Bell and Besom: Two Ritual Tools

Ritual Bell and Besom Brooms: Useful and Alliterative

As we continue our series on ritual items, we come across two important tools: the altar bell and the besom broom.  The altar bell, symbolic of the Goddess Herself,  is used to clear the area of negative energy vibes as well as to call the Quarters and Deity to the magickal circle.

 

ritual altar bell

Large Wiccan Altar Bell, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1o4p3ir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The altar bell can also be used in some healing rituals: its clear tone is conducive to stimulating healing energies. You can say something like the following as you ring the bell for healing: “With the sound of  the bell’s tone/May healing be done/ For the good of all and harm to none/Blessed Be.”

 

altar bell

Tibetan Altar Bell, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1sJVV31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The besom, or broom, is also used for ritual in order to clear the area of unwanted negative energy. Before the ritual begins, it is customary to sweep the negative vibes away: visualization works well here. You can say something like the following as you visualize the negative energy being swept away: “Negative energy, I sweep you away/In the name of the Goddess and God, I hold you at bay/So mote it be.”

 

Besom

Altar Besom Broom, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at bit.ly/1qxXiBZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer to hang my besom above my altar, rather than placing it on the altar per se.

 

ritual besom

Yucca Cactus Handled Altar Besom, for ritual, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises bit.ly/UlF2gl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the altar bell or the besom is used for the first time, and periodically afterwards, it is necessary to cleanse and consecrate these ritual tools.

What are your thoughts about the altar bell or besom? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

Cauldron as Ritual Tool

Cauldron: Womb of the Goddess

In our ongoing series about magickal ritual tools, we turn next to the cauldron. A cauldron, traditionally, is a large cast-iron pot that is designed to cook food and/or to concoct magickal potions over an outdoor fire. Nowadays, cauldrons may be made of other metals besides cast iron, such as brass, and they come in various sizes: for instance, I have a mini cast iron cauldron, about three inches in diameter, that sits on my altar. In addition to cooking food and potions, the cauldron is also used in scrying and, in fire magick, burning herbs, petitions, and other items.

cauldron

Small Triple Moon Cast Iron Cauldron, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_99&products_id=3510

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cauldron is associated with the Goddess and with the element of Water: with emotions, with spirituality, of gradual transformation, of gestation. This ritual tool is synonymous with the womb, the nurturing center of developing life.  In particular, the cauldron is associated with Cerridwen, who was seeking wisdom and enlightenment to give to her rather homely, scary-looking, often-misunderstood son Afagddu. As told in the Mabinogion, she devised a potion, made with specific herbs, that had to simmer continuously for a year and a day. Cerridwen outsourced the cooking of this potion to the boy Gwion. After the potion had simmered gently for a year and a day, Gwion accidentally spilled three drops of the potion; automatically, he licked the hot drops of potion off his skin and immediately gained Enlightenment–Afagddu’s birthright. Cerridwen, in a rage, pursued him through a year’s worth of seasons–both parties shiftshaping along the way–until Cerridwen swallowed Gwion, becoming pregnant with the being who would emerge as Taliesen.

 

cauldron

Celtic Brass Cauldron, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises at http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_99&products_id=3464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cauldron is also mentioned in the Wiccan Rede: “Nine woods in the cauldron go/burn them quick and burn them slow.” This is but another nod to the transformative aspects of this ritual tool.

The cauldron is rich in symbolism and is another fine tool in becoming closer to the Goddess.  Blessed Be.

What are your thoughts about the Cauldron? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

 

Ra the Sun God: Deity of the Month

Ra: A Nice Solar Deity for a Hot Month

Each month, we take a closer look at a particular goddess or god: one aspect of Deity, or the All.  This month, we take a closer look at Ra–sometimes called Re–Egpytian solar god, particularly the noonday sun– who is synonymous with the creation of life. One myth says that Ra created each life form by revealing, orally, its secret name: this story emphasizes the idea that naming something or someone causes it to exist. Another myth says that Ra created life through the pouring of his sweat and tears: when these particular bodily fluids–notice that sperm is conspicuously absent– hit the ground, life resulted.

Ra is a “Father God”: according to one story, he spit out (ah, another bodily fluid) Shu (Air) and Tefnut (Moisture), who became the parents of Nut (Sky) and Geb (Earth).  Ra is associated with the entire life cycle: every stage that occurs between birth and death. This life cycle is tied to his daily solar cycle. During the day, Ra rode through the sky –yes, Nut–in a golden chariot. At night, he travels through Nut’s mouth and works his way through Nut, battling various night creatures, especially Apep, along the way, until he finally emerges through Nut’s vagina: symbolically, Ra is reborn each time.

Ra

By fi:Käyttäjä:kompak [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Ra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month’s deity is known by many names, depending on each day’s solar cycle. At dawn, he is known by Khepri, at high noon he is known as Ra, and at sunset he is known as Atum. As ancient Egypt’s influence spread beyond Heliopolis, our deity of the month saw his name joined with other gods’ names, a type of blending: Atum-Ra, Re-Horakhty, Amun-Ra, among others. Also, a ruling pharoah would identify himself as Ra, as a deity incarnate.

 

What are your thoughts about Ra? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be.

 

 

 

 

 

Chalice as Ritual Tool

Chalice: Vessel of the Goddess

In our continung series about ritual tools, we come next to the chalice (Middle English, from Old French, hailing from Latin calix, meaning “cup”). The chalice, or goblet, is associated with the Goddess, symbolizing Her womb and Her role in nourishing life itself. This magickal tool is also associated with the Element of Water, emotions, and femininity in general.

