Event, Paganism, Retreat/Convention

Beltaine at Fertile Ground Gathering!

So, this past weekend, Scott and I went to Triangle, VA for 2 days of Fertile Ground Gathering. The event runs Thursday through Sunday, but for personal/family logistic reasons, we only attended Friday and Saturday, the days with the bulk of the rituals and workshops. The Acorn Sprout did not come with us – after discussing it, we though it would be better to leave a toddler still in diapers with his grandparents and cousins for the weekend than to bring him along camping in the (likely) rain. There were kids activities, but we expected they would be geared towards slightly older children. So, we dropped off the Acorn Sprout on Thursday afternoon, packed up, and left at 7am on Friday. We arrived around 8:30am, in time to register and have a little breakfast before the first workshops. As with other events, I’m going to be focusing mostly on workshops I attended, rather than what Scott attended, because I took notes with plans to blog about my experiences!

Early Religion in Scandinavia – Jane Sibley, PhD

This was an extremely informative workshop, and Sibley seems to really know her shit – which I would expect from someone who *is* Scandinavian and speaks a Scandinavian language and got a PhD in folklore! Much of the presentation was drawn from a book she wrote called The Divine Thunderbolt, which includes both comparative mythology and the archaeological record, though the book has a much wider scope than the presentation, which focused on the Scandinavian Thor and his cognates in Sámi and Germanic mythology. She also emphasized how much of what modern Heathens and Norse Polytheists consider lore was likely made up by, or at least heavily edited and rewritten by either Snorri or the Brothers Grimm. She believes we need to pay more attention to the archaeology and the Icelandic sources.

There were a few takeaways that I think will be relevant to my own practice. Firstly, Sibley said that the Norse originally had a tripartite elemental system, similar to the Celts, with Earth, Water, and Sky/Air, fire being considered just a hot air. Secondly, she said that Thor should probably be considered Vanir, as he predates Odin and the Aesir, but things get kind of blurry, because the bloodlines are all mixed up anyhow. (Just think about how many of the Aesir are said to have Jotun parents!) Thirdly, Sibley discussed the importance of linen or flax and leeks used together for protection magics. Lots to think about!

Making My Introductions

Before lunch, Scott and I popped down to a place we’d found last year at Hallowed Homecoming, which takes place in the same camping area, and greeted some of the local spirits we’d met in October.

Wakening Ritual

This was a sort of opening ritual, following the Warding Ritual Thursday night. It was short, but to the point, and allowed people to find their trance in stillness, slow motion, or ecstatic motion as they preferred. As it was quite warm out and I was struggling slightly with my chronic illness, I opted for stillness, but that is frequently my preference in any case.

Fiber Magic – Katie LaFond

This was an extremely small workshop – just the presenter, myself, and one other attendee! It was an interesting twist of fate, though – three women of three different ages, discussing fibercraft and witchcraft. LaFond had brought extra supplies and several things to demonstrate, so she set me up with some yarn and a crochet hook while she talked about different ways she uses fibercraft to do witchcraft, from knitting intentions into baby blankets, to creating a family cable pattern for sweaters, to how she sewed planetary robes for her husband to use in his astrology work during the associated planetary days and hours. She demonstrated two different kinds of wool spinning, showed me how to spin flax and let me try that, and set up the other woman with a collapsible lap loom. We also talked about witchcraft more generally, and homesteading and gardening, discussing our lives, our paths, and our crafts as we worked away at our little projects. I made a small crocheted floppy witch hat, for one of the Acorn Sprout’s dolls.

Friday Evening

After dinner, there were a few musical performances and then a bonfire. We stayed to listen to most of Melanie Bresnan’s set, but we went to bed before Maharal began. I have seen them perform before, however, and I do recommend seeing them if you get a chance!

Weaving your Destiny – Chris LaFond

This workshop sort of built upon LaFond’s earlier workshop on the natal chart but I have a vague understanding of my natal chart so I figured I would be able to follow along. As it turned out, we had an entirely new group of people anyhow, so he spent the first fifteen or twenty minutes giving us an overview before moving into his main topic, which was about how to use planetary timing to predict possible events coming up in your life, and how to have a better handle on working with planetary timing, instead of against it. He explained that his approach to astrology is more pre-1700s, before the Enlightenment came and added in a bunch of early psychology, and that puts him in contrast to most pagan and mainstream astrologists, who use newer astrology methodologies. Because of his focus, he doesn’t really use the outer planets much. He also uses Whole Sign Houses, where the Houses of one’s natal chart start at the beginning of the sign and encompass the whole sign, instead of starting at a specific degree of the sign.

