‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for March 13th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

What is the texture of life?

Texture is that finely woven fabric of life that demands we have a congenial environment. It asks that we be industrious toward success, and that we should have a way of life, a purpose. We should hear the music of life and taste the bitter and the sweet.

Texture requires us to research every experience and learn the lesson in it. It orders us to communicate with life and make discoveries about ourselves and progress toward a texture where the coarse has been refined.

Frequently we should examine the texture of life to identify the quality. How wide is my world? How high is my sky?

All of us should know our own makeup, our capabilities, our gifts with which we have been divinely endowed. And we should think long on these words from Edna St. Vincent Millays’s Renascene:
“The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide. Above the world is stretched the sky, no higher than the soul is high.”

________________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

Advertisements

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 13

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – March 13

“I went to a holy man and asked him for help. He told me to get on the Red Road. `Pray to Wakan-Tanka (Great Spirit) to help you walk the Red Road.”

–Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA

All Indian traditions, customs and ceremonies help us answer three questions: who am I?, why am I?, and where am I going? Only on the Red Road can we find the answer to these three questions. When we can answer these three questions, we are on the Red Road. When we cannot, we have gone astray. That is why the Holy Men tell us to pray to the Great Spirit and to seek the Red Road. Why am I? My purpose is the serve the Great Spirit. Who am I? I am an Indian who walks the Red Road. Where am I going? My vision is to serve my people.

Great Spirit, when I know You, only then do I know me. Help me today to know You.

March 13 – Daily Feast

March 13 – Daily Feast

There are special places in our lives that live on forever. Just entering there in memory makes them live again. We feel the heat and the cold, catch the fragrance so familiar, the aroma of certain foods, or even hear a bit of a song. There are too many reasons to count, too many feelings, for us ever to lose touch with some part of us that was then – and is now. People are part of our memories, too – living within our thoughts and influencing our thinking like the wind that we feel but cannot see. We are made up of many things, many experiences that we do not want to lose, but we also have the power to keep yesterday in its place and make the most of today. Yesterday was the foundation, but today is the house, and we’re living there and keeping things in their proper order.

~ As a child I understood how to give; I have forgotten this grace since I became civilized. ~

OHIYESA

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Daily Motivator for March 13th – Living by intention

Living by intention

Live by intention, not by reaction. Consciously choose your actions and they  will be far more rewarding.

Instead of being a slave to the negativity of others, be the master of your  own positive and purposeful life. Decide precisely how you wish to live, and  then focus your energy on following that course.

Keep in mind that excuses make you a victim, so let go of any urge to create  those excuses. Choosing to unconditionally take responsibility for your life is  what will make life rich and full.

Living intentionally and responsibly is difficult, inconvenient and won’t  always make you the most popular person around. Ultimately, though, it is always  the choice that creates the true, meaningful value you seek.

Live fully in each moment, but don’t live just for the moment. Live so that  your very best possibilities continue to unfold as time goes on.

You know that there is great, unique value and goodness within you. Live each  day with purposeful intention, and joyfully give that value and goodness to all  of life.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for March 13th – Uplifting Showers

Uplifting Showers
Rainy-Day Ideas

by Madisyn Taylor

The arrival of one or more rainy days can also be interpreted as a signal to slow down and contemplate life.

The simple miracle of water falling from the sky has been interpreted in many ways by many cultures. In various areas of the world, rain was viewed as a nourishing gift, given by well-pleased deities. Rain also served as a symbol of emotional cleansing and represented the unending u

nion between earth and sky. Today, rain is often seen as an annoyance—something to be borne doggedly while attending to one’s usual duties. But the arrival of one or more rainy days can also be interpreted as a signal to slow down and contemplate life. When Mother Nature darkens the sky and causes drizzle to fall, freshly opened buds close and many animals settle into their nests for a period of repose. We can honor rainy days by following the example put forth by the flora and fauna around us. Even if we must venture out into a shower, we can still slow down and appreciate our connection to nature.

