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Friday, 17 December 2010

Hearth and Home


When frost is hanging cobwebs with pearls and diamonds, we seek out a warm fire within.

'Fire may have been the first magic that our ancestors discovered. Down through the ages it has become a focal point of our lives and culture. In ancient times the hearth formed the center of the home, where people cooked food, washed clothes and gathered to socialize.  Today, many homes still have a fireplace or a woodstove and the hearth remains an important part of our magical and spiritual practices.'
Elizabeth Barrette

The 21st December is Yule, the midwinter solstice and the night of the Long Nights Moon, a magical time indeed.

How will you be celebrating?

It is a good time to look back on the year and all the things you have done with your life. Could you improve yourself for when the wheel moves around?

Although the flowers and bulbs are sleeping, there is still plenty of greenery with which to decorate your home.  Holly and ivy, laurel and dogwood stems - all very colourful and sweet smelling.

I love candles and will be dotting them around my home to bring light into dark corners. As I watch them burn down, I shall reflect on how I can bring light into the dark corners of someone else's life.

A very happy Yule to you all.  Blessed be.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Crystal Ball

'I believe,' says Mr. Andrew Lang, in his introduction to Mr. Northcote W. Thomas's "History and Practice of Crystal Gazing", 'that some crystal gazers are, somehow, enabled to 'see' things which are actual, but of which - crystal gazing apart - they have, and can have, no knowledge.  I have no conjecture as to 'how it is done,' but, if it is done, it upsets some extant popular philosophies.'

All lands and all ages have their stories of crystal gazing, though the majority seem to be concerned more with personal visions of the past, the present, and the future than with the detection of crime, with which it is chiefly the purpose of this article to deal.

Of the usual class of crystal vision there are few more interesting examples than that recorded by the late Mr. F. W. H. Myers in the series of papers on the subliminal consciousness.  In this case, Sir Joseph Barnby was the chief witness.  He was attending a wedding at Longford Castle, having left Lady Barnby at Eastbourne.  Whilst he was there a lady known as Miss A... looked in her crystal and described what she saw - a bedroom, and a lady in the room drying her hands on a towel.

The lady who was seen in this vision was tall, dark, slightly foreign in appearance, with rather 'an air' about her.

'This described with such astonishing accuracy my wife and the room she was then occupying,' Sir Joseph wrote in his account of the case, 'that I was impelled to ask for particulars of the dress she was wearing.'

Looking again into the crystal, Miss A... saw that the dress was of serge, with a good deal of braid on the bodice and a strip of braid down one side of the skirt.

This description threw Sir Joseph off the scent, as his wife expressed regret, before he left for Longford, that she had not a serge dress with her.  His astonishment, therefore, was great, on returning to Eastbourne, to find her wearing a serge dress exactly answering to the description, and to learn that, as a surprise, having received it very much earlier than she expected from the costumer, she had arranged to meet him in it.  His wife also recalled the incident that was seen in the crystal, of washing her hands, 'Thinking I was late for meeting the train,' she said, 'I opened the door to call the maid to tell me the time as I washed my hands, standing at the washstand in a line with the door.  I do not suppose I have ever done such a thing at an hotel before.'

Sixteen months later Sir Joseph and Lady Barnby were at Prince's Hall, Piccadilly, when Lady Radnor and Miss A... entered the room.  During the greetings that followed Miss A... called Sir Joseph's attention to a standing figure saying, 'You will remember my seeing a lady in her bedroom while I was looking in my crystal? That is the lady I saw.'  Sir Joseph adds that this lady was his wife, and that Miss A... had never seen her before.

From: 'Crime and the Crystal - has crystal-gazing a scientific basis? by F. A. H. Eyles

A few years ago I was looking in my crystal when I noticed therein a young man beside a bonfire.  He seemed distressed and unable to make his way away from it. I could think of no connection at that time, so returned the crystal to its place on the shelf in my study.

