PBP – In The Broom Closet

The Crystal Ball - John William Waterhouse

The Crystal Ball – John William Waterhouse

Moving back to a rural farming town in Ontario, where most people are some form of Christian, or at the very least, haven’t had much exposure to other non-monotheistic religions (not even mentioning anything that lies under the pagan umbrella), I’ve had a while to think about how being of a completely different, non-mainstream religion will affect me and the people I am in contact with.

As much as I find so much joy in my path, so much spiritual nourishment, it’s not something I will likely be shouting out to anyone in earshot. That’s not to say no one knows, that people who are not in any way pagan don’t know, they do. I am in the closet, but the door is wide open. In fact, there’s a window in here, and actually, I wouldn’t call it a closet, more like a huge room brightly lit and full of talismans, herbs, trinkets and many a witchy thing. It comes down to being very selective of who gets to really know about it. As much as I am a performer (hello, wanted to be an opera lady), I am such an introvert and non-people person. In fact, I would say I generally don’t like most people, and that’s fine with me as it takes way too much time away from things I’d rather be doing than if I were trying to be friends with everyone I meet. I am a lady who just wants to go outside and do things quietly, well, I may be singing while I do it, but very much alone. That’s kind of how it’s always been for me. I was a kid who would spend most daylight hours out in the woods alone, apart from when my sister would want to come and play, exploring, finding things to collect, climbing trees, getting sap in my hair. And that just suits me fine.

I have loved being part of a group, and I suspect I will be doing that again when opportunity and time to devote to it arises. But I doubt you’ll find me leading a local ritual open to the public. I’m a person who does not like to bother others as I wish not to be bothered. I also like the idea of people going by my house maybe seeing me do something “weird” (possibly could be referring to wyrd) in the garden, and wonder what that’s about… I like that mystery. Mystery is good. Mystery is part of my path. To outsiders, why shouldn’t I be mysterious? Those who know what to look for will spot the clues.

Writing here, although it hasn’t been incredibly revealing of even my specific beliefs or practices, is my little soap box, I guess. But really, it’s more about documenting things that pique my interest, or a revelation I’ve had (albeit in vague ways). I am not really about human validation of my spirituality. I listen to my Gods, my Ancestors, and Others Who I continue to build relationships with; I ask Them for guidance, for Their insights, for Their needs to direct my actions. Basically, I’m just going about my own business, I know what I’m doing, and when I swerve a little, They help to put me aright, even if I’m oblivious that I’m walking the wrong way. And who’s to say that there is a wrong way? But I digress.

 

Thankfully, in the end, I’m not keeping myself out of sight in that capacity because I fear for myself or loved ones should people find out about it. Generally, those who find out have been quite blaze really about it. People my age (and younger I’ll assume)  tend to be more of a “whatever” attitude when it comes to those things because it doesn’t affect them. It’s kind of an interesting thing when you get a lot of people who are generally super self-absorbed that they just don’t really care what others are doing around them. I’m cool with that.

As for older than me folk (especially old enough to be my parent and beyond), it’s not something I bring up. Especially when I know they’re pretty into their own faith (which is most likely the one that thinks all others are misguided).

I suppose you could say it’s sad that they are allowed to be passionate and speak about their faith, but that someone like me who doesn’t follow that mainstream spirituality has to be on the quiet side if they don’t want any trouble from others about it. I could be loud and out there about it, sure. But I don’t believe that’s my spiritual work. Sure I get upset at the ignorance people more often than not show, but I am not a confrontational person. You can’t teach someone about things grander than their own narrow world view when what they’ve been taught is to be unaccepting, or intolerant at the very least, of views that are so different from their own. It’s my way or the highway.

Unfortunately the whole two sided, good vs evil, black vs white, right vs wrong  is still too dominant in the mindset that’s been brewing, at least here in North America. I’d rather just putter away in my garden, making magick, offering to the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits, perform my rituals and nourish my spirituality and spiritual relationships than worry about other humans who should be figuring things out for themselves rather than making it all about everyone other than themselves by judging everyone else and seeking constant validation.