A rainy day spent indoors can be wonderfully uplifting. As the rain pours down, fill your home with light, sound, and comfort so that you can fully appreciate the loveliness of being snug and dry during a downpour. Storms literally change the energy in the air, and you may feel driven to follow suit by burning incense or sage, ringing bells or chimes, lighting candles, or singing. You may even feel compelled to talk to each room in your home in order to express your gratitude for the protection they give you. If, however, you feel claustrophobic rather than calm because you cannot venture outdoors, you can clear away negative energy by getting rid of clutter, sweeping away dust, and freshening your up spaces. The happier you are in your home, the more beautiful and wondrous a simple rain shower will seem.

A sheltered spot like a covered porch, sunroom, or bay window can provide you with a wonderful vantage point from which to meditatively observe raindrops as they make their descent to earth. And the pitter-patter of rain on a rooftop or car window can even be a therapeutic and soothing sound—one that reminds us that while the unforeseen will always be a part of our lives, we should never forget that nearly every cloud that comes into our lives will have a silver lining.

The All…The Earth Goddess

The All…The Earth Goddess

Author:   Blanche Magee 

If all religions respected each other’s views this world could accomplish so much. Why does humankind use religion to manipulate each other is my question? After much researching, I believe that it is all about fear and power to control, fear of the unknown, and fear of being unable to understand and control our world.

I cannot speak for others, but my own personal experience of fear and God was a long one and I know I am not done with this journey yet…but I also know without a doubt there is something tangible to this unknown force and, without fear, I am driven to understand and learn more about it.

Is God a man? Is God a woman? My answer to this is both no and yes, God is both. God is everything. God is the universe. God is the earth. Both halves must become one in order to see the truth of who this All Powerful entity is. Is God pure? Maybe. Is God tarnished? Maybe. God is chaos in the midst of reality and structure. To put God and Goddess into a finite tiny structure is impossible… so why do religions try to do this? FEAR, plain and simple. Fear causes groups to think they are right and all else is wrong.

The only evil (or fear of evil) in this world is in the heart of the individual and evil grows with fear that turns into judgment and narrow mindedness and then results in the persecution of other groups. Growing up I was told there was one (1) God and you have to worship him this way or you will go to hell. Why? Why would an all-loving good God make these kinds of stipulations? Believe or you burn? There is no real choice here, only a need to flee from a long and painful suffering. This kind of thinking is NOT the work of an all-loving Creator. It is the thinking of a scared mind.

We must release this dogmatic view of eternal power to be able to see what God/Goddess really is. Step away from the box of what everyone tells us is right and wrong and find out for ourselves. Learn about other cultures; learn about other religions and we will see there is a ‘base/root’ of truth in all of them. There is a life force greater than our individuality. If that life force came together and did things for the good of our world, we would see God/Goddess. The All is us, all of the planet earth, all of the universe. We are one. The All is a vine of everything… it must be connected somewhere to produce any fruit and cause change in this world.

Paganism is the simplicity of all these religions…the base…the root, per se. It is the good teachings’ beginning. It is the good teachings’ end. In its purity, it is realistic and workable. It is for all people. It is the earth, it is us…from dust of earth we came and back to the dust we will go to be used again for another purpose.

We are located in a perfect place in our universe. The wonders of the universe are within us. The imagination of the mind is vast. We must start at home on our planet. We are killing Mother Earth. We must stop killing our home… our life force. Where will we go from here if it is gone? How will the dust of life continue to rebirth?

This is the ‘All’ purpose; this is what we are meant to do in this lifetime. We must get out of our ‘rebellious teen thinking’ and mature. We have the power…we have the knowledge. We must stop fighting over who ‘God’ is, work out differences and save our planet, save our Goddess Gaia.

I encourage everyone to make a list of at least 10 items they can do to help to save the planet this year. My plans to help our planet grow and heal this year are as follows:

1. I plan to recycle as many plastic, paper and wood items I come across…not just at home but I also plan to do this at work and to encourage the people I work with to do the same. I am going to create a paper box, a plastic box and woods and metal box in my office for people to bring items to take and recycle.

2. I have always wanted to create compost in my backyard. I have found an instructional guide to do this on this website – http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/organicgardening/compost_pf.php. I am sure that many other websites on the web have ideas as well.

3. Creating a rainwater system has always been a dream of mine. I plan to make it a reality this year. This will help reduce my water bills and storm sewer charges, it will lower demands on municipal systems and I can avoid strict watering schedules. Plus, rainwater is extremely rich in nutrients and will reduce the use of fertilizers as well. No chemicals have been added to rainwater and it will make for better vegetable production.

