Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.3. “Lift Up the Veil” [The Charge] (1949)
A.3. “Lift Up the Veil” [The Charge] (1949)
Magus: “Listen to the words of the Great mother, who of old was also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arianrhod, Bride, and by many other names.”
High Priestess: “At mine Altars the youth of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice.
“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me who am Queen of all Witcheries and magics.
“There ye shall assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets. To these will I teach things that are yet unknown.
“And ye shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites, both men and women, and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music, and love, all in my praise.
“There is a Secret Door that I have made to establish the way to taste even on earth the elixir of immortality. Say, `Let ecstasy be mine, and joy on earth even to me, To Me,’ For I am a gracious Goddess. I give unimaginable joys on earth, certainty, not faith, while in life! And upon death, peace unutterable, rest, and ecstasy, nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”
Magus: “Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess.”
High Priestess: “I love you: I yearn for you: pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous.
“I who am all pleasure, and purple and drunkenness of the innermost senses, desire you. Put on the wings, arouse the coiled splendor within you.
“Come unto me, for I am the flame that burns in the heart of every man, and the core of every Star.
“Let it be your inmost divine self who art lost in the constant rapture of infinite joy.
“Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy and beauty. Remember that all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. So let there be beauty and strength, leaping laughter, force and fire by within you.
“And if thou sayest, `I have journeyed unto thee, and it availed me not,’ rather shalt thou say, `I called upon thee, and I waited patiently, and Lo, thou wast with me from the beginning,’ for they that ever desired me shall ever attain me, even to the end of all desire.”
This much of the rites must ever be performed to prepare for any initiation, whether of one degree or of all three.
Holy Mother, you are the Earth!
You ground us as we walk upon you,
You are in the trees that shelter us
And when we hug the trees we hug you.
You were here from the very first,
Nurturing us; and we made clay statues
Celebrating your thighs and breasts
That birthed us and fed us.
We baked bread in your images,
Since we knew all food came from you.
Lady of the Beasts, we are grateful…
Since earliest times, we have loved you.
Asherah, Astarte, Mawu, Inanna,
Ishtar, Anahita, Gaia, Isis;
So many from such different lands!
We don’t know all of your many names,
But we know you have always loved us,
Cared for us and protected us;
You are rooted in our lives and our dreams.
We hear your voice in the humming bees
See your beauty in the blooming flowers,
Hear the sound of your drum and sistrum.
The very beat of our hearts is in tune with you,
For you are the Ancient Mother of our souls.
Beth Clare Johnson
The Ancient Druids
In about 750 CE the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac, who wrote about Jesus saying that he was “…better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage.” The druids then also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the Táin Bó Cúailnge, where they are largely portrayed as sorcerers who opposed the coming of Christianity. In the wake of the Celtic revival during the 18th and 19th centuries, fraternal and Neopagan groups were founded based upon the ideas about the ancient druids, a movement which is known as Neo-Druidism.
According to historian Ronald Hutton, “we can know virtually nothing of certainty about the ancient Druids, so that—although they certainly existed—they function more or less as legendary figures.” However, the sources provided about them by ancient and medieval writers, coupled with archaeological evidence, can give us an idea of what they might have performed as a part of their religious duties.
One of the few things that both the Greco-Roman and the vernacular Irish sources agree on about the druids was that they played an important part in pagan Celtic society. In his description, Julius Caesar claimed that they were one of the two most important social groups in the region (alongside the equities, or nobles), and were responsible for organizing worship and sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedure in Gaulish, British and Irish society. He also claimed that they were exempt from military service and from the payment of taxes, and that they had the power to excommunicate people from religious festivals, making them social outcasts. Two other classical writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo also wrote about the role of druids in Gallic society, claiming that the druids were held in such respect that if they intervened between two armies they could stop the battle.
Pomponius Mela is the first author who says that the druids’ instruction was secret, and was carried on in caves and forests. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses learned by heart, and Caesar remarked that it could take up to twenty years to complete the course of study. There is no historic evidence during the period when Druidism was flourishing to suggest that Druids were other than male. What was taught to Druid novices anywhere is conjecture: of the druids’ oral literature, not one certifiably ancient verse is known to have survived, even in translation. All instruction was communicated orally, but for ordinary purposes, Caesar reports, the Gauls had a written language in which they used Greek characters. In this he probably draws on earlier writers; by the time of Caesar, Gaulish inscriptions had moved from the Greek script to the Latin script.