LaFond explained the Chaldean order, and how our lives cycle through it, spending a number of years under the influence of each planet, starting with either the moon or the sun, depending on whether one was born at night or during the day (defined as whether the sun was above the horizon or not). Since I was born at night, I spent the first 9 years under the influence of the moon, then 11 years under Saturn, and I’m currently within the 12 years under Jupiter. Within those periods, each is broken down into 7 again (because no outer planets, remember), and so I am currently in the time of the Moon, within the period of Saturn.

LaFond also explained how an astrologer can cycle the natal chart forward every year and use that as a means of predicting the year to come (on the birthday, not the calendar year). For my chart, that means I’m in a 5th House Year, now, and my fifth House is in Taurus. Another means of predicting the year to come that he discussed was to cast a new chart for the solar return of your birth, which is usually within three days of your calendar birthday.

Next, LaFond discussed planetary days and hours, and emphasized that the “hours” are just daylight or nighttime divided into 12, so only near the equator near the equinox do they actually last an hour! Also, the planetary days all begin at dawn, and the first planetary hour is the same as the day. They cycle through the week completely (again, with only the 7 planets of older astrology). This made me think of the old nursery rhyme/divinatory poem that starts “Monday’s Child is full of grace…” I’d always considered myself a “Monday’s Child” because I was born on a calendar Monday. But by this system, as I was born before dawn, I was born on the Day of the Sun, instead!

Accidental Wanderings

After Chris LaFond’s workshop, I wandered down to the water there, which I have come to learn is called Happyland Camp 5 Lake. I saw a number of turtles and frogs and it was really quite lovely, especially since the rain overnight had taken the heat away. On my way back to the feast hall I started wondering about one of the local spirits, and I took a wrong turn – I found myself at a footbridge over a creek, near the fire pit, but I also found my answer. Not exactly my intention, but once I acknowledged that and understood the message, I found my way to the feast hall for lunch with no further ado, so: no harm, no foul. Perhaps a good reminder to keep slightly better track of my surroundings, however!

Warrior Blessing Ritual

Irene Glasse led a Warrior Blessing Ritual after lunch, for blessing and healing of the Warriors among the Dead, the Living, and the Future Generations. It was a really heartfelt and emotional experience, especially as I took the time to connect with two of my great-grandfathers who were in service during WWII, and I reflected upon the military service of other family members and friends, both living and deceased.

Power, Freedom. Boundaries, and Consent – Rath

Some of this presentation was apparently based on a Foundations class Rath had previously taught. There were only a handful of us in attendance so we sat on the porch instead of inside the craft cabin, where we were divebombed by carpenter bees on occasion, but it was nice to be outside in the warm-but-not-too-hot weather.

Rath began with Power, and had us all give words we associated with it, and asked us if we wanted power. I said “it depends”, which is a normal tendency of mine that is perhaps related to my dealings in Faery – I generally want to know all the details before I agree to something, and there are plenty of circumstances in which I would not want specific kinds of power! Rath then discussed “power over” vs “power with”, and different models for wielding or sharing power. When he discussed Freedom, Rath also used two kinds: “freedom to” vs “freedom from”, though he spent more time focusing on “freedom to”.

That brought us to Boundaries, both in the personal (between individual people) and in pagan traditions and systems of magic, where some things are a part of the system or tradition, and other things don’t fit the paradigm. Rath emphasized that even the most eclectic and welcoming groups have a boundary somewhere, using Mormons as an example of a spiritual tradition most pagan groups would consider outside their boundaries. Following on boundaries, we talked about consent, and how in an ideal world consent would always be explicit and informed, but that some experiences are so difficult to fully explain that nearly everything is only partially informed, and in many cases consent is implicit instead, though it can still be revoked.

The final segment of the workshop was focused on exploring a number of different common pagan group models, and pointing out the flaws in each, because at the end of the day, no group is perfect, and all are open to different sorts of abuse. The best thing we can do is to try and mitigate the flaws as much as possible as group leaders, and as group members we should try to find groups that best fit out own personal boundaries.

Wandering Ritual

This ritual began in the ritual field we’d used for the Wakening Ritual, and instead of a Maypole, this year we wove ribbon as a community, in keeping with the theme “Weaving a Tapestry”. The Fae were invited to weave with us and then to join us in as we processed back to the feast hall and walked through hanging veils into the evening’s revelry and feast.* The ritual was not to be closed until Sunday morning, but as Scotty and I needed to be home Sunday and a thunderstorm was rolling in, we left instead of staying for the feast, and therefore missed the Kindred Crow set which was somewhat disappointing. Still, we got home in time to get decent sleep, which I needed. One of these days, though, I am going to actually manage to see them live!

