Monday, November 28, 2011

End of Line

Until I can write again.

I'll be back soon, and likely have quite a bit to share when I return. Hope everyone has a great time of it while I'm elsewise engaged.

Only a few posts left of the 44 Days of Witchery meme.

Friday, November 25, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 37


My cauldron is a dutch oven. It has three legs, and is made of good cast iron.

I don't use it much, I admit. My fireplace isn't large enough for it really. It is a bit too heavy to take camping when one of my campgrounds requires a bit of hiking.

So, it is much neglected. Right now I'm storing river stones in it.


So, blogger has forgot all the blogs I've been following. >.< Grrr...

I'll be taking a break from blogging for at least a week starting Monday. Hope you all have a beautiful week! :D

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And sometimes... Life shifts its balance

No matter how close you feel to the Gods, to your True Will, and to your goals in life, sometimes life changes.

You have to skip a ritual that you love.
A planned outing gets cancelled.

It happens.

And coming to terms with that, and forgiving yourself for that is part of the journey.

Recognizing boundaries and priorities is important.

I didn't get to do what I wanted on the 16th for Hekate, and my New Moon ceremony for this month is not going to happen either. But I'm glad.

What I will get in return for this break is well worth the cost. But don't worry!

I plan on continuing my blog posts, though they're going to be a little bit more erratic.

To my fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for, starting with apples, hot tea, cats and dogs, and paint and pencil, and ending somewhere around zoology. I sincerely hope, no matter where you live, that you can take a moment to give thanks for the good things in life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 36

A famous witch...

Truth be told, I tend to read what the popular Pagan authors write and then go my own way.

In terms of who I most look up to...

T. Thorn Coyle is big on my list.
As is Grey Cat.
In podcasting, I have a lot of affection for Mojo and Sparrow of the Wigglian Way.

I'd like to go back and ask Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley some questions. And then again, if I could time travel, I'd love to talk to Pythagoras and Paracelsus and Hesiod. To talk to Medea and Kirke would be divine.

I'm not sure that the traits that make a person capable of attaining any sort of fame are those that I want in someone that I learn from. I don't really think of any of the Pagans above as famous really. Fame connotes a wide following, and even our most well-known contemporaries are really only known in our community... or in their local community.

I mean, does the average Californian know who Starhawk is? I'm pretty sure Salemites know Laurie Cabot, but that's a smaller town and she's a loud person.

Anyway, I admire some Pagans for what they've written. But they're still people, with all the flaws and fun that that entails. They don't necessarily have the key that fits the lock of my path of mysteries.

Still, if I could I'd love to study under T. Thorn Coyle, Sorita D'Este, Grey Cat, and the Wigglians. It isn't happening anytime soon, and I'm sure if it did happen, I'd question some of the lessons pretty harshly.

Ultimately we each have to walk our own way, and that means being willing to admit that being famous or published doesn't mean that the Gods whisper in their ears. I'm always a little skeptical of fame. I admit it. Fame seems a fickle beast.

Better to listen to the wisdom of what's actually being said, and weed the garden of what doesn't' work for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 35

Lemon Balm: Melissa Officianalis
Origins: Mediterranean World
Astrological Associations: Jupiter and Cancer (according to Culpepper.) Moon (Candace Hunter.)

For the Greeks, the honeybee was considered associated with several Gods and Goddesses. Bees attended the birth of Zeus, and several Bee Nymphs were among his nurses. The priestesses of Cybele and Rhea were called Melissae, which means bee. Even the human soul was associated with the bee.

Of all the blossoms that were beloved by bees, the lemon balm was understood as most prized, according to Pliny the Elder. It was traditional to plant lemon balm near hives to encourage them to stay and be happy.

The flowers of lemon balm are tiny, delicate, and lovely. Charlesmagne found the plant so lovely that he is said to have insisted that it be a part of all monastery gardens. In fact it was a main ingredient in Carmelite Water, which was a popular tonic in the nineteenth century and earlier.

