetoric, but Rush Limbaugh calling a young woman a slut for using birth control. Sabrina the Inkwitch , one of my favorite Pagan artists has been leading a charge against this war and has created a beautiful drawing and t-shirts to help fight back. I'm going to share the picture with you. I know you have permission to share it on Facebook, but please respect Sabrina's copyright (I know you will):
Bri is creating t-shirts and a portion of the proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood. For more information please click here.
I love that the term SLUT has been redefined as Seeking Liberty Under Tyranny. Well done!
Additionally, this video has been going viral and it's just too funny not to share:
Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Emplars, was burned alive at the stake on this date in the year 1314. Shortly before he died, he accurately predicted the death of King Philip IV of France within the year and the death of Pope Clement within forty days.
Monday, March 12
This is the annual ancient Babylonian Feast of Marduk. Also on this day in the year 1873, psychic researcher and occultist Stewart Edward White was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He authored several books containing material obtained through his wife's spirit-channeling sessions, and he served as president of the American Society for Psychical Research in San Francisco, California.
Tuesday, March 13
The thirteenth day of the third month is considered to be the luckiest day of the year for all Witches (especially if it should happen to fall on a Friday), as thirteen is the number associated with the traditional Witches' coven and three is a powerful magickal number. In Luxemborg, a Pagan fire festival known as Burgsonndeg is celebrated annually on this day with the lighting of great bonfires to welcome Spring and the rebirth of the Sun.
Wednesday, March 14
The annual thirteen-day Ghanian New Year celebration begins on this date. A series of special ritual dances are traditionally performed on the first eleven days of the festival to dispel all evil spirits and honor the souls of the departed. The shrines of the beneficial spirits are ritually purified on the twelfth day, and a joyous celebration of the new year takes place on the thirteenth day. This day is also sacred to Ua Zit, a serpent-goddess of the ancient Egyptian religion.
Thursday, March 15
On this date in ancient Rome, the annual Festival of Attis and Cybele began with a procession of reed-bearers to commemorate the finding of the infant Attis among the reeds. The festival was followed by nine consecutive days of fasting and sexual abstinence.
Friday, March 16
The annual Hindu festival of Holi is held in India on this date to celebrate Spring and to commemorate the burning death of the child-eating, she-demon known as Holika. On this date in the year 1946, J.Z. Knight, the famous spirit channeler for the ancient entity known as "Ramtha", was born in New Mexico.
Saturday, March 17
On this date in the year 1893, Eileen J. Garrett (a gifted medium, psychic, and founder of the Parapsychology Foundation) was born in Ireland. At a young age, she began experiencing visions of the dead. She was granted United States citizenship in 1947 and she founded her own publishing house (Creative Age Press) and magazine (Tomorrow, a journal of paranormal phenomena). She established the Parapsychology Foundation in 1951, and wrote numerous books under the pen name of Jean Lyttle. She died in France on September 15, 1970.
March 17 is also St. Patrick's Day, and one that many Pagans do not celebrate. In recent years, a movement came about in which Pagans wear some representation of a snake, either as a ring, some other piece of jewelry, or even on a Tshirt this day to protest St. Patrick's supposed "driving out" of the "snakes" in Ireland. Those snakes were, in fact, Pagans.
Have a wonderful week, and see you next time with more Pagan Lore!
Key words and phrases: making a single choice, relationships, personal beliefs, sexuality
This is one of the most interesting and yet strangely interpreted cards in the Tarot. It's original meaning was 'amorous one'. A lot of people will say it's about things like the key words and phrases listed above, but I've never seen imagery that bears that out.
The best interpretation I've seen of this card is that it's about two choices: the first one is that your soul or psyche has recognized someone or something as its spiritual twin, or as harmonizing with you. In other words, you become 'amorous' for it.
The next choice is about whether the rest of you (your personal life demands, your emotional heart, your passionate soul) will agree with that choice. You may feel strongly drawn to a career, person, challenge, or thing so much that no matter how scary, difficult, or irrational it may seem, you are willing to go for it. Family, friends, and advisers may all caution you against choosing it. They may think you're crazy to want it or to do it.You may even question your own sanity with it.
This card acknowledges a spiritual power outside the realms of religions and traditions. You can make the choice to say no to this and move on from this attraction/love; but if you don't allow yourself to try and make this person, career, challenge or thing a part of your life, it may be something you regret for the rest of it.