Overall?

Overall, we had a pretty enjoyable experience. It was really nice to be out in all that GREEN! I’m not sure if we’ll be back next year, though, because Beltaine is usually a pretty busy time of year for us, both for our hearth cult and because it’s near the Acorn Sprout’s birthday!


* Note: I had serious misgivings about the structure of this ritual, not least because we were all supposed to be in the Otherworlds with the Fae all night, despite the fact that there were quite a few young children attending the event. As a practitioner of the Fairy Faith, I really can’t emphasize enough how mercurial and potentially dangerous the Fae are, especially around Beltaine. I was told that offerings were made and precautions were taken, but as I wasn’t there for the Warding Ritual and I wasn’t given details, I can’t speak to their efficacy. I made my own supplications and performed my own protective magics. I’ll leave you with Morgan Daimler’s words on the subject.

Holiday Celebration

Our Spring Equinox!

The Spring Equinox itself (ie, the 20th) I didn’t do much except start a spell for a client that required full moon water. The following day, we went out to dinner with family who’d come in town for a business trip and had some time to visit. We went to an Afghani restaurant, and I had ordered a dish with lamb in honor of the season.

On the following Sunday, we had originally planned to take part in a ritual run by a fellow member of Fox and Fungi at our local UU church, but it was a tough week with a few unavoidable late nights and my chronic illness was not being kind. So instead, all we did this year was our little family dinner.

In our hearth cult, the Spring Equinox is Arianrhod’s Feast Day, and last year I shared a prayer I wrote for the occasion. We used that prayer again, and made the same meal, though this year I didn’t dye the eggs, and we managed to get the leeks and garlic all the way mixed in, haha! One of these years I swear I’m going to manage to get it all done on time, and make some Welsh Cakes, too.

I’ll probably need to start more than a day ahead on some of it, but it’s such a busy season! I started a bunch of seedlings in the days between the first quarter and full moon, and I was getting my raised beds all set up for the spring planting I’ll do next month. (We’ve still got a few frosts before it’ll be safe to direct-sow.)

Hopefully you all had a lovely Equinox, whether Spring like here, or Autumn in the southern hemisphere!

I’ll be sending the monthly newsletter out in a few days, so make sure you’ve subscribed if you’re interested. There are a couple of big announcements we’ll share there first! Click here to subscribe!

Celtic Polytheism, Event, Holiday Celebration, Paganism, Prayer, Ritual

Imbolc!

 

This year for Imbolc, we helped to organize a ritual at our local UU church.  At home, our deities of the occasion are Cailleach and Brigid, and the group agreed to honor them for our ritual.  We used a shortened version of the ADF creation of sacred space and ritual center, honoring of the Hallows (Fire, Well and Tree), the Kindreds (Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits), and a short meditation to help us connect to the space between the worlds.

Then we invoked the Cailleach and Brigid.  Another participant read a prayer they’d found called “Prayer to Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge“, by Patti Wigington, substituting “Brigid” for “Brigantia”.  I wrote a poem for Cailleach following the same pattern, and Scott read it during the ritual.  I’ve reproduced both, below.

We also tied raffia to pussywillow branches for our hopes and intentions for the spring, similar to cloutie ties, and we sang Kelianna’s song Brighid’s Flame together.

It was a simple ritual, but poignant for many of the participants, and it’s proof that we can pull something together in less than a week.  Still, I think we’re going to plan farther ahead for the Spring Equinox!

 

Imbolc Prayer for Cailleach, by Aleja Nic Bhé Chuille

Hail, Cailleach! Bringer of ice and snow,
She who blankets the world in white,
She who freezes the world so time seems to slow,
She who encourages us to rely on each other,
She who is called the Blue Crone,
And teaches us the true meaning of survival.

Hail, Cailleach! Queen of Winter,
She who frosts the ground with her staff,
She who dropped rocks and made mountains,
She who shaped valleys and hills,
She who flies over the land as a great winter storm.

 

Prayer for Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge, by Patti Wigington

Hail, Brigantia! Keeper of the forge,
She who shapes the world itself with fire,
She who ignites the spark of passion in the poets,
She who leads the clans with a warrior’s cry,
She who is the bride of the islands,
And who leads the fight of freedom.