4. Planttwo trees this year. I have always wanted to plant a magnolia tree in my yard so this year is as good as any. Plus I would like to have some fruit trees, so I guess I better learn some hints on how to grow them.

5. Donate some money to The Nature Conservancy. I have done this in years past and feel it is a good cause. Plus as an added bonus, they send you a yearly booklet on all the land they have bought and a calendar of the cutest animals every year. The Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/thenatureconservancy

6. Plant a vegetable garden. I do this most years but I will continue the tradition because there is nothing that brings me closer to the goddess Gaia than to dig in her soil and plant some seeds.

7. Use my Amazon Kindle to buy all my books this year. I love reading but books are made of paper so I think this year in order to help to preserve more trees, I will do my reading from the computer screen.

8.Turn off all the lights in my house unless I am in that room doing something. I will try to (carefully) use more candles! The Goddess loves fire.

9. Use the front and back of my pages in my personal journals. I write a lot and I figure what better way to help is to use the paper until it is completely full.

10. Do a ritual once a month to send positive healing out to our world.

Unity… All are teachers; all are students.

Spirit and Character

Spirit and Character

Author:   Rhys Chisnall 

There is a growing belief in modern paganism in literal spirits. A casual look through of Pagan magazines such as Pagan Dawn or looking at pagan websites such as that of the Association of Polytheistic Traditions reveals that more and more pagans believe that spirits are literal entities in their own right. However to someone blessed with a modern mind and an admittedly incomplete understanding of the universe as revealed through evidence and scientific method it is impossible to believe in invisible entities (with agency) made of a different kind of stuff floating around us or existing on some other kind of literal plane of existence. Surely such a thing would then be a fact, an objective thing that would be subject to evidence and proof empirical rather than a matter of interpretation. If there were such a thing as literal spirits then it would be possible to prove their existence through evidence.

I hope to show that even though I believe there is no such thing as literal spirit (or spirits) it is still possible to relate to and have a relationship with it (or them) and that such a relationship is a natural outcome of having the kind of minds we have evolved with. This essay also argues that if we don’t take the existence of such beings literally, then what we mean by spirits is the same thing as characters. However of course, as always, it is up to the individual reader to make up their own minds on the literal existence of spirits but this essay serves to provide us non believers with a use for the concept of spirit, which is inferred rather than stated.

To avoid equivocation by spirit I mean the idea of an immaterial entity with agency that are seen as once being human such as the ancestors of traditional people or ghost, or those things thought never to have been human such as God, Gods, angels and demons. I am also using the term to describe the subjective experience of a particular place or time, such as the spirit of Christmas of the spirit of a place. I am also extending the term spirit to describe the animistic experience of spirits as the characters of tree and plants. People often describe their experiences of spirituality in the relationship that they have with such spiritual beings. For example they may talk about their relationship with God, their ancestors or the spirit of the land around them. It is what these people are having these spiritual relationships with which interests us.

There is no doubt that people have genuine experiences of spirits and it seems to me a little bit intellectually dishonest to dismiss them as just delusion or wishful thinking. I have spoken to people at pagan conventions who have the genuine belief that they have a personal relationship with some god or other that they often see as powerful spirit. Like George W Bush being told by the Christian God to invade Iraq, they too feel they get messages from their gods. While it should be noted that they never seem to get useful strategic information like this week’s lottery numbers or where the nearest Anglo Saxon treasure hoard is buried, they do claim to get instruction on behaviour and action. They feel that they are in a genuine two-way relationship with the deity. Therefore there need to be adequate explanations for these genuine experiences.

Anthropologists and cognitive and evolutionary psychologists suggest that the explanation has to do with our evolutionary heritage and the way our cognitive systems work. The French psychologist and anthropologist, Pascal Boyer, agrees that for many people the existence of spirits is a non controversial and unquestioned part of everyday life just as the existence of cars, plates and spoon are for us. He argues that this is due to complex reasons associated with the marvellous way that the human mind processes strategic social information, none of which is a clincher in itself but they all add up to create the kind of mind that forms relationships with what people perceive as spirits. Like most cognitive systems in the mind this occurs below the level of conscious awareness. We are unaware of the doings of most of the machinery of our minds.