Later that summer, my son went to a rock festival in Reading. The festival was set to last for two or three days, but on the last day we received an urgent telephone from him to say that he was unable to drive himself home and could we possibly come and fetch him? Naturally we did so, even though it was a long way away and a great inconvenience.

On arriving at the festival ground, we found that everyone had gone home, leaving him to fend for himself.  To this day I don't know why he was in the state he was in, but I do have my suspicions.  His father drove his car home for him and I drove our car home.  As he got into it, looking rather dazed and confused, I noticed an overpowering smell of bonfires emanating from his person and his clothes...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Home and Hearth

At this time of the year we are aware that we have entered the winter season.  The winds are blowing strongly and most of the leaves have fallen away from the trees, leaving them bare and lifeless looking. It is a time to close in, shut the curtains and stoke up the fire.

When I was small we had an open coal fire.  By now my mother would have the coal bunker filled with lumps of black shiny coal.  She bought what she could afford, sometimes a luxury brand of coal, sometimes coke and sometimes a mixture of both.  I used to watch her light the fire in the morning.  First she would rake out the ashes from the day before.  These would go into the garden.  Next she would put a layer of newspaper and small sticks in the grate and on top of that a layer of the coal.  She lit the newspaper with a small flare and that would light the wood.  The wood, once it got going, would set light to the coal and then the trick was to keep it going and not let it go out.  For that you needed a draft up the chimney.  That was provided by a large sheet of newspaper held against the fireplace space.  A fast draft was sent up the chimney, often accompanied by a loud roar, which I found very frightening.  

That usually did the trick and within half an hour the room was warmer.  Of course we had to keep the fire fed with coal all day but it provided a very comfortable warmth which I remember vividly to this day.

I always try to have some sort of small fire in the house on a cold night.  Even the humble candle can give out the effect of warmth - so important to our well being.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Samhain

It is a week nearly, after Halloween or Samhain as it used to be called.  At this time of the year we need to be on guard because forces from the other world are at large and liable to come and visit us.

It is the time of the Wild Hunt when the Sidhe are abroad, collecting up the souls of the dead to take back to the land of the dead.  There is not much to separate us from the other world at this time and we need to be on our guard and listen for the approach of thundering horses hooves and a loud trumpet call.

You might like to read about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow here. There are many interpretations of this time of misrule.

'Possibly the best known Wild Hunter is the Germanic god Odin and his Furious Host.  Usually lame, attended by horses and dogs, he runs through the night collecting the souls of the dead - specifically the dead that were evil-doers in life.  Sometimes, instead, Odin is thought to hunt a boar or a wild horse, or even a woman.  But Odin was far from the only leader of the hunt.  Depending on the country or region, King Arthur, Sir Francis Drake, Gwydion, and even demons were claimed as leaders of the hunt. - Diana Rajchel'

So if you feel you are not alone some dark night soon while you are out walking, it might be best to go indoors and shut your door and turn out your lights... 

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Blood Moon - 22nd October 2010


To the Cherokee, October is the Harvest Moon, as this is when people gather and preserve most of their food.  To the Choctaw, this is the Blackberry Moon.  In warmer regions, late-cropping berries ripen now and are often dried or preserved for winter use. The Dakota Sioux call this the Moon When Quilling and Beading is Done. These creative pursuits take many hours, so people favour them when less outdoor work can be done but enough daylight still remains to see fine details.
Elizabeth Barrette

We are moving fast toward the festival of Samhain and this harvest moon, so big and beautiful hanging in our skies tonight give just enough light for the last of the harvest to be brought in.  I have watched it for hours now as it travels across the sky, hiding behind clouds, then coming out again with a flourish of light.  I did notice a red glow around the moon tonight but it was not as red as the one in the picture.  The reddish colour is caused by dust particles and is truly beautiful at its best.

