Spring is Time for Growing

April 14, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

 

There’s excitement in the air this week as many of us prepare for the pilgrimage to Fort Flagler, to attend the Spring Mysteries Festival, run by The Aquarian Tabernacle Church, our mother church. For many there is a journey before the journey to Eleusis and it involves ferries, crashing at people’s homes, coordinating plans and of course packing. For the cast members and set up crew the time and effort in preparation for the festival is phenomenal, it takes hours of dedication, costume creating, coordinating, organizing and all the hiccups that seem to occur no matter what event is planned. I’m really looking forward to going this year, this is my first year working as staff helping out in the snack kitchen and I hear I will have some awesome assistants. That’s a good thing because I do not know how to operate an espresso machine, though I suspect I will be well versed by the end of the event! I’m so fortunate there are always people around who are willing to give me a hand, to learn from and listen to. People tell me I have a lot to share too and appreciate my easy going manner, and I see life as an adventure of sorts, I never know exactly what a day will bring in my work or volunteer jobs.

Sometimes I feel stressed, especially when people tell me things confidentially, sometimes I wonder if people think I’m someone they can confess too, a counselor friend says it means that people are comfortable around me. The truth is sometimes I really don’t want to know, because it changes my relationship with the person whether for good or ill. Of course I am a neutral non partisan person, my work in life requires that, I am expected to be neutral and not judge, and most times I’m pretty good at that. I have to say that now and then someone makes a comment that irritates the heck out of me, and I’ve learned to say “Oh really?” or “indeed” when part of me just wants to smack some sense into the person. So how do I deal with it? I do a lot of grounding and breathing and feel the roots growing down from my feet into the earth and I think take this energy and transform it Mother Earth. That’s what really keeps me going, and the earth is so generous in her care of us human beings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the work the earth and all its energies do for us lately, maybe because it’s planting season. It’s amazing that a sunflower grows from a little seed, an acorn grows an oak tree, minute alfalfa seeds grow into tasty sprouts, beautiful flowers grow from bulbs, and the world is still full of wonder for me. Every spring the buds form on trees, shoots break through the earth and reach for the sky, the cherry blossoms bloom in their pink snow and the robins return. I feel very grateful that I am aware of all the life just bursting forth around me, everything is in growing mode, including myself. There are many new experiences coming into my life right now, I feel change within it’s going to be an exciting growing season, I can tell.

If you feel overwhelmed at work, or any other area of your life, just take a moment to tune in with the nature around you. It might even be a potted plant in your office, or when you are outside just observe all the changes that are happening, because it can help you know even your struggles will also pass and change.

Abundant blessings to you

A Little Lore About Horses and Hag Stones

April 1, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

I have a horseshoe hanging above my door and a friend asked what it means to me. I told her it was a kind of talisman; she then asked what I knew about horseshoes, horses and witchy stuff. I knew more than I thought I did, and did a little more research on my own, and this is what I’d like to share with you today.

In British folk lore, horseshoes were seen as lucky, though they had to be hung with the points facing up to hold the luck in, I can’t help noticing it also forms a (U), the symbol of the crescent moon and the goddess. If you were a blacksmith you could hang the shoe the other way, as a sign of your skill for shaping metal, some say this represents the luck flowing down to the forge.  The most bizarre part of the lore is that horseshoes were hung to protect the home from witches; perhaps they were appealing to another aspect of the lady to protect them. Folklore says that moonwort makes horseshoes drop off a horse, though I’m not sure how the process works. In England if you lived near the famous white horse of Berkshire leaving your horse and coins at the blacksmith and disappearing would result in your steed being magically shod.

Horses were seen as powerful creatures as well as having associations with the underworld, in some cultures they are associated with the sun and in others the moon. Horses are very sensitive to both the seen and unseen realms, and that’s probably where the belief that when a horse reacted by not moving or avoiding a particular person or place it was thought to be bewitched. Some people believed that witches borrowed horses at night, and finding one worn out and “hag ridden” in the morning was apparently proof of that. It could easily be someone else, couldn’t it? Anyway, the keepers of horses decided they needed protection from witches or bad influences, so horse brasses were made as symbols of defense and these talismans were fitted onto the harness to keep the animals and possibly the riders safe. Hanging a holed stone in the stable to protect livestock was common practise, and the word “hag stone” apparently comes from that tradition.

In Greek lore Poseidon created the horse during a competition with Athena, the winner would win Athens, he created the horse in the ocean’s depths and perhaps that’s how they were associated with the underworld. The Romans sacrificed horses in October at “Equus curtius” and the severed tail was given to Vesta and placed on her altar, apparently the only form of blood sacrifice allowed in her temple. Apollo and Mithras also had chariots drawn by white horses.

In some parts of Europe black horses were associated with death and visitors from other realms; seeing a black horse was considered a death omen, and at the very least was thought to bring bedlam. Black horses were sacrificed in October to represent the downfall of death.