It is also included in the liquor Chartreuse and Benedictine, both of which are medieval recipes for tonics. Paracelsus said that Lemon Balm is an herb in the elixir of life.

Shakespeare uses lemon balm as a symbol of sympathy in King Richard II, King Henry IV, and King Lear, where he describes it being used to anoint the kings. His plays also describe using lemon balm as furniture polish. The British colonies in North America use lemon balm in beverages, food, medicine, cosmetics and around the home.

It was believed in the 17th century to be a balm against baldness, mental degradation, and depression. In Polish folklore, new mothers are refreshed by a tonic of lemon balm or chamomile. It even has some reputation of extending the recipient's life.

In magic, Lemon Balm is very soothing and kind. It grows with a sense of resiliency and strength in spite of its delicate appearance. Melissae Officianalis is also known as encouraging joy and peace and self-nurturing. It is a relaxing presence. Some flower languages list lemon balm as bringing merriment and relieving stress.

If you lightly rub the leaves, a light lemon scent fills the air and your hands.

In modern medicine, studies show it can be useful for insomnia, anxiety, cold sores, antibiotic effect, and indigestion.

Shatoiya De la Tour, "Earth Mother Herbal: Remedies, Recipes, Lotions, and Potions from Mother Nature's Healing Plants"
Liebreich, Wagner and Wendland, "The Family Kitchen Garden"
Deborah Anders Silverman, "Polish-American Folklore"
A Modern Herbal:
University of Maryland's Herbal Database:
Mountain Rose Herbs' entry on Lemon Balm:
The Practical Herbalist:
Herbal Legacy's entry:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 34

Something I think people who don't know much about Paganism/Witchcraft should know.

I think I'd like to bring forward the idea, as put forward by Michael York, that we shouldn't be talking about Paganism, so much as Paganisms.

The sheer diversity that our community possesses means that there are always exceptions. One can only talk about their own beliefs and experiences and use the lens of other's experiences and history to test what has happened to you.

When a Wiccan talks about the Threefold Law or Law of Return or the Rede, that only applies to Wiccans, and different traditions deal with them in their own ways. And there's a lot more out there than Wiccan witchcraft.

It all seems to delineate along certain lines though:
Eclecticism vs. Cultural Specificity
Historically based vs. Inspirational
Gods-centered vs. Magic-centered
God is One vs. Gods are Many

Really it isn't a clear distinction however, as each category is really more of a spectrum.
For example, I lean slightly towards eclecticism, but don't cross the line of approaching Gods from multiple pantheons in the same ritual. While I may maintain certain devotions to Bast-Mut and Amun, I don't do those things in the same rite as one to Hekate. The rituals are even different based upon their cultures.

To know what needs to change for the rituals, I look to history, but I also listen to my intuition and when I am inspired to think of something new, I try it out. If it works, I may keep it. If it doesn't, I toss it.

I fall pretty far towards being focused on my relationship with the Gods rather than working a lot of magic. Magic happens, sure, but it usually has a lot to do with something I'm doing for the Gods. I don't cast spells for parking spaces or the like. I do cast healing and love into my cooking, and maintain some basic magic for my home and sanity, but really my work is about learning about myself and how to become a better devotee to the Gods in my life.

When it comes to the last bit I'm a blend. I believe that the Gods are unique parts of one greater whole. Just like I'm part of humanity but am independent. Or the way that we're all part of Earth's ecosystem without losing our individuality.

The important part to consider is that other Pagans would fall in a completely different pattern than I. Some of us are conservatives politically, and some of us are assholes. Some of us are big ol' hippies and others aren't at all.

And some, like me, may cast spells and do divination, while holding great affection for the world of Science.

Friday, November 18, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 33

Rune of my Choice: Hagalaz

Not a rune that I suspect many people would choose. I don't really work with the runes much, though I have a set that I made and blooded myself. If I need divination done, I tend to go to Tarot, Oracles, or my pendulum.