It is not only because of the colour that this late moon is called The Blood Moon.  It is also called that for it was a time for shedding the blood of animals which could not be fed during the long winter months.  They would be despatched and preserved to feed people during the winter-time.

This is a good time to start making crafty items for Halloween or Samhain as we call it. There is much to be done as we head into our New Year.

When I was learning Wicca, I started in the run up to Samhain.  To be a witch, it takes a year and a day. That is considered to be a good time span to be sure that you want to go further with your commitment and your studies. After one year and a day I had been through all the moons and all the Sabbats and I felt ready to go deeper.

Take some time tonight to look at the moon if you feel so inclined.  Draw down the energy that she provides for us so freely.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Mabon - The Autumn Equinox

We are in the season of Autumn, just past the Autumn Equinox. This is the festival of thanksgiving and a time when day and night are in perfect balance again. At Mabon, we celebrate the harvest and whereas Lammas is the grain harvest, Mabon is the fruit harvest. It is a time to store food for the winter to come.

The sap in the trees and plants is moving down now and it a time to give thanks for the gifts and help given and to welcome the turning, the change of energy flowing toward the dark, the power within. We start to think more reflectively, perhaps wanting to study something new (why not try Wicca?) and to turn our thoughts to woolly socks and long evenings in by the fire.

I suggest you read 'Sabbats' by Edain McCoy.

Now is a good time to make a spell for protection in your car.

On to a red cloth, put out these herbs/plants:
1 tsp comfrey and 1 1/2 tsp's mugwort (for protection during travel).
1 1/2 tsp's of rosemary (for alertness during travel).
1 tablespoon ash tree bark (for protection against accidents).
10 drops of lavender oil (refreshing smell).

Put the ingredients in a spell bag and tie with some thing string.

Then say, as you tie knots:

one by one, this spell's begun.

two by two, it will be true.

three by three, so mote it be.

four by four, the power's in store.

five by five, this spell's alive!

Put the spell bag in your car to keep you safe.

Happy motoring on the slippery roads, covered in leaves.
May you keep safe and sound.

Star

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On Children by Kahlil Gibran


On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Monday, 13 September 2010

The Hedgerow

'Hedgerows are rooted deeply in our national consciousness as indispensable elements of our ideal of the English countryside. They stitch together the fabric of our landscape to create a scene unmatched except where newly created by seventeenth-century colonists in a few parts of the old Empire such as New England, Tasmania and parts of New Zealand. Many are more ancient by centuries than our castles, cathedrals and abbeys and in the words of W.G. Hoskins, ''they represent the physical evidence of decisions made long ago and fixed solidly on the ground''. By their character they proclaim the regional identity of the countryside as surely as a knight's pedigree was revealed by the charge on his shield.'

From 'Discovering Hedgerows' by David Street and Rosamond Richardson.


'The bramble has much folklore attached to it: sick children used to be passed through an arch of bramble that had rooted at both ends in order to make them better; it was also believed that this could cure rheumatism. The Greeks and Romans used blackberries to cure gout, and infusions of the leaves are still used in folk medicine to relieve sore throats and tonsillitis. Current medical researchers are investigating the possibility that the leaves contain anti-diabetic properties.'

You can tell the age of a hedge by the number of species of plants and trees that grow in it.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lughnasadh

The beginning of August celebrates the first of the three harvests, Lammas. It is a time for celebrations and the playing of traditional games.

I found this little video which illustrates this time of the year very well.

It is taken from the BBC serial, The Victorian Farm in which three intrepid volunteers, all experts in their own field (excuse the pun) live life as the Victorians did.



Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The business of bees







I took this video of busy bees yesterday. They just epitomise this time of the year, don't they - for those of us in summertime of course!

The smell of the lavender whilst I was taking the picture was just wonderful and I stood there in a happy haze of contentment feeling that all was just right with the world.

I hope that all is just right with your world and if it isn't, just ignore the bad bits.