The Irish had a different slant on horses, to them a red horse represented death, actually many magical creatures in Celtic lore have red ears or other red markings. In the Tale of Ferghus, a horse rides from the sea to carry the dead across the ocean to the Otherworld; the horse has green legs, a crimson red mane and golden body. There was also a horse culture in the UK called the Society of the Horseman’s Word, they could command horses with one word, the movie Horse Whisperer gives us a glimpse of this phenomena.

Horses were sacred to Epona and Rhiannon; the Celts felt they were guides to the Otherworld, in Celtic lore when someone rides a white steed they are generally travelling between realms. In Wales a grey horse is associated with death omens, while in England dreaming of a white horse means you are not long for this world. If you happen to meet a white horse on your travels spitting on the ground is supposed to break any ill luck.

You probably have heard of Odin’s eight legged horse Sleipnir that ran on the sea, land and sky, and Freyfaxi was a horse with a golden mane. The Valkries rode gray cloud horses at times, and Freya rode a white horse while Freyr rode a black one. Freya’s priestesses could turn into mares and the winged black horse Valraven was ridden by a death goddess, another form of her priestesses.

I have to mention Pegasus too, the white winged horse, born from the blood of Medusa, though in some versions it’s her menstrual flow, another version she is birthed by Demeter. In Egypt there was a sacred spring called Pega in the shrine of Osiris and the creature could have been formed there. In Greek and Roman mythology, Pegasus strikes the ground and creates the Hippocrene Fountain that is tended by the Muses on Mount Helicon. Pegasus is associated with astral travel, poetry, transforming lower vibrations into higher ones, and travelling between realms.

The Unicorn appears in Oriental and Western lore, Pliny apparently thought they lived in India, the Tibetans and Arabs knew of them too. The Oriental unicorn had one or two horns, a dragons head, stag’s body, and ox tail and sounded like bells, it could be red, yellow, white, blue or black or all of these colours, and it lived for 1,000 years. The western unicorn has the body and head of a horse, the legs of a deer, goat whiskers, long tail and spiral horn on its forehead.  Unicorn energy can help with cultivating good will, prosperity, gentleness, strength of mind and creating personal power.

There you have it -horseshoes to hag stones and horses to unicorns, and lore is intriguing, isn’t it?

 

by Owl

Handfasting Blessings, Brooms, and Poppets, Oh My!

March 21, 2014 in Sage & Scourge by Owl

Tomorrow I’m Priestessing a handfasting for two dear friends.

Handfastings are a type of wedding ceremony that come to us from the British Isles when the clergy were few and far between. Couples would get hand fasted while they waited for a clergy member to come and perform the official ceremony. Many modern Pagans have adopted the practice, not wanting to have a more traditional (Christian) type of ceremony.

During many traditional handfastings, the couple’s arms are bound (fastened) and they are asked to jump over a broom, a cauldron and a fire. Being tied together makes them work together, symbolizing the relationship they will have as a married couple. The broom, cauldron and fire represent fertility, health and well being. Depending on the tradition, the couple will remain bound until night falls or until the marriage is consummated. (You can find these traditions all over the world, Ireland to Africa to Asia…)

The broom itself is a powerful symbol of male and female fertility bound together, which is why it’s such an important part of the handfasting ceremony. It is also an important tool to take together into your new marriage.

The broom is hung over the bed if the couple wants to have children. If the couple doesn’t want children, the broom is placed underneath the bed!

I’ve also heard it said that you should always treat your broom as a member of your family, and when you’re having marriage difficulties, talking to your broom can help sort them out. Another tradition is that when you and your spouse are fighting, sweeping your house out with your broom can help clear the air.

Treating your broom well and taking care of it is symbolic of taking care of your marriage, and ensures that  you and your spouse are healthy and happy as a couple. Mistreating your broom can have ill effects on your marriage!

(There are also superstitions that if you step over a fallen broom before your wedding, you’ll never get married! So watch out!)

The ritual itself is of course the important part of the handfasting, but guests who come to the wedding can contribute more than their energy during the ritual.

The handfasting basket is fairly traditional, and many people will tell you to put thirteen specific blessings symbolized by certain items into a basket for a new couple. But I like to make mine up a little differently.

In a basket I like to put a fresh loaf of bread, a bag of sea salt, and a bottle of wine or ale for a house warming gift. Casting salt through your house, while carrying fresh bread and wine blesses your home with abundance and captures any “leftovers” from whoever was there before. If you are moving in with your spouse for the first time, it helps to get rid of your habits as a single person. If you already lived with your partner, it helps cast out any distance that might remain between you. Of course you sweep the salt up with your broom and cast it out your front door.

I also like to include a Bridget’s Cross. A Bridget’s Cross hung in a house prevents fire.

A piece of iron for protection.

A horseshoe to hang over the couple’s door for luck.

A tin can with a bright shiny penny in it. (If a couple sets this somewhere in the house and continues to add loose change to it, it will help attract financial success to the household).