Hail, Brigantia! Defender of kin and hearth,
She who inspires the bards to sing,
She who drives the smith to raise his hammer,
She who is a fire sweeping across the land.

 

[Feel free to use my prayer to Cailleach for your own rituals, with proper attribution!]

 

Bright Moon, Holiday Celebration, Kemetic

Kemetic Holiday: The Eye Wanders

This month’s Bright Moon coincided with the beginning of a two-part holiday, called “The Eye Wanders” and “She is Led Back”. The first takes place I Peret 19-21, which for me here is December 23-25. The second part is I Peret 28-II Peret 4, which for me here is Jan 1-7. Between that, I’ll shroud my statues to represent the Eyes being “gone”. This is taking the place of the Sailing Holiday I’ve done in previous years, and follows the same general format, with votive offerings before they leave and celebration when they return. I’ll post some photos of that below, but first, the short message from Bast and Sekhmet for this month’s Bright Moon:

“We are leaving soon, but when we return we will bring good things back with us. Celebrate and rejoice, life is meant to be enjoyed!”

The first day, I offered the white cloths I’ll be using to wrap the statues, alongside my usual Bright Moon offerings of food, drink, incense, and candlelight.

The second day, I added the boat, and gave another food/drink offering, hot cocoa, which you can see on the far right edge.

For the third day, I offered golden origami lilies, as votive offerings, and I placed them in the boat.

The statues I wrapped gently and placed them in small boxes, where they will stay until the next part of the holiday, She is Led Back.

Celtic Polytheism, Holiday Celebration, Paganism, Prayer

Prayer for the Solstice

This is a prayer I just wrote for my 3-day Solstice working for Na Morrigna. It’s a little rough, still, but it was written in a fit of inspiration a few moments ago. I may edit it later, but this is the version I used today, and will be using tomorrow and the following day.

We are the children of light

Children of darkness

And seekers of balance

Darkness beneath our wings

Wings that shelter the oppressed

Oppressors fear our darkness

Light that blazes in our eyes

Eyes that witness injustice

Injustice condemned once brought to light

Balance ripens into peace

Peace sown by justice

Justice grows into balance

A never-ending spiral

The spiral of the Sun

The Sun’s renewal never ending

Shortest day and longest night

Night the deepest darkness

Darkness once more birthing light

We are children of the light

Children of the darkness

And seekers of balance

Holiday Celebration

Samhain 2018

My Samhain Season began with my transition into darkness, timed to the heliacal rise of Spica (a star or multi-star system in the constellation Virgo) on October 24th, the same day as the full moon.  The timing was something I discovered by accident, as I fell down a rabbit hole of faery holidays and stellar timing following Morgan Daimler’s revelations about the Pleaides.  Spica seems to be closely associated with my Faery Queen, Starflower, and she has a sort of light-in-darkness and darkness-in-light balance to her energies that reminds me of the Chinese yin yang symbol.  I had noticed on previous years that her transition into darkness happened before November Eve, but this year I really dove into star charts and paid careful attention and though I believe her transition from light to darkness is somewhat gradual, the bulk of the transition seems to occur between the heliacal rise of Spica (when it rises before the sun) and when Spica is at its zenith in conjunction with the sun, which happens much closer to November Eve. (I’m still not 100% clear on whether it’s the zenith at noon or the sun conjunction that matters more, but the zenith at noon was easier to calculate: October 30th this year.)

Hallowed Homecoming, which was the subject of my previous blog post, began my ancestor work and my work with the Morrigna.  For the Ancestor Altar there, I prepared a small charm box, in a repurposed Sucrets container.  (I’m a huge fan of witchy upcycling.)  Inside I placed a sodalite stone from an incomplete rune set carved with Othala, a fortune from a fortune cookie that bore the phrase “missing you” in English and Chinese, and a purple paper heart into which I spoke the names of some of my most beloved ancestors.  It spent the weekend on that altar, among other tokens and pictures, and then it came home with me to my own ancestor shrine.

I did very little on the 31st.  We passed out candy, and though I expected to pull cards for my Crow Folk, I was told I had to Wait.  So, I worked on memorizing some more of the chants for the ritual I was helping plan, and I waited.  I did not feel called to pull cards to speak to any of my ancestors, either – I had received the messages that were most important during the main ritual at Hallowed Homecoming.

On the 2nd of November, I attended a Memorial and solidarity Shabbat Service at a local synagogue with my husband’s family, and that was an especially poignant evening of Ancestral Communion.  It was also a much needed balm for my grief, and I came away glad for the community I live in, and wishing that my own faith was better represented in it.