Of all the insects in the world, dragonflies seem to be on the top of everyone's "I-love" list. They are absolutely beautiful and seem to like people as well. A lot of people confuse dragonflies and damsel-flies (damsels are much thinner and smaller in body structure), but they both are representative of the same messages in the totem world.
Dragonfly represents breaking through illusions, whether those are self-created or not. It may be the illusions you put on like a mask for the outside world, or the ones you have created (or allowed) to keep you from seeing truths. Dragonfly's message is also about stripping away all the beliefs that say we cannot do something like achieve a dream or goal. It remind us that anything is possible when we really get the understanding that we are part of Spirit and as such we have the power to manifest anything that we desire.
Dragonfly eggs are laid within their territory near the water. Once hatched, these nymphs will live nearly two years on the bottom of streams and ponds. The number 2, or 2 years will be significant to those with this totem.
As dragonflies reach adulthood, they transform and ascend to the air. Water and Air elements are significant to those with this totem. In the air, they travel with wings that sparkle with spectacular colors by reflecting and refracting light and other colors. No insect or bird can maneuver as well as a dragonfly. Flying up to 30 mph, they will twist, turn, move up and down, fly backwards, even change directions instantaneously and still will spot movement 40 feet away.
In many indigenous stories, the dragonfly was once a Dragon who was tricked by Coyote (or another form of trickster) into changing shape and got stuck in the body he now inhabits. He still has all the power and fearlessness of a dragon. If he alights on you, he has bestowed you with his blessings and will be a friend and ally for life.
Those with dragonfly totem are also known to use color for spiritual and healing purposes. The power of Dragonfly lies in its ability to see around things by looking from different angles. Using its ability to transform colors and lights by reflecting and refracting them, Dragonfly shows us that life, like light, can bend, shift, and adapt in various ways, making life's appearance never be what it appears to be. Dragonfly's magic shows us to see through life's illusions and find our true vision. It calls us to transform within our lives and reminds us to feel deeply and fearlessly, so we will have the compassion necessary to help ourselves and others.
That's it for this week's stew. Mull, digest, enjoy! Sláinte,
This is week 2 for the letter "e" and I've chosen to go with 'etymology'. But, I'll also use the word execrate as an example, to stay with the "e" theme :)
As many of you are aware, I'm a huge fan of Ly De Angeles and her works. If I lived in Australia, I'd be bugging her to death to teach me, and she'd probably tell me to pack sand (yet another thing I love about her). I've had the pleasure to correspond with her occasionally, and she's just lovely. But, I digress.
She suggests an exercise in one of her books (Witchcraft: Theory and Practice) in which you are to take words and look up their etymological significance. Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. For example, you could take the word 'Goddess' and write a list of words that describe Her (what does Goddess mean to you?). Then, look up the etymology of each of those descriptive words (e.g., ineffable, inscrutable, immense, immanent, profound).
As a person who grew up reading the dictionary for fun, I love etymology, and it was an eye-opening exercise for me. It's something I highly recommend to anyone studying The Craft. Words are powerful, whether written or spoken, as they are the markers of intent; and that's what magic is all about- intent.
So, I'll give you an example:
verb tr.: To detest, denounce, or curse.
From Latin execrari (to curse), from ex- + sacrare (to consecrate). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sak- (to sanctify), which is also the source of other words such as saint, consecrate, sacred, execrable, and sacrilegious. Earliest documented use: 1561. (source: http://wordsmith.org/words/execrate.html)
I like this word and its etymology for several reasons. I think it hones in on what we mean by placing a curse upon someone.
Dorothy Morrison has written an absolutely delightful book entitled " Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes and Other Unsavory Notions" and if you've read any of her other works, she may shock you a bit with this one. Dorothy's a sweetheart. I don't know her personally, but one can infer a lot about an author from his/her works. My bff is also friends with her, and would agree with my assessment. Dorothy writes beautiful things about Wicca and The Craft, and generally seems like a very happy, busy person.
In this book, she shares another side of herself. The one you really don't want to make angry, but would love to have with you in a battle ;) She also shares some personal experiences which are poignant, heart-breaking, and sensitive. Of all the books I've read on curses, I think this one really evokes the true spirit of the curse.
The word execrate isn't just about a curse. It's about the emotion and intent behind it. To truly curse something, one really has to have a strong emotion about it.. hate, loathing, detesting, anger, repulsion, abhorrence, rage, malevolence.. these are really what go into a curse. It's also why I can't/won't curse someone for you. I don't hate them like you do, so it wouldn't be anywhere near as effective.
