Ostara Tea

Ostara

A simple, sweet treat of shortcake topped with delicious strawberries and blueberries.

Enjoy whilst planting seeds for your summer garden, taking walks in the wild to see the returning life, both bud and creature, and to celebrate the longer, warmer days!

This is a lovely, light and sweet tea that I’m sure I’ll be sipping often as the weather changes and I dream of the warm summer days to come!

You can find Ostara tea here, and if you’re looking for other seasonal treats, look no further than here!

Pagan Blog Project – N is for Nothing but the Images of Summer

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Pagan Blog Project – N is for New Perspective

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The last few weeks has been full of preparations to attend the Sunwheel Pagan Arts Fest in Alberta, and helping some friends during an emergency. In the past few weeks of finishing the blanket, I had contemplated selling pagan themed knit blankets online.

The weekend and few days before travelling to the Fest, I had fallen in a terrible dark place that I couldn’t seem to climb out of. Something became clear from it, yet even after that realization, I still was full of despair.

I was hoping for lots of sun in Alberta, and boy did I get it! It was very hot, and the moment you began to move, you broke out in sweat. But I asked for it. The very first night, I walked on glass then fire. Being told to write down something that we wished to walk over through fire, it took me a minute to realize the all encompasing problem I’ve had the past 9 months… fear. It was at first fear of death, which mellowed into just an overall fear.

Well, I walked some of it out over the fire… then I sweat it out over the weekend, enduring the fire of the sun, and the fire of alcohol. As much as I was dreading going the day before, I am so thankful for having gone with some of my trad and coven mates, and making friends with fabulous people.

So, what’s this new perspective? It’s this: I need to sing. I have to drop all of these other ideas of doing something else for a living/career. There’s a reason why nothing else sticks. Being surrounded by amazing and talented people like Chalice and Blade (who also happen to be friends), Heather Dale and Ben, Sharon Knoght and Winter, and Vanessa Cardui along with her posse…. I realized in creating and performing my music in a pagan sphere will give me what I need as a performer (the ability to control my schedule), and as someone who wants a house, a garden, and children one day in the not so distant future.
I’m not going to have to worry about some other prima donna soprano ready to take my place every time I need quiet and home, and having a very difficult time trying to find a spot in an opera when I’m ready to go back in.

Now I’m writing these songs that have broke through the distraction of fear, and researching how to do what needs doing leading up to being a pagan musician.

Hail the Sun!

Sumer Is Icumin In

This weekend has been absolutely gorgeous. Our internet went down on Saturday, which I don’t mind so much except that I was planning on calling family, and it interrupts my work (which requires me to send and receive files). So I am currently writing this post on my man’s phone, which for some silly reason is making me have to press shift to make every letter the proper case, lol. I think that this break is a good thing, I spend entirely too much time in front of a screen, albeit, mostly from working. 

Back to the beautiful weather… Amazing, warm, sunny, in bloom, smelling like delicious flowers, cut grass, childhood, and impending summer. The young God is growing ever stronger, the maiden becoming more enticing as Beltaine drawing nearer. I’m feeling excitement growing as the summer becomes more apparent. 

I hope your days are filling with anticipation and excitement… unless you’re south of the equator, preparing for the feast for the Great Dead, or preparing for air conditioning if the warm part of the year is when your body and mind tends towards rest.

Yule

Yule
Yule (and much of the Christmas traditions) is based on an old pagan Germanic holiday celebrated somewhere between late December and early January, depending upon the Germanic lunar calendar. The word “Yule” stems from Old Norse (Icelandic) “jól”, Gothic “fruma jiuleis”, Danish and Swedish “jul”, Norwegian “jul/jol”, and “ýlir”.

This midwinter festival was called “midvinterblot”, “julblot”, “julofferfest”, and “jólablót”.  In pre-Christian tradition, the Germanic peoples would celebrate Yule for a fertile and peaceful season. It was a festival of feasting, drinking ale and sacrifice. Animals would besacrificed, the blood collected then smeared on the bases of idols in the temple, sprinkled over the walls and the people with sprigs dipped into the blood and shook to release the blood (basically, sprinkled by an aspergil/asperger). The meat of the sacrifices would be boiled to be feasted upon, after the king would bless it. Toasts were to be made, firstly, to Odin (one of whom’s many names is “Jólnir”, which means “Yule-figure”) for victory and power to the king, then to Njördr and Freyr for abundant harvests and peace, then a third to the king. Additional toasts would be made to the dead, which are called “minni” (memorial-toast).