On the 3rd, I gathered with some friends at a friend’s house, and together the nine of us had a ritual to the Morrigna, which was powerful despite our greenness and small number.  Afterwards we had a pot luck, and there was an ancestor shrine set up in one room for people to visit and take time at.  My little sucrets container sat among other tokens for another evening.

Now it is the 7th, the day of the Dark Moon, and my Samhain season comes to a close.  I am finishing these blogs as the sun goes down, and then I will pull cards and dream on them, seeking a message from the Morrigna.  Tomorrow, I will write up a blog for the Dark Moon, and I will begin to pull cards for all the Crow Folks who have requested them.

 

 

ancestor work, Event, fae, Paganism, Retreat/Convention, Spiritwork, Workshop

Hallowed Homecoming 2018

I meant to blog about this right away, but first I was still processing and then Samhain season really hit. It’s still hitting, and I’ll blog about that, soon, but first, here are my impressions of Hallowed Homecoming.

Generally, I liked the event! The workshops were enlightening and inspiring, the rituals small but effective. The staff was amazingly helpful, the food was delicious and filling (and they are SO GOOD with allergies!), and there was enough tea to keep my cup always filled. The parkland was beautiful, and the cabins were spacious. The only bad thing, really, was the weather.

It was cold. Cold and wet, and the cabins didn’t keep out the chill – they barely kept out the drafts. I had a brand new coleman sleeping bag rated to 0°F, and that combined with wearing three layers and a hat to bed made me barely warm enough. The rest of the time, I was fighting numbness in my hands and feet, even with thermal layers beneath my clothes, my good new boots, and gloves. Part of that, of course, is due to my chronic illness: I have poor circulation and difficulty with temperature regulation. The tea helped, and the fire in the main hall helped even more, but with wet firewood making fires in workshop cabins a struggle, I often found myself too cold to be fully immersed.

Our first day opened with registration and unpacking, and then I opted to skip the first workshop (on crafting ancestor altarpieces) in favor of walking the land, as I did at Witches’ Sabbat this past May. I started with my traditional self-introduction with tobacco in the Anishinaabe language, and after that I went wandering in search of the local Courtly Fae.

I was guided down a trail, under a fallen tree, down a fork to the left, across a field, down a hill, counter-clockwise around a holly bush, over another fallen tree, and to a decaying stump covered in bright green moss. Like the small hill in Ontario, this natural landmark was an anchor to a Faery Court, and when I gave an offering (of a delightful elderflower and lemon soda), I perceived a beautiful hall, and in a throne on a dais, a young and exquisitely beautiful Queen. She hadn’t been expecting my visit, but was pleased enough to meet me and accept the offering. I called her Wood Violet, because the flowers were a repeating feature in the decoration of the room and her wardrobe, and her eyes were the same purple. Scott accompanied me on the physical journey, but did not join me in the Hollow Hill.

Byron Ballard was the keynote speaker for the weekend, and that evening we attended her first workshop: Practical Ancestor Work. She began with a line from Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese”, which is also a favorite of mine. (If you don’t know it, I highly recommend reading it.) My notes are sporadic, because Byron was teaching to a mixed-level group, and I was already familiar with much of her material. I did not know, however, that there is a version of the Wild Hunt in Yorkshire called the Gabble Ratchet that is associated with migrating geese, and is said to collect the souls of the recently departed. Byron also emphasized that there are several different types of ancestors: 1) blood family ancestors, both recent and ancient, 2) adoptive family ancestors, including friends who have passed, 3) the Beloved Dead, who are people from history that you feel a special kinship with, and 4) the Mighty Dead, who are the cultural heros of groups one belongs to, be they ethnic cultures, religious cultures, trades or crafts, or subcultures. A lot of time, people seem to shy away from Ancestor Work because their most recent ancestors were abusive or intolerant of other faiths, but there’s a wide world of the Dead out there, and no rule that says you have to start with the grandmother who hated you. (Although Bryon did also say that sometimes, those toxic relatives get a better perspective once they cross over, and they realize what they’ve done and feel obligated to make things better. Not always, but you might try contacting them and seeing if they’ll help you out occasionally, if speaking to them isn’t likely to trigger too strong of a negative reaction.)

The Opening Ritual was mostly to introduce the Guardians for the weekend, and to establish sacred space. My friend Kate joined them this year, and I felt that we were in safe hands for the work we would do the rest of the weekend.