Lavender sachets to set near the bed for peaceful dreaming.

And finally I like to create a poppet that gives all the blessings, hope and love I have for the couple in their new marriage.

If you’ve never created a poppet before, it’s a very personal type of magic. I always make mine to look like small stuffed animals that can be placed on an altar, a shrine or a mantel.

How to create a poppet:

First, choose an animal that symbolizes whatever you’re creating the poppet for.

For a marriage I would create one that looks like a hare.

Taking two pieces of fabric (in a fabric that seems appropriate to you),  cut out the shape you’re going to sew.

I hand sew it together, thinking about all the things I will to give to the new couple. This takes a lot of your energy and focus, so be prepared to be pretty wrung out after you’ve completed your sewing!  If you need a way to help you focus on the task at hand, you can always choose a traditional song or rhyme to sing or speak while you’re working. For a wedding I would pull out “Hares on the Mountain” or the “Bonny Black Hare.”

Before closing the poppet up, stuff it with a mixture of herbs, a stone or two and regular stuffing to fill it out. For a marriage I would consider using woodruff, rosemary, marjorum, mint, marigold, ivy and maybe a hint of cinnamon. I would also add rose quartz (it’s usually better to place the stone near the bottom of the poppet to help it stand up!).

Close your poppet up and then have fun decorating it! I usually use buttons for eyes and paint to place any other symbols that I think are appropriate for the occasion.

If you work in a group, you can also have anyone help with the creation of the poppet or do a group blessing when it’s finished.

Finally, gift the poppet to whoever you made it for!

Happy Ostara everyone! I hope you’re equinox was as lovely as mine!

 (Photo taken by me at Griffiths Park in L.A.)

An Ostara Story

March 18, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home, Pagan Spirituality by Dawne Skeye

Early Ostara blessings to you all! I’ve decided to do something a little different for this week, you probably have heard that Ostara or Eastara is a Saxon Goddess of Spring and dawn, Lady of the blossoms, shoots, arrival of new life etc. The hare is her sacred animal and bunnies, chicks, and brightly coloured eggs are part of her rites, the story of the hare basically follows the lines that she was late arriving one spring, comes across a frozen dying bird that she feels guilty about, and the creature’s wings fall off. In some versions she takes the bird as a pet and later transforms it to a magical white hare,  in all versions the hare has the ability to lay rainbow coloured eggs. In some versions the hare becomes her lover, some not, eventually she dislikes his promiscuity and in anger throws him into the sky where he becomes part of the constellation Lepus.

I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting this tale into a child friendly, what I think is a more likely version of events. Ostara is a fertility goddess, all acts of love and pleasure are her rituals, so why was she really angry with the hare? I’d like to share my version of this bunny tale.

One spring the Goddess Ostara was late in returning to her lands, the snow still covered the ground. As she wandered the forest she found a little bird lying in the snow, his wings were frozen and she was sure he would die, and she felt sad because if she had been on time, he might have lived. Ostara gently picked up the bird and his wings fell off, and she made him her pet. The bird got well and became a dear friend to the Goddess, though when he was alone he would cry because he missed his wings so badly.

The Goddess had compassion for her friend the bird and asked what she could do. He said if only he could jump and run and play and frolic like he did when he had wings he would be so grateful and happy. The Goddess told him she could not give him new wings though she could change him into something else that could do all he wanted.

I would make you white to blend in with the snow, she said, and give you fur to keep you warm during the winter, I would give you strength to jump and frolic and to outrun the greatest hunter. There is part of you that will always remain a bird, you will always lay eggs, and because magic changes things your eggs will be all colours of the rainbow my dear friend. Is this what you wish?

Yes, the bird chirped, and she gathered him into her hands, and kissed his brow. In an instant the air shimmered with the brightness of dawn and he was transformed into a snow white rabbit, with a pink nose and white ears.  The Goddess reached down to the ground and released him from her grip, he ran around in circles and jumped and dashed here and there, he was so happy and the Lady smiled at his joy and went on her way.

The hare made friends with the other rabbits, though he was the only one who could lay eggs. Yet it didn’t matter that he was different, he loved his life and often gave the Goddess gifts of colourful eggs when she returned in Spring.  One year the hare noticed children watched as his friends played, they laughed and giggled as they watched the rabbits run and hop and the white hare decided the children would appreciate the gift of a rainbow egg, so early one morning he left some in a basket in early spring. The children were delighted and the hare decided to give colourful eggs to all the children he saw for the rest of his life.

Years passed and some of the other creatures became upset with the white hare, he had been telling them he was more blessed by the Goddess because he could lay eggs and they could not. Somehow he felt superior, he was a magical creature and they were just plain and that made him more important than the others and he began to treat the others poorly.