And, it's also why you shouldn't take something like this lightly. The kind of energy you'd put into this would bind you to the target for much longer than I believe you'd ever want it to. Sometimes, the best way to curse someone is to remove them completely from your life, your thoughts and your attentions. Human beings are social creatures. In many ancient indigenous North American societies, ostracizing someone was the worst punishment possible. It still works well, even today. And, in many Pagan/Heathen traditions, to forget a person or a deity is the worst thing you can do to them.
That being said, I have no problem with execrating someone. I believe there are circumstances that warrant it.* I'm also not going to tell you what I think those are. If you're going to curse someone, it has to be personal. It has to have that kind of emotion that 'execrate' elicits by its very definition.
In closing, I'd like to challenge you to take some time to look up the history and meaning of words that you use in your magical practice. I encourage you to do this especially when writing spells and chants. Clarifying your intent through etymology can be a very empowering experience.
*Please pass on the morality lectures. I'm not interested in them. I don't adhere to 'harm none', the law of three or any Wiccan rules for living. I live my way and it works for me.
Yep, it's a rant, and I haven't been this angry in awhile. So, either walk away now or put on fire protective gear, because it's about to get hot in here. And, I'm actually posting this 24 hours later than when I began ranting last night.
This started yesterday, when I saw people posting a video from a group called Invisible Children. The video has become viral on Facebook, and of course, those people who are just now getting wind of this are up in arms one way or another.
I really hate to burst bubbles here, but this problem with Joseph Kony isn't new. It's been going on for YEARS (try 26 of them) and there have been organizations like Invisible Children trying to stop him.
What's really gotten my ire up is seeing blogs and posts that disparage The Invisible Children organization, and I'm not about to let this just go.
Just because you're new to this issue, you do NOT have the right to attack an organization that's been fighting against Joseph Kony and his ilk since 2003. That's right.. it's been nearly a decade of fighting for the rights of these children.
Casting aspersions on their organization is just obscene to me.
Case in point: Last year the organization raised $8,676,614 and only 32% of these funds went to direct services. It appears that a large majority of their funding went to pay staff salaries, transportation expenses and film production. .
Ok, OBVIOUSLY someone doesn't know what the hell these people do, so it's time to educate you on it before you hurt yourself. First of all, they TRAVEL TO college campuses and do presentations with VIDEOS to BRING AWARENESS to what Joseph Kony and his people have been and continue to do to these children. I would be disgusted to find that they spent ANY LESS than that on staff salaries, transportation expenses and film production . WHY do they target colleges? Because it was started by COLLEGE STUDENTS. From their website (and apologies to them for not getting permission ahead of time to copy and paste): "In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure became much more when Jason, Laren, and Bobby stumbled upon Africa’s longest-running war--a conflict where children were both the weapons and the victims.
They produced the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut in 2005. At first they just showed it to their friends and family, but it wasn’t long before millions of people had seen the documentary and knew about the “invisible children.”
That's right.. these were college kids (film students) who were actually on vacation and doing some fun film-making in the process. They were NOT looking for what they found, but they couldn't turn their backs on these kids. So, they chose to take it to young adults like themselves, raise awareness and invite them to get involved.
I've personally been to their presentations. My son was so inspired that in 2008, he was chosen by his college to represent them in lobbying Congress to take action against Kony. My children have all participated in one way or another with this group. They are honest, forthright and hard-working people.
For those of you questioning their integrity.. have you ever run a non-profit or at least worked for one? I have.. it's a monumental task on its good days. I really don't care that they have been so busy working to help these people that they haven't had time to stop for an audit to please you or anyone else.
When's the last time you gave up your career goals, your life's ambitions and turned everything you had planned on for your future to help small children because you just couldn't leave them in the condition you found them? How many of you that have questioned their integrity were doing so from the comfort of your comfy desk chair in the privacy of your happy little home? How many of you have truly sacrificed for the greater good on the level of these young people?.. yeah, I thought so.
How many of you had even HEARD of Kony before that video (MADE BY THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN organization) went viral on Facebook? Careful, your ignorance is showing.
Oh and btw, they're doing a helluvalot more than just making a video. If you honestly think you "sharing" it on Facebook is going to compromise some largesse of integrity, you need a reality check.