Boyer argues that people have an overdeveloped sense of agency inference. By this I mean that we sometimes see or infer purpose in things where there is none. Think about it like this; imagine that you are in the forests of Africa deep in Paleolithic times. You are busy gathering your fruits when out of the corner of your eye you notice a branch move in the trees above. Evolution has programmed us in such a way that we are likely to infer the presence of some predator, a leopard perhaps, and infer that its purpose is to eat us for its supper. This is because those individuals who did infer a predator took evasive action and went on to survive and have more children who also had these predator inference capabilities thus avoiding getting eaten themselves.

In evolutionary terms, the cost of running away when we infer a predator where there is none is much lower than not inferring and not running away where there was one ready to pounce. In other words it is better to run from nine tigers that are not there, than not run from one tiger that is. The upshot of this is that evolution has given us an overdeveloped tendency to infer agency, a purpose, even when there is none. Perhaps this accounts for some of the people who claim to be psychics claiming they can sense a presence in dark spooky places.

We have evolved as a social species. Our individual survival depends on representing the minds of other people in our own minds; what the anthropologist and philosopher Dan Sperber calls meta-representation. As with theory of mind we are able to have some idea of what is going on in other people’s minds and infer from it their beliefs, emotions, intentions and motivations. If you think about it, theory of mind is a huge advantage, if we never had it, as the evolutionary psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen suggests, we would not be able to lie or cheat, or detect liars and cheaters, we would not be able to co-operate or predict other people’s actions, nor empathise, nor teach people as we would have no idea of what they already knew. In other words, we can hold an idea of another person’s mind, beliefs, emotions etc. within our own mind and from this we make inferences about them. Though I should add that this does not mean that the representation we have of another person’s mind need be correct.

We are even able to do this with the mind of people who are not really there, like distant cousins, dead ancestors or spirits, and infer what we think they are likely to believe, remember, perceive, communicate or approve of. We reason that despite being invisible spirits can act, think and believe as humans do, with purposes, interests and specialist knowledge. We hold a representation of the mind of the spirit within our own minds and from this, we infer the entities motivations, intentions, personality, behaviours, etc. From these inferences people can form relationships with them despite them not being real. It is even possible to have relationship with spirits without believing that they literally exist, which explains some of the experiences of modern mystics.

My argument is based on the idea that spirit is the same thing as character. For example Boyer suggests that we don’t need to be to be told much about a spirit’s character before we can infer things about it. If we are told simply that dearly departed Aunt Agatha was a miserable old battle-axe, we can imply all sorts of things about her character. We would be able to infer that she is bad tempered, that she has a dogmatic puritanical view of morality, that she would be a busy body, somewhat scary, liked writing letters of complaint etc., etc. It would not be hard to infer what her opinions and beliefs are. From this scant information we would be able to infer what dear Aunt Agatha would think of our actions and opinions and I dare say that she would not approve.

This would be reinforced further if you actually knew her, bringing memory of her character into the equation making inferences more accurate to how she was perceived. Just because she is dead it does not mean that her character is not represented in your mind and it can still influence your actions. For example, you may be about to head off to the pub for a quick pint, but then remember that dear Aunt Agatha disapproves of all alcohol with the exception of large sherry at Christmas. You may think again about that pint or you may go anyway to spite the old dragon. We represent her as still having a character.

This is reflected in societies that practise ancestor worship. Boyer again claims when a person dies their opinions and character are only remembered and acted upon while that person remains within the living memory of the survivors. After the last survivors who remembered them have passed into ancestor-hood themselves, that original person becomes part of the generic dead; they become one of the faceless ancestors and believed to act in a general ‘ancestorish’ way. It can be the same for Gods; we can take what the American philosopher Daniel Dennett calls an intentional stance about them. If you are told that Odin is the king of the Gods it is easy to make inferences about his character and what he approves and disapproves of and the cultural forces in which the god is situated in turn influence these.