That said, a few runes have special places in my heart, and Hagalaz is the most loved by me.

Hagalaz is generally understood as "Hail" - it denotes wrath, storms, destructive forces unleashed upon one's life or psyche.

The Old Icelandic poem for it is:
cold grain
and shower of sleet
and sickness of serpents."

So, why do I value it?
Really, it isn't my story to tell. Suffice to say the first real gift that my husband gave me was a glass pendant he made, and, totally by accident, one side of that necklace had the rune Hagalaz on it.

It suited my life at the time, and when he made it the rune fit that time of his life as well.

I keep that necklace in a special place today, as it really can't be worn any longer without risking damage to it.

For me, when I see that pendant, I am reminded that I weathered the storm, and out of it I was born renewed. My life today, for all its occasional headaches and issues (and who doesn't have those!), is amazing and I love it with all my heart. Without that storm, I never would have been able to grow and change into who I am today.

So, in spite of its ill tidings, Hagalaz fills me gratitude. It may not be a very traditional understanding, but it works for me. With thanksgiving just around the corner, this actually makes for a very appropriate post. I love how that works out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 32

Faery of my Choice, eh?

I don't do much with the Fey, except bribe them when they steal my stuff.

There's so much misinformation about them. People seem to either want to make the Good Folk all gentle and sweet or they try to make them into the incarnation of evil. The truth is a bit of all of the above. Traditionally you don't talk about them directly out of concern for attracting their attention. Thus the euphemisms...

The Good Folk, Fair Folk, The People Under the Hill.

There are a lot of Kings and Queens of these fine peoples, and the landscape of Scotland and Ireland is dotted with their names.
From Cnoc Aine in Limerick (that would be it in the photo) to Dunany in Louth in Ireland, Aine has left her stamp throughout the land. As the Queen of the Good Folk, Aine continues to influence the world.

Her name means 'Brightness' or 'Delight,' and before she was understood as a Queen, she was a Goddess. The daughter of Mannannan Mac Lir and fostered by a King of the Good Folk. She gives the body its vital spark of life.

Yet for the family of the Corrs of Derry, she is the Bean Sidhe who fortells their death.

Like I said, the folk are a bit more complex than a lot of things like to make them out to be. Much like the rest of life.

Sources: has a lot of great information on the figures of Irish Mythology.
There's also this bit on The Folk.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 31

Pagan/Witchy artwork

This is a pastel by M. Pirner of Hecate from 1901.

I could've rambled about my own art here, but a lot of my training is actually in art history, so I couldn't just go with one... or with any old piece. :0)

Patricia Ariel's Hecate

Alphons Marie Mucha's poster for his Slav Epic. The figure in the background is a Slavic Goddess.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 30

Pagan/Witchy Movie:
I love and adore The Fountain. There are no Witches or Pagans in it. Just eternal love and devotion that transcends death.

From being inspired by the Popol Vuh to talking about Xibalba, The Fountain has a lot of elements of the original Maya beliefs. The way I understand the non-linear story is one that embraces reincarnation. Even better there's a theme of the quest of immortality which is a common theme in ancient myth.

And lastly, throughout the entire film is the symbol of the Tree of Life.

"All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time."

Monday, November 14, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 29


My wand isn't finished, and hasn't been finished for about four years. lol - I'm big on feeling my way through the process of making my tools, and this one isn't ready yet. I think part of my problem is that it doesn't look like your typical wand. It is about 3/4 of an inch thick and shaped more like a wand from a tarot deck than like the wands you buy at the store.

It's made of plum wood, and the bark has been carved by me into a design of ivy leaves. I'm slowly carving the tip of it back so that it can hold a crystal. I have a grip made of green cotton yarn on it.

It'll get finished one day, but for now, I do without.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 28

I seem to have skipped a day, but I am not sure where at... *shrug* Oh, well.


Today's topic is Water.