Bringing awareness to the issue is fine (to the degree 'sharing' on Facebook can do); but SERIOUSLY? that's not a drop in the freaking bucket to what really NEEDS to happen in order to stop the LRA from their genocide missions. At least they are out there DOING something.
Can you say the same?
Disparaging them only dilutes the real issue- Kony himself and what he's done to the people of Central Africa. The real villain here isn't a non-profit group of young people trying to help others. It's Kony and his LRA. Focus on what's really important and if you don't want to support the Invisible Children group, for fuck's sake, leave 'em alone.
Today is Tara Barnow Smith's birthday. For those who haven't had the pleasure, she is the creative designer of this blog.
Tara is a pleasure to work with, has reasonable rates, and is one of the nicest human beings on the planet. She is one of those Christians who actually displays the love of Christ to all people.
She also has the most adorable daughter.
So, I'm watching Wayne Dyer on PBS.. he was quoting the bible (so you know my ears perked up) to describe how we're all a part of "The Creator" or "God". He quotes from Exodus 3:14 in which God introduces himself to Moses and gives his name: "I Am That I Am"*. He goes on to say that when we use the term "I am" in front of anything to describe ourselves, we're describing that part of God within us, and are calling upon the Divine within us to respond.
He cautions not to say things like "I am weak", because we're defeating ourselves by speaking that as a truth. *אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, pronounced Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (vowel marks added but are not in ancient Hebrew)
All of this is good and well, but as a student of Hebrew (and my friend Lorelei has already guessed where I'm going with this), I have to correct something. Ancient (biblical) Hebrew has no present tense. It is either past or future.. So, the name is one of the following: "I Was That I Was", " I Was That I Will Be", "I Will Be That I Will Be" or "I Will Be That I Was".
I appreciate that Dr. Dyer is attempting to help others (or make money from it, or both) to live a more positive life. He could very well say that we can use the term "I will be" as a way of transforming one's self. But Dr. Dyer, if you're going to quote the "Old Testament", which is actually the Jewish Bible (Torah/TaNaKh)... well, please be accurate. Otherwise, you lose me and water down your point.
It's time for the Sunday Stew. Just a note to my FB buddies, I'm taking a little break from it for a few days, so don't worry if I'm not around. I've got a lot of things on my plate in the real world, and I've spent too much time in the cyber world lately. So, in order to get caught up, I have to focus.
That being said, here's to a great week for you all :)
Good Morning! Welcome to another week of Pagan Lore!
Sunday, March 4
On this day in Ireland and Wales, the annual Feast of Thiannon is celebrated by many Wiccans in honor of Rhiannon, the Celtic/Welsh Mother-Goddess who was originally known as Rigatona (the Great Queen) and identified with the Gaulish mare-goddess Epona. On this date in ancient Greece, an annual ritual called the Anthesteria and which lasted for 3 days was held to honor the souls of the dead (the Keres). On this date in the year 1968, the Church of All Worlds (founded by Otter Zell) was formally chartered, thus becoming the first federally recognized church ofNeo-Paganism. Monday, March 5 In parts of North Africa, the ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis is honored on this date with an annual festival of music, dancing, and feasting. In Rome, Isis's opening of the seas to navigation was commemorated on this day with an annual ceremony called the Navigum Isidis (Blessing of the Vessel of Isis). Tuesday, March 6 According to an ancient book called Perillous Dayes of Every Month, the sixth and seventh days of March "shall come to no good end, and the dayes be full perillous for many things." On this date (approximately) in the year 1795, Count Alessandro Cagliostro died in prison. He was renowned as an alchemist, healer, psychic, and practitioner of wizardry before falling victim to the Catholic Church's Inquisition. Wednesday, March 7 On this day in 1890, the poet William Butler Yeats was initiated into the Isis-Urania Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There, he studied the magickal arts and took the magickal name Daemon est Deus Inversus (which translates into "The Devil is God Reversed"). Thursday, March 8 Mother Earth Day, a festival which honors the birthday of the Earth as a Mother Goddess, is celebrated annually on this day throughout China. The festival consists of street parades, the lighting of firecrackers, feasting and partying. "Birthday presents" (coins, flowers, incense, paper dolls, etc.) are placed in small holes in the ground, blessed, and then covered with soil. Friday, March 9 On this date, the annual Butter Lamp Festival is held by Buddhist monks in Tibet to render demons powerless and to secure the favor of the gods. Yak-butter sculptures of Buddhist heroes are paraded through the streets as sacred chants are recited. After the procession, the sculptures are then cast into the waters of a river. Saturday, March 10 On this day in the year 1909, the famous Dutch clairvoyant and psychic healer Gerard Croiset was born in the Netherlands. Using his clairvoyant abilities, which manifested early in his childhood, Croiset healed hundreds of patients daily at this clinic. He also worked with various police departments as a psychic criminologist and solved crimes in more than half a dozen countries. His death occurred on July 20, 1980.