The Druid’s Religious Practices & Philosophy
Greek and Roman writers frequently made reference to the druids as practitioners of human sacrifice, a trait they themselves reviled, believing it to be barbaric. Such reports of druidic human sacrifice are found in the works of Lucan, Julius Caesar, Suetonius and Cicero.Caesar claimed that the sacrifice was primarily of criminals, but at times innocents would also be used, and that they would be burned alive in a large wooden effigy, now often known as a wicker man. A differing account came from the 10th-century Commenta Bernensia, which claimed that sacrifices to the deities Teutates, Esus and Taranis were by drowning,mhanging and burning, respectively.
Diodorus Siculus asserts that a sacrifice acceptable to the Celtic gods had to be attended by a druid, for they were the intermediaries between the people and the divinities. He remarked upon the importance of prophets in druidic ritual:
- “These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power… and in very important matters they prepare a human victim, plunging a dagger into his chest; by observing the way his limbs convulse as he falls and the gushing of his blood, they are able to read the future.”
There is archaeological evidence from western Europe that has been widely used to back up the idea that human sacrifice was performed by the Iron Age Celts. Mass graves found in a ritual context dating from this period have been unearthed in Gaul, at both Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre in what was the region of the Belgae chiefdom. The excavator of these sites, Jean-Louis Brunaux, interpreted them as areas of human sacrifice in devotion to a war god, although this view was criticised by another archaeologist, Martin Brown, who believed that the corpses might be those of honoured warriors buried in the sanctuary rather than sacrifices.Some historians have questioned whether the Greco-Roman writers were accurate in their claims. J. Rives remarked that it was “ambiguous” whether the druids ever performed such sacrifices, for the Romans and Greeks were known to project what they saw as barbarian traits onto foreign peoples including not only druids but Jews and Christians as well, thereby confirming their own “cultural superiority” in their own minds. Taking a similar opinion, Ronald Hutton summarised the evidence by stating that “the Greek and Roman sources for Druidry are not, as we have received them, of sufficiently good quality to make a clear and final decision on whether human sacrifice was indeed a part of their belief system.” Peter Berresford Ellis, a Celtic nationalist who authored The Druids (1994), believed them to be the equivalents of the Indian Brahmin caste, and considered accusations of human sacrifice to remain unproven,whilst an expert in medieval Welsh and Irish literature, Nora Chadwick, who believed them to be great philosophers, fervently purported the idea that they had not been involved in human sacrifice, and that such accusations were imperialist Roman propaganda.
Druids And The Irish Culture
During the Middle Ages, after Ireland and Wales were Christianized, druids appeared in a number of written sources, mainly tales and stories such as the Táin Bó Cúailnge, but also in the hagiographies of various saints. These were all written by Christian monks, who, according to Ronald Hutton, “may not merely have been hostile to the earlier paganism but actually ignorant of it” and so would not have been particularly reliable, but at the same time may provide clues as to the practices of druids in Ireland, and to a lesser extent, Wales.
The Irish passages referring to druids in such vernacular sources were “more numerous than those on the classical texts” of the Greeks and Romans, and paint a somewhat different picture of them. The druids in Irish literature—for whom words such as drui, draoi, drua and drai are used—are sorcerers with supernatural powers, who are respected in society, particularly for their ability to perform divination. They can cast spells and turn people into animals or stones, or curse peoples’ crops to be blighted. At the same time, the term druid is sometimes used to refer to any figure who uses magic, for instance in the Fenian Cycle, both giants and warriors are referred to as druids when they cast a spell, even though they are not usually referred to as such; as Ronald Hutton noted, in medieval Irish literature, “the category of Druid [is] very porous.”
When druids are portrayed in early Irish sagas and saints’ lives set in the pre-Christian past of the island, they are usually accorded high social status. The evidence of the law-texts, which were first written down in the 7th and 8th centuries, suggests that with the coming of Christianity the role of the druid in Irish society was rapidly reduced to that of a sorcerer who could be consulted to cast spells or practice healing magic and that his standing declined accordingly. According to the early legal tract Bretha Crólige, the sick-maintenance due to a druid, satirist and brigand (díberg) is no more than that due to a bóaire (an ordinary freeman). Another law-text, Uraicecht Becc (‘Small primer’), gives the druid a place among the dóer-nemed or professional classes which depend for their status on a patron, along with wrights, blacksmiths and entertainers, as opposed to the fili, who alone enjoyed free nemed-status.