The Goddess Ostara was walking through the woods early one morning and saw the white hare; I have heard some unsettling news about you friend, that you think you are above the other creatures. It troubles me, because all my creatures are precious, no one is greater or lesser than another. I saved your life and took you as a pet, you were so sad that I transformed you into a magical snow hare, and you have spread joy by gifting your rainbow eggs to me and the children. Yet I see now that you are not part of the world where all things are equal, I cannot change you back to a bird for you will surely die, and I wish you to live on. The only place for you is in the sky among the stars, where you may watch over all the earth and return once a year to bring the children your eggs.

I will live in the stars Ostara, and every spring when you walk the earth I will return to bring the eggs to the children. Then let it be so my friend, you must rest in my arms as you did when you were transformed once before.  The white hare leaped into her arms, and she embraced him warmly and kissed his pink nose, I will always love you and watch for you in the stars, and she tossed him into the sky and he came to sit just under Orion, the hunter of the stars, who never catches the hare. Even today you can see him watching in the sky in the constellation Lepus, the hare.

 

Listening to that Inner Voice

March 4, 2014 in From the Hearth, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

How’s your weather these days? We have had more snow than usual and some very slippery situations-literally! A few weeks ago I had to replace both front tires because one was slashed and I had to purchase used tires because I couldn’t pay for new snow tires, the tire company did an amazing job finding a suitable pair and installing within my budget. What I didn’t realize is that the replacement tires were all season radials, not snow tires, and my car is a front wheel drive, so basically the rear snow tires had traction and the front not so much. The white stuff arrived and of course I had challenges, I did have a pair of chains that I have never used before and my landlord helped put them on and I was able to get out of the driveway onto the dirt road and to the main road. You know what I learned about cable chains? They need some kind of device in the middle of the wheel to hold tension, and these chains did not have anything like that…to make a long story short I thought I’d lost a chain though the reality is that it wrapped around the axle and brake line and had to be cut off to be removed. I disconnected one chain, and assumed the other had fallen off somewhere on the road, yet something made me take a closer look and I’m fortunate that I listened to that inner guidance.

Someone asked where that inner wisdom came from, and I think it was a combo deal. I know that Deity and Universal Laws work together, I’ve learned to hear that inner voice and every time I get behind the wheel I say a little blessing/mantra to my car Selene, yes she has a name! I say Selene you are safe inside and out, above and below and all around, everything is safe from you and you are safe from everything. Sometimes I add that we spread love wherever we go, or tell her she’s my love-mobile, I also thank her for running well because she does get me from a to b even when it’s a long time between routine maintenance appointments.  Some people think I’m really strange because I bless my car, though I see it like a kind of layering of protection. Every time I speak the words it’s adding a bit more energy and the intent behind the words is what creates the magic, or fuels the energy to set things in motion. Come to think of it Louise Hay talks about blessing and thanking all things in your life to create that positive intent through affirmations, so I’m in good company. I visualise a bubble of energy that expands outwards and surrounds the car and the space around it, and I have a fairly large clear quartz crystal hanging from the rear view mirror and that increases energy. Come to think of it I have a moon, heart and Celtic circle cross in that arrangement too, most passengers think it’s just a cool alternative to fuzzy dice, I suppose it’s a talisman or good luck charm of sorts. All the parts have meaning to me, heck you probably could bless and consecrate fuzzy dice to do the same thing; I just enjoy expressing my creativity!

What have I learned from this experience? I really need to ask more questions for one, I assumed that the replacement tires were for snow instead of actually finding out. Things are not always what they seem, chains may assist in gaining traction however buyer beware, if something tells me to take a closer look, listen and do it! Thank the God/dess I did! It is what it is-a front wheel drive vehicle doesn’t care if there are snow tires on the back wheels, the traction has to be up front. Whether it was one energy or a combo of everything I am one very fortunate lady, it could have been a “next life” situation and I am thankful to be here. The Universe has a sense of humor, when I was fish tailing back onto our dirt road the song lyrics playing were “slip slidin’ away!”

Until next time, Abundant Blessings All!

Being Conscious

February 18, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

FlynnThe weather around here has been pretty wild of late, snow, sleet, freezing rain, regular rain, brilliant sunshine and power outages here and there, I don’t remember the wind howling quite so much last year, then again last year I lived in town. My experiment with rural living is drawing to a close; I do love it here with the open space, well water, all the deer I’ve watched grow from fauns to yearlings, the rabbits, eagles, ravens and turkey vultures. My furry feline has enjoyed being here too, always lots of bugs and spiders to eat, the occasional field mouse and butterflies to chase, and his invisible friends. My sensitivity to energy is always going in this home, ever since I moved here, there’s a constant current, and the energy tube that runs through us all is tingling more often than not. One of my spiritual mentors referred to that sometimes gentle and sometimes almost jarring jolt of energy as a kind of quickening, I’ve heard some folks say it’s just your wings growing, either way it’s become part of my everyday experience in this home. Flynn my cat has enjoyed himself too, he can be resting then suddenly raises his head, his eyes grow with ears up and I swear he actually grins then chirrups and starts running around the place, I’m not sure what he is seeing, though it makes him happy and I just think he’s playing with his invisible friends. I’m hoping he will forgive me for moving again, and that he settles into our new digs without too much upset to his world.

