Posts Tagged With: Nature

WOTC Extra – The Magick of Everyday Things

WOTC Extra – The Magick of Everyday Things

 

Our notions of what traditionally constituted black, white, and gray were incorrect. The practitioners of ancient magick were not necessarily working on a specific ethical basis at all. What was once under the guise of “white” magick (like herbalism) is now being usurped by technology, science, and medicine. In many areas of daily life, we find ourselves turning to a reliable procedure and trusting in it, while we overlook the spiritual portion of the equation. For example, a dam might help direct a mighty river, but without putting a spiritual covenant in place with that river, the spirits of that place might break that dam. We can call our technology “good,” and we can call our magick “white,” but unless we honor all aspects of the equation to which we’re applying our power, we will fall short and feel that lingering resonance (kind of like an itch you can’t scratch).

Historical references aside, it would be naïve to say that evil does not exist. The law of balance requires that for there to be “good,” there must also be the proverbial “bad.” Today we say that a person who uses black magick or walks the left-hand path is considered to be working from a selfish or malevolent vantage point. In Lewis Spence’s Encyclopedia of the Occult we read:

To gain limitless power of god, demon, and man; for personal aggrandizement and glorification; to cheat, trick and mock; to gratify base appetites; to aid religious jealousies and bigotries; to satisfy public and private enmities; to further political intrigue; to encompass disease, calamity and death—these were the ends and aims of black magic.

For a person to exhibit this type of behavior externally in any realm of life, he or she would have to have that darkness as part of their makeup (the within) according to this concept. However, the question remains as to what is truly “black” and what’s required necessary to raise that kind of energy. Some practitioners, for example, categorize working with entropy (the tendency of an energy system toward inertness through the breakdown of organized structure and pattern) or chaos energies as “black.” It receives this designation because, superficially, this so-called magick has the opposite effect from white (destroying or decreasing instead of creating). Yet the forces of nature perform these same functions. This makes us ask: if a form of energy exists in nature, can we call it “black”? Nature’s pattern is eat or be eaten, which can seem very cruel. But, again, it is only illustrating balance. Some “black” magicians would reply that they, too, are illustrating the law of nature in becoming the predator instead of the prey, or in being protectively proactive (doing everything possible mundanely and magickally to safeguard that which they hold dear).

Since we are also animals, humans exhibit similar instincts. Yet, somehow we expect that our reasoning nature will suddenly take that instinct and put it neatly away like some toy that we’ve outgrown when we work magick. I’m not sure that’s a wholly reasonable expectation, let alone a truly healthy one. Instead, a holistic approach would be to balance helpful instincts with rational thought and spiritual guidance.

Let’s take this one step further, out of nature and into the divine realms. In the world’s mythologies, we see images of gods and goddesses that take revenge against those who harm their followers (or children). We also see gods and goddesses that destroy to create. Kali (the Hindu Creatrix/Destroyer) comes immediately to mind. If the external divine uses the energy of reversal or diminishing, can that truly be called “black,” or is it merely the universe’s checks and balances? These are not easy ethical questions to consider or answer, but an honest examination of two things may help us gain some perspective—namely, intent (the internal motivating source) and the situation (the externals).

Let’s say someone chooses to cast spells aimed specifically at exacting revenge because their family had been targeted by a person or a group. This would be considered gray magick, because it is a situation when an ill has been done and has not been balanced.

Now, the sender may not enjoy the feeling of that magick. There’s a natural lingering temptation to lash out with unbridled anger and lose all focus. However, if similar circumstances occurred again, many people would be hard pressed not to do likewise. We simply want to protect those we love. Also, it is possible that people would feel inaction on their part would dishonor a sense of inner sacredness, and that sometimes we are the hand of karma (just as anything in life’s network might be).

This is where the lines of black and white get blurred. You’re not alone in facing a struggle between personal and spiritual ethics, potential karmic repercussions, and the natural desire to act . . . to do something, anything, to return the situation to a more equitable equation. It’s part of human nature. If you find yourself in such a place consider the following advice:

Always step back and cool off. Any magickal working is going to go better when you’re thinking clearly.

Ask yourself if there is a mundane alternative that could fix things. You can often use the energy generated by a bad situation to turn things around in your favor.

Always make sure you know (beyond any doubt) the focus of the spell. Otherwise you could harm an innocent person.

Consider using a “universal clause” (like “for the greatest good” or “and it harm none”) so that no one on the edges of the situation gets harmed by the energy you’re creating.

Pattern your response to only visit like for like (no embellishing—think balance).

Continue personal efforts on the mundane level to rectify things and put your life in order. This gives the universe more opportunities to open doors, heal wounds, and provide closure.

For a good book that discusses this subject in more detail than this book’s space allows, try How to Be a Wicked Witch. Let’s talk a bit about action and inaction and situational ethics.

 

 

A Witch’s 10 Commandments: Magickal Guidelines for Everyday Life

Marian Singer

 

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Your Daily Planet Tracker: Sun in Cancer, Jun 21, 2015 to Jul 22, 2015

 

 

 

Planet Tracker

Sun in Cancer

Jun 21, 2015 to Jul 22, 2015

 
Cancer is the sign of the Summer Solstice, the beginning of the warmest season of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the first water sign of the Zodiac, representing the forming of identity around home, family and personal experiences.

Cancer is associated with the Moon, planet of emotions and feelings. This reminds us of the deeply sensitive nature of this sign, a quality that enables Cancer to respond to the needs of others in a caring manner. But, it also can represent a highly subjective nature that finds it difficult to step back and see itself with detachment.

The Mother

Mother symbolizes the unifying force of family consciousness. She brings life to babies and is the center of domestic life. Cancer’s connection with the mother is clear through its role as a nurturer and protector. The passage of the Sun through this sign is a reminder to all of us to listen to our inner feelings and to respond to them in a constructive matter.

Holding onto the past, to relationships and useless objects are negative expressions of Cancer’s energy. Ideally, this sign connects us to a source of vitality that gives us the energy to move on, rather than cling to old, outmoded patterns.