Kate also led the first workshop I attended on the second day, on Hedgewitchery. Despite some technical difficulties with the fire in the craft cabin (damp wood), she led a pretty lively discussion of traditional witchcraft, her family’s German-American folk magic, and her approaches to hedgecrossing. The last part of the workshop was a guided meditation to speak to an element, and I had a very insightful conversation with the goddess Dinand while standing in a river. I was very glad to finally attend this workshop, since I missed it the last time Kate taught it!

Byron’s workshop on Saturday was one I believe I’d seen before, called the Spirit-Haunted Landscape, but the stories and the way she teaches change every time, so I was happy to listen again.  She talked a bit about human spirits and different kinds of ghosts, and then of land spirits – both the large spirits of place, and the smaller more fae beings associated with plant growth.  The last group she talked about are what I would consider the Gentry, the more powerful among the fae, like Wood Violet, the White Lady, and my own Queen, Starflower.  Her words were as much warning as instruction: do not do the work if you are not called to it, she said, because you will be happier and have a simpler life without Them.  But she believes that, for those of us who are called, we need to heed it, we need to brave the danger, because They can help us heal the world, and we need all the help They can give, even if it means that some of us lose parts of ourselves.  I found myself nodding along with much of what she said, and I wasn’t the only one – at the end, she asked a few of us whom she either already knew or could tell worked with the Gentry and she asked us to share a nugget of wisdom.  Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely, considering the subject matter), I can no longer remember what I said.

After that was my own workshop, an intermediate-level introduction to the three Morrigna, specifically the Daughters of Ernmas. There were about a dozen attendees, and I think it was pretty well received, even though I came dangerously close to info-dumping during my section on the Morrigna’s appearances in lore.  I’ll be sharing the journey prompt in my next Dark Moon Crow Calls blog.

Following my workshop it was dinner time, and then after dinner we were all turned out of the main hall long enough for the staff to set up for the main ritual.  We gathered outside for the main ritual and processed in, finding seats in near-darkness and near-silence.  After what I recognized as a fairly standard Wiccan ritual opening led by Rev. Tristan and Byron Ballard, we were led in a call-response honoring ancestors who had many different types of deaths.  Then a yarn rope that had been woven during an earlier workshop was stretched into a circle around the room, with each participant holding onto it in their non-dominant hand.  We were instructed to give a single word answer to describe wisdom we’d received from our ancestors, and then take the scissors from the ritual leaders and cut a piece of the rope.  My word was “peacemaking”.

On Sunday, Byron opened her workshop by explaining that she’d gone off site last night and had been in contact with the wider world, and expected that most of us had not, as that area of the parkland is a cell signal dead zone.  She painted the Pittsburg tragedy in broad brush strokes, and said some strong words about banding together and fighting bigotry and the importance of interfaith work, before giving us all a moment to process.  I had already begun to feel that we shouldn’t stay all the way to the end of the day, because the cold and damp was beginning to get to me, but after the news I just wanted to get home to my baby.  My baby, who at eight days old, was given a taste of sacramental wine while a rabbi spoke prayers in Hebrew over him.  My little family may be pagan, but we’re Jewish, too.  We still observe some of the traditions of our ancestors, even if our religious views differ.

Once most of us had regained our composure, she began her workshop proper, on the topic of Peasant Magic.  She shared a paraphrasing from Jason Miller, who split magic into two broad categories: temple magic, and field magic.  Peasant magic and folk magic, she explained, was field magic, where you do the work that needs to be done with whatever tools and materials you can scrounge up, be that a bit of lint from your pocket and your own saliva, or an herb you grow in your yard and your good wooden spoon.  She talked a bit more about community, too, about being our own first responders and not relying on bureaucracy when its ways will take too long.  Boom the creek yourselves to stop an oil spill from making it to the river.  Set up networks, where you know who to turn to for each crisis, be it one of waterways, immigrants in crisis, or a house fire.  No one can devote time to every worthy cause, she reminded us, to it’s best to pick 3, and devote as much time and effort as you can to those three, and trust that your neighbors will cover the rest.  You can support them in solidarity when they need your help, and they will support you back, even if it’s something as simple as buying a box of candles for a vigil.  Mundane actions and magical workings work best in unison, she said – one without the other isn’t as effective.  But if you try a spell and it doesn’t work, and then you try it more carefully and harder and it doesn’t work, and then one more time while pulling out all the stops and invoking all your gods and it still doesn’t work, you need to stop.  She calls it “1,2,3, Brick Wall”.  After the third time, you’re being told that the work is not for you to do, and your need to accept that.  She told a poignant story about the fires near her home a few years ago, to illustrate the point, and ended with the wisdom that what seems like a disaster may contain within it new growth; some seeds are only opened by fire.  That resonated with me, especially considering the messages I’ve been getting from the Morrigna and the Eyes of Ra lately.