I’m going to miss it here too, though I’m beginning to feel excited about my new home and envision living there, and I want to stay for a long time. I’ve been tracing the threads back and realise that my first home in the valley on Cumberland Road was awesome, I loved that apartment, its huge balcony, the space, it was within walking distance to many places, roomy and it really was my home. I had a lot of pot lucks and mini feasts, friends old and new felt comfortable there, and so did I. So why did I move? In hindsight I see it was a kind of reaction, a woman who was my friend at the time got a little unbalanced because I joined a Wiccan circle and got it into her head that I had joined a cult. Things just escalated from there, she called my counsellor saying I was into bad things then called the police saying I was sacrificing animals in my apartment. That was fun! My brother wanted to straighten her out because he knows that I have worked with, rescued and helped out so many animals during my life and he was angry on my behalf. This woman and I lived in the same building and I tried to brush things off, but you know I have my limits and I decided the best thing was to move just because I was so tired of the b.s.

I had a short stay renting a room with a friend then got into a town house short term to get some home care and after that I moved into a communal house. It was a nice space and a beautiful home but there were some uncool issues with the house manager, I lasted for a year before I found my current home. The major attraction here is quiet, country, growing food and herbs, nature, a beautiful space the minuses are it’s just too expensive commuting back and forth into town, and most of my friends can’t visit because I’m not on a bus route, so when I’ve gone away for medical stuff or visiting friends down island no one has been able to check in on my cat or water the plants, and I don’t like that. On the positive it’s been a good reminder of being environmentally conscious with being on well water and septic tanks, having to take garbage to the dump and recycle because there are no services here.  It has made me think twice before I purchase anything, is the material recyclable, if not can I use it for another purpose, do I really need or want it and will this thing still be existing on the planet 100 years after I die and be someone else’s problem?

I have found that many consumer goods are not what they appear to be, everything from food to household products, the words natural and even organic often don’t tell the whole story behind the ingredients and if something is removed it’s often replaced with another ingredient that really isn’t any better. I’ve been a label reader for a long time and I couldn’t tell you how often I read ingredients and shake my head. Actually it happened today when I was shopping with a friend, we were looking at organic broth, and its main ingredient is organic chicken flavour-what the hell is that? I was expecting to find organic chicken listed somewhere, it wasn’t! It’s like when you see “gluten free” plastered over foods that never had any gluten to begin with. It’s like seriously? I wonder what the next buzz word will be. I’ll be cooking some real chicken then making broth from its bones thank you!

I really am holding the energy that I keep eco consciousness alive and well when I move to the new digs, and I have so many ideas and things I would like to do in my new space. I’m looking forward to all the creativity, and making it a cosy, comfortable, welcoming yet a simple and practical home. In some strange way it feels like I’m unwinding the threads back to that first apartment, I am so looking forward to having more friends within walking distance and being able to walk or ride my bike to work. The weather may be changeable, and you know there’s spring in my step!

Start with the Practical Magic

February 4, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home, Pagan Spirituality by Dawne Skeye

May you all have experienced a wonderful Imbolc as the wheel is turning; now we can look towards Ostara and all the planting of seeds and life springing up around us. It’s true that a February freeze is still possible yet we can physically see that the days are getting longer, and the sun does feel warmer and somehow brighter on a mild sunny day. My own life is in a state of change, I had planned to move at the end of April, and then a number of circumstances lined up perfectly with so much grace and ease that I wondered if it was some kind of set up. Where did this all begin? I do love the area where I live, it’s very scenic, quiet and rural, I’ve enjoyed watching the new fawns grow to maturity, watched the eagles and hawks and even a few vultures, on a foggy day you can hear the ocean, and it’s very peaceful. The problem is that the costs of living out of town have been adding up, services included in the rent don’t work much of the time, driving back and forth adds up and it just isn’t very practical for a number of reasons. One of the basic teachings and mysteries of Wicca is that we have the power to cause change in our lives by understanding and working with Universal/natural laws, though you look after the mundane practical things before turning to magic spells because no one ever knows the full consequences and ripple effects of magic.

My practical part of this journey was making a pro’s and con’s list for staying here or moving and the reasons to move outweighed the reasons to stay. Pretty basic stuff, then I wrote out another list of the things I would like my new home to have, to give me a better idea of what I am seeking, I wrote this in my regular journal, not even my Book of Shadows that’s really my spiritual journal.  When I visited the North Island I was very aware of something calling me there, yet there are some very physically oriented circumstances that mean moving to a smaller town, with a population less than 1,000 is not a wise or practical option for me at this time in my life. I then thought about moving further North to Campbell River, and looked at a number of possible homes, yet nothing felt right and I was getting an internal no, I’ve learned to listen to that guidance. Then I realised I did want to stay in the valley, I work and volunteer here, most friends live in town, I’m connected with other spiritual groups outside of my circle and it’s taken time to build a reliable chain of support. It isn’t that the valley doesn’t fit it’s that the living arrangements aren’t working, so that’s what needed to change.