Whilst druids featured prominently in many medieval Irish sources, they were far rarer in their Welsh counterparts. Unlike the Irish texts, the Welsh term commonly seen as referring to the druids, dryw, was used to refer purely to prophets and not to sorcerers or pagan priests. Historian Ronald Hutton noted that there were two explanations for the use of the term in Wales: the first was that it was a survival from the pre-Christian era, when dryw had been ancient priests, whilst the second was that the Welsh had borrowed the term from the Irish, as had the English (who used the terms dry and drycraeft to refer to magicians and magic respectively, most probably influenced by the Irish terms.)
As the historian Jane Webster stated, “individual druids… are unlikely to be identified archaeologically”, a view which was echoed by Ronald Hutton, who declared that “not one single artifact or image has been unearthed that can undoubtedly be connected with the ancient Druids.” A.P. Fitzpatrick, in examining what he believed to be astral symbolism on Late Iron Age swords has expressed difficulties in relating any material culture, even the Coligny calendar, with druidic culture. Nonetheless, some archaeologists have attempted to link certain discoveries with written accounts of the druids, for instance the archaeologist Anne Ross linked what she believed to be evidence of human sacrifice in Celtic pagan society—such as the Lindow Man bog body—to the Greco-Roman accounts of human sacrifice being officiated over by the druids.
An excavated burial in Deal, Kent discovered the “Deal warrior” a man buried around 200-150 BCE with a sword and shield, and wearing a unique crown, too thin to be a helmet. The crown is bronze with a broad band around the head and a thin strip crossing the top of the head. It was worn without any padding beneath, as traces of hair were left on the metal. The form of the crown is similar to that seen in images of Romano-British priests several centuries later, leading to speculation among archaeologists that the man might have been a druid.
The Demise And Revival Of The Druids
During the Gallic Wars of 58 to 51 BCE, the Roman army, led by Julius Caesar, conquered the many tribal chiefdoms of Gaul, and annexed it as a part of the Roman Empire. According to accounts produced in the following centuries, the new rulers of Roman Gaul subsequently introduced measures to wipe out the druids from that country. According to Pliny the Elder, writing in the 70s CE, it was the emperor Tiberius (who ruled from 14 to 37 CE), who introduced laws banning not only druidism, but also other native soothsayers and healers, a move which Pliny applauded, believing that it would end human sacrifice in Gaul A somewhat different account of Roman legal attacks on druidism was made by Suetonius, writing in the 2nd century CE, when he claimed that Rome’s first emperor, Augustus (who had ruled from 27 BCE till 14 CE), had decreed that no-one could be both a druid and a Roman citizen, and that this was followed by a law passed by the later Emperor Claudius (who had ruled from 41 to 54 CE) which “thoroughly suppressed” the druids by banning their religious practices.
The best evidence of a druidic tradition in the British Isles is the independent cognate of the Celtic *druwid- in Insular Celtic: The Old Irish druídecht survives in the meaning of “magic”, and the Welsh dryw in the meaning of “seer”.
While the druids as a priestly caste were extinct with the Christianization of Wales, complete by the 7th century at the latest, the offices of bard and of “seer” (Welsh: dryw) persisted in medieval Wales into the 13th century.
Phillip Freeman, a classics professor, discusses a later reference to Dryades, which he translates as Druidesses, writing that “The fourth century A.D. collection of imperial biographies known as the Historia Augusta contains three short passages involving Gaulish women called “Dryades” (“Druidesses”).” He points out that “In all of these, the women may not be direct heirs of the Druids who were supposedly extinguished by the Romans — but in any case they do show that the druidic function of prophesy continued among the natives in Roman Gaul.” However, the Historia Augusta is frequently interpreted by scholars as a largely satirical work, and such details might have been introduced in a humorous fashion. Additionally, Druidesses are mentioned in later Irish mythology, including the legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who, according to the 12th century The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, is raised by the druidess Bodhmall and a wise-woman.
The story of Vortigern, as reported by Nennius, provides one of the very few glimpses of possible druidic survival in Britain after the Roman conquest: unfortunately, Nennius is noted for mixing fact and legend in such a way that it is now impossible to know the truth behind his text. He wrote that after being excommunicated by Germanus, the British leader Vortigern invited twelve druids to assist him.
In the lives of saints and martyrs, the druids are represented as magicians and diviners. In Adamnan’s vita of Columba, two of them act as tutors to the daughters of Lóegaire mac Néill, the High King of Ireland, at the coming of Saint Patrick. They are represented as endeavouring to prevent the progress of Patrick and Saint Columba by raising clouds and mist. Before the battle of Culdremne (561) a druid made an airbe drtiad (fence of protection?) round one of the armies, but what is precisely meant by the phrase is unclear. The Irish druids seem to have had a peculiar tonsure. The word druí is always used to render the Latin magus, and in one passage St Columba speaks of Christ as his druid. Similarly, a life of St Bueno’s states that when he died he had a vision of ‘all the saints and druids’.