After the workshop we packed up to leave, and did not stay for the closing ritual.  We said our goodbyes, and exchanged contact information with a few new friends.  Some people asked if we’d come again, and I wanted to say yes, but I could already feel how much strength the weather had sapped from me, and the insight of the chronically ill told me I’d be spending days recovering.  So I don’t know.  I enjoyed the event.  I’d love to see the space again; I’d like to return in the spring to see Wood Violet in her time of power.  But I’m not sure if three days of damp and cold was wise.  I may need to look into staying somewhere off site, somewhere warm and dry, but then the expense may be more than our budget can stretch to cover.  We shall see.

Event, Holiday Celebration, Kemetic

Wep Ronpet 2018

The Epagomenal Days started right after Lughnasadh again this year, on August 2nd, with Wesir (Osiris).  I gave offerings to each “birthday” god on their day, and took an omen from them by tarot card, using my Egyptian Tarot deck by Lo Scarabeo.  Here were their messages for us:

  1. Wesir (Osiris) gave me The Chariot: go forward, fighting your obstacles, and you will be victorious!
  2. Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder) gave me the 5 of Wands: work together, let constructive conflict and competition raise you to greater heights!
  3. Set gave me the Knight of Swords: take courage, and rage against the darkness of isfet!
  4. Aset (Isis) gave me The Hermit: be prudent, take your time, and use the wisdom you have gained.
  5. Nebthet (Nepthys) gave me the Ace of Pentacles: we are winning! We will have the success and glory we crave.

All in all those were pretty uplifting omens!

20180807_145839

 

On Wep Ronpet (Aug 7) I did my execration, using red paper this year instead of smashing a terracotta pot, removing the negativity of the old year and preparing for the new! I drew a/p/e/p on the paper, added some words about other things I wished to execrate, and then cut it up, and burned it.  It was very satisfying!

Afterwards I took a magical cleansing bath, with a scented bathbomb, the perfume oils I bought for Bast and Sekhmet, and some natron salts.  While I soaked, I meditated, talking to my Patronesses about the coming year.  I’ll be renewing my oath as an Oracular Priestess-Initiate, bound to honor them weekly and to serve my community through oracular work and heka during the Bright Moon.  This year I’m also going to work out a more set holiday calendar, finding appropriate holidays that I can celebrate spaced out throughout the year, instead of just Wep Ronpet and the Sailing Holiday, which are both very close to other holidays in my personal calendar.

My shrine item this year for Wep Ronpet is the travel shrine box – I’m finally painting it, and I’ll dedicate it and renew my shrine set up and welcome my Patronesses home on the next Bright Moon, which is also when I’ll be formally renewing my oath.  Look for that post after August 26th!

Holiday Celebration

Lughnasadh 2018

This year for Lughnasadh, instead of continuing our theme of having a family meal, we were involved in a lay-led worship service at our local UU Church, focusing on Lugh and the bounty of the first harvest.  I was part of a team that called the quarters (using the traditional elements this time, instead of my local cultus river goddesses) and presented representations of the harvest on a central table, around which we’d put the chairs for seating in two half circles.

I didn’t have a large role in part because I’d missed the second-to-last planning session, when we went to Wisconsin to visit my family and present the Acorn at the tribal picnic for enrollment.  That was nice – seeing everyone, including my brothers, whom I haven’t seen since last August, and before then not for almost two years.  With all the talk of community and coming together at the harvest, it’s hard not to think about how much of my community doesn’t live close by.  Still, this pagan group and the rest of local UU Church is slowly becoming the community I want and need, somewhere I can raise a child, somewhere I can find help when I need it.

I usually find myself more reflective as we move into autumn, but it seems to be starting early this year.  It makes sense, though – with Wep Ronpet following closely afterwards, Lughnasadh is the beginning of the end of my year, with a number of new year’s days of different traditions occurring between now and the secular new year on Jan 1st.

Event, Spiritwork

Witches’ Sabbat: Meeting the White Lady

I have been trying to write this for more than a month, now, but every time I do, I hesitate. I am uncertain how much of the story is truly mine to tell. Today I am trying something new: I have asked the White Lady herself to join me, to watch what I write over my shoulder, and to tell me when things must be struck from the record. So here is the story, somewhat abridged. But first, a warning: be careful, witches, when you consort with the Fair Folk, for you may have wondrous experiences, yet be unable to tell the full story to another living soul.