Star

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Four winds and flight

I pray that the wind will speed my flight home tomorrow night and that the light of the moon will keep the path clear.

Dear Goddess of the moon, I still have work to do. Grant me a safe journey through the stars to my English home.

Allow me the chance to work in my beautiful garden again and the time to stroke the black fur of my dear little cat, Patch who waits so patiently for me.

So mote it be

Star

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Summer Solstice

Today is the summer solstice - the peak of the summer and a very special time in the days of a Wiccan. To me it means the shift of power. The Sun King God is once more giving his mantle over to the Oak King. In their eternal struggle for supremacy, first one and then the other is vanquished and 'goes to ground' for a while. However, this is a positive thing, like everything else in Wicca. It is a time of renewal for the Sun King and a time to 'shine' for the Oak King.

The Maiden Goddess gives way to the Mother Goddess for the time of planting and tending is now at an end and it the time of nurture in readiness for the harvest. All things have their beginning and their end.

Are you like me in that just when you are used to a season, suddenly it is ended? I have been enjoying the spring, with all it's hope for the coming summer and now, all of a sudden it seems that summer is coming to an end. We have harvest to prepare for. We must look after the plants we have bought and grown. Already we are planning, saying 'those tomatoes are almost ripe' those beans are getting tall etc.

Tomorrow the day will be very slightly shorter and the night a little bit longer and so it will carry on until the end of the year. We must treasure the daylight. Years ago, before we had electric lights, the daylight must have been even more precious than it is now. We take so much for granted these days.

Let's not lose touch with the bounty that nature offers us in so many ways.

This is the perfect time for family and friends to get together and celebrate with parties and barbecues. It is the time for weddings. The courtship time is over and the more serious time is beginning.

I wish you all a very happy Summer Solstice.

Star

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Hawthorn

We are just passing through the Celtic month of Hawthorn, known also as 'May'. This lovely bush has delightfully scented flowers which evoke many memories in me as I used to play near it when I was small. In England we separate our fields with hedges and there is a history attached to that, but I'll keep that for another post. It is possible to tell the age of a hedge by the number of species of tree and shrub that grow amongst it. Some are hundreds of years old.

Many legends are attached to the hawthorn.

" The most famous Christian legend concerning hawthorn is that of the Glastonbury Thorn. This sixteenth century story tells us that as Christianity entered Britatin, the Celtic spirit was moved by the spirituality it expressed and that this was emphasized when Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury. On Wearyall Hill he rested, leaning upon his staff, which during the night rooted into the ground and became a blossoming hawthorn tree. This was taken as a sign that the new religion of Christ was to be founded at Glastonbury and Joseph and his 12 disciples built the first Christian chapel there.

Joseph's staff became known as the Glastonbury Thorn, which ever after blossomed on Christmas Day in honour of the divine birth of Christ.

Hawthorn radiates qualities of growth and health. People have always approached it for healing, especially those trees that grow near wells and springs."

From 'Tree Wisdom' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

I like the hawthorn mostly because it reminds me of childhood. I remember looking for birds nests in it when I was barely tall enough to reach the branches. It is very good for keeping animals out and children in and when in the late 1970's I was living in the cathedral city of Ely in Cambridgeshire, we had a large back garden surrounded by the beloved hawthorn.

Because it usually flowers in May, it is a favourite for making the crowns that go atop Maypoles, these representing the female, where the pole itself represents the male in the rituals.

Does the hawthorn play a significant part in your life?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

My Pentagram

The pentagram has been used for many years and by many different faiths. It is not unusual to see a chair with a pentagram on it in an old English church.

The following comes from Wikipedia.

A pentagram (sometimes known as a pentalpha or pentangle or, more formally, as a star pentagon) is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes. The word pentagram comes from the Greek word πεντάγραμμον (pentagrammon), a noun form of πεντάγραμμος (pentagrammos) or πεντέγραμμος (pentegrammos), a word meaning roughly "five-lined" or "five lines".

