3 parts Galangal
2 parts Ginger root, dried
2 parts Vetivert
1 part Thistle
Steep the herbs in shortening, strain, cool, and annoint the body at night.
Gemstone of the Day
- Common Name: Jasper
- Also known as: Egyptian marble
- Appearance: Usually a brownish-red color, often contains streaks of white
- Element(s): Earth
- Healing powers: Can be used in therapy for cancer and other debilitating diseases, blood disorders
- Magical uses: A great stone for grounding and centering after a ritual, also used to bring luck and good fortune
Herb of the Day
Many tribe on the West Coast enjoyed clover as food, combining it with peppernuts dipped in saltwater. The Pomo celebrated the emergence of the clover in early spring with dance and celebration. As medicine, clover was infused as a tea to relieve spasmodic coughing and applied with grease to soothe topical ulcers, sores, and burns. Clover has recently been found to thicken the blood and may be preventive of certain heart diseases.
Deity of the Day
Fiery Irish Goddess in charge of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft and Martial Arts. Very popular.
The daughter of DAGDA, she was apparently nicked by the Christians and turned into Saint BRIDGET.
Pets in Ritual: Some Basics
Author: Bronwen Forbes
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you want your pet in ritual with you, and not that he or she has wandered in by accident. That being the case, here are some things you need to consider and plan for.
If you normally cast a circle as part of your magickal workings, and if you have issues with pets casually crossing that magical barrier, you need to figure out in advance how to keep your furry friend from leaving once you’ve started. A dog can be leashed and kept in your circle. So, in some instances, can a ferret, a rabbit, or an iguana. But a cat isn’t likely to take too kindly to a harness or collar and a leash. And if your cat is anything like mine, he will yowl like he’s dying if you put him in a carrier.
What are you going to do? Frankly, you’ve got two choices: either resign yourself to the idea that a cat is going to cross the energy barrier you’ve erected but not affect it, or shut your cat away so he or she can’t participate.
Our cat likes to patrol the perimeter of the circle, but he never comes near the altar. Maybe he’s keeping an eye out for unwelcome entities. I really don’t know. His predecessor used to lie in the center of ritual space with the attitude, “You may all now commence adoring me.”
By the way, if you plan to have your dog in ritual, it’s a good idea to let him or her go outside and do his business beforehand. Nothing interrupts a good ritual like one of the participants barking because he needs to potty!
Something else to consider on this same topic: for obvious reasons, small puppies aren’t the best participants in long rituals, say, longer than thirty minutes. For lengthy sabbats or esbats, take your puppy out beforehand, and then crate him or her (or whatever you do at night) during the ritual. Post-ritual pee and poop cleanups when you’re trying to dismantle the altar and get the ritual feast ready just aren’t fun.
Speaking of altars, if you like to have an altar or shrine set up at all times, you might want to consider setting it up where an inquisitive cat or teething puppy can’t get to it. Cats love to knock things off altars. Puppies like to chew things – and they don’t care if it’s your $70 wand, your favorite Buddha statue (true story) , or a chew toy.
When I first started doing ritual, my cat at the time loved nothing better than to yukk up a hairball on my altar. Needless to say, a hairball was so not the kind of offering I wanted to make to my Gods! If your pets are doing your altar more harm than good, consider moving it to a pet-free room or large closet with a firmly latching door, or to a wall shelf strategically placed where Kitty can’t comfortably jump to.
If you frequently invite newcomers, especially people who are new to Paganism, to your ritual, you may notice that your pet chooses to sit on or next to that person while you all ground and center. This frequently happens in my group, and the newcomer always reports that the pet’s presence helped them feel less nervous, and they were better able to follow the grounding and centering meditation.
Another note about newcomers to your ritual: inform them at the time of invitation that you have pets, and what kind. That way, if they have serious allergies or major phobias, they know ahead of time and can choose for themselves how they want to deal with it, i.e. take antihistamines or not accept the invite.