This is the story of how I came to meet one of the Gentry in the woods in Canada, this past Memorial Day Weekend. As I have said in previous blogs, I was there attending The Witches Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll, near Ottawa. Our weekend centered on fairylore, especially Fairy Queens and the Wild Hunt, and as part of my personal work, I wished to meet the Locals, whoever would consent to meet me. To that end, I spent a free part of an afternoon wandering the area, looking for a sign.

Near the Birch Grove, I saw two mourning doves, who turned to look at me, and a chill went down my spine. I knew, somehow, that these were my heralds, come to lead me to the place I was seeking. And so I followed them, as they flew always a small way ahead of me, in a large anti-clockwise circle, and then they cooed at me and flew together over a clearing ahead of me, and then into the treetops and were gone. I entered the clearing, uncertain of what the next step would be, when I saw in front of me, dead in the center of the clearing, a bright blue damselfly sunning itself on a rock. I approached it, and it, too, flew in a circle, clockwise this time, before stopping almost exactly where it was before. It seemed to be waiting, so I poured a tiny bit of the mead I had brought as an offering, and when I got up from doing so, I noticed a trail leading out of the clearing. I walked in that direction, and it did not continue very far, but as it was disappearing, I came across a small hillock of some variety, and there perched on it was yet another damselfly, this one dark blue, and the hillock was surrounded by blooming wild strawberry vines.

On that hillock, I poured out the mead I had brought, and I sat and let my awareness open. While I sat there, I became aware that I needed to uncover my head, and that more than the mead was required in offering – whoever had agreed to meet me wanted a blood offering. I might have refused, but as I was suddenly swarmed by mosquitoes (who just as suddenly left), it was not a negotiable point. Blood was given. A clay-colored sparrow buzzed loudly. And I was allowed to See. My vision shifted, another scene began to overlay the hillock in the afternoon sun, and I slowly found myself in journey space.

I was standing, dressed in formal clothing in a wooden building, some type of outpost hall. In front of me stood two beings, drinking glasses of the mead I had poured out earlier. At first, they were both somewhat shrouded from me, cloaked in glamours, until I introduced myself and explained my purpose. A second call from the sparrow signaled an understanding and acceptance, and the glamours dropped from the being closest to me. Revealed, now, I could see she was tall, and very pale, with a sharpness to her features that spoke both of her otherworldliness and her viciousness. Her hair was long, straight, and white-blonde, and her clothing was also white, and seemed to glow. Describing it now, the words sound like Galadriel, but no. Her postures were active, dynamic, almost predatory, and certainly powerfully confident – nothing like the serene and benevolent Lady of Lothlorien. She was cold, not golden, and her white was more like the white of birch trees and of snow, though it did not seem to me that she had a seasonal alignment, like some others I have met. She told me something I did not understand, in response to my attempting to mentally categorize her, and when my confusion showed, she laughed and told me to attend Erik Lacharity’s workshop on French Canadian fairylore. Later, I learned that the almost-Scandinavian vibe I had been trying to categorize was partially right – whatever type of being she was, she hailed from Normandy (either originally or by heritage), and others like her were known in the lore of immigrants from Normandy that had settled in the area.

The other figure, still shrouded from me, was her consort, as I began to understand. The White Lady did not wish outsiders to look upon her consort, in order to keep the consort safe. I cannot give any defining characteristics of this being, save that the consort is part of the reason for the long version of the name of Raven’s Knoll campground. Having met and introduced myself to the White Lady, and learned what I could of her, I then asked if I was free to take my leave. The sparrow called once more in response, and I rose to go, leaving for my campsite taking a more direct route than I had when arriving.

On Saturday, during a break, I went down to the river to talk to the Lady Bonnechere, whom we had selected as our Fairy Queen for the ritual, and I spent a few minutes talking with both her and the White Lady. It seemed that the White Lady was a client of the River, the sovereign of a small territory beneath the Bonnechere’s domain. I attempted to share our plans for the ritual, for approval, and was given some insight that I took back to the group.

During the ritual itself that night, I spent much of the time talking to the White Lady as we walked anti-clockwise around the fire, telling her of my personal practice, painting a picture of my local community in large brush strokes, and other such things. I am certain there is much of that conversation I have forgotten, but the feeling of the conversation will stay with me. I do think I have made a new but lasting contact among the Gentry, and I find that even here, hours by car to the south of where I met her, I can still feel her presence when I wish to communicate with her. I am glad to have met her.