When I was about 8 or so my mom took me and my brothers out to the Hill Country. I had never seen water so pure and clear as they have at the Frio River. I love to swim and it is hard to keep me from the water.

I think about the Frio when I consider water. The Frio is spring fed and ice cold. It is clear as glass and deceptive. When you first look at this river it looks shallow and placid, but the first thing my mother said when I got ready to get in was, "It's deeper than it looks." And she was right. What was more, the water was home to monsters. In the warmer waters, the waters in Texas harbor snakes and, closer to Louisiana, alligators.

She made me step into the water where it was shallow, tumbling over riverstones and sparkling in the dappled light.

Water is that way though. It is beautiful and deceptive. It can be freezing yet swift. It can be clear as the sky or grey as storms or the color of stone. Blue, turquoise, purple, grey, or glass. Swift or slow, it takes the form of where it is or whatever it is held within.

All this is much like the way of the heart. Emotions are changeable, flexible, and move deep inside of us all. They can spring up in unexpected places, and have unknown depths. There are even monsters lurking in the darkness of the invisible currents.

The ability to recognize those currents and navigate our lives through doldrums and storms can soothe the journey of our lives. But it is a treacherous path, and means confronting memories and instincts that we might not wish to see.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To Be Silent

Last night was the astrological cross-quarter of Samhain, the ritual honoring the ancestors and the end of life mysteries. Our society shies away from death, so its no surprise that the decline of life isn't talked about so much.

I was fortunate this year. No one died in my family, that I know. Even though my eldest cat is suffering from Chronic Renal Failure, she's stable, if slowly declining.

I have a bit of a cold or crud or seasonal somewhat happening to me, so the ritual I wrote to honor my ancestors was tossed for something less strenuous and simple. Simple is good! :)

I unpacked my ancestor box, which is what you see in the photo here. Photos of my ancestors, trinkets, flowers, shells, stones, and other things that make me think of my beloved dead are stored there and maintained year round. Only at Samhain do I ever unpack the contents. I keep a list of the names of my dead there as well.

I established my space, and sat silently writing the names on parchment. The entire ritual was silent on my part. I sat and considered my photos and their names. I offered them beans and tea, which reflects something of my family ancestry.

All in all, the result was a peaceful and sweet rite.

I can only hope that others' rituals were as meaningful.

It doesn't sound much like what people think of when they're imagining what a Witch does for this time of year. No loud chanting or spellcraft here, no poppets or spells. I do those things, but only when necessary.

I just don't see it as necessary very often. My usual work is more focused on what T. Thorn Coyle calls the Great Work. I want to know myself and be the best me ever. My practice is about growing and knowing peace with myself, good and bad.

I know that not everyone sees their spiritual or magical tradition that way, and I try not to judge too harshly. Yet when I see people embracing their jealousy and thriving in it, when people allow their anger to sweep them up, I find that I can be all too judgmental. Losing yourself in destructive emotions instead of engaging them and discovering why and what is their source seems counter to living a spiritual existence to me.

But I'm not them, and I don't know the background. Some of them, no doubt, look at my simple little ancestor right and wonder where the juice is, why I don't call down the Gods and dance vigorously, why I don't stir the powers up and make them bring me more prosperity or something.

They're not me, and don't understand my life either. :)

And I value those differences. Nature adores diversity, and abhors homogeneity. I need to remember that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 27

Today's entry is supposed to be a witchy "want-it-now"... Hmmm...

I don't exactly have something I want right this moment. Stuff can be a distraction from the spiritual.

That said, I'm patiently biding my time until I can commission a statue from Jeff Cullen of Hekate. They're not too expensive, and he builds them around a core of stones and herbs that are relevant to the deity.

I'm also hoping to score a copy of Maxine Miller's statue of Hekate.

But these aren't things that I want right this moment. What one really desires to have in their lives, one should be willing to wait for.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

44 Days of Witchery: Day 26

Photo: Earth

Roots breaking through asphalt. :) A bit blurry, but I love the way that roots do that sort of thing.