Building Nests

Cancer builds nests. It gathers materials and people to give birth to new groups, companies and organizations. As the first sign of a season, it is cardinal (initiating) in nature. But, as a water sign, it bends to external forces, preferring to go around obstacles, rather than meeting them head on.

Although considered moody, the Crab can be very tenacious. It is guided by internal feelings, rather than external values. This provides a rich source of motivation, even when working alone. This reminds us that when we touch our core, we find an enormous river of personal energy to propel us forward in life.

The Tough Cancer

The sign Cancer has a reputation of being rather warm and fuzzy. While caring for others is certainly part of its make-up, there are those born under this sign who express themselves quite differently.

Cancer business giants John D. Rockefeller, Ross Perot and Richard Branson used their toughness and determination to build enormous commercial empires. Navy Seal turned pro wrestler Jesse Ventura used his will to become the governor of Minnesota.

Crabs can climb the ladder of success when their emotions are channeled into the present, rather than spent clinging to the past.

Famous Cancers

Cancer feeling expresses itself through the work of Meryl Streep, generally considered the greatest actress of our time. Tom Hanks, Kathy Bates, Tom Cruise, John Cusack and Harrison Ford are other prominent Cancer actors.

Sweet sounds come from Cancer singers Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt and George Michael. Mike Meyers and Ringo Starr reflect the humor of this sign. July 1 is the birthday of Cancers Liv Tyler, Pamela Anderson and the late Princess Diana. The range of this sign is enormous, stretching all the way from diet guru Richard Simmons to the Dalai Lama.

 

@Tarot.com is a Daily Insight Group Site

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A Pledge To Pagan Spirituality


Witchy Comments & Graphics

A Pledge To Pagan Spirituality

 

I am a Pagan and I dedicate Myself to channeling the Spiritual Energy of my Inner Self to help and to heal myself and others.

  • I know that I am a part of the Whole of Nature. May I grow in understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in Balance.
  • May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its Unity and may I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, sex, sexual preference, culture, and other ways differ from my own.
  • May I use the Force (psychic power) wisely and never use it for aggression nor for malevolent purposes. May I never direct it to curtail the free will of another.
  • May I always be mindful that I create my own reality and that I have the power within me to create positivity in my life.
  • May I always act in honorable ways: being honest with myself and others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments I have taken on to the best of my ability.
  • May I always remember that whatever is sent out always returns magnified to the sender. May the Forces of Karma move swiftly to remind me of these spiritual commitments when I have begin to falter from them, and may I use this Karmic feedback to help myself grow and be more attuned to my Inner Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positivity. May my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even approach my sphere of existence.
  • May I always grow in Inner Wisdom & Understanding. May I see every problem that I face as an opportunity to develop myself spiritually in solving it.
  • May I always act out of Love to all other beings on this Planet – to other humans, to plants, to animals, to minerals, to elementals, to spirits, and to other entities.
  • May I always be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner Self, my Pagan Spirit.
  • May I always channel Love and Light from my being. May my Inner Spirit, rather than my ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So Mote It Be

The Craft (Witchcraft – NOT to be confused with Satanism. A true Witch has nothing to do with this, even though there are some Satanists who (unrightfully) call themselves “Witch”.) contains a large number of groups with bonds to each other, for the most part, which are looser than those you will find between Christian churches. Each has it’s own traditions, it’s own beliefs, it’s own pantheon, etc. So just WHAT is it that, overall, a Witch believes in? The American Council of Witches was formed to determine what it was that all Witches have in common, belief-wise. In the early 1970’s, a paper was released with their findings, and gives a good overall picture of it. The following is the text of that paper.