For example knowing the Odin came from a Nordic Viking society means that we can imply all sorts of things about his character. We may see him as a warrior ready to fight, as a wise but not always trustworthy king, a political and somewhat Machiavellian intriguer. The Vikings themselves would have made inferences about him based on their cultural schemas and the experiences of their own lives. Living in harsh environments where death and hardship are common tends to produce harsh and pragmatic gods. This is perhaps why Californian New Age spirituality and myth has little to say about the ‘inevitabilities’ of life

There is a two way process between these personal experiences of spirits and the mythology that informs their characters. Mythologies are archetypal stories whose function according to the mythologist Joseph Campbell is to inspire a sense of the wonder at the mystical, to explain the shape of the universe, justify social systems and teach people about life. Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, authors of several popular books on science, have suggested that Human beings are the story telling ape, a view shared by social-constructionists and discursive psychologists. We tend to see the world in terms of stories and we make up stories all the time about the world, other people and ourselves.

If you are talking about your boss you will tell it as a story, when you think about your last holiday, any event that occurred will be seen in the context of the story of you holiday. When we think about the origins of the universe we communicate this in the story of the big bang, when children tell their parents what they did at school, this will be told as a story. Stories are fundamental to how we see the world and mythology are in essence stories. They are stories about the way the world is and explanations for natural events, they support the status quo of society and they teach us how to live a fulfilling human life and how to face up to adversity.

Like all good stories, myths require characters and these are often in the form of gods and spirits. They fulfill archetypal roles within the narrative. Archetypes are originating patterns found according to the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung within the collective unconscious. This is the unconscious part of every person that contains universal themes common to us all. For example we all have the experience of mother and father, although how we view these concepts will be different to us all. It is these archetypes that underpin the characters within stories, including mythology. You can go anywhere in the world, to the remotest un-contacted tribe in the Amazon basin and they will still have the concept of mother and father, wise man, hero etc.

The movie producer Chris Vogler in his book, The Writers journey: Mythic Structures for Writers suggest that archetypal characters perform certain narrative functions within myths and stories. For example stories and myths contain heroes, villains, tricksters, henchman, allies, mentors, love interests (what Jung would call the anima/animus- the contra sexual archetype) etc. These functions are performed in the sacred stories of mythology by god, spirits, monsters and heroes and while their characters inform these stories their characters are also informed by the stories and the roles they play; a two way process.

This interplay between personal experience (through inference) and myth builds up the representation of the god or spirit in the mind. We can form a relationship with an entity that does not literally exist; it is metaphorical yet we can represent its character. Within especially religious or spiritual people this can be enhanced through altered states of consciousness. In such cases internal speech, which is generated in Brocca’s and Wernicke’s area within the brain, can be mistaken for the voice of the Gods while within deep prayer, meditation or the speaking of speaking in tongues. Something similar occurs when people are under the possession of Loa’s in Voodoo.

Therefore despite there being no literal spirits or gods inferences made about them are perfectly natural functions of the type of mind that we have. This also implies as we have seen that they can have a definite influence on our behaviour. As such it makes them a social force to be reckoned with.

So when we are talking about spirit we are talking about the same thing as character. In a sense Odin is a character, the various Loas of Voodoo are characters, Satan is a character as is Jesus and good old dearly departed Aunt Agatha. All of these through Sperber’s meta-representation can be represented in our minds and we can make inferences about them.

Therefore it seems to me that spirits are the same things as character, when we talk of spirits we are talking about characters and these can be represented in the human mind. From a personal perspective it is difficult for me based on the evidence of modern science and philosophy to accept the literal existence of spirits. However, science and philosophy do offer explanations into why people do believe in and experience spirits.

This article has shown that spirits are inferred characters with whom people enter into relationships. In other words when we talk of spirits we mean the same thing as character. These relationships have profound influences on people’s lives as people infer how to behave from what they believe are the wishes of the spirits (behave against or in accordance with) based on the cognitive processes of how their minds work. The relationships can be deepened and made even more real by the belief structures of people, their mythologies and their schemas that they use to interpret the experiences in their lives as the results of the activities of spirits. This in turn makes spirits a force to be reckoned with.

We have the kind of mind that believes in spirits and makes spirits a fundamental part of many people’s lives, but when looking at the evidence it is up to you decide whether they have literal reality or not. For those who have had experience of spirits, it is not about dismissing those genuine and precious experiences; rather it is about offering an alternative explanation.

The Happy Side of Magick

The Happy Side of Magick

Author:   Poppaea Holmes 

I have never really used many spells or chants, and when I have it is often at a time when I feel I can do nothing else… one of those ‘may as well try it’ approaches. I understand the mechanics of spell casting, how it works and how the desired effect is achieved, the problem I find with it though is that I was brought up with fairy tales and stories about Witches who cast elaborate spells with confounding results, and I find because of this upbringing that spell casting is intrinsically linked, in my mind, to fanatical stories and make believe lands.