I looked at a few places, though nothing was quite right, so I just put things on the back burner so to speak. I just thought okay, when the time is right, I’ll find a new home, give my notice, prepare to move etc.  One of my friends has been very helpful with getting the word out, even arranging viewings, and then she mentioned that to another mutual friend who happens to be an apartment manager. This other friend had two suites available for March, and I viewed them with her, and I knew the ground floor was for me, it’s open and bright with a patio out back, and also pet friendly, two plants rosemary and lilac that are sacred to me are growing out back. I took that as a sign, and wondered how I would get the security and pet deposit together in time to secure the place and two days later I got the first loan, and not long after the second from another source and I will be moving in at the end of the month. It all went so smoothly that a part of me is expecting something to happen; there must be some hiccup that I haven’t seen. Perhaps I’m so used to resistance that it feels strange when there isn’t a ripple and the water is calm, I just need to be and appreciate how supportive and generous life is.

One friend remarked that I was in flow because I had surrendered the home hunting groove, by letting it go I allowed the powers that be to do their thing.  I thought about that for a while, it is true that my intentions of moving caused a ripple of energy to flow, it could be that by getting out of the way, or surrendering that it allowed the energy to return with everything I needed for support, instead of me forcing the issue. As long as I can keep the drama aspect at bay, meaning creating the drama by complaining about having to move, and thinking of all that could go wrong and attracting it to me things will be okay. I can tackle the packing listening to music that motivates me to keep moving, and or singing while I work, instead of getting in that I have to do this and dislike it energy. Maybe that’s a kind of personal magic we call motivation. I’m fortunate too because there are people willing to help me move for very reasonable rates, and they are also connected through the friend network, so there are ripples affecting other people’s lives, and how wonderful it is for the positive.

I am reminded that when things seem overwhelming, it’s good to step back and pull out some paper and something to write with, make two columns of what is working and what isn’t and what you discover can be both informative and amazing. It’s just practical magic!

Until next time, abundant blessings my friends

 

Imbolc is Coming!

January 21, 2014 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home, Pagan Spirituality, Uncategorized by Dawne Skeye

The wheel is turning and Imbolc will be here before my next article is due so I thought I’d make an early start, first on how it’s pronounced basically “E31m56UeOAJLhm-bowlk” or “Im-bulk” and in Druid tongue “Im mol’-gh” which is usually spelled Oimealc. This greater sabbat has a number of names including The Snowdrop Festival, The Festival of Lights, The Feast of the Virgin, Candlemas, St Briget’s Day, Brigid’s Feast, and Brigantia. I’m sure there are other names and festivals that have links to the day as well, feel free to add them in comments on the article.  There’s a bit of controversy about Imbolc, some say it’s from the Gaelic oimlec that means ewes milk, other sources say it means in the belly, as in the womb of animals and soil. Either way it’s time when new lambs are born, dairy animals generally start producing milk for their new born or soon to be born offspring.

This is the festival of the Maiden, and straw or wheat sheaves gathered before last Samhain are made into bundles, or dolls and placed in baskets with white flowers. Depending on the area and tradition sheaves were left outside to receive blessings from Brigid as she passed by, in some areas of Ireland cloth strips or mantles were left outside to be touched by the Goddess and/or Saint. These cloths became sacred and had the power to heal sickness or injury during the year, sun wheels or Brigid’s crosses were made to bring protection and blessing to the house, the previous year’s rush cross was often tucked into the rafters of a house or barn, if the luck had left the cross it needed to be buried or burned to return to the goddess and earth.

In Celtic lands this marked the beginning of Spring; seeds that had rested in the soil over winter began to swell and crack and send roots into the ground. It was time to begin preparing the fields for the upcoming planting, stones were removed, any remaining stubble from the previous year’s harvest was turned under, drainage ditches were repaired or new ones created, furrows would be ploughed, the plans for what one wanted to grow had to be made, and seeds carefully chosen all before the planting could begin. It was a time for assessment, what grew well the previous year, what didn’t survive the growing season and why? Did you want to try growing a kind of food for harvest that you had never planted before? What did you want to cultivate, change or keep from the previous year?

The time between Yule and Imbolc is called The Cleansing Tide, because it was literally time for cleaning the house, stables, yard as well as the fields. If there was unfinished work from winter’s projects it could be put aside or laid to rest, the focus was changing to outdoor labour once more. The home was swept clean and everything was washed and tidied to get rid of winter’s hold and to welcome the spring, farm animals that were kept in shelter during the cold could now return to the pastures, all stables, stalls, coops, and belongings were cleaned, acts of sympathetic magic to let winter pass.