Pentagrams were used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia, and are used today as a symbol of faith by many Wiccans, akin to the use of the cross by Christians and the Star of David by Jews. The pentagram has magical associations, and many people who practice Neopagan faiths wear jewelry incorporating the symbol. Christians once more commonly used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus,[1][2] and it also has associations within Freemasonry.[3]

The word "pentacle" is sometimes used synonymously with "pentagram", and this usage is borne out by the Oxford English Dictionary, although that work specifies that a circumscription makes the shape more particularly a pentacle.[4] Wiccans and Neo-pagans often make use of this more specific definition for a pentagram enclosed in a circle.[5]


I wear mine almost every day and it feels like a talisman, as if I won't be safe without it. Interesting, isn't it how we use these tools to aid our passage through life.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Collecting Spring Water

This is me collecting spring water from the hills at Clinton, Tennessee. Every year I collect spring water to put in a special flask. I keep the flask all year and use it in the full moon rituals at the west quarter of the magic circle.

Tonight is a full moon, so I will be offering up the water to be cleansed by the moon in order to make it even more potent for spelling in the coming year.

The water I am collecting has come straight down from the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee and just as I was wondering how to collect it from the water wheel directly, the lady at the mill decided to take her lunch break. She didn't want to leave the water wheel running while she was away so she diverted the water temporarily down the shoot you can see here, straight into the creek at the bottom. I believe I was very lucky to collect the water this way. It was a safe way of doing it and very timely.

The sound of water is very calming and relaxing, restoring our spirits and healing our troubled minds.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Willow Tree - Healing


Tomorrow we start the Celtic tree month of Hawthorn, but before I leave off thinking about the Willow Tree, I want to visit one more time. This time I am thinking about the healing qualities of willow. Did you know that aspirin is derived from the bark of the willow tree? and where would we be without that, I wonder?

Willow has always been used to protect against diseases caused by damp conditions. The bark and leaves contain salicylic acid. Gypsies have long known of the qualities of the willow tree bark, giving it as a bitter drink for the relief of ailments like rheumatism, influenza and headaches.

Culpeper advises us to 'slit the bark from the willow in flower and collect the water from the tree.' which is good for problems of sight, dimness and soreness of the eyes. It is also good for clearing spots from the skin.

The Bach Flower Remedies, see one of my previous posts, advise using it to clear severe discontent, both with yourself and with others. Irritability, fault-finding, self pity, unhappiness and resentment as well as jealousy and other such negative emotions are dealt with by willow.

I like the idea of going back to my roots, trying to put myself into the position where I have to think about what I would do if, sort of scenario...

So, thinking about the willow and its affiliation with water, it is just one more step to see why the moon is so important to the willow. The moon is responsible for controlling the tides and willow is a water tree. Now, suppose I was an ancient being and I depended on rain to water my crops, it would follow that I needed to ask the moon and the willow tree for help. I wouldn't be able to tune in to the weather channel and see what sort of weather was coming my way. I would have to devise a different method. If I looked in the sky and saw no clouds, I would be worried. So by honouring the tree and through it, the moon, I would use the energy in me to make contact with the element of water and ask for rain.

A good way to do this would be to cut a willow knot. Use the knot as a visual aid to your wish, or spell; honour the tree and the moon (Goddess) and if the intent is for good, not evil, then your wish will be fulfilled.

There is so much we can do with what we already have instead of rushing off to the shop each time we need something.

There is so much more to the willow, but tomorrow I will be turning my thoughts to the hawthorn. Will you travel with me as I go down the country lane and discover what this next tree has to offer?

Source: 'Tree Wisdom' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Celtic month of Willow

This morning I went down to the creek to take some pictures of the willow trees down there as they swayed in the wind.

Their silvery leaves rippled in the breeze, looking every bit like babbling water .



Witches have long been associated with the willow tree, probably because in the dark, their gnarled trunks look like old crones walking about.