Basic Principles Of The Craft

  1. The first principle is that of love, and it is expressed in the ethic, “Do As You Will, So Long As You Harm None”
    1. love is not emotional in it’s essence, but is an attribute of the individual as expressed in relation to other beings;
    2. harming others can be by thought, word, or deed;
    3. it is to be understood the “none” includes oneself;
    4. the harm which is to be regarded as unethical is gratuitous harm; war, in general, is gratuitous harm, although it is ethical to defend oneself and one’s liberty when threatened by real and present danger, such as defense against invasion.
  2. The Witch must recognize and harmonize with the forces of the universe, in accord with the Law of Polarity: everything is dual; everything has two poles; everything has it’s opposite; for every action there is a reaction; all can be categorized as either active or reactive in relation to other things.
    1. Godhead is one unique and transcendent wholeness, beyond any limitations or expressions; thus, it is beyond our human capacity to understand and identify with this principle of Cosmic Oneness, except as It is revealed to us in terms of It’s attributes and operation.
    2. The most basic and meaningful attribute of the One that we, as humans, can relate to and understand, is that of polarity, of action and reaction; therefore Witches recognize the Oneness of the Divinity, but worship and relate to the Divine as the archetypal polarity of God and Goddess, the All-Father and the Great Mother of the universe. The Beings are as near as we can approach to the One within our human limitations of understanding and expression, though it is possible to experience the divine Oneness through the practices of the Mysteries.
    3. Harmony does not consist of the pretty and the nice, but the balanced, dynamic, poised cooperation and co-relation.
  3. The Witch must recognize, and operate within the framework of the Law of Cause and Effect; every action has it’s reaction, and every effect has it’s cause. All things occur according to this law; nothing in the universe can occur outside this law, though we may not always appreciate the relation between a given effect and it’s cause. Subsidiary to this is the Law of Three, which states that whatever goes forth must return threefold, whether of good or ill; for our actions affect more than people generally realize, and the resulting reactions are also part of the harvest.
  4. As Above, So Below. That which exists in the Macrocosm exists, on a smaller scale and to a lesser degree, in the Microcosm. The powers of the universe exist also in the human, though in general instance they lie dormant. The powers and abilities can be awakened and used if the proper techniques are practiced, and this is why initiates of the Mysteries are sworn to guard the secrets from the unworthy: Much harm can be done by those who have power without responsibility, both to others and to themselves according to the Laws of Cause and Effect and of Threefold Return.
    1. Since our philosophy teaches that the universe is the physical manifestation of the Divine, there can be nothing in the universe which does not partake of the nature of the Divine; hence, the powers and attributes of the Divine exist also in the manifest, though to much smaller degree.
    2. These powers can be awakened through the various techniques of the Mysteries, and, although they are only capable of small effects in and of themselves, it is possible to use them in order to draw upon the forces of the universe. Thus humanity can be the wielders of the power of the Gods, a channel for Godhead to act within It’s own manifestation. This, then, is further reason for the oath of secrecy.
    3. Since the universe is the body of the One, possessing the same attributes as the One, it’s Laws must be the principles through and by which the One operates. By reasoning from the known to the unknown, one can learn of the Divine, and thus of oneself. Thus the Craft is a natural religion, seeing in Nature the expression and revelation of Divinity.
  5. We know that everything in the universe is in movement or vibration and is a function of that vibration. Everything vibrates; all things rise and fall in a tidal system that reflects the motion inherent in the universe and also in the atom. Matter and energy are but two poles of one continuous phenomenon. Therefore the Witch celebrates, harmonizes with, and makes use of the tides of the universe and of life as expressed through the cycle of the seasons and the motion of the solar system. These ritual observances are the eight great Festivals of the Year, referred to as the Wheel of the Year. Further, the Witch works with the forces and tides of the Moon, for this body is the mediator of much energy to our planet Earth and thus to ourselves.
  6. Nothing is dead matter in the universe. All things exist, therefore all things live, though perhaps in a different manner from that which we are used to calling life. In view of this, the Witch knows that there is no true death, only change from one condition to another. The universe is the body of Godhead, and therefore possesses one transcendent consciousness; all things partake of the consciousness, in varying levels of trance/awareness.
    1. Because of this principle, all things are sacred to the Witch, for all partake of the one Life.
    2. Therefore the Witch is a natural ecologist, for Nature is part of us as we are a part of Nature.
  7. Astrology can be useful in marking and interpreting the flow and ebb of the tides of our solar system, and thus of making use of those tides; astrology should not be debased into mere fortune-telling.
  8. Throughout the development of the human race, civilizations have seen and worshipped many and various attributes of the Divine. These universal forces have been clothed in forms which were expressive to the worshipper of the attribute of the Godhead which they expressed. Use of these symbolic representations of the natural and divine forces of the universe, or god forms, is a potent method for contacting and utilizing the forces they represent. Thus the Gods are both natural and truly divine, and man-made in that the forms with which they are clothed are products of humanity’s striving to know the Godhead.
    1. In keeping with the Law of Polarity, these god-forms are brought into harmony by the one great Law which states: All Gods are one God. All Goddesses are one Goddess. There is one Initiator. This law is an expression of our understanding that all of the forces of the universe, by whatever ethnic god-form is chosen to clothe and relate to whichever force, can be resolved into the fundamental polarity of the Godhead, the Great Mother and the All-Father.
    2. It is the use of differing god forms, of differing ethnic sources or periods, which is the basis of many of the differences between the various Traditions of the Craft. Each Tradition uses the forms, and thus the names, which to that Tradition best express and awaken an understanding of the force represented, according to the areas of emphasis of the Tradition.
    3. Because we know that differing names or representations are but expressions of the same divine principles and forces, we require our members to swear that they will never mock the names by which another honors the Divine, even though those names be different from and seemingly less expressive than the names and god forms used by our Tradition (for to the members of another Tradition, using it’s names, ours may easily seem equally less expressive).
  9. A Witch refuses to allow her/himself to be corrupted by the great guilt neuroses which have been foisted on humanity in the name of the Divine, thus freeing the self of the slavery of the mind. The Witch expresses responsibility for her/his actions, and accepts the consequences of them; guilt is rejected as inhibiting to one’s self-actualization, and replaced by the efforts of the Witch to obey the teachings of harmlessness, responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, and the goal of actualizing the full powers of the individual.
    1. We refuse to believe that a human being is born innately sinful, and recognize the concepts of sin and guilt are tremendously inhibiting to the human potential; the consequences of the Law of Cause and Effect, called karma by some, are not punishment, but the recurrences of situations and their effects because the individual as not gained the Wisdom needed to handle or avoid such situations.
    2. There is no heaven except that which we ourselves make of our life on Earth, and likewise there is no hell except the effects of our unwise actions. Death is not followed by punishment or reward, but by life and the continuing evolution of the human potential.
    3. One cannot damn the divine in oneself; one can, however, cut oneself off from it through the rejection of wisdom and a refusal to strive for self-realization. This cutting off does not lead to personal suffering in “hell”, for there is no Self to suffer if the tie to one’s own divinity has been severed; what remains is merely an empty shell, a “personality” or thought-form devoid of it’s ensouling Spark of the Divine Fire.
  10. We know of the existence of the life-force which ensouls all living things, that is, all that exists. We know that a spark of this Divine Fire is within each and every thing that exists, and that it does not die; only the form of it’s existence changes. We know that this spark of the life-force returns to manifestation again and again in order to fully realize and actualize it’s potential, evolving finally to the peak and essence of existence which is pure being. In this process of reincarnation each form returns in the same type of form, though it’s ever-increasing actualization may lead to higher levels of existence of that form. Man returns as man, cat as feline, mineral as mineral, each class of form evolving as the individual forms of that class evolve.
  11. This process of evolution through successive incarnations in manifest form works through the utilization of wisdom gained, the essence of the life-experience. This essence of experience, or Wisdom, is an attribute of the spark of life itself, one and inseparable (see 9a).
  12. We must care for the body, for it is the vehicle of the spark of life, the form by which we attain. Thus we must heal the body of it’s ills and keep it a tuned and perfected tool; so must we heal others (both physically and psychologically) as far as it is within our power to do so. However, we cannot interfere with the life of another, even to heal, except at their request or with their express permission; unless such non-interference would be inhibiting to our own, ethical existence and development – and even then the responsibilities and consequences must be understood and accepted. This, then, is one of the important reasons for the communal life the Witches under the guidance of the Priesthood: That the group may be guided by wisdom and experience, with the aid and support of one’s peers; and that one’s actions may be guided by the influence of the ethical life of the group as a whole.
  13. Harmony with, and utilization of, the great natural forces of the universe is called magick. By magick we speak, not of the supernatural, but of the superbly natural, but whose laws and applications are not as yet recognized by the scientific establishment. The Witch must strive to recognize these forces, learn their laws, attune her/himself to them, and make use of them. The Witch must also be aware that power corrupts when used only for the gains of the self, and therefore must strive to serve humanity: Either through the service in the Priesthood, or by example and effects of his/her life on others. The choice must be made in accord with the true nature of the Witch.
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A Little About August Birth Symbols