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PBP – Heather

 

Image from grow.ars-informatica.ca

Image from grow.ars-informatica.ca

 

Latin Name:
Calluna Vulgaris

Common Names:
Heather, Heath, Scot’s Heather, Scotch Heather, Froach, Ling

Parts Used:
Flowering shoots

Image from Wikimedia

Image from Wikimedia

Medicinal Properties:
Heather has been used for insomnia, migraines, stomach pain, skin problems, and coughs, and problems that are connected to menstruation. It is considered a mild diuretic, and has antiseptic qualities.
Its use strengthens the heart and raises blood pressure slightly, and has been used to treat heart palpitations.
Used fresh or dry, you can make a heather tea to access its benefits by simmering 4 teaspoons to a cup of water. The dose is a half of a cup per day if drunk.
The flowering shoots can also be added to a bath to tone muscles and sooth rheumatic issues.

Magickal Associations:
The planet Venus, Water, garnet, red, white, Red Grouse, Uroica, Venus, Aphrodite, Erycina, Cybele, Isis, wild passions and their consequences

Magickal Properties:
An flower of the Goddess, it is sacred to Isis. Heather is carried for protection against violent crimes, especially of rape (white heather provides the strongest protection), and for general good luck.

White heather is often used in cases where one is presented with overly passionate, and ultimately unwanted suitors.
Red heather, in turn, aids to stir up the passions, or to begin or end an affair.
Purple is often used for spiritual development.

Sleeping on a pillow stuffed with heather can bring about foretelling dreams of good fortune.

Burning heather and fern together outdoors brings rain.

It is a flower that can open portals between this and the world of the Fae. The Fae of this flower are also especially attracted to people who are shy. It can also be used to conjure the spirits of the dead.

Lastly, it is helpful for those who shape shift, as well as protects against shifters who would cause you harm.

Image from guim.co.uk

Image from guim.co.uk

PBP – Going Inward

radiance_by_windfalcon-d4mq6m1

Radiance by Brenda Lyons (Falcon Moon Studio)

It seems after the stormy year that was 2013, it’s time for lots of work and building and rediscovering all the things that have been accumulating within. I’ve been taking a fantastic course from Anni, called The Greystone Path. After having watched many of her videos on Youtube (Mirth And Reverence) had to sign up. She has such a warm and open way of discussing the whys and the reasons; how each of us will experience differently, and that all of it is valid.

It very much seems that I need to get my butt in gear, to begin something (as is very much the point of the spring season, no?), I’ve been feeling that for quite some time, and this course seems to be very much what is needed. Although it is slightly geared for newer folk, with explanations into things which (for me at least) have been studied, the inner work has been fantastic. She has us creating or working with an already established an inner landscape in meditation, exploring the Elements at this point, as well as what is already within our own selves. The course is one of being very much mindful of thought and action, which has already been quite a focus for me lately anyway. Of course, I highly recommend it for those who are really looking to delve much deeper, and to really solidify their own practice as Anni provides small rites to perform, making it easier to start small and build upon the foundation, figuring out what works for you and doesn’t along the way.
As an aside, although it is more Wiccan based, it is highly open for your own interpretation if you don’t necessarily follow a strict Wiccan path; it’s all about what works for you to open up to the Divine, however you see it.

 

Because of Anni’s wonderful reminders that all experience is valid and of worth, a lesson I keep revisiting while learning to really trust myself and my spiritual experiences is that there is validity in my interactions with Other in just the mere fact that I learn more about myself, and continue to grow. At this point, whether the interactions have all been from Other, or just in my head doesn’t matter because the insights have been perfect when I received them. I also think that this whole notion that what I experience could be just me imagining or Them actually interacting with me, is a very interesting and mysterious piece of the whole that is my spiritual experience.
Strangely enough, it’s in the moment that I feel I’m just making it up, and only in retrospect, through the lens of memory that certain experiences seem more real, more vivid. As time goes on and my ability to let go of control to allow things to happen as they will in meditation, the more I see where my hand has guided something, and where it has not. Although the doubt is still strong at times for me as we have yet to live in a culture that raises people to accept that there is this solid, real spiritual side to things, the doubt does play an interesting role in it all. We do live in the scientific age which has us questioning everything, looking for hard evidence, proof that what we experience is real. I don’t think this inquisitive head-space is a bad thing, I think it’s good, it’s why we have begun freeing ourselves from forced religion and aristocracy (though we’ve still such a long way to go before we’re done as other things have stepped in to replace them).