Sulpicius Severus’ Vita of Martin of Tours relates how Martin encountered a peasant funeral, carrying the body in a winding sheet, which Martin mistook for some druidic rites of sacrifice, “because it was the custom of the Gallic rustics in their wretched folly to carry about through the fields the images of demons veiled with a white covering.” So Martin halted the procession by raising his pectoral cross: “Upon this, the miserable creatures might have been seen at first to become stiff like rocks. Next, as they endeavored, with every possible effort, to move forward, but were not able to take a step farther, they began to whirl themselves about in the most ridiculous fashion, until, not able any longer to sustain the weight, they set down the dead body.” Then discovering his error, Martin raised his hand again to let them proceed: “Thus,” the hagiographer points out, “he both compelled them to stand when he pleased, and permitted them to depart when he thought good.”
From the 18th century, England and Wales experienced a revival of interest in the druids. John Aubrey (1626–1697) had been the first modern writer to connect Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments with the druids; since Aubrey’s views were confined to his notebooks, the first wide audience for this idea were readers of William Stukeley (1687–1765). It is incorrectly believed that John Toland (1670–1722) founded the Ancient Druid Order however the research of historian Ronald Hutton has revealed that the ADO was founded by George Watson MacGregor Reid in 1909. The order never used (and still does not use) the title “Archdruid” for any member, but falsely credited William Blake as having been its “Chosen Chief” from 1799 to 1827, without corroboration in Blake’s numerous writings or among modern Blake scholars. Blake’s bardic mysticism derives instead from the pseudo-Ossianic epics of Macpherson; his friend Frederick Tatham’s depiction of Blake’s imagination, “clothing itself in the dark stole of mural sanctity”— in the precincts of Westminster Abbey— “it dwelt amid the Druid terrors”, is generic rather than specifically neo-Druidic. John Toland was fascinated by Aubrey’s Stonehenge theories, and wrote his own book about the monument without crediting Aubrey. The roles of bards in 10th century Wales had been established by Hywel Dda and it was during the 18th century that the idea arose that Druids had been their predecessors.
The 19th-century idea, gained from uncritical reading of the Gallic Wars, that under cultural-military pressure from Rome the druids formed the core of 1st-century BCE resistance among the Gauls, was examined and dismissed before World War II, though it remains current in folk history.
Druids began to figure widely in popular culture with the first advent of Romanticism. Chateaubriand’s novel Les Martyrs (1809) narrated the doomed love of a druid priestess and a Roman soldier; though Chateaubriand’s theme was the triumph of Christianity over Pagan druids, the setting was to continue to bear fruit. Opera provides a barometer of well-informed popular European culture in the early 19th century: in 1817 Giovanni Pacini brought druids to the stage in Trieste with an opera to a libretto by Felice Romani about a druid priestess, La Sacerdotessa d’Irminsul (“The Priestess of Irminsul”). The most famous druidic opera, Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma was a fiasco at La Scala, when it premiered the day after Christmas, 1831; but in 1833 it was a hit in London. For its libretto, Felice Romani reused some of the pseudo-druidical background of La Sacerdotessa to provide colour to a standard theatrical conflict of love and duty. The story was similar to that of Medea, as it had recently been recast for a popular Parisian play by Alexandre Soumet: the diva of Norma’s hit aria, “Casta Diva”, is the moon goddess, being worshipped in the “grove of the Irmin statue”.
A central figure in 19th century Romanticist Neo-Druidism is the Welshman Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg. His writings, published posthumously as The Iolo Manuscripts (1849) and Barddas (1862), are not considered credible by contemporary scholars. Williams claimed to have collected ancient knowledge in a “Gorsedd of Bards of the Isles of Britain” he had organized. Many scholars deem part or all of Williams’s work to be fabrication, and purportedly many of the documents are of his own fabrication, but a large portion of the work has indeed been collected from meso-pagan sources dating from as far back as 600 CE.Regardless, it has become impossible to separate the original source material from the fabricated work, and while bits and pieces of the Barddas still turn up in some “Neo-druidic” works, the documents are considered irrelevant by most serious scholars.