That's all for now, see you next week!
Happy Birthday This Week to:Carolyn Trimble, James Mitchell, Amy Rumery McGill, Pixie Allen, Laurie Cabot, Tara Barnow Smith, Tammy Barber, Brandy Kurtz, Rowan BleuMoon, and Melody Dickson. May this be your best birthday ever; and may your next year of life be filled with joy, peace, happiness and all good things in abundance.
This Week in Astrology We have a Full Moon at 4:39 am Thursday at about 17 degrees Pisces/Virgo, whereupon the Moon goes void-of-course. The Full Moon is accompanied by the Moon separating from a conjunction to Mars (late Wednesday), retrograde in Virgo. The Moon may be concerned about its body being run-down; retrograde Mars makes a lot of us very low in energy. So it is frustrated that it has not been able to complete projects by the Full Moon. We might make an extra effort to fix our eating habits and exercise more, but Pisces is not very good at disciplining itself. This is where one needs to tap into the energy of the opposite sign (Virgo, the dietician) and incorporate it into ourselves. ~Milkyway Astrology
This week's Tarot card is dedicated to Ellen Cannon Reed,creator of The Witches Tarot. Jay Allen has a phenomenal post on her here (a must-read).
Key words and phrases: Manifestation, using material force, prosperity, financial gain, being practical, feeling safe and protected, new beginnings, inspiration.
The Ace of Pentacles (or coins) is all about operating in the material world. This is not the time for fantasy or drama. Seek out comfortable, reliable experiences that make you feel safe. Take your cues from nature. Go for a hike or a walk. Build a foundation of trust in your world, and create a new beginning. There is also a possibility of an influx of money at this time.
Key words and phrases: Power, stamina, endurance, faithfulness, expanding potential, freedom, new journeys, and realizing dreams.
Horse represents both physical and spiritual power. In shamanic/medicine people practices around the world, it is the vehicle by which they can travel between the planes of existence.
Horse is one of the wild animals who befriended humans to help them evolve and teach them about themselves.
Horse teaches us how to balance our lives between the material and the unearthly. True power comes from within and found in remembering our total journey. Compassion, caring, teaching, loving, sharing gifts/talents and abilities are the gateways to accessing our personal empowerment.
That's it for this week's stew. Mull. Digest. Enjoy. Sláinte, Kallan
For the rest of the year, the Friday Frolic is being replaced with the Pagan Blog Project. This project was started by one of my favorite Pagan bloggers, Rowan Pendragon of One Witch's Way.
To quote her, "This project is a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing your spiritual and magickal path. The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on your blog each Friday for the year of 2012 that will involve a topic that relates to Paganism, Witchcraft, magick, spirituality, and so on. You can use your posts to share your views on a topic, to talk about your own personal experiences, or to act as a catalyst to research a subject that you may not know much about and then share what you learn and how you feel about that. Each week there is a specific prompt for you to work with in writing your post, a prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet each week providing you a framework for your writing as well as a common thread for all participants to share in."
This week, it's the letter E. So, I've chosen the word "emprise", which means "adventurous undertaking". To me, this is the very definition of following your own spiritual path. As many of you are aware, I became a Christian at the age of 8, decided to become a minister when I went to college, had stints through several Christian denominations, fundamentalism, Messianic Judaism, and Judaism.
I began my emprise when I stopped following organized religions. The word 'religion' itself comes from the word 'religare' which means "to bind back", and I felt bound by all of them. I felt minimized as a female, and as a person.
I came to the full realization that these religious texts, which were being espoused as absolute truth and instruction from God, were created by other human beings who may or may not have been as intelligent as me. And, much of what they wrote had absolutely no historic or scientific evidence to back it up.
These people were also not living my life. Many of them wrote from a Bronze-age perspective, and in the case of the more modern texts, were writing with an agenda of consolidating an empire for the sake of political power. They were no more spiritual than the ink used to write on the parchment, and I could literally create my own religion which would most likely be better than anything they cooked up.
When that epiphany hit me, it knocked a huge weight off of my soul.