Life is sacred, but what makes it sacred? It is the coming together of all the essential elements and the properties that they create. We cannot do without any of them. We need water, fire, air, earth and spirit to survive.



This month I am thinking about the willow tree and its connection with water. Water symbolizes our dreams, emotions and visions. A willow tree branch is an excellent tool for divining water. Since the willow tree is affiliated with the moon who controls the tides and since the willow loves to grow near water, it follows that it is a perfect choice. Interesting that we are receiving such a lot of water in Tennessee right now. Too much water is flowing our way and we won't need a willow branch to divine it for the moment. Since I got here we have had a lot of rain and a lot of sun.

You could also say that there is much emotion in the world today, much sadness as well as much joy.



Just as we can use the willow tree to find water, so we can also ask for its help with our emotions. The branches of the weeping willow bend downwards. It has the power to empathise with our tears. Likewise the wiccan tool for water is the chalice. This tool is also associated with the willow tree and is used to catch our tears.



During a 'Celtic sacred grove handfasting' (wedding), the officiant calls upon Arianrhod, the Lady of the Moon.


The willow is the sixth tree of the grove, the tree of enchantment and intuition.



The weeping willow is a native of China, having been introduced to Britain in the eighteenth century. The Chinese see the willow as a herb of immortality for it has the ability to grow from the smallest branch stuck into the earth.

Some beings are drawn to the willow tree. The Wryneck birds like to nest in it.




Dryad fairies like to live in it.

As I get older I have turned away from the Christian religion that I was brought up to believe in. I no longer want to go through a priest to reach God. I no longer want only to believe in a masculine deity. I want to spend more time and energy on Mother Earth. I question why I should believe in a religion which is steeped in the culture of the middle east when there is such an abundance of spirituality right here on my doorstep. I no longer want to worship a man hanging on a cross, I would rather hug a tree.

All these issues have been going round in my mind for some years now.

I am happy in my nature spirituality. There is so much to explore and so much to re-learn in life. My heart sings with the joy of all of it.

Star

References from 'Tree Wisdom' by Jennifer Memory Patterson

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Silver Walking Cane - Magpie Tales 11


Looking back through the years a thread of time dangled from a needle of doubt as I began to remember...

The first time I saw him, or felt his presence to be more precise, was on one of those evenings when it was too hot to sleep.  Nightmares sought to wrap themselves around my sleeping form like a suffocating blanket of grey mist from which there is no escape.

Lifting my head I could just make out through my window, a pale, ghostly moon above the trees that surrounded the lake.  It was not yet full, but the lake, bathed in the moonlight, was more visible for the shining of its silvery beams.

Shaking off the clammy sheets, I made my way to the bathroom where I relieved myself of discomfort and washed my hands in the cool water, which flowed from antique taps.  I gazed into the  mirror just as a shadowy shape slipped by behind me.  I saw the glint of the top of a silver walking cane as the shadow went out of my view.  My skin began to shiver.  Was it fear or an awakening of some sort?  I could not be sure.

I turned round, but there was no-one there.  No sound to indicate the presence of another being and yet...  Morgana, my little calico cat, was waiting for me on the bed as I returned to the four-poster. The large bed was left to me by a favourite aunt when she died. I had always admired it and she was kind enough to tell me that one day it would be mine.  The little cat showed no sign of fear or disturbance, but as I stroked her soft fur I noticed a second form on the eiderdown, this one much larger than a cats.  It looked as if a larger being had taken rest on top of the feathered eiderdown.  Also there was a slight aroma which filled the air.  A scent of the forest would describe it adequately.

Feeling uneasy, I walked the three steps to the window and looked down towards the lake.  Fireflies were darting in the bushes.  Were fairies lighting the way?

Many years have passed since that mysterious night.  There have been nights when the fireflies were as bright as electric sparks and nights so dark that my blood ran cold and my skin grew icy and almost translucent.