August Babies

“Fairest of the months! Ripe summer’s queen, The hey-day of the year, With robes that gleam with sunny sheen, Sweet August doth appear.” —R. Combe Miller

Zodiac: Leo until August 22 and Virgo from August 23

Gemstone: Peridot
The gemstone is formed deep inside the earth and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. They are believed to contain healing powers that protect against nightmares and bring the wearer power and influence. Colors range from yellowish green to a greenish brown.

Flower: Gladiolus, Poppy
The gladiolus brings remembrance, calm, integrity and infatuation. Poppy is also a popular August flower: red means pleasure, white means consolation, and yellow brings wishes of wealth and success.

Tree: Cypress, Poplar, Cedar, Pine

FROM: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/photo-gallery/birth-signs-symbols#09

August’s birth flower is gladiolus, or ‘sword lily.’ Gladiolus represents remembrance, calm, integrity, and infatuation. With gladiolus, the recipient’s heart is being “pierced with love.” The other August flower is the poppy. A red poppy signifies pleasure, a white poppy is given for consolation, and a yellow poppy wishes wealth and success.

FROM: http://www.almanac.com/content/birth-month-flowers-and-their-meanings#

August Birthstone – Peridot

Peridot, a symbol of vitality and is the gemstone for people born in August. The official name for peridot is olivine, and can be found in a wide spectrum of green from light-yellow to dark olive. The Egyptians were known to mine for the peridot on Saint John’s Island around 1500 BC. It was used to ward off night terrors and more specifically, when set in gold, would ward off evil. It has also been ground into a fine powder to treat asthma sufferers and used as a cure for thirst most experience during a fever. It has been said that its owner, when worn would have the power of invisibility, and that if a thief about to be hanged or beheaded might escape if one was held in their mouth. It can bring peace, protection and sleep. It has also been worn to calm anger by soothing ones nerves, expelling negative energy. They also can attract love.

The peridot has many symbolic purposes, one that it promises growth for the future and gives strength to individuals and those in relationships. Peridot is a brilliant young green and were first discovered in the black sands of Hawaii. Hawaiian legend states they were tears shed by the volcanic goddess, Pele. It is a connection to nature and Early Egyptians drank from cups made of peridot, believing they would be drawn closer to the goddess of nature, Isis.

The Egyptians also called it the “gem of the sun”, due to its brilliance that it would showcase in the desert sun. By miners, it is said that even in darkness, the peridot could be seen, and they would mark the location. They would then return in the daytime to retrieve them. Perhaps this is why the peridot is at times referred to as the “evening emerald”. Today, it is mined in Hawaii, the Congo, Arizona, Burma, Norway, Australia and Brazil.

August is a month in which for many is viewed as the end of the summer cycle. A time when some need to make plans and begin preparing for the cooler months of fall. It is a time of harvest and hard work. Our bodies are challenged with physical work and long hours. This is a time when one might need to search for strength from an outside source or symbol. During this month we are once again in touch with the earth and the significant seasonal shifts. The birthstones representing each month are meant to empower their owners with gifts specifically needed for each of these seasonal shifts. When the human condition falls short of spiritual or mental needs, these precious stones have been believed to gift their owners strength and endurance in many forms.

Other interesting facts about the August Birthstone of Peridot:

-They were discovered first in Egypt on a tiny island named Zabargard over four-thousand years ago

-In earlier times, Catholic Bishops would wear a peridot ring as a symbol of their purity

-In Medieval times, churches were obsessively adorned by them

-Considered a gift from Mother Nature

-They are created from the conditions of extreme heat from volcanoes

-The most abundant deposits are found in Burma.

-They have been recommended for gall bladder and liver illness

Other Symbols of August:

August Birth Flower:

The Poppy, more specifically the poppy native to the Mediterranean regions. These yield a source of opium, that in the ancient world would bring on sleep and ease pain when taken in smaller amounts. Poppies were associated with the god of sleep, Hypnos and Morpheus, the god of dreams by the Greeks.

August Birth Tree:

The Pine tree. It represents, immortality and longevity.

Famous People Born in August:

Charlize Theron- August 7, 1975

Robert De Niro- August 17, 1943

Audrey Tautou- August 9, 1976

Martin Sheen- August 3, 1940

Andy Warhol- August 6, 1928

Jack Black- August 28, 1969

– See more at: http://birthstonesbymonths.net/august-birthstone-peridot/#sthash.VeUaoXRo.dpuf

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Being An Upside Down Witch – for those Living in the Southern Hemisphere