I cannot describe in words the fullness of the relief I felt when I didn't have to believe in things that made no sense to me any longer. The sense of complete freedom that came with that understanding is something for which I am ever-grateful.
The permission to be myself, to feel fully that connection to nature that I'd always had as a child.. to honor the trees, the plants, the rocks, the other animals as brothers and sisters.. and to be perfectly okay with that (no guilt, no shame, no superiority- just flagrant, reprobate love) was (and is) the most joyful and fulfilling experience.
To know that I can do things my way and it's perfectly acceptable to do that. I mean, truly to KNOW it- without question, without doubt.. and to feel the sense of adventure that being a part of this planet and its natural inhabitants gives is a gift of immeasurable worth.
I've met so many people who have been (and are still) caught up in the machinations of ritual, rules, regulations and constructs of some other person (or people)'s imagination, and they believe that there is only one way to do something; even in Paganism (I keep saying you can train the witch right out of a person).
I feel sad and sorry for those who have this weight to carry... the burden of someone else's perspective.. the deep-down feeling that something just doesn't fit, and yet the sense of responsibility to carry it anyway.
So, if that's you, I want to give you permission right now to begin your own emprise; to create your life the way you want it, and to worship or connect on a spiritual level in the way you know (way, deep down inside) is right for you. And, I wish you the feeling of freedom, adventure and absolute joy that comes right along with it.
I received quite a bit of email and msgs requesting updated pics of my kids and a little about them, so I'm going to brag share with you, because I'm just so magnanimous like that ;)
And now, today...
My oldest daughter. This is the one everyone says is my clone. We actually have baby pictures that are identical, right down to the hair and pose we made as newborns. In this photo, it's hard to see, but she has sky blue eyes (mine are more green). They used to call us the Gilmore Girls, and if you've ever seen the show, we were very much like them in our relationship. She was always my back-up in everything we went through, and was like a second mom to the others. She has two beautiful babies of her own now, and is going to college to become a teacher. My only disappointment is that she turned coat on me and is now a Baltimore Ravens fan (insert shame face here).
My oldest son, fellow Aquarian, and unabashed mama's boy. He's the one who always brought a sense of humor to the table when things would seem to be at their worst. He could make us all laugh, no matter how serious the situation. He is and was everyone's biggest defender. He's also very opinionated (I have no idea where he gets that from) and extremely intellectual . He went to college, got on the Dean's list, then dropped out to become a master painter in the trades. It's a passion for him. He's being groomed now to take over his boss's business. I admire him for his hard work and his continual effort to grow, in all levels of his life.
My baby girl. Funny, people will tell her she looks like me, but the two of us don't see it. This is my artist, musician, singer, poet and all around creative girl. She loves ghost-hunting, anything paranormal, Edgar Allen Poe, pirates (see flag in picture), witchcraft and has my heart for rescuing animals. She's also the one who reminds everyone how much we all mean to each other. She keeps a cool head in a crisis but is extremely sensitive, emotionally. She's one of my best friends. We do almost everything together. She wants to be an archaeologist.... or a sky-diver ;)
This is my grandfather's clone in so many ways. He's quiet, genial, volatile when provoked, and feels things so deeply; but he will never tell you that.
He's a hard worker and very independent. He's also a mama's boy. Every morning, he still comes in, kisses me on the head and gives me a hug. He has a very strategic mind, but doesn't like to think of himself as intellectual. He has a plan for everything, including if the world goes to "shite". Animals love him, and (like his mom) he is most comfortable in the woods by the river :) He's not a big football fan (where did I go wrong??) but tolerates the rest of us with our Steelers obsession.
The baby of the family (and yes, he's a mama's boy too). This is my bass player. Two years ago, he wanted to learn to play, so I bought him a bass guitar for his birthday, and lessons to go with it. In two days, he was playing Les Claypool almost as well as Les himself. He was born to play that instrument. He's the quietest of all of us, and he's also the one nobody ever gets mad at. He wants to be an astrophysicist. He's in love with the stars, the universe and science.
As I said in my previous post... they may be grown up, but they're still my babies. They've been through a lot and are thriving. That's all a mom can ask for :)
Thanks for your interest in them, and for giving me yet another opportunity to brag.
This is a picture of my kids from almost 8 years ago at Elk Neck State Park in Maryland.
The people in that picture and I have been through hell and back together. They are smart, strong, funny and amazing individuals who are all adults now, but they will always be my babies.