We share our home with a shaggy, extra large old-fashioned German shepherd, and we always warn people that there’s a HUGE, LONG-HAIRED dog in the house! Karl is a complete goofball who wouldn’t hurt a soul (and in fact, is totally, utterly, and completely devoted to our four-year-old) , but he sheds constantly and weighs approximately 120 pounds. That way, people who don’t think dog hair counts as a condiment (despite the fact that we regularly dust and vacuum) or who might be too scared to concentrate on ritual with a humongous wolf-looking creature in the house can choose in advance not to come.
For safety’s sake, consider making some adjustments to the placement of Cakes and Wine during your ritual. Most of us are used to setting the cakes and drink on the altar – or under it, if the altar is too small. Let me tell you: with pets actively participating in ritual, that doesn’t work! Remember that alcohol, grapes (including grape juice) , raisins, any sort citrus fruit or juice, and chocolate are extremely toxic to cats and dogs.
Besides, do you really want to drink out of a chalice after your toilet-drinking, butt-sniffing dog had a sip? Or eat a cookie she’s licked? I didn’t think so! Put the stuff somewhere your furry friend can’t reach, like a nearby bookshelf or table. That way, all the humans can partake without grossing out – or poisoning the pet.
Maybe you could also have some water and dog and cat treats for your furry participants to enjoy during Cakes and Wine! I have heard that people who invite their ferrets or rabbits into ritual provide a small plate with a couple of raisins or lettuce on it.
With a little pre-planning, adult pets and carefully supervised kittens and puppies can be delightful, useful, and meaningful participants in your rituals. But always leave yourself the option of letting them out – and keeping them out – if they get too rowdy or otherwise disruptive.
Our ritual room is also where we keep our dogs’ crates, and for the most part they’re voluntarily hanging out in their crates (with the doors open) when we do ritual. We know the ritual is a success if the dogs are snoring!
Confessions of a Church Going Witch
Author: Leandra Blue
I grew up in the south. Right smack dab in the middle of the “Bible belt”. Christianity was just assumed. I mean, the second question you get asked when meeting someone new is, “Where do you go to church?” My family didn’t go to church. Religion and church was never really something that was discussed in my house. But as I got older, I did go. All of my friends went to church, so when I stayed over, I did as well. I went quite a bit, in fact.
However as often as I went, I was never comfortable. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. I tried. I really did, because not going or admitting that you didn’t believe was to commit social suicide. And no self-respecting small-town teenager would do that.
Finally, I went away to college. There I began experimenting. Oh, not with drugs, I was nowhere near that daring, but with religion. My grandpa had once told me, “There are so many different religions out there, but only one of them can be the true right one.“ I was determined to find that right one.
At first, I was pretty sure I was, in fact, Christian. I just didn’t know what kind. But as I researched deeper and learned more, I was no longer certain of that fact. I took several religious studies courses, but soon grew bored, as they concentrated mainly on Judeo-Christian religions with a couple doses of Hinduism and Buddhism thrown in.
Religioustolerance.org became the base of my religious wandering. It gave a great concise rundown on every religion I had ever heard of, plus many, many more that I hadn’t. I would pick one, read about it and research from there.
The problem with finding the “right” religion was the more I learned about all these different religions, I found something beautiful and resonate in each that just made me lean back and smile and say, “Yes, yes, yes.” But then there was always also something that would make me shake my head and wonder, “Why? I just don’t get it.”
For a short time, I flirted with Baha’i, an offshoot of Islam that stresses the equality of men and women and the underlying unity of all the world’s major religions. However, it also shuns politics and, like many others, homosexuality. While I’m not that crazy about politics, I can’t help but wonder, why are homosexuals always picked on and left out? Why does it matter so much the sex of the person you love? One thing this journey was hammering into my head and heart was tolerance. I was looking for a religion that supported my tolerant views towards other’s lifestyles.
Finally, my research brought me to Wicca/Witchcraft. I say it like that because that’s how the link to this particular section was presented. I remember hesitating to even click on the link, thinking “Magic? What, like abracadabra?” and “Witchcraft? What, like bubbling cauldrons, pointy hats, and black cats?”