T.D. Kendrick’s dispelled (1927) the pseudo-historical aura that had accrued to druids, asserting that “a prodigious amount of rubbish has been written about druidism”; Neo-druidism has nevertheless continued to shape public perceptions of the historical druids. The British Museum is blunt:
Modern Druids have no direct connection to the Druids of the Iron Age. Many of our popular ideas about the Druids are based on the misunderstandings and misconceptions of scholars 200 years ago. These ideas have been superseded by later study and discoveries.
Some strands of contemporary Neodruidism are a continuation of the 18th-century revival and thus are built largely around writings produced in the 18th century and after by second-hand sources and theorists. Some are monotheistic. Others, such as the largest Druid group in the world, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids draw on a wide range of sources for their teachings. Members of such Neo-druid groups may be Neopagan, occultist, Reconstructionist, Christian or non-specifically spiritual.
Lilith is one of the most mysterious and enigmatic beings who, in one way or another, put her imprint on the human race. Most spiritual beings that we perceive as gods and goddesses have very distinct roles, and their relationship with humans is merely a supportive one. Since they all belong to a certain sphere, or represent a certain force of the Universe — some even in our planet’s nature — they offer their support to each human who performs an activity, or studies and works within their sphere or the force they represent. This support comes in form of energy and never, or extremely rarely, takes the form of an intervention or personal implication. This is perfectly understandable, because they are not human. Their knowledge and experience seems limitless compared to ours and so they know better than to interfere with human matters.
Many practitioners may say that a specific god or goddess offered them direct help, but this is only how we look at things. By drawing a certain power to themselves and combining that energy with their personal desires and will the result may seem like a divine grace or intervention. Power and energy is free for all to possess. Since you are free to do what you think is best (supporting the consequences of karma of course) with it… in this sense, a specific representative of a force may seem to have helped you. But Lilith is an entity who proceeds very differently.
We can find the story of Lilith in Jewish mythology, according to which she was the first wife of Adam. She refused to submit to a male’s will and chose a different path for herself. Her image is also associated with Ishtar, Astarte, and many other goddess images. Thanks to these legends, the Christian currents made her one of the most feared and dangerous of female demons, and this continual spiritual ‘gossip’, so to speak, nowadays creates a very false image of what she really is.
The following information is based purely on my personal spiritual research and cannot be found in any book. So here comes my version of Lilith’s story based on my experiences and research:
The origins of Lilith, where she came from, in what form she came, the nature of her spiritual essence is unknown. It’s certain that her true origins are alien from the spheres we know, and the structure of our world. What is certain that she is a female entity, she has a very well defined and strong personality and she has human characteristics … and because of these attributes, she probably is close to humans, our world, and our plane of existence.
Many say that her native element is fire. My opinion is that it is all of them, especially their combination that we might call the psychic plane. It is for certain that Lilith was in contact with humans and eventually those entities that are dominant in the Jewish mythology, and it is also certain that she rejected all for of dominance from others. From her first contact with the entities native to our world (even before humans) she underwent an intense and rapid process of evolution, thanks to which she mastered the energies of our natural spheres just like other entities. From the legends, we can understand that she learned from both demonic and angelic forces, embracing all the aspects of the Universe and placing herself in the middle… surprisingly similar to what humans do.
Some legends say that she had “sexual intercourses” with certain angels and demonic beings all suggesting an energy transfer, a process of learning. (We all can understand that a sexual intercourse from a spiritual point of view is something very different than we perceive from a physical point of view) . This energetic transfer, which the legends speak about, is a totally different phenomenon that clearly underlines her unique nature since neither angelic nor demonic beings are known to manifest in this way. (They are in permanent contact with each other, and in order to keep the sacred balance of our world, there are numerous phenomena of energy transfers, but nothing of this nature.) This manifestation… is highly unusual.
Thanks to her unique evolution, this female entity earned herself a very distinct position in our world. Unlike other beings, even goddesses who represent love, attraction, fertility, birth, reproduction, Lilith represents attraction in every form, both human, physical, psychic, spiritual energetic… you name it.
To many, this nature and role of hers is against the rules of nature, against the balance of our world. It can be seen as a spiritual and energetic perversion. This might be true, but it can also be seen in a very different way. By sacrificing her purity, in the sense that she might interfere in the delicate rules of our world, by releasing patterns of unusual, and unlikely attraction she catalyzes, encourages and helps evolution.
This act of hers can be considered as a huge, unspeakably valuable boost to all evolution in our world. And this doesn’t just affect humans; it affects every spirit who by its nature is susceptible to attraction. Only if two different, separate elements that resonate on an energetic level meet each other, can a third one, totally new and unique, be born. Without her attraction, this “mutation” so to speak, would take place in very, very slow paces.