They would enjoy a Yule boar, a Yule lamb, making merry. You can see where our modern day customs of roasting a ham, the Yule log, singing, drinking and just having a lovely time stem from many of the old Germanic Yule practices.

In Roman practices, Saturnalia was held on the 17th of December in honour of, you guessed it, Saturn! Later, the festivities were held through to the 23rd of the month. The festival celebrated what was perceived as a golden age that came before, when humans could enjoy an abundant earth without having to do the labour whilst in a state of social egalitarianism. The celebrations would begin with a sacrifice in the Temple of Saturn followed by a banquet. There would be much gift giving (not flashy things to show one’s status, but pottery and waxen figures as giving flashy gifts went against the spirit of the festival) , and a very Carnival like atmosphere ensued. It was also a celebration that allowed for things to become a little topsy-turvy with masters serving their slaves and gambling permitted (very much the precursor to the Feast of Fools celebrated in Medieval times). Saturnalia was also a festival of light, which represents knowledge and truth, represented by many lit candles, according to Macrobius’ Saturnalia.

In modern witchy traditions, like Wicca, we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun God, the Divine Child. The Sun begins its ascent into the sky. We enjoy the longest night of the year, and the hope of the light returning. Watching the sunrise on this day can be a beautiful way to usher in the Sun for the light half of the year, and hey! You don’t even have to get up ridiculously early (especially the more Northerly you are) because the Sun rises so much later! Gatherings of local pagan groups make for a night of beautiful ritual, feasting, celebration and gift giving.

May you all be blessed this Yule with friends, family, food and much merry making!

Clytie – The Heliotrope

 

by Ovid (adapted)

There was once a Nymph named Clytie, who gazed ever at Apollo as he drove his sun-chariot through the heavens. She watched him as he rose in the east attended by the rosy-fingered Dawn and the dancing Hours. She gazed as he ascended the heavens, urging his steeds still higher in the fierce heat of the noonday. She looked with wonder as at evening he guided his steeds downward to their many-colored pastures under the western sky, where they fed all night on ambrosia.

Apollo saw not Clytie. He had no thought for her, but he shed his brightest beams upon her sister the white Nymph Leucothoe. And when Clytie perceived this she was filled with envy and grief.

Night and day she sat on the bare ground weeping. For nine days and nine nights she never raised herself from the earth, nor did she take food or drink – but ever she turned her weeping eyes toward the sun-god as he moved through the sky.

And her limbs became rooted to the ground. Green leaves enfolded her body. Her beautiful face was concealed by tiny flowers, violet-colored and sweet with perfume. Thus was she changed into a flower and her roots held her fast to the ground – but ever she turned her blossom-covered face toward the sun, following with eager gaze his daily flight. In vain were her sorrow and tears, for Apollo regarded her not.

And so through the ages has the Nymph turned her dew-washed face toward the heavens, and men no longer call her Clytie, but the sun-flower, heliotrope.

 

Month of the Oak

The Oak has always been one of my favourite trees. Just looking at pictures of one from afar gives me a sense of wonder and simple, homely countrysides. From June 10 to July 7 is the Celtic month of Duir, the Oak. Oak is the seventh moon of the Celtic calendar as well.

Latin Name:
Quercus alba (White Oak)

Parts Used:
Bark, wood, leaves, acorns

Herbal Usages:
Oak is well known for its astringent and antiseptic properties and has been used as a tonic for a long time. Bark can be made into a tea to heal hemorrhoids.
When given with chamomile flowers, it helps eases intermittent fevers.
Very useful when there are chronic diarrhea and dysentery problems, a decoction of 1 oz of Oak bark in 1 quart water, boiled down to a pint and drank in wine glass size portions will aid the bowels.
This decoction is also used externally as a gargle to help sore throats, and as a fomentation (warm or hot liquids that are applied to the body to ease pain; like a poultice). Can also be injected for leukorrhea, and applied to bleeding gums, or hemorrhoids.
Acorns can also be peeled and be used to make potions to treat alcoholism, bad breath and constipation.