Goddess Pages
British spiritual magazine

Living in Australia – or anywhere in the southern hemisphere for that matter – can be a little confusing for a witch. All the books about magic print elemental correspondences that are back to front (the fire of the sun is certainly not in the south down here!), and list dates for the sabbats that bear no relation to the actual cycle of our seasons. I’ve met a surprising number of people from the US and UK who didn’t realise that our seasons are six months behind (or ahead, depending on how you look at it) the northern ones. Our Midsummer falls around December 20-23, when the north is blanketed in snow, while our winter solstice falls around June 20-23, the height of summer up there.
Perhaps long ago we may have followed the oft-printed dates and celebrated these rituals along with our northern friends, linking up psychically in December to celebrate Yule and welcome the birth of the sun god, even as here he was about to start fading as summer reached its peak, or doing autumn rituals of harvest and release while our land was quickening with the new growth of spring.
But I don’t know of a single southern witch who follows the northern model. At coven rituals, open celebrations and alone at home, groups and solitary practitioners follow our own seasonal cycle, because paganism and goddess worship are intimately attuned to the heartbeat of the planet and the seasons, and these festivals are prescribed by the movement of the earth in relation to the sun, not a fixed date on a modern calendar. The land, as the embodiment of the goddess, speaks to all of us, and the goddess path is about learning to hear this language of nature, to sense the movement and emotional shifts as the earth moves through its cycles, and feel the rhythm of its turning. And so a spring fertility festival will be marked in spring, when the planet is alive with new life and energy, regardless of what is happening on that day in the other hemisphere.
There has been mention in these pages that it is wrong to import “northern” festivals to the southern lands. But celebrating the beauty and bounty of nature and the dance of the seasons is not anyone’s exclusive right. Maybe people in the Celtic lands can feel historically possessive of the names themselves (Lughnasadh, Beltane), but they have no ownership of the winter solstice or the first day of spring, and this is what these festivals are.
The Wheel of the Year reflects the constant universal cycle of life, death and rebirth. Mythologically it is tied to the story of the god and goddess as she shifts from young lover to mother to crone, and he is born, grows in power, sacrifices himself then is reborn, but literally it refers to the changing seasons – the fertility and vibrant life force of summer, the balance and harvest of autumn, the introspection and endings (death) of winter, and the rebirth of spring. Being in the southern hemisphere doesn’t necessarily change this seasonal pattern, it merely shifts the dates. There are parts of Australia such as the Red Centre – and parts of the northern hemisphere too – where the seasons don’t play out in a standard, balanced rhythm through summer, autumn, winter and spring. Some places experience just two main seasons, wet and dry, yet even there the people living in harmony with the land are able to feel the earth as it surges with new life, grows, becomes ready for harvest then withdraws its energy within the earth again, and celebrate their own personal Wheel that reflects their reality.
But in much of the coastal region of the country, where around eighty per cent of the population is based, the seasons do follow a regular pattern, and many witches celebrate the traditional Wheel of the Year, moved forward six months to reflect their personal experience. Of course it can seem a little strange and out of whack sometimes, because the Christians hijacked so many of the magical sabbats and they have become such a part of western life. So how and when do we celebrate the turning points of the witches’ year Down Under, and how do we deal with the inconsistencies of modern festivities?

The Summer Solstice
As the western world gears up for Christmas and northern witches mark Yule, in the southern hemisphere we are celebrating the summer solstice. In 2008 this fell on December 21, and in 2009 it will fall on December 22. This is Midsummer Day, when the sun reaches its southernmost latitude before it turns and heads back towards the north. In some ways it would be easier to celebrate Yule during this festive season, as our northern hemisphere counterparts do, when everyone is feasting, exchanging gifts and acknowledging the birth of the son of God – or the sun god. But Down Under this is the longest, not shortest, day of the year. The sun is strong (some would say merciless), and the energy is fast and active. It’s a time of abundance, achievement and culmination. Despite the snow-covered decorations, men sweating in Santa suits and hot roast dinners – a legacy of our ancestors – on this day we absorb the solar energy, feast on luscious summer fruits, give thanks for the goals we’ve reached and revel in the strength and heat of the long day of sunshine and the power of the sun god.
Sometimes I go to the beach at dawn and watch the sun rise over the ocean, or climb the hill in the park near my house at sunset, farewelling it as it begins its journey back to northern parts, and its energy starts to wane from this day forward as it begins its descent into the dark half of the year. Sometimes I do a formal ritual with a group, or have a feast of celebration with my magical friends, wrapping pots of sunshiney flowers and summer herbs in gold and red velvet as gifts, and breathe in the scent of orange blossoms, lavender and rosemary. I celebrate Christmas with my family too, but I see no conflict here, as the modern version has little to do with the real Yule in intent or meaning, and I’m quite happy to honour the power of the summer solstice and then a few days later enjoy the spirit of giving of the festive season.

Lughnasadh
In the first week of February we celebrate Lughnasadh, the cross-quarter day that marks the end of summer and the first day of autumn, although where I live it will still be hot and fiery for some time to come. In the north it’s Imbolc, linked to fertility, love and Valentine’s Day, but down here it’s the opposite. The earth is still throbbing with life and energy, but it’s mature, fully ripened and almost over-abundant. This is the first harvest festival, and fruit picking becomes a popular form of employment for many travellers, with farms all over the country taking on seasonal workers. The grape harvest begins, to make the wine that is now internationally renowned, and an abundance of other delicious fruits and vegetables, as well as golden wheat and other cereal crops, are also picked at this time.
As well as a time of feasting and of thanksgiving for the life-giving properties of our crops, and recognition of the cycle of sowing and reaping, Lughnasadh is also about the symbolic things we grow and create in our life. It’s a day of harvesting the fruits of our labours and acknowledging our successes and what we’ve achieved in the past year. A month after New Year’s resolutions are made, it seems a good time to take stock. On this day I perform a ritual to celebrate and acknowledge the goals I’ve reached, making a list of all the things I’ve gained – the gifts I’ve been given, the new talents I’ve developed, the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, the healings I’ve received, the opportunities I’ve pursued – and giving thanks for it all. We may no longer be so connected to the creation and production of our food, as in days gone by, or believe that our prayers or sacrifices influence the success of the crops, but being grateful for what we have and giving thanks is still a beautiful way to live. I also try to pass on some of my good fortune so the energy of abundance continues and is strengthened, by giving time or money to a charity of some kind.