In this long, meandering post, I guess in the end I’m going inwards, have been incredibly introspective, focusing on specific roots I will be sending down to begin really establishing myself in the life and spirituality (which are very much one and the same) I wish to have at this point. I’m certain this idea will change with the seasons as I learn and experience more (a constant endeavour). What works for now may not work later, and that is when those things will be thanked, cut, and burned to make way for whatever I wish to cultivate next.

PBP – By the Light of Candles

candles

Well, it’s been a while, and things have happened, because that’s what things do, they happen 😉 The Man and I have moved back to Ontario with the fur babies last week (end of January). This past year had been so stuck for me, and while I want to be close to my witchy family, I was only putting off what needed to happen for me, I think. With the whole opera career coming to an end (at least a traditional career in it anyway), and all the moseying about with what to do with myself while also dealing with wanting to start a family… yep. Having a family so far away from my own was not an option as my mother would probably fly out and kidnap my kids (this is probably what would happen too, lol), and knowing that I was going to be moving back sometime soon, everything just stopped.

It’s rather bizarre for someone like me, who has known what they wanted to do for most of their life, being driven by it, and all decisions affected by it, to lose what was the biggest part of how I envisioned my life. Again, I think the singing will turn into something non-traditional as I want deep roots, and not a crazy amount of travel all the time that would make it impossible for me to really be with family and friends and be a good parent. It’s also rather confusing now as I realize there are so many things that I can do, like writing stories (which I will be flushing out the one I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November), having our YouTube channel, getting into streaming gameplay attached to our YouTube stuff, and so many other things. It’s so strange not having everything be about basically one thing. Now everything is connected, everything flows into the others, and I guess I’m allowing myself out of a rather small box. We humans, we like our boxes.

Magically, I’ve been all over the place. I’ve had quite the year really delving into meditation (a practice I thought I was beyond, but turned out to be so important for me ), being called upon by Them to learn, to see that nothing is separate from anything else, that we are all connected to Those Who Were and Those Who Will Be, and that that connection is so very important. So much of my year has been about seeing how my connection to people affects them, even though it has also been (for the most part) a year of cocooning and keeping myself out of much interaction with other humans, strangely enough. However, it makes sense as to see something, sometimes you need to take a step back; also I am naturally a bit of an introvert, and learn best on my own, taking time to figure out all the details.

2013 was rough, as I believe it needed to be for me. I am really looking forward to this year back with family (although missing my witch-family), friends, the country side, and a ginormous garden that I will tend to feed us through the summer and fall and canned for winter use. Gardening is something I haven’t been able to do since we moved to London, Ontario in 2008, really, and I am itching like you wouldn’t believe to get some dirt under my nails. I am seeing much magic growing in my garden this summer, cooked into our meals, and canned for remembering the sunshine in the dead of winter. I’m going to allow myself to explore things too, without much of an “end goal”, because is there ever really an ending other than death (at least of life as we know it)?

These are the things I’m seeing lit in my candles of Imbolg for the coming turn of the Wheel.
What fires are lit for your year?

Pagan Blog Project – W is for The Wild Hunt

Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Åsgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo

The Wild Hunt

written by Miaerowyn

My God is out hunting, He yearns for the kill
Howling and thundering upon the stormy gale
My God is out hunting, only death will make Him still

In darkest wood, blustering field and wind-torn hill
His host searches for His unwilling prey
My God is out hunting, He yearns for the kill

The scent is caught, His wolves close in at will
Hunger glowing in their dark eyes, they will not fail
My God is out hunting, only death will make Him still

Long moments pass, then all becomes still
A breath is taken, the prey yet whole and hale
My God is out hunting, He yearns for the kill

Silent in turning to move from the dread chill
Directly into His figure the prey jumps with a wail
My God is out hunting, only death will make Him still

A spear through the heart, He cries out at the thrill
The prey carried to His hall to be devoured with ale
My God is out hunting, He yearns for the kill
My God is out hunting, only death will make him still

Pagan Blog Project – S is for Skyclad

Luis Falero - "The Witches Sabbath" 1880

Luis Falero – “The Witches Sabbath” 1880

 

Going to the Sabbat and getting skyclad is still something some witches fear. We have a very odd way of hating the human body, and enforcing that with all the ads of Photoshopped images everywhere of what the “perfect” body is.