Associations:
The word “Duir” comes from the Sanskrit “Dwr” which means “Door”. It is the door to the three worlds of the Shaman.
Fire; Sun;
wren, black, white carnelian; moonstone; Yule fires; Yule log; Brighid; The Dagda; Dianus; Janus; Cybele; Rhea; Pan; Erato; Hecate; Zeus; Jupiter; Thor; Perkunas; lightning; thunder; the Wild Hunt; King Arthur’s round table.

Magic(k)al Workings
As the month of Duir has the summer solstice in it, the Oak is a powerful symbol of midsummer.
Money, success, strength, fertility, stability, health, healing, potency and good luck. Different types of Oak will lend slightly different properties to magic(k)al workings. Red Oak is fiery, White Oak is for solidity and strength, Brown Oak is earthy and is used for grounding.
Acorns can be used to attract someone of the opposite sex, used for divinatory powers, and to attract prosperity and wealth.
Oak is known as the “King of the Grove”; a holy tree; the lord of truth and is one of the three  sacred trees “Oak, Ash & Thorn”. Worship of the Oak may stem from the early nomadic Europeans using acorns for food.
The acorn is seen as the representation of the supreme form of fertility and creativity of the mind; as such, they are used to increase fertility of both projects and ideas and human reproduction, and also ease pain.
Because of its ties to immortality symbolism, acorns are sacred to the Samhain season and are often used in fall decorating.
It is said that the voice of Jupiter can be heard in the rustling of the leaves. At midsummer, the future can be divined by listening to the wind in the leaves. Acorns should be planted during the Dark moon to attract prosperity.
It is a very powerful herb for protection; England is said to be protected by the Oak when using its timbers to build their ships. It is also used as a boundary for its protective qualities. Acorns placed in windows will ward off lightning and beings that would scare us at night; they will also attract luck. Acorns can be born in pockets to ward off storms, to prevent the bearer from getting lost, and protect from evil intent. They are also carried as charms for immortality, longevity, fertility, ward off illness and preserve youthfulness. Three acorns can be made into a charm to attract youthfulness, attainment, and beauty in life. This charm should be bound with the maker’s hair, and blessed at every Full and Dark moon of a year, and then worn.
A leaf worn on the neck and next to the heart will allow the wearer to not be deceived by the world at large.
A few leaves in bath water will cleanse body and spirit. If you catch a falling leaf, it is said you will not be sick for the winter. If a sick person is in your house, light a fire of Oak wood to draw out the illness.
Because the Oak is a male tree, athames,  and certain male-aspect wands and staffs should be made of its wood. The wood is also used to make religious idols.
The Waning moon is the right time to harvest Oak, during the day for Acorns, and at night for the leaves and wood. Offer wine to the Oak’s roots as thanks for allowing you to take a part of him.

Beltane

Beltane Reunion - Emily Balivet

Beltane Reunion – Emily Balivet

Blessed greetings to one and all! I thought I would write up some thoughts and history on Beltane here, as this will be a blog for me to present my findings of research and practice, and personal discoveries. So Beltane! And here we go “a-maying!” 🙂 Beltane Belenos (amongst many different spellings) is a generic Celtic god of the Sun and simultaneously of the crops. Belenos literally means “Fire of the Gods”. Balefires were lit in honor of the sun and it’s return, people would usher their herds between fires to purify and ensure fertility before loosing them out to pastures for the summer season. The fires are quite restorative, in energy and symbolically. Symbolically, they were lit and danced around to usher in the sun and summer, bringing the Belenos/The Oak King/The Horned God/The Green Man to his full power and virility in this light part of the year. May poles are erected with flowers and long ribbons for the people to dance around and create beautiful patterns as they move around the pole. The May pole is obviously a phallus placed within the earth symbolizing the union between god and goddess, the land and the sun. People would traditionally make love in fields where crops were to transfer a sort of sympathetic magic to the land, enforcing its fertility, ensuring a bountiful harvest the entire month of May. Beltane does not necessarily need to be celebrated by making love, or focusing on sexual energies, although that part is quite fun 😉 No, Beltane can be celebrated alone, by loving oneself and finding unity within; by walking in the park and witnessing the change of the land, the fertility and growth in plants trees and animals around; by ushering in new ideas, big changes, and cleaning out one’s mind and body for new things to grow and bear fruit.