They stick together like crazy glue and defend each other (and me) with a vengeance.
We've been told on numerous occasions that people are envious of us because we're so close.
We have wildly deep, spiritual and intellectual discussions at the drop of a hat... and the fact that we consider that normal is very strange and appealing to people. They also find that we break into silliness instantaneously as well. We've been known to have a toilet paper roll battle in the house without warning. We sing loudly in the car. We dance around in grocery stores. We are HUGE football fans. We love going camping, hiking and fishing together. We'll have crazy family game nights where we make up rules and change them as we go. We do midnight margarita nights sometimes as well.
We argue and can get really angry with each other, but when one of us needs something, all of that flies out the window, no matter how hurt the feelings are on anyone's end.
I think it was back in the 90's that we chose a family song. The first time we heard it, we were road tripping somewhere. It came on the radio and my oldest daughter and son both said, "That's it! That's our family song!" at the same time. We all agreed it fits us. Whenever we hear it, we all brighten up and sing it at the top of our lungs. The kids used to love it when we played it in the car, because there's a part where 'you swerve to the left' and I would do that, literally (no worries.. safe driver here.. backroads with no traffic kind of thing).. they would all crack up and say I was the coolest mom ever, and for a title like that, I'm willing to do a little swerving.
We haven't had a family road trip in a long time. My oldest daughter has two kids of her own and lives in a different city. We just found out my nephew is graduating high school in May and we've all agreed to road trip together to West Virginia for it. I can't wait! Bet you know which song will be on our playlist ;)
This week's stew is light. I've been having 'issues' with a certain yellow lab who keeps eating my CdL books and making messes. We also had some kind of power surge last night, which has knocked out about half of the circuits in my house, and we're waiting on an electrician to get over here and look at it. So, I'm having an interesting weekend. How about you?
A big thank you to all of you who emailed, msg'd me, commented here and on Facebook in regard to my Real or Not Real post. I really appreciate your candor and willingness to share your experiences and thoughts with me :)
If anyone would like to contribute to The Sunday Stew or you have ideas for how to make it better, please do reach out to me. There's a contact form at the top of the page. Now, on to the stew...
Hi, and welcome to another week of Pagan Lore. This week brings us an extra day in February, Leap Day!
Sunday, February 26
This is Pentagram Night. As a symbolic gesture to reaffirm your dedication to the Craft of the Wise, dip your fingertip into a small cauldron pot filled with Yule-log ashes and then use it to draw the sacred symbol of the Witches' Pentagram (five pointed star within a circle) over your heart at the first stroke of midnight.
Monday, February 27
On this day in 1861, famous psychic and spiritual philosopher Rudolf Steiner was born in Kraljevic (which was part of Hungary at that time). He possessed clairvoyant powers and communicated often with nonphysical entities. In 1902, he was appointed general secretary of the German Section of the Theosophical Society, and in 1913, he established his own school for esoteric research. He died on March 30, 1925.
Tuesday, February 28
In ancient times, a Chaldean Sabbat known as the Sabbatu was celebrated each year on this date. On this day of the year, the Earth-Goddesses Ceres, Demeter, Gaia, Ge, and Mauri are honored by many Pagans and Wiccans around the world.
Also honored annually on this day is the ancient Pagan deity Zamyaz, who was worshipped and offered sacrifices by the ancient Chaldeans and Persians.
Wednesday, February 29
On this date in the year 1692, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam, two young girls from Salem Village, Massachusetts, accused three local women of using the black arts of Witchcraft to torment and bewitch them. On the following day, Sarah Good, Sarah Osburne, and a West African slave named Tituba were arrested, marking the beginning of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. By the end of the year, when the trials were finally brought to a close, over 200 women and men had been arrested and jailed, 19 had been hanged at Gallows Hill, and one man had been pressed to death. According to folklore, this is a very unlucky day to have a love letter postmarked. It will lead to the breakup of your love affair or engagement.
Thursday, March 1
On this date in the year 1888, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (an influential Western occult order and secret society) was established. It offered teaching on ceremonial magick, divination, Kabbalah, and other occult-oriented sciences. Many of its rituals are still in use by modern-day practitioners of High Magick. Aleister Crowley (one of the Golden Dawn's most famous members) was initiated into the Order in the year 1898 but was later expelled. In ancient Rome, the sacred fire in the Temple of Vesta was rekindled by the Vestal Virgins on this day which, at one time, marked the beginning of the Roman year.