Her power makes sure that if two elements are formally incompatible, this difference of manifestation can turn into attraction, reciprocal exploration and atone point unity, a change of experiences, a change of energies, fortifying both, offering something new and unique to both and, in some cases, even result in the birth of something new.
Thanks to this role of hers, she is a goddess, an entity of true love, because only love is that special force which attracts energies, matter, particles, spirits. Excluding another element because it’s different or formally incompatible is NOT unconditional love anymore, and this is what she is all about.
As I told you before, she doesn’t submit to any rule or regulation and this is what makes her relationship with humans so different. She is a guardian of women and believes in the superiority of the female element and she does encourage its perseverance in an active fashion. In other words, she sticks her nose into other beings’ businesses and this gesture of hers could be considered extremely outrageous spiritually. Very few entities present in our sphere do this; but all who do, in one way or another, consider themselves free from all rules and obligations and follow their own personal paths.
Lilith may be a harlot, temptress, seductress, goddess of prostitutes, source of the primordial sin, but her attraction and the forces she mastered make her the true queen of love and devoted defender of women.
For her free spirit, her incredible activity, and for her sense of justice and for her unequaled talent and power, I respect her and thank for what she is offering our world.
EGYPTIAN KNOT AMULET FOR HEALING
Oestara Is Also The Spring Equinox
It is no coincidence that the name for this sabbath sounds similar to the word ‘Easter’. Eostre, or Ostara, is an Anglo-Saxon Dawn Goddess whose symbols are the egg and the hare. She, in turn, is the European version of the Goddess Ishtar or Astarte, whose worship dates back thousands of years and is certainly pre-Christian. Eostre also lives on in our medical language in the words ‘oestrous’ (the sexual impulse in female animals) and ‘oestrogen’ (a female hormone). Today, Oestara is celebrated as a spring festival. Although the Goddess put on the robes of Maiden at Imbolg, here she is seen as truly embodying the spirit of spring. By this time we can see all around us the awakened land, the leaves on the trees, the flowers and the first shoots of corn.
Oestara is also the Spring Equinox, a time of balance when day and night are equal. As with the other Equinox and the Solstices, the date of this festival may move slightly from year to year, but many will choose to celebrate it on 21 March. In keeping with the balance of the Equinox, Oestara is a time when we seek balance within ourselves. It is a time for throwing out the old and taking on the new. We rid ourselves of those things which are no longer necessary – old habits, thoughts and feelings – and take on new ideas and thoughts. This does not mean that you use this festival as a time for berating yourself about your ‘bad’ points, but rather that you should seek to find a balance through which you can accept yourself for what you are.
There is some debate as to whether Oestara or Imbolg was the traditional time of spring cleaning, but certainly the casting out of the old would seem to be in sympathy with the spirit of this festival and the increased daylight at this time encourages a good clean out around the home.
The Five Stages of Spellcasting: Stage Three
Stage 3: Raising or increasing the power
This is the most active and powerful part of the spell, and involves building up the speed and intensity of the action you started in stage 2.
Raising the power is especially easy out of doors as you connect, especially if barefoot or wearing thin-soled shoes, with the natural spiraling energies or straighter ley flows beneath the earth.
Grass or sand near a river or seashore is also energized by the water flow, especially around the week of the new and full moons. On a safe beach you can dance through the shallows.
There are many ways of raising power, limited only by your imagination. When working alone and in a potent natural setting, perhaps at a power time like sunrise, you will sing, away or move quite without prompting or run along the beach or through long grass round in circles or spirals like a dog let off the leash. Watch children playing for inspiration.
Most effective is a combination of words or sound and movement in such a way that your conscious mind is carried along by the power, like riding a carousel when everything blues except for the music. The purpose of this stage is not only to empower the symbol but also to empower yourself, since you are the vehicle to carry the magickal energies from the thought (mental) and spiritual (astral) planes to actuality (earth). This is the same process used by shamans to trigger their out-of-body or out-of-everyday consciousness.
Enchant the symbol with a pair of lighted incense sticks, one held in each hand, a few centimeters/an inch above the symbol. Move the right one clockwise and the left on anticlockwise. Move them faster and faster and chant faster and faster in order to draw in all four elemental powers.
Increase the speed and intensity so the incense sticks cross and uncross over the symbol. As you move the sticks rhythmically, recite your elemental chant continuously.
Alternatively you can move your wand clockwise in flourishes or a spiral, a smudge stick in your power hand in huge circles allowing it to dictate its own pathway and shapes. You can move the other hand anticlockwise in rhythm if you want.