Farmers looked to the animals for omens of the growing season to come, if a hedgehog or badger appeared from a burrow on Imbolc it meant the planting weather around Ostara would be fair, if the animals weren’t seen, the coldness would stay and planting would be hard with cold soil and rain, yet the seeds had to be planted at the right time if there was any hope of harvest. In North America we have Groundhog day, which fulfills the same purpose, though most folks have forgotten the origins of the tradition.

Imbolg is Brigid’s day, she is the Goddess of poetry, inspiration, divination, and healing, the Lady of cattle, dairy work and food production as well as the forge, the Goddess made into a saint that is.  Traditionally a young girl dressed in white would travel from home to home giving Brigid’s blessing in exchange for an egg, sugar, cakes, a penny or bread.  The maiden or youngest girl of the home would go to a well dedicated to Brigit and first bless herself  with the water, then carry some home to be sprinkled inside and outside the home, on all the animals , over the fields and on every household member.  I’m sure many water fights have been invoked in Brigid’s name! Rush crosses were made and carried through the home, then hung by the hearth to bring the Lady’s blessing throughout the year. In some places they made a Brideog, a corn dolly that was dressed in white representing Brigid, it was taken house to house to bless the community, these dolls were patted to release their seeds and the kernels would be mixed with new seed and planted to bless the crops.

It was a day for extinguishing the hearth fire, sweeping the ashes out and rekindling the new fire, fresh candles and lamps were placed in rooms and lit to welcome and celebrate the sun’s return.  The day also marked a time of renewing vows to the gods one served and for blessing candles to be used in the year’s rituals, magical tools were consecrated or rededicated and pledges to work with and learn about specific deities were made. In some areas the ploughs were blessed with milk or alcohol and offerings of cheese, bread, milk and honey were left in the fields for the nature spirits, they hadn’t had a gift since Samhain night. Some people think it’s taboo to cut white flowers on Imbloc because they are symbols of the Goddess, while some say cut fresh ones early morning for the altar, as always do what feels right to you.

Whether you go for a walk, make a spirit lamp or Brigid’s cross, enjoy your day!

Abundant Blessings

 imbolc

Pondering

January 6, 2014 in Guests, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

The season’s trappings have passed and people are talking about New Year’s resolutions. You know I don’t make decrees about how I will change my life when the calendar flips to the next year. Why? Well, every year on my birthday I sit down and write out year #(insert age) goals, and write out a monthly plan of things I would like to do each month. My birthday is in mid December, so it’s near the year’s end so I suppose that’s close enough for the movers and shakers, though it seems more personal to orient pledges to the day that celebrates my arrival on this planet. Did I shriek “I’m coming through!” and arrive with a bang? No. My birth mother was delirious during most of the labour, she lived at a home for unwed mothers in England, she was 19 when I came along, and I was breech nearly killing us both, it was a good thing I only weighed 4 lbs 2 oz at birth, and I was full term! Some of the stories she told me about her lack of care and the nun’s treatment of us both make me cringe to this day; a year later when she was married and had my eldest brother it was a whole different experience. It’s true I was “a love child” from the 60’s, and it’s sad that there was such an unsupported reaction to the natural consequences of sharing love, though it was still better than 20 years before when her own mother, a young widow had a child out of wedlock. At least we can say things are getting better and more supportive as the wheel turns, perhaps one day it’ll return to the “it takes a community to raise a child” philosophy. And I just have to say that my birth mother abandoned the pagan brother and sisterhood that our family has been involved with for many generations, things would have been very different had she stayed. Then we each have our own journey to find what works best for our lives, isn’t that true?

I’ve been delving more into the lore around my birth lately, perhaps on a quest for understanding myself, though I feel that life experience has a huge influence no matter what cards we come in with. I’m born under the realm of the dark goddess, I don’t mean the Crone, many traditions have the Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects, however my family’s tradition also has The Dark One, and She Who is Mysterious and ever shape shifting. A Lady of intuition and clairvoyance, she rebels against the laws and rules that try to define or constrain, full of passion and intensity, yet also understated, hidden and often secretive. Her children share these gifts and can shift into whatever persona is effective for a particular situation, not surprisingly; snake is one of her totems. The other side of the dark goddess is deception, control, and shady emotions; she can also use sensuality and seduction as a means to an end, and may play for high stakes. We call her She Who Knows, or The Dark Lady, because she is always shifting, the closest equivalent would probably be Circe the Goddess of Sorcery.

So I’m a wood snake, that means I am attuned to the energies of the wood and forest, and my nature is gentle and receptive, though I can have feelings of doubt about my value and strength. The snake itself is associated with the new moon and both Venus and Pluto, perhaps for beauty and venom, like Meretseger, the Egyptian cobra goddess who is merciful and perilous as she may heal or destroy. Snakes can be very mystical, wise, artistic, talented, intellectual, creative and perceptive and we can be secretive, illogical, addicted, fanatical, snobby or materialistic.  Did you know that Anne Rice, Liv Tyler, J.K. Rowling and Audrey Hepburn are snake women with dark lady influences in their charts? These women have been trend setters during their lives, often breaking traditional roles. Snakes can hypnotize and draw attention because people are fascinated by their views and behaviour, though they like to be coiled and observant too, the shifting thing again to find balance! Sometimes the public persona is very different from the private person. I can see that in my life, I’m actually quite an introvert yet there’s many times I’m asked to do public speaking, I have been a feature solo singer in the past, part of a duet act and I still perform in other aspects. Though I’m quite happy to sit at my laptop and write in relative quiet, and to walk in the woods and rescue plants from the discount sale!