Autumn Equinox
Late March is another strange time for Down Under witches, because the stores are filled with chocolate bunnies and eggs in preparation for Easter, the Christian holiday based on the spring festival of Ostara, which northern hemisphere witches are marking now. While most of the world – both pagan and non-magical – celebrates rebirth, resurrection and new life with the fertility goddess Ostara’s symbols of eggs and hares, in Australia it’s the middle of autumn, a time of crisp, chilly mornings, pale blue skies and a world aflame with colour as the trees turn a hundred shades of red-orange-yellow-brown. Daylight savings ends, and from the autumn equinox onwards, which this year falls on March 20, the days start getting shorter and the weather cooler, but this day of equal light and dark is the moment of balance in nature and within – a time of harmony, joy and gentle calm. While I certainly eat my share of chocolate eggs at this time, acknowledging on some level the energy of Ostara, I also prepare a harvest feast of richly coloured fruits and root vegetables, golden grains and heavy warm breads, and start drying my herbs. I feel immense joy as I skip through the crackling autumn leaves and chart the turning of the seasons by the patterns of leaves on the trees. I give thanks for my metaphorical harvest, honouring my achievements, experiences and wisdom in a way that feels right to me, be it with a big celebration or a personal ritual of gratitude. It’s a time of balance – my world is poised between summer and winter, and day and night are in harmony, which is reflected in the earth’s energy and within me.

Samhain
In the first week of May we celebrate the cross-quarter day that marks the end of autumn and the beginning of the coldness and dark of winter. In the north it’s all hot, fertile love energy, with abundant blossoms, the hatching of birds, bees pollinating flowers and lovers leaping the Beltane fires. But in the southern hemisphere at this time it’s the opposite. It’s the start of winter, a season of introspection and darkness both metaphorically and literally. Traditionally this was the time to store food for the cold barren months ahead; symbolically it’s about rest and renewal, of preparing for what’s ahead and withdrawing a little to conserve your energy. While the grass becomes green and lush at this time with the onset of rain, many of the trees are stripped bare, and bitterly cold winds add to the starkness of the season. This is the time we start readying ourselves for the rebirth we’ll experience at Yule, a time of inner reflection and contemplation, of studying the Mysteries (of our tradition or our life), and scrying for answers and illumination. It’s also the night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and we honour our ancestors and commune with the dead. Of course southern witches do find it hard to explain to people that we are celebrating “Halloween” at this time, but if you pay attention to the earth, to nature, to the seasons, it’s very clear that this is our Samhain.

The Winter Solstice
In late June we celebrate the winter solstice; this year it will fall on the 21st. This is our midwinter – the longest night and shortest day of the year, when the sun is as far north as it will get, making it midsummer in the northern hemisphere. Snow falls in some parts of Australia, and in others it’s cold and rainy. Even in the Red Centre, where winter is their dry season, nature is introspective at this time – the seeds are all closed up, waiting for the heat and rainfall of summer to explode into life. Winter, and this midpoint in particular, is a time to rest and reflect, to acknowledge sadness and loss – of dreams, of friendships, of parts of your self – and conserve your energy and life force.
Yet it’s a day of hope too, for the solstice is the turning point in this time of darkness, introspection and dreaming. Considered the dark night of the soul that gives birth to the creative spark, it marks the period when the dark half of the year relinquishes its hold to the light half. From this day forward the days slowly start to lengthen, the sun becomes stronger and the energy within and without increases and builds. On Midwinter’s Night Eve I light a candle to symbolise the sun and its activating energy, and list my dreams for the coming year. Sometimes I stay up all night to await the return of the light, other years I get up for the sunrise and toast the dawn and give thanks for this energetic reawakening. As the sun is reborn I open myself up to the promise of new growth and achievement, the energy of renewal and the rebirth of my own self and creativity.
I’m more inclined to refer to this festival as Winter Solstice rather than Yule, because the latter has connotations of Christmas, which is still six months away for us, yet many southern witches retain the traditional name, particularly in colder areas where open fires and Yule logs are more typical. Interestingly, there is now increasing recognition in Australia that Christmas is based on a winter tradition that involves magic, and many mainstream events are planned to coincide with our winter solstice. The Pagan Awareness Network holds Hollyfrost, an annual Midwinter retreat and ritual, and in the Blue Mountains the Winter Magic Festival is held on the day of the solstice and is open to everyone, regardless of beliefs. And the more touristy than magical Yulefest and Christmas in July are also celebrated around this time, in recognition that here Yule should not take place in December, in the heat of the Australian summer, but in the cool of winter.

Imbolc
In the first week of August, we in the southern hemisphere honour the cross-quarter day that marks the end of winter and the first day of spring. The earth starts to shake off the severity of the cold period and emerge back into the light. Some of our stunning wildflowers, like the delicate golden wattle, explode into glorious bloom, and it’s a time of hope, renewal and fresh starts after winter’s sluggishness. The sun starts to strengthen and the days grow longer, symbolising the return and renewal of the life force of the land and its people. Energetically it’s a time of awakening and new energy, and is the day we sow the seeds of what we want to achieve in the coming year. It’s also a time of purification and cleansing after the long dark of winter, when I feel motivated to physically clean my house and energetically clear my space, sweeping out old energy and thoughts so the new can thrive. Imbolc represents new beginnings, initiations and inspiration, and the budding plants, swooping baby birds and buzzing bees always fill me with vitality, passion and the impetus to start (or rededicate myself to) new projects.