The first day of March is celebrated in Bulgaria as Granny March's Day. (Granny-March is an old Witch-Goddess who presides over the month of March). It is believed throughout the country that if any woman works on this sacred day, Granny March becomes angry and uses her magickal powers to destroy the crops with storms.
Friday, March 2
In various parts of Europe, women celebrate Mother March each year on this date. The Mother-Goddess who presides over the third month of the year is honored and a festive parade is held to commemorate all women who have created life.
Saturday, March 3
The number three is the most magickal of all numbers; therefore the third day of the third month is believed to be a favorable time for Witches and practitioners of magick throughout the world. This day is sacred to all Triple Goddesses and deities of the Moon (which shows itself in three aspects: waxing, full, and waning). The magickal and healing power of pyramids is said to be strongest on this day.
Hope everyone has a great week -- see you next time!
Happy Birthday this week to Renee Olson (Sosanna), Cheyenne Vanessa Gallant, Andi Murray, Jude Red-Moore, Bruxas Wicca, and Byron Ballard. May this be your best birthday ever, and may your next year of life bring you joy, peace, happiness and all good things in abundance :)
This Week in Astrology
First Quarter Moon on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, at 8:21 PM EST.
On Wednesday, a First Quarter Moon occurs when the Sun in Pisces forms a square with the Gemini 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 February 21st is now off the ground, and it may face its first obstacles.
This Week's Tarot Card: Queen of Wands
"The essence of fire behaving as water, such as a rainbow: The natural embodiment of passion and sensuality, who is always the center of attention. One who reflects the desires and ambitions of others, and ignites them. A radiantly vital person, cocky and charismatic, who sees what she wants and goes after it." ~http://facade.com
Key Words and Phrases: Energetic, Cheerful, Self-assured, Whole-hearted, Passionate.
The Queen of Wands is considered one of the most fertile cards of the tarot. She can represent a real person (male or female) in our lives who embodies the traits listed above, or she can be the messenger to emulate her in some way. In general, her message is one of accomplishment- getting things done; and for the most part, this is in reference to work/career in some way. The Queen is positive, uplifting energy. If she represents a real person, it could be a good and faithful friend who will be on your side this week. That person may seem to be a bit self-absorbed, but they are loyal and true to you. All in all, this is a very positive sign for the week ahead.
Weekly Totem: Chipmunk
Key words and phrases: balance, work, play, self-discovery, strategy
Chipmunks are amazing, energetic, hard-workers. By the time they are 12 weeks old, they are able to be out on their own. They are curious, intelligent creatures who will explore every aspect of their surroundings, and will stop what they're doing when they discover something new. They work hard to prepare for winter, and if you observe them closely, you can predict what kind of weather you'll have in the winter by watching how early in summer they begin to prepare and store food. I once had the absolute joy to watch chipmunks working together to outsmart a crow. I moved back home to WV for about 6 months in 2004, and we lived in what I called our cabin in the woods. It was a ranch-style brick home, but had a real cabin-y feel to it. And, it was out in the woods on the side of a hill (in WV we distinguish between hills and mountains). We had created a stone circle outside for rituals and campfires, and we had been feeding a deer and her baby to keep them away from the roads. So, I had piled up quite a bit of deer-corn in the middle of the stone circle one morning, and we noticed the chipmunks were grabbing it up and running off with it, piece by piece. A crow showed up and stood on top of the corn pile as if to claim it for his own. The chipmunks began chattering away to each other, and then about 6 of them began taking up positions around the stone circle. The crow was not about to give up his corn, and the chipmunks knew it. One of them began walking boldly up to the pile in front of the crow, who chased the chipmunk back to his position outside the stone circle. Unbeknownst to the crow, there were three chipmunks behind him that ran up while he was chasing chipmunk one back and gathered up a bunch of corn in their cheeks. He turned to walk back to his pile and saw them. He chased them back to their spots and as he did, the other three ran up behind him and filled up their cheeks. This went on for quite awhile and provided my children and I with hours of entertainment. I've never seen any animal who works harder than the chipmunk. I've also never seen any animal who makes work into play like they do, either. The message of chipmunk really is about knowing who you are, being happy with that, and doing what you love- this turns work into play. Ask yourself if you really are where you want to be, or at least on that path. If not, what will it take for you to get there? How can you turn work into play? Look to Chipmunk to be your guide.
That's it for this week's stew. Mull, digest, enjoy!