I had waited so long to research this religion in part because it started with a “W” and was therefore towards the end of the list, but also because of preconceived notions linking Witchcraft and Satanism. And while I no longer considered myself Christian, the idea of Satanism gave me serious pause.
What I found inside spoke to me like no other had before. I found myself clicking on every website I could find, and buying several books on the subject. One of the main things that drew me in was it allowed me allowed me to keep my tolerant beliefs. There is no ostracizing someone because of their sexual preferences or their personal or religious beliefs.
I spent a lot of time sitting back and chanting, “Yes, yes, yes, YES!” After months and months of research, I realized that while my original journey was over, a new one had begun. That was the first time I ever called myself a Witch.
Okay, okay, I know now you’re saying wait a minute, the title promised a story about a church going Witch. What happened to that? I’m getting there, I promise.
After college, I met the man who would soon become my husband. He was on his own spiritual journey, trying to find not only his spirituality, but trying to re-find himself. It was a dark time for him, and he had moved completely away from his Christian religion, for reasons that were very different from my own. Over the years that we have been together, my husband has grown so much as a man and as a spiritual human being.
When he first learned that I was a Witch, he sputtered a bit, asking about blood sacrifices and black masses.
I said, “Wow, man, you’ve been watching waaay to much TV.”
He came to accept my religion and even join in, sometimes helping energize candles for candle spells. He has flirted a bit with the idea of becoming Wiccan, as a lot of it does appeal to him. We’ve also researched Shamanism, as he has some Cherokee blood. But I don’t think he has ever completely turned away from Christianity. He, like me, is able to see the value and validity of other religions.
Recently, my husband began attending church. At first, I was shocked. “Honey, seriously, you can tell me. Are you becoming a Christian?” He just smiles and says maybe. But I see a new kind of peace around him, and that makes me so happy for him. So I decided to take the next step and support him as he has supported me.
So here it comes, the moment you have been waiting for. Drum roll please… This Witch goes to church! *gasp* I really only go about once a month, and you’ll definitely find me there on potluck Sundays. I’ll never turndown a good meal, no matter what religion it comes from!
Church has had an interesting effect on me. It actually helps me reaffirm my faith.
First and foremost, my husband going to church has brought Wicca back to the center of my consciousness. The past couple of years, I’ve let my religion fall to the wayside. I’ve concentrated on caring for my son, working, cooking, paying bills, household chores, you know, everyday life.
I was shocked to realize how far off to the side I’ve pushed my religion. It has literally been years since I have opened a circle, called the quarters and communed with the god and goddess. Oh, I’ve been vaguely active, sort of, but nowhere near as much as I should be. My husband’s new found faith has brought mine back into focus.
It has also helped me reaffirm my beliefs about individual ideals. My husband happily admits that there are things about Christianity and ideas the pastor preaches that he does not agree with or believe in. But he is able to take the things he does like and be happy with that. He just ignores the rest. This is something I could never do.
In fact, church a few weeks ago went something like this: After listening to the pastor give a particularly interesting and simplified version of evolution, designed to prove creationism, I just couldn’t help myself. I sidled closer to my husband.
“But that’s not really what that…”, I whispered
“Sshhh”, my husband whispered back.
“But, really, that’s not…”
“I know, baby, I know” he replied patting my hand.
“Will you help me set up my alter for Samhain when we get home?”
“Of course, ssshhh…”
It’s interesting the many references to life and circles we have. There is the ‘circle of life’ and ‘what goes around, comes around’, to mention but a few. Most eastern cultures view time and life not as a straight line, but as a circle looping endlessly round and round. I feel as though I have come full circle in my spiritual journey, away from church and, oddly enough, back again.
I am remembering exactly what drew me to the craft in the first place: tolerance. Tolerance for others regardless of their background, ethnicity, sexual preference or religious beliefs.
It’s just one of the many, many things that makes my religion so beautiful.