The Spring Equinox
In the southern hemisphere, the spring or vernal equinox falls in late September – this year it’s on the 23rd. It’s a beautiful time of year, with bright blue skies and pale sunshine without the merciless heat of summer… perfect temperate weather. It’s one of only two times of the year when the length of day and night is equal, and on a personal level it’s a time of balance and harmony too, of union between the physical and spiritual as the balance of universal energies is reflected within. It’s also a time of growth and fertility, when crops are sown, the buds on the trees open, birds build nests and lay eggs and new life is celebrated. Energetically it’s also a very fertile time, as the seeds we sowed of our goals begin to sprout and gain momentum. Traditionally the spring equinox is tied up with rabbits, eggs and fertility goddesses, so it does feel a bit strange to be celebrating “Easter” at this time, but the beautifully blossoming and budding earth and the wild energy and vitality make it obvious that it’s the time for it. It’s a celebration of new life, hope, passion, growth and energy, the time of year that I meditate on my metaphorical fertility and my ability to manifest dreams into reality. In many ancient cultures, including the Romans whose calendar ours is based on, the spring equinox was the first day of the year, and the sense of new hope and optimism inherent in this day remains. It hasn’t always fallen around March/September 21 – our dating is a modern invention – and there are still countries where this is the first day of the year. The Ancient Roman year began on the spring equinox, the day they called Martius 1, which is March 21 in Gregorian terms. In the modern Iranian calendar, used in Iran and Afghanistan, each new year begins on the spring equinox as precisely determined by astronomical observations from Tehran and Kabul (making it the perfect solar calendar, because each calendar year corresponds exactly to the solar year, with no leap days necessary). The Baha’i calendar also begins on the spring equinox.
I got married on September 22 – our spring equinox – a few years ago, so we celebrate our anniversary on Ostara each year. Yet we ran away and wed in the northern hemisphere, which means where we were that day was actually the autumn equinox. Thus each year as we celebrate our anniversary at home, in the springtime, we also acknowledge the energy of autumn. I add a few autumn colours to my spring bouquet, and consider not only what seeds we want to plant for the next year of our relationship, but what we have harvested over the previous one. As Mabon and Ostara are the two days of the year when all is balanced, within and without, they are both good days to renew commitments or pledge a new one, be it a vow of love, magic, career or anything else. I feel like I incorporated the best of both worlds by making my wedding day span both festivals.

Beltane
In the southern hemisphere, the first week of November brings the cross-quarter day that marks the end of spring and the start of the heat and energy of summer, and the festival of love. It’s a time of lovers and spells to attract love, and celebrating the fertility of life, not just physically, but also of our dreams and ambitions. Symbolically this day marks the igniting of the fires of creativity and passion, of the fertility of our desires being made manifest, as the universe bursts with a raw energy and power that we can tap in to simply by breathing it in.
In the northern hemisphere Beltane falls around May Day, and while it has no relevance to us in terms of timing, I have been part of a coven ritual that involved a maypole dance, to represent the union of god and goddess at this point in the Wheel of the Seasonal Year. I’ve also leapt over the Beltane fires, although that was before I met my husband, when I jumped over it with friends as part of a personal ritual of purification and preparation, leaping out of my past, burning away the relationship issues that had kept my heart closed, and towards a future where love was possible (I met my partner two months later).
While I’ve been known to dress up as a vampire or a fairy and go to a Halloween party on October 31, privately or with coven members or witchie friends I’m celebrating the new blossoms and the vitality and fertility of Beltane at this time.

So, while it’s perhaps a little easier for northern hemisphere goddess worshippers to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, given that so many of them are actually woven into “normal” life, when you tune in to the earth and the rhythms of nature it is easy to know when it’s the right time to celebrate any of the old festivals. Because whether you live in the north, where they began, or the south, adding your own personal meaning to the traditional forms of celebration, the sabbats are still relevant to our lives. Even today, when we no longer live in harmony with the earth’s rhythms or agricultural cycles, modern pagans celebrate the Wheel of the Year as an honouring of nature and an acknowledgement of the continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth, both literally and symbolically. Becoming aware of the seasonal shifts and the patterns of nature wherever you live, and celebrating these ancient but still relevant festivals, is a simple way to tap in to the magic of the universe and harness it for your own growth. We may no longer grow our own grain or purify the fields with fire, but these celebrations still have power, particularly in the symbolic form – planting the seeds of our dreams in the metaphorical spring, watching them grow and manifest in the world before we give thanks for our literal harvest, then allowing the things that no longer serve us to die off or be released in our own personal winter, then starting all over again with new dreams as we celebrate our own rebirth.
I’ve spent a few sabbats in the northern hemisphere, leaping the Beltane fires in Glastonbury’s Chalice Well Gardens, sitting inside the Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice, watching the sun set over the Hill of Tara at Lughnasadh, and the energy of each season is intense, real and tangible no matter which hemisphere I am in. Whenever I celebrate these magical turning points of our planet I feel so strongly a part of the earth, at one with nature and the universe. And so, regardless of which half of the world I’m in, I always acknowledge the opposite festival as well, in some small way. Perhaps this isn’t as important for those in the north, but for me it seems right to acknowledge the turning seasons all over the world, the beautiful, gracefully balanced dance of light and dark, heat and cold, day and night, that makes up this world that we are all a part of.
We are all connected to the earth, no matter where we live, and we need to learn how to (and accept that we can) follow the seasons of nature in our own unique way, based on the rising and setting of the sun in our own home town, the cycles of the moon as it crosses our part of the sky, and the very personal language of nature that is so different – and yet so similar –according to our own unique landscape.


Serene Conneeley is a healer, writer and witch who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a reconnective healing practitioner and has studied magical and medicinal herbalism, reiki and many other healing modalities, as well as politics and journalism. Her first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, has just been published. Visit Goddess Pages magazine here.

Categories: Articles, Coven Life, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Nature of Our Ways

Egyptian Comments & Graphics

The Nature of Our Ways

• As often as possible, hold the rites in forests, by the seashore, on deserted mountaintops or near tranquil lakes. If this is impossible, a garden or some chamber shall suffice, if it is readied with fumes or flowers.

• Seek out wisdom in books, rare manuscripts and cryptic poems if you will, but seek it out also in simple stones and fragile herbs and in the cries of wild birds. Listen to the whisperings of the wind and the roar of water if you would discover magic, for it is here that the old secrets crets are preserved.

• Books contain words; trees contain energies and wisdom books ne’er dreamt of.

• Ever remember that the Old Ways are constantly revealing themselves. Therefore be as the river willow that bends and sways with the wind. That which remains changeless shall outlive its spirit, but that which evolves and grows will shine for centuries.

• There can be no monopoly on wisdom. Therefore share what you will of our ways with others who seek them, but hide mystic lore from the eyes of those who would destroy, for to do otherwise increases creases their destruction.

• Mock not the rituals or spells of another, for who can say yours are greater in power or wisdom?

• Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall return to you three-fold, good or bane.

• Be wary of one who would dominate you, who would control and manipulate your workings and reverences. True reverence for the Goddess and God occurs within. Look with suspicion on any who would twist worship from you for their own gain and glory, but welcome those priestesses and priests who are suffused with love.

• Honor all living things, for we are of the bird, the fish, the bee. Destroy not life save it be to preserve your own.

• And this is the nature of our way.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

Scott Cunningham

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 28

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – April 28

“Indians living close to nature and nature’s ruler are not living in darkness.”

–Walking Buffalo, STONEY

There are many Indian people who are living according to nature and according to ceremony and culture. They may not have a lot of material things, but that doesn’t mean they are not successful. What is success anyway? Can success be measured by material things? What is it we are really chasing anyway? The Elders say that what everyone really wants is to be happy and have a peaceful mind. Material things by themselves do not bring happiness and peace of mind. Only spiritual things bring happiness. When we live a spiritual life we will not have darkness. Instead, we will be happy.

Great Spirit, today, let me walk the Red Road.

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Animal Symbolism – A thru C

Animal Symbolism – A thru C

 

Adder– Transformation, Healing, Life Energy, Rebirth, Resurrection, Initiation, Wisdom, Cunning, Reincarnation

Alligator, Crocodile– Maternal Protection, Connection to the Earth Mother, Protection from Manipulation, Understanding Deceit, Revenge Through Patience, Initiation, Understanding Weather, Access to Ancient Knowledge, Aggression, Survival, Adaptability

Ant– Patience, Stamina, Planning, Energy, Communal Living, Storing for the Future, Group Minded, Perseverance, Step by Step, Teamwork, Industriousness, Order and Discipline

Badger– Keeper of Stories, Bold Self-Expresssion, Aggressiveness, Single-Mindedness, Passion, Cunning, Revenge, Perseverance, Control, Antidote to Passivity or Victimization, Persistence in the Service of a Mission, Groundedness, Knowledge of the Earth, Earth Magick and Wisdom, Creative Action in a Crisis, Protection of Rights and Spiritual Ideas

Bat– Death and Rebirth, Guardian of the Night, Cleaner

Bear– Introspection, Healing, Solitude, Change, Communication with Spirit, Death and Rebirth, Transformation, Astral Travel, Creature of Dreams, Shamans and Mystics, Visionaries, Defense and Revenge, Wisdom, Thoughtfulness, Need for Retreat, Rest, Natural Strength, Primal Power, Sovereignty, Intuitions Married with Instinct, Awakening the Power of the Unconscious, Introspection, Mother, Cunning, Healer, Dreaming, Direction, Connection to Creator, Nature’s Pharmacist

Beaver– Doer, Builder, Gatherer

Bee– Connection to the Goddess Diana, Understanding Female Warrior Energy, Reincarnation, Communication with the Dead, Helping Earth-Bound Spirits Move on to Their Proper Place, Concentration, Prosperity, Community, Celebration, Organization, Fertility and the Honey of Life, Sweetness of Truth

Blackbird– Enchantment, The Gateway, The Inner Call, Understanding of the Energies of Mother Nature

Boar– The Warrior Spirit, Leadership, Direction

Bobcat– Clear Vision in Dark Places, Vigilance, Suspicion, Seeking Ancient Mystical Mysteries, Ability to Live in Solitude, Ability to See Through Masks

Buffalo– Earth Creativity, Feminine Courage, Abundance, Knowledge, Generosity, Hospitality, Sharing Work, Courage, Strength, Challenge, Survival, Giving for the Greater Good, Formulating Beneficial Plans, Prayer, Sacredness, Life Builder.

Bull– Wealth, Potency, Beneficence, Fertility

Cat– Independence, Protection, Love, Allows us to Dream its Dreams, Assists in Meditation, Ability to Fight when Cornered, Mystery, Magic, Guardianship, Detachment, Sensuality, Aloofness, Balance, Wisdom, Recuperative Power, Reincarnation, Strong Protector, Self-Assured, Searching for Hidden Information, Seeing Spirits

Chameleon– Use of Color as Camouflage, Survival, Patience, Ability to Climb to Attain Ones Goals, Using the Sun as a Source of Power

Cheetah– Ability to Focus Intently on Something for a Short Period of Time, Swiftness, Self-Esteem, Accelerating Time, Keenness of Sight, Speed, Making Events Occur Quicker

Cobra– Soul Guide, Memory of the Soul World, Transmutation of the Soul, Past Life Memories, Wisdom of the Goddess, Freedom from Religious Persecution

Cougar– Using Leadership Power Wisely and Without Ego, Balancing Power, Intention, Strength, Gaining Self-Confidence, Freedom from Guilt, Cunning, Savagery, Fury, Remorseless, Hunting, Seeking of Freedom, Balancing Intention, Power, Coming into Your Own Power, Courage, Swiftness, Balance

Cow– Being Alert to Danger, Contentment, Great Mother Goddess, Love, Connection to the Grasses, Sharing through Community, Vitality, Health, Prosperity, Life of the Land, Nourishment, Motherhood

Coyote– Understanding That All Things are Sacred–Yet Nothing is Sacred, Intelligence, Ability to Laugh at One’s Own Mistakes, Shape-Shifting, Teaching Balance Between Risk and Safety, Illumination, Stealth, Clowning and Humor, Wisdom of Folly, Prankster, Insight, Playful.

Crab– Ability to Escape by Moving Sidewise, Understanding the Power of Dance, Ability to Move Through Water (Emotions), Male Aspects of Community, Protection of Home Space

Crow– Guardian of the Place Before Existence, Carrier of Souls from Darkness into Light, Working Without Fear in Darkness, Guidance While Working in Shadow, Moves Freely in the Void, Understands all Things Related to Ethics, Shapeshifter, Secret Magic of Creation, Thief, Trickery, Boldness, Skill, Cunning, Single-Mindedness, A Bringer of Knowledge, Swiftness, Eloquence

Categories: Animal Guides/Totem Animals, Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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