There is a certain stillness in the night sometimes that compels me to follow the path down to the lake, to open my senses to the smell of the forest and to train my eyes to watch for a silver glint and a shadowy, tall shape. My ears are keen for the rustle of a leaf or the snap of a twig and my heart quickens pace when I hear it.

These are the nights when the nightmares come.  The terror of being awake and yet asleep.  These are the threads of doubt which dangle from the needle of time as it stabs my heart and I remember... Is it the ancient four-poster bed that keeps me from slumber or the knowledge that I will never see the reflection of my own face as I gaze long and hard into my mirror and attempt to clean those long, sharp teeth?

The silver handled cane stands in the corner of my bedroom these days.  It stands as a testament to my one true love and sometimes, when the moon is almost full, I think I see it sway.  Never again will I follow it down to the lake, watching the fireflies while the cicadas sing their accusing song.  The dark stain on the carpet will see to that!


This is a Magpie Tale.  For more Magpie Tales, click here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Willow



The west quarter of the Wiccan pentacle represents water and  is the place to find emotion.  It is where the water filled roots of a weeping willow tree would seek succour. It is where I, an emotional being, am drawn.  The Celtic tree month of Willow began on 15th April and I have been thinking about this dramatically powerful magical tree.

I love the idea of a tree for each month. It helps to focus my thoughts and this month I am happy to think about emotion. There is a lot of water in me.

This is an enchanting time of the year. It is a time to use scents to enhance our bodies and an exciting time for our minds because nature is waking up.  Birds and other animals are becoming vivid in their livery in order to seek a mate.  We, as humans, are doing the same, preparing for the big spring Sabbat of Beltane on May 1st.

When we think of the willow tree, we usually think of a weeping willow but there are many other kinds.  The Druids favour the Goat Willow for its branches make a good wand.  It has special spring qualities - silvery flowers on the female tree followed by golden pollen on the catkins. It is an important moon and sun tree.

So, what better time to sit beneath a willow tree with a willow basket in your hand and enjoy the warmer days.  Who knows, if you look in the water beneath the tree, you may even see your future lover.

At Imbolc the triple Goddess was a maiden.  Now she has become a seductress, ready to seduce the young God. He will consummate their union on May 1st.

Many ancient Goddesses are associated with the willow tree.  Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld and the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the earth, had a sacred grove in Tartarus.  It is said that the grove was remarkable for its black poplars and aged willows.

Beltane

Beltane is the second most important Sabbat in the Wiccan calendar and the last of the three spring fertility festivals. It is a time for loving and finding a mate. In honour of the fire God, Bel, pagan fire festivals have been held since ancient times. Usually celebrated on May 1st, it is an excellent time to hold a wedding.

'The ancient Sumerian goddess Belili was a goddess of trees and willows in particular. She also ruled over the moon, love and the Underworld. As a willow-goddess, she resided over springs and wells. Belili was dramatically superseded by her willow-god consort Bel, who became the supreme lord of the universe through a solar (patriarchal) revolt against Belili's lunar (matriarchal) order. In Europe the Celts honoured Bel as Belin the sun-god, and his worship as 'lord of life and death' slowly entered Britain during tribal migrations and eventually ousted the indigenous lunar worship. Belin's feast days were 30th April and 1st May. So these celebrations became known as Beltaine and during them great fires were lit in Belin's honour.'

from 'Tree Wisdom' by Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

Next you will see an excerpt from the Beltane fire festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2009.
Some nudity in this video.



Friday, 16 April 2010

A Timely Death



Death occurred at 10 o'clock. As the departed soul of Mr. Magander, lifted by angel wings, began its journey, his friends could only stand around and keep vigil.  He died with his best suit one, suddenly and without a fuss as befit his stature in life.


His friends, memories over-flowing in their minds, regarded each other - a state of bewilderment having already set in.  It would be hard to imagine life without this pillar of their society, but what made him really special was the timepiece.