I see astrology and lore as pieces to the puzzle of my life, we are all born into intricate weavings of a web of life, all carrying certain traits and lessons, with our genetic history no matter where we come from or where we live today. It’s an amazing journey and making some plans along the way can be a helpful thing!

Abundant Blessings

 

Joyful Gifting

December 22, 2013 in From the Hearth, Guests, Hearth and Home by Dawne Skeye

The festivus continues as Yule has passed, Christmas and New Year’s are still to come, and we turn our gaze towards Imbolc at the next Sabbat. It’s like yay! The sun has returned and the days will be getting a bit longer until they are equal at the next equinox, funny how that keeps happening! I know change is the way of life, yet the natural rhythms of the seasons bring me a lot of comfort, yes, there are variables within the seasons as being drier or wetter, or warmer or colder than usual, it’s that grounded and flexible concept again.  I’ve been doing a lot of seasonal preparing, this year my gifts are home sewn bags and cookies for those I cherish, been putting in time at the sewing machine and in the kitchen, accompanied by instrumental seasonal music and I’ve enjoyed the creation process. It makes me smile when I think of the past and how I “toiled” for others, had to get that expensive gift for some obligatory reason, had to cook, bake, clean you name it, always on behalf of others. I’ve done a remarkable turnaround, because I’ve learned to do things with my heart full and overflowing rather than feeling like its drudgery and a have to. So what’s different? A few years back I decided to get off the grind stone, mostly because I didn’t like the way I was feeling, often stressed out, with a string of obligations that I thought were necessary at the time. Then one day there was awareness, if I’m doing something with resentment, then that energy is being absorbed by the product or meal or even environment where I work, and in some form that is causing harm.  One of my biggest confirmations of this was reading The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto, it confirms that thought vibrations affect water structures through research and pictures and gave me a real visual of what that “have to” energy could look like. I’ll bet you have received a gift or meal or an action from another person that was done with that obligation energy, and it doesn’t feel quite right. The person may be smiling and the energy says something else. I know what receiving that energy is like, so I had to question whether I was in fact the one passing that energy too. I decided that all I give needs to be from a place of love and gratitude as much as possible, especially when it involves cooking because people will be consuming that energy, and the things that I gift that I’ve crafted ought to resonate with the love and enjoyment I receive while creating. It was a struggle to break my pattern of “pushing my way through” yes; it does get the task accomplished, but to what ends? It involves making more mistakes that need to be corrected, these problems cause more stress and frustration and the pleasure factor has left the area! I have learned through mindfulness techniques to be in the moment and be fully present, and if I feel frustrated it’s okay to stop what I’m doing and move on to something else. This is true for most of my world, not so much at work, and I am looking for ways to improve that situation. For me the realization is that I do have choices; I could continue working on a project, I could stop period, or I could put it away and come back to it another day, that erases the stress factor. I’ve noticed a difference, and my friends have too. I often hear that my gifts are “so beautiful” and “thoughtful” and it’s because the energy of love and joy is in the items I gift. If you have been reading my posts here, you know I am not an advocate of kitchen slavery, or any other kind, I support freedom to have choice knowing that freedom means using my own power wisely to keep the balance. I mention this because the whole Christmas holiday season used to own my butt, everything had to be just so, these people had to have these specific gifts, I had to do a-z, and it was only me. Then I felt resentful because it was expected that I would do a-z; time for reality check, no one person can do everything, and it’s not reasonable to expect one person to fill this role either. Two of my favourite words are delegate and voluntold because it means I don’t have to do it all. If you are holding a feast ask your guests to contribute, if you cook the main feature ask your guests to contribute sides, if your guests are visiting your home ask if they would like to volunteer kitchen time, or prepare their favorite addition to the meal.  Some folks have given me a horrified look when I suggest this; I suppose Miss Manners would kick me out of her school! However, we are working towards building a more co operative world, and there’s no reason it can’t begin in your own kitchen or at a community gathering. So what’s the difference between volunteering and being voluntold? Well with volunteering you offer first because you are aware there is a need and are happy to fulfill it, being voluntold means it’s definitely your turn because everyone else has taken a shift! I like to keep aware of my surroundings wherever I may be, because I like to be helpful and practical.  It’s also important to realize that people generally don’t read your mind, so if you would like Martha to bring those awesome candied yams, remember to ask!  There seems to be some kitchen etiquette where some people would not presume to bring a meal contribution unless asked, so remember to plan together and make it an easier feast. Happy Festivus!