A very simple chant is:
Air, water, fire earth,
Bring, I ask, this wish to birth.
You can continue over and over again at increasing intensity and speed, adding variants or weaving your own simple four- or five-word chants, around the natural surroundings and the elemental associations.
Other spells chant include goddess names, the most popular being Isis, Astarte (Ass tart-ay), Diana, Hecate (Hekart tay), Demeter (Dem eat-er), Kali (Karly) and Innana (In-arn-a).
Isis is the Ancient Egyptian mother Goddess; Astarte is the supreme female divinity of the Phoenicians, Goddess of love and fertility, associate with the moon and all nature; Diana, the Graeco-Roman Goddess of the moon and hunt and queen of the witches; Hecate, the Ancient Greek Crone Goddess of the underworld and waning moon; Demeter, the Ancient Gree Corn mother; Kali, the Hindu creatrix/destroyer Goddess and Innana, the Sumerian fertility Queen of Heaven and Earth Goddess in the Middle East area of modern Iraq. Feel free to substitute your own goddesses/gods.
You could instead move round and round the altar or circle, chanting and clapping, while stepping, stamping or whirling and twirling. Sufi spiritual whirling dancing has been eagerly adopted by the New Age as a way of altering consciousness. Trust your feet to follow the spirals of the Earth energies.
You can add the beat of a hand drum using your hand or a striker or use a tambourine. We can all play these, without training or a natural ear for more formal music. Just let your hands and feet set the beat and if you chant along they all harmonize. The simpler and more repetitive words and actions, the better.
Move and chant until you feel that the power has reached its height, like revving a car with the hand brake on or a plane whose wheels are starting to life off the tarmac.
Through visualization, individuals and groups can create a cone of power with the circle as the base, picturing a mass of stars or swirls of rainbow light collecting a light cone above you. Imagine the cone getting higher and brighter as the apex gets taller and the cone denser with rainbow light. As you swirl you may even see it.
When the psychic power peaks in intensity it is released through the apex as shooting stars. Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a firework display.
CHARGE OF THE GODDESS
By Charles Leland, Gerald Gardner, and Doreen Valiente.
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, She who of old was also called among the people Artemis, Astarte, Cerridwen, Hecate, Demeter, Danu, Ishtar, and man other names:
Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the Moon is full, then shall ye asssemble in some quiet place and adore the Spirit of me, who am Queen of all Witcheries, and thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery:
That if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
For behold! I have been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
THE CREATION STORY
THE CREATION STORY
Long, long ago, the world slept in the arms of the dark void.From this place of nothingness, Spirit drew together and created Our Lady of Infinite Love.
The Lady danced among the heavens, Her feetbeating out the rythmn of all creation. Sparks of light catapaulted from Her hair, giving birth to the stars and planets. As She twirled, these heavenly bodies began to move with Her in the divine symphony of the universe. When Her dancing quickened She formed the seas and mountains of Earth. She chanted words of love and joy, and as these sounds fell to the Earth, the trees and flowers were born.
From the pure, white light of Her breath came the colors of the universe, turning all things to vibrant beauty. from the bubbling laughter in Her throat sprang the sounds of the pristine running water of the streams, the gentle lapping vibrations of the lake, and the roaring screams of the oceans. Her tears of joy became the rains of our survival.
When Her dancing slowed and She sought a companion to share the wonders of the world, Spirit created The Lord as Her lifemate and companion. Because She so loved the Earth, Spirit made Her companion half spirit, half animal, so that together the Lord and Lady could populate our planet. The Lord’s power moves through her and She showers the Earth and all upon it with Her blessings. Together, the Lord and Lady gave birth to the birds, animals, fishes, and people of our world. To protect and guide the humans, the Lord and Lady created the angels and power spirits. These energies walk with us always, though we may not often see them. Their speech creates a tapestry of positve energy, from which we draw strength.
To each bird the Lady gave a magic song, and to each animal the Lord bestowed the instinct to survive.
The Lord is the master of the animal and plant kingdoms, and therefore wears the antlers of a stag crowning His great head. This aspect of half man, half animal shows His joy in both the human and animal creations of the Spirit.
As the humans began to grow and prosper, the Lord and Lady saw a need for healers among them. And so they drew forth energy from the realm of angels, the realm of the power animals, and the realm of the humans to create the Witches. The Witches brought with them the wisdom of the Lord and Lady, the ability to heal, and the art of magic. The Lady taught the Witches how to cast a magic circle and talk to Spirit, and the Lord taught the Witches how to communicate with the energies of air, fire, earth, and water, and commune with the animal and plant kingdoms.