I say this only to give you, as a reader, some sense of understanding how much effort had already been applied before I decided to cast a love spell. It was not a compulsion spell, merely creating a cosmic attraction field. I do understand that there are differing views on the appropriate use of love spells, of any kind, ranging from never-to-be-used to ‘use all the time, everyday!’ However I am not writing to discuss the pros and cons of casting a love spell, nor even, to some extent, the morals that must be thought through before one is cast, I am simply writing to explain and inform how mine worked, and how I would recommend it to anyone in the same situation, or any situation.

As previously stated, I was in pretty dire straits when I preformed this spell, (I know some would not consider that an appropriate term for being out of love, which some deem as a trivial matter. I believe it is a very apt description.) and as such, was not expecting any results. At the time, I had become rather disenchanted with Wicca. I cannot pinpoint exactly why as no major life events had occurred to make me believe that the Goddess was absent. It was more just a lack of connection, which is probably part of the reason I believed the spell would fail.

It was one of those long term/ three months spells, which meant that I wasn’t too fussed when nothing appeared after a few weeks. So I promptly forgot about the spell due to an influx in collage coursework and activities, and was asked on a date. To me this had never happened, and so I was, understandably I believe, rather surprised. He asked me over text, which I later found out his friend had actually composed, and we met up six days later.

I have to admit I had no idea who he was. Even after finding him on Facebook, I had difficulty in pinning him as the guy who was in my quiz team, Never the less, we started talking, and despite his apparent obsession with football and The Killers (who are a fine band, just not my style) , I agreed to a second date, and a third, and so on.

Now it was around the fifth date that I remembered about the spell I had cast, mainly by finding it whilst looking through my Wicca box. I didn’t connect the spell with my newfound boyfriend as I was having what I believe to be a bit of a slow day. I had become captivated with Wicca once again mere weeks after casting the aforementioned love spell. I proceeded to look through the ‘requirements’ for the person I wished to meet and found, to my surprise, that my recently obtained boyfriend met every criteria… and not in a vague ‘well I suppose’ sense, more in a height/weight/age/exact personality sense! I was literally speechless. I think I should mention now that the spell cast was for a soul-mate (I know, I just jump right in to it!) not just general love. I can say now, with our year anniversary just gone, that it has definitely worked.

I know some of you may be sitting there scoffing at my perhaps pitiful year long relationship, but to me, it is a success… especially considering that for the last three months he has been away at Canterbury, which is a good five hour train journey from where I live, making the relationship harder.

I didn’t really put off telling my boyfriend about my religion, more it just never actively came up. He informed me from the start that he was ‘devout’ atheist, and indeed some of our more interesting conversations have been on the concepts of souls and deities. However, I believe him knowing my religion made our relationship better. But I would not recommend the way in which he found out.

I am afraid I am going to diverge slightly, and I apologize if any view it as an unwanted interruption. I feel that what occurred was a breach of trust, and really just a show of a lack of morality in some people. My boyfriend found out about my religion through one of his friends, who happened to be a sergeant at the cadets I attended and a devout Christian. “At cadets”, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the dress code, we were allowed to wear necklaces as long as they were hidden and for religious purposes.

I wore a plain silver pentagram at the time, and the chain occasionally showed, causing questions at least once a week. Usually I could just say it is a religious necklace (as trying to explain it to people who aren’t listening and are just desperate to be told you summon the devil is tedious) . However this time he walked a little way, turned as though an afterthought and asked “Yeah, what religion?” I answered, “I’m Wiccan” and we carried on our separate ways.

I thought nothing of this until I got a call from my boyfriend asking if I was a Witch. I was a bit bemused by how he had come to that conclusion, as, like spell casting, the word brings to mind Grimm’s fairy tale type characters and so I do not use the word. I answered that no, I wasn’t a Witch but I was Wiccan… and how did he come to hear of this information? It transpired that at the first possible chance this Christian friend, who I still believe had gained this information in an environment that did not warrant outside gossiping, had run to him at the first chance and said “Do you know your girlfriend is Wiccan?” We both believe it was to try and drive a wedge between us for reasons only known to him. Anyhow, this rant is almost over, and I shall end it and resume back to my original purpose by saying that I believe it was extremely ill-mannered and uncouth to divulge this information. I have always been raised to not speak of other religions or beliefs unless with express permission or belief that the knowledge would be useful in some way and that the person to whom is being referred does not mind.