The day he brought it home for them all to admire, was the day he won their respect.  To be in possession of something so precious and to go to such lengths to purloin it, was a cause for celebration.  Even on a full moon they could, if they wanted to, still see it: its gold colour a burnished glimmer in the moonlight. It was a treasure beyond price and forever his... From that day forward, they would look to him to lead them and he would have his choice of the females.  It was only right.


"We must tell the gypsy," said the second in command.  'She'll know what to do."


"Where is she?" said another.  "Has anyone seen her?"


They looked from one to another.  Anxiety hung in the air as the clouds turned black in front of the sun.


"She washes her hair, down by the brook," said another of their number.


The gypsy saw them coming, upside down in her vision as her hair hung free and reached the water.


"What is it?' she asked as they flocked around her.


"We have a funeral to attend," they told her, their voices loud and in unison.


"Oh, I see.  Must I attend?"


"You must come. Please say you will; and scatter flowers round.  It's all we ask."


"I shall attend."


Mr. Magander's friends collected suitable matter for the funeral circle and the gypsy attended as she had promised.


Each friend laid a special wreath near the still body - a blade of grass, so gently laid and another and another.


The gypsy placed the time piece at his head and the chain reached to his feet: a circle of gold.


For a few precious moments, the friends stood still and said 'farewell", each in his own way and then departed. A flurry of darkened wings as they took flight...


When they had all gone, the sky seemed black, covered as it was by a cloak of magpie wings.


The gypsy, looking this way and that, stooped down and picked up the timepiece, putting it gently in her pocket.


Star

NB Magpies are said to hold funerals for fallen friends and even bring along wreaths.

For other Magpie Tales, click here to access Willow's  website.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Ostara


Ostara Comments

~Magickal Graphics~

We are nearly finished with March now.  It is going out with a storm moon tonight. We are finally saying goodbye to our long, long winter but we still have to watch out for some very strong winds and stormy conditions.  I am always tempted to put on lighter clothes on the first warm day in March, but have to tell myself to wait. It is wiser to wear layers at this time of year because it is possible to go through several changes of clothes before the day is out.

March is all about change and it certainly affects our pysche. Do you feel like a change? Perhaps you are feeling that you should be moving house or changing your job or your car?  Maybe you want to start a family or try out a new adventure.

We all need change in our lives in order to grow.  We don't grow if we stand still.

In the Wiccan calendar we have just passed Ostara.  This ancient pagan festival was overlaid by the Christians who changed its name to Easter.  They have adopted several pagan ideas, like the Easter Bunny to add to their own celebrations.  To Wiccans it is more about hares.  Hares are magical creatures and make wonderful familiars, if you can get to use one.  They have a very knowing look in their eyes, not at all like the cute Easter Bunnies we have got so used to seeing at this time of year.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Imbolg

Imbolg is a winter cross quarter festival. It is the time when the earth begins to wake up. Bulbs are beginning to shoot and the first snowdrops appear.

It is the time when we celebrate the maiden aspect of the Goddess.

At this time of the year people start to become restless, thinking about ways they can change their lives for the better and grow within themselves. We are all affected by the shift in the earth energy.

A good way to celebrate is with candles, lots of them. I choose white and red candles to put on the altar. You can do it too. Light the candles (mind the cat!) and meditate on new beginnings, both by clearing out old negative thoughts and by planning to try new adventures.

The celebration of Imbolg, which literally means 'in the belly' is sacred to Brigid, goddess of smithcraft, poetry and healing. Think about Brigid in her forge, welcoming you in with a wonderful smile and helping you to plant new seeds of positivity in your life today.

You may have noticed that the days have just begun to lengthen, so you could turn your mind to setting a few seeds in a pot. Nurture the seeds as they grow and at the same time, nurture positive thoughts in your head as you do it.

Have a great Imbolg.