However, whether or not you choose to keep your robes on in group settings, even if you’re just alone, there’s something to be said for the feel of the candles’ warmth, or the almost static of your sacred circle lifting the hairs all over your body, and the fact that you are in that moment, just yourself with none of the cultural and social expectations of what you should look like; it’s all very freeing.

I tend to be someone who balks at the obsession people have with appearing perfect all the time, and I relish the time spent in my circles where I can just throw away what the worry for clothing that will “flatter my shape”, make me sexy, make me demure, etc. It’s a time to adorn yourself with jewels that connect you with their purpose, or scents that resonate with your magic to be worked. You can even paint your body with images that will help you manifest the things you want in yourself, or help energy to move through and within you more effectively.

When the skin is involved in sensing the energies being roused in circle, it can help to solidify the effectiveness of what you are doing, and even intensify it. It’s completely sensual, and allows for us to get out of our heads and physically experience what we are doing magically.

I’m thinking you can probably tell by now that I enjoy working skyclad. If you’re shy about it, try it alone, try it a few times. You never have to do it with a group, but being skyclad is most definitely a powerful tool for witches.

Pagan Blog Project – Q is for the Quill

IlluminatedManuscript

Q seems to be a letter of communication for me, as it has again brought me a subject that requires words. Writing is a most important human development, allowing for our ancestors to speak to us through the ages, so long as their etchings have not been destroyed with time, or by others.

The act of writing, especially on paper, forces us to slow our minds, slow our thoughts, and ensures we take the time to write out what we really mean. This is part of the reason why I journal in a paper and pen way, as well as write out rituals or spells. I don’t want to rush through the processes, and as far as ritual or spellwork, I don’t want to be able to easily Google something and copy and paste. That doesn’t make for good magic, even if I do put a lot of effort into the act of it.  Finding your own words, your own rhythms, adds another layer to your magic weaving as you take out the time to focus on the precise words that convey the thing that you would make manifest.

The other part I adore about writing with pen and paper is the fact that it’s meditative, introspective; the movements of the pen soothing. It allows for me to let out ick energies, running from my mind, through my head, neck, arm, hand, fingers, and through the tip of a pen. I send out the jumbled thoughts in my head, where I can re-read it later and sort it out. I can realize that I don’t really feel the way I did in that moment, or that I don’t want to feel that particular way, so I get to think about it, look at it from a different perspective, and change it.

Pagan Blog Project – Q is for Quiet

Poetry - Alphonse Mucha

Poetry – Alphonse Mucha

This year has been one of much thought, and separating myself from the world it seems. There is much hermit-like behaviour, although I do try to take the doggy out for daily walks. Even then, I don’t want to be around others. I think part of that is just because I miss living in the country (well, a very small town really) where it’s rare to come across other people when you’re out in the woods, or walking back roads, or on trails. I used to do a lot of magic crafting outside, but here in a city, I can’t focus properly out there, worrying about noise and prying eyes.

But back on topic, sometimes we need to be quiet. Sometimes we need to be alone as much as possible. I’m happy when the Man is home from work and we hang out, but that’s all I seem to need lately in terms of interaction. There has been a lot of meditation, and puzzling, and thinking of the things that I need and want in my life. I think this quiet has helped focus my attention on finding those things out. I’m still figuring it out. It’s good to have little outside influence on important things at times, to figure out how to be more true to yourself instead of others’ ideas for you.

Quiet is good for reflection, which a lot of people try to avoid at all costs these days. I think it’s part of the reason it seems harder to learn something, to keep something in my head, because I don’t think about it afterward, I just go on to the next piece of information that intrigues me. This is why I believe being a spiritual person helps. There seems to be a push for spiritual people to allow for time that needs to be spent in meditation, or focus on particular things. Time should also be spending time journaling, and generally paying attention to ourselves, our thoughts, and things that keep popping up in dreams. This can be a difficult thing in a world that is loud, loud, loud. Loud in more ways than just what we literally hear. There are loud sights everywhere in media and all forms of advertising (neon lights?), loud thoughts other people tell us to think, loud pressure to live a very particular way in a narrow little box. It’s overwhelming.

As much as I sometimes feel bad about not being out in the world with people, I seem to need the quiet and solitude at this point in my life. It’s a difficult lesson to learn how to say no, people enjoy telling you that you’re selfish when they hear that word directed at their requests. Alas, if you constantly pour out all you have to everyone at every whim, then you have nothing left for yourself, and nothing good to give.