I suppose what I am trying to get across with this article, is that magick does work. If you believe in something and you are prepared to go that little extra, it will change your life in wondrous awe-inspiring ways. I think it cannot be expressed better than through love of something else. I suppose it is also partially about dis-enchantment of Wicca (which I overcame by a sudden realization that I was still actively talking to the Goddess when I got really stressed) .

I am not trying to actively express feelings either for or against love spells, as I believe that, as with all magick, it depends entirely on the intentions of the caster. But I know that even in dark and desperate moments, magick and belief and everything joyous in Paganism can just seep in, lift you up and make everything just a little bit better.

Thank you for reading this article. I hoped you got some enjoyment, or really anything, from it, and to feel free to email me if you wish.

Blessed be
Poppy

Setting Up Your Ostara Altar

Setting Up Your Ostara Altar

By , About.com

It’s Ostara, and it’s a time of year in which many Wiccans and Pagans choose celebrate the balance of light and dark that heralds the beginning of spring. It’s a time to celebrate new life and rebirth — not only the physical embodiment of renewal, but the spiritual as well. Try some — or all — of these ideas to ready your altar for Ostara.

Colors

To get an idea of what colors are appropriate for spring, all you really have to do is look outside. Notice the yellows of the forsythia blooming behind your house, the pale purples of lilacs, the green of new leaves appearing in the melting snow. Pastels are often considered spring colors as well, so feel free to add some pinks and blues into the mix if the idea strikes you. Decorate your altar in any of these colors — try a pale green altar cloth with some purples and blues draped across it, and add some yellow or pink candles to carry the color up.

The Balance of the Equinox

Altar decor can reflect the theme of the Sabbat. Ostara is a time of balance between light and dark, so symbols of this polarity can be used. Use a god and goddess statue, a white candle and a black one, a sun and moon, even a yin/yang symbol.

New Life

Ostara is also a time of new growth and life — add potted plants such as new crocuses, daffodils, lilies, and other magical spring flowers. This is the time of year when animals are bringing forth new life too — put a basket of eggs on your altar, or figures of new lambs, rabbits, calves, etc. Add a chalice of milk or honey — milk represents the lactating animals who have just given birth, and honey is long known as a symbol of abundance.

Other Symbols of the Season

  • Seeds and bulbs
  • Caterpillars, ladybugs, bumblebees
  • Symbols of nature deities — Herne, Flora, Gaia, Attis, etc.
  • Gemstones and crystals such as aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone
  • Ritual fires in a cauldron or brazier

Natural Ostara Eggs

Natural Ostara Eggs

Natural egg-dying is like recycling.  It takes a li’l bit longer to do, but gives you that  Oh-Im-soooooo-WC  (witchly correct)  feeling.

Cover your plant material (see list below) with about 3 inches of water, bring to a boil, and simmer until the color looks good. You’ll probably have to let the eggs sit in the dye overnight, so if you’re planning more than one color per egg, start this a few day before Oestara.  Experimenting is half the fun, but here are some hints to get you started:
Yellows- daffodil petals, saffron, turmeric, onion skins
Blues- blueberries, red cabbage leaves & vinegar
Greens-broccoli, coltsfoot
Pinks- cochineal, madder root
Browns –  walnut shells, tea, coffee

Wanna get fancy?  Gather some small leaves, ferns, flowers and grasses.  Dip them in water (to help them stick) and press them onto your eggs.  Wrap each egg in a piece of cut up pantyhose and secure it with a twist tie before dyeing. When you remove the flower or leaf, it’s design will appear (either in white or in your first dye-color).  Rub your finished eggs with a tiny bit of vegetable oil on a soft cloth to shine them.

Too hard?? No hosiery???  Okay, try using crayons to draw spirals and pentagrams on the eggs before dying them.

Now,  plan a fertility ritual for your garden.  Bury an Oestara egg in the east corner of your garden, or one egg for each direction, or dig an entire circle for them (depends on how much you hate egg-salad).