At first, the humans accepted the Witches and treated them fairly; but because the Witches are different, humans began to fear the Wise Ones of the Lord and Lady, thus the Witches became the Hidden Children, conducting their rites of positive energy in secret lest they risk capture and death at the hands of uneducated humans.
As the world grew darker with ignorance and hate of human creation, The Lady took the body of the Moon to represent the gentle light of her perfect peace, and the Lord took the vibrant rays of the Sun as his symbol of strength in perfect love. And once a month, when the Moon is full, the Witches celebrate and remember the blessings our Mother has bestowed upon us.
We call forth Her energy to help us take care of ourselves, our families, our planet, and our friends. Four times a year the Witches celebrate the festivals of fire and honor the Lord and His love for us – these are called the cross-quarters. At the four quarters of the seasons, the Witches honor the cycle of life and the gifts of the Earth with festivals to both the Lord and Lady – signifying the balance they have brought us – the Equinoxes and the Solstices.
The Lady has many names – Isis, Astarte, Bride, Diana, Aradia, Hecate – and the Lady walks within and beside each woman of every race.
The Lord has many faces, from the strong Cernunnos to the delightful Pan. He guards and guides us and resides in each man of every race.
When thunder roars in the heavens, and lightning cracks from the ground, the Lord and Lady dance the divine myth of creation so that we may remember them and know that we are never alone.
When the Sun rises each morning, we bask in the joy of His love for us, and when the Moon moves through Her phases, we understand the cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth.
When it is our time, the Witches enter the Summerland. From the Spirit that moves and flows through the Lord and Lady we continue to learn the mysticism of the Universe so that we may return, life after life, to serve our brothers and sisters.
In each lifetime, Spirit guides us through learning experiences, preparing us along the way for our individual missions. Sometimes we are born among our own kind, and in other instances we must seek out our spiritual family. Many of us do not remeber our chosen path until we reach adulthood, but others know instinctively of their heritage from the time they form their own thoughts.
We are the Witches, the representation of the growth of wisdom on our planet. We are the Hidden Children, back from the dead. We are the people, the power, the change, and we have incarnated in every race and every culture. We are the angels of Earth.
“The Creation Story” Courtesy of SilverRavenWolf
- Beautiful apple blossoms sparkle,
Like multitudes of tiny stars.
Teach me hope and faith, I pray,
So that I may offer your cosmic riches,
Each and every earthly day.
Latin: Malus communis
Color(s): White and Pink
Archetype: Astarte, Queen of the Stars. Astarte was the â€œtrue sovereign of the world,â€ perpetually destroying the old in order to give rise to the new. She ruled over all the stars in heavens, and as the mother of all star-children, gave birth to the mysterious prototype of the Virgin Mary.
Signature: In the spring, the apple tree produces blossoms in delicate pink and pure, five-petaled, white varieties. By their delightful fragrance and store of nectar, they attract swarms of bees, and as a result of this fertilization, the fruit develops, becoming in autumn the succulent, ripe apple.
Healing Properties: Apple blossom purifies the emotions, assists the body in ridding itself of poisons from the past, and restores hope to oneâ€™s inner life.
Healing: You are offered a “star-filled” gift from the Apple Blossom. Astarte’s association with Aphrodite and Venus, “the Morning Star,” highlights the power of immense love and hope available to you during times of creative transformation. In Native American mythology, the Evening Star, wata-jis, heralds the emergence of the Starry Medicine Bowl in its full glory. Its presence is thought to offer a glimpse into the profound mysteries of life, death and rebirth. In many cultures, stars have come to represent hope, birth, and change. Astarte, for example, holds the golden star, while gazing with wonder into its magical depths, for she knows that the star is never stagnant. Five is the number of creative change, holding all potential within its holographic form. The star resides within the apple, a symbol of the feminine. Just as you must bite into an apple in order to expose its buried treasure, the star you must also go to the intuitive core of your psyche in order to re-imagine and create life anew. The star of hope that Astarte offers is not the whole answer, but in some elusive way, hope ushers in faith, and deep in our hearts we begin to believe that our “Morning Star will rise again.”
The apple blossoms surrounding Astarte represent the flowering potential that is yours and yours alone. The medicine of the great Bowl of Stars surrounds you, as the cosmic canopy of lighted stars manifests visions of new hope. Deep in your own heart of hearts, lives the star Queen’s love, rich and plentiful, helping you to cleanse your soul aura and emerge vibrant and healthy.