Pagan Blog Project – P is for the Power in Words

The Spring Witch – George Wilson

Words are powerful. As a magical person, and someone who adores language and finding out where words come from and how they’ve evolved, I enjoy the poetry, emotion, images words can convey. Each word can mean something different to each person. Some words you’ll have have learned from books, and you’ll always remember how the characters in that book reacted and behaved when those words were read. Or how the scenery being painted with words made you feel. Words are a beautiful thing, and although English isn’t exactly the most lovely sounding of languages (I say this as a singer having to use some of the not so nice sounding vowels in English when sung), with our ever-growing vocabulary, we can describe the same situation in a thousand different ways, each conveying a slightly different picture.

Words can make others perceive you in all sorts of different ways. If you continue expanding your vocabulary (simply done if you read lots of books), others will consider you more intelligent as you are able to more accurately describe what you are talking about, and in a more colourful manner. Isn’t that the point of words in the first place, to describe something as accurately as possible? Having a smaller vocabulary limits the ways that you can portray your experiences and the world around you, and even how you understand said experiences and observations.

Writers, poets, bards, and story-tellers of all sorts choose words to evoke wonder, laughter, inspiration, and generally a plethora of emotions. Along with these, they choose words that will excite and keep a reader/listener’s ear, hanging on every word. So too should one who holds rites for the Gods strive to provide a riveting narrative for Them, and for those involved in your rituals. Words are art, and the proper combinations of words can evoke strong reactions, strong emotions, strong energies to use and make manifest that which you, the Gods, and your ritual group (if you have one) desire.

This holds true when you interact with people in the mundane world, even if others don’t believe in magic, we can all collectively agree that there is a power in all the arts, and here is where silence can be useful. Silence of the mouth and the mind allows you to openly listen to others’ stories, to imagine them, and allow them to just speak what’s on their mind, exciting, sad, happy, or otherwise. Taking time to mull through how you feel about things, thus remaining silent until you are ready to put your idea out there is also very useful. We live in a world of instantaneous satisfaction, reaction, communication, and sometimes that is not a good thing. Some things require time and reflection. Then you gather your words to let who you need to know what your call is. Excitement can push us to share incoherently our stories, but taking the time to truly recreate your experience in words is rewarding not only for those you tell the story, but for you, as you will have created a magical art for yourself.

Pagan Blog Project – P is for Prayer

prayer

noun

1.

a devout petition to God or an object of worship.
2.

a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.
3.

the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.
4.

a formula or sequence of words used in or appointed for praying: the Lord’s Prayer.
5.

prayers, a religious observance, either public or private, consisting wholly or mainly of prayer.
The above was copied from dictionary.com
Obviously the meanings that are written above are written in a more Christian fashion, seeing as apparently other Gods are “objects of worship”. However, that’s not what this post is about.
What I wanted to talk about is why prayer is important for me. Every night before I go to sleep, I thank Them and my ancestors for all that has been provided for me during that day, because I am incredibly grateful that I have a home, and food, and family and friends who are amazing and provide me with lots of love. I want Them to know that I appreciate the life I’ve been given and the relative ease with which I am living it. I clearly have some issues with things, as all of us do, but I am taken care of, and have the things that are really important.
I did at one point try to use nightly prayers based on old poems and hymns written for Them, it seems that doesn’t work for me as my mind wanders as I read the words. I understand that having the words said over and over provides power to those words, weaves energy within them, but I don’t think that’s where I’m at yet. I have a short prayer I made up that allows me to focus and really put meaning into it, instead of mindlessly reading words that are holding no meaning for me because again, my brain wanders.
I have written a few songs to use as prayers, in fact, I forgot that I had until now, lol. I shall sing them. Obviously as a singer, there is magic in that for me, the power of my voice, and the words I wrote myself. The melody, the intervals of the notes… “Music is the ritual” that’s what They keep whispering into my heart, and I know it’s true. This is one of my truths. And now this post turns into self-revelation. Not a bad thing.
Back to praying… I like that it ties my days together, and that if I don’t end up really interacting with Them, at the end of my day, I get to focus on Them for at least a few moments before sleep. I do worship Them after all, and prayer is an integral part of worship.