Chalice

Triple Goddess Chalice, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_103&products_id=6530

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chalice figures prominently in the Holy Grail legend. According to the legend, this is the chalice that collected the tears and blood of Jesus Christ, so finding this cup would mean holding a significant holy artifact. If you look deeper, though, you realize that  the search for the Holy Grail is ultimately a search for the Goddess Herself as well as spirituality in general.

Chalice

Dragon Chalice, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_103&products_id=6523

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chalice also plays a feature role in the Great Rite, along with the athame. Male and female, God and Goddess, come together symbolically during this rite.

The chalice you choose for your altar–or the one that chooses you, depending on your point of view–can be made of glass, stoneware, wood, or metal. The possibilities are nearly endless. The chalice should be cleansed and consecrated before using it for the first time.

Chalice

Delicate Pentagram Chalice, availabe at Lune Soleil Enterprises http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_103&products_id=6545

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full moon for July 2014, also known as the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon, is a Super Moon to boot: this would be a great time to fill the chalice with lunar liquids, such as green tea, milk (or, if you are like me, rice milk), lemonade, or white wine.

What are your thoughts about the chalice as ritual tool? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

Athame as Ritual Tool

Athame, or Sacred Knife

The athame, usually a double-edged dagger–often but not always with a black handle,  is a standard tool used in Wiccan and many other Pagan ceremonial rituals. Pronounced uh-THAW-may or AH-thu-may (click here to hear the two pronuncations of this word), the athame is used to direct energy and is often used to create or pull up a magick circle. This tool is not used for physical cutting (herbs, cords): the boline is used for this purpose instead.

Athame

Fleur de Lis Medieval Athame, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=fleur+de+lis+athame&x=0&y=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

The athame is associated with the element of fire or of air, depending on tradition; I tend to associate this ritual tool with the element of Air myself. The athame is also associated with the God.

 

Is the Athame Absolutely Essential?

Sometimes you may be in a situation that requires or suggests ritual, but you are unable to obtain or carry a traditional, double-edged athame. Those living in Massachusetts or California, for example, are prohibited from buying double-edged knives from most venues. Alternatively, you may have to fly (in an airplane, not on a broom); TSA tends to frown upon knives in general. Or, knives in general may make you feel uneasy. That’s okay. Some athames are made of other materials, such as wood or stone: they do not have a double edge. In the case of going through security (or in any other case), you can use the forefinger and middle finger on your dominant hand in place of a physical athame. Remember that in any case, the athame is supposed to be a tool to help you: the true power lies within the witch himself or herself.

Athame

Selenite Spiral Athame, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises http://www.lunesoleilmagick.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_101&products_id=6362

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your thoughts on the athame? Do you have a growing collection of these ritual tools? Please feel free to share in the comments section. Blessed Be.

 

 

 

Summer Solstice: Magickal Time of Year

Summer Solstice and the Turn of the Wheel

The summer solstice, also known as Litha, Alban Hefin, La Festa dell’Estate, Festa delle Herbe, Solstizie d’Estate, Midsummer, and many other names, marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (the Southern Hemisphere experiences the winter solstice). This is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. This year, the summer solstice falls on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Summer Solstice and the Heel Stone of Stonehenge

By Andrew Dunn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Summer Solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Wheel of the Year, the summer solstice marks the midway point in the relationship between the Goddess and the God. The Goddess is pregnant with the God, and this is also when the God as mature male is most virile and strong; after the solstice, the God will weaken and eventually die, only to be reborn at Yule.

Horned God and Mother Goddess Summer Solstice

Midnightblueowl at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons Summer Solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sample Invocation for Summer Solstice: Feel Free to Use or Adapt as Needed

O Blessed Goddess as Mother, who carries and nurtures the sacred promise of life,

O Blessed God as Father, who carries the spark of life for all of creation,

I come to honor and celebrate the sacred dance of life in this ceremony of Litha. Blessed Be.

 

Suggested Activities for Summer Solstice

* Stay up all night on the evening before the summer solstice. Greet the rising sun, either with ritual or with meditation.

* Take an early morning walk. Slow down and enjoy the different flowers, smells, and sounds of summer.

* Hold a noontime ritual, since the noonday sun is associated with Litha.

* Work magick with herbs associated with summer, such as St. John’s wort, chamomile, vervain, lavender, and yarrow.

* Watch Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You can’t beat the classics.

* Traditionally, a bonfire is built at Litha: it is good luck to leap over the bonfire. If you live in an area under a fire watch or warning, or even under a drought, you may have to rein in that bonfire. Always practice fire safety, even if that means jumping over a jarred candle. The intent is still the same.

* For the solstice feast, bring out the barbeque pit. I like to grill vegetable kabobs over the pit. Rounding out the feast with a peach pie (peach, to represent the golden sun) topped with vanilla ice cream is recommended.

Summer Solstice at Frazer Park

By maria fiala [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Summer Solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed Solstice to you all! Blessed Be.

 

 

 

Juno: Deity of the Month

Juno, Roman Goddess with Many Roles and a PR Problem

This month spotlights Juno, also spelled Iuno, Roman Goddess of marriage and fertility; The month of June, when more weddings occur than in any other time, is named in her honor. The goose and the peacock are sacred to her, as is the fig tree.

 

Juno

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Barry_001.jpg#mediaviewer/File:James_Barry_001.jpg Juno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juno is quite complex as a deity, fulfilling many roles:

* Wife and sister of Jupiter, king of the Roman pantheon

* Queen of the Roman gods

* Mother of Juventas, Mars, and Vulcan

* Daughter of Saturn

* Goddess of matrimony

* Goddess of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth

* Protector of women and children

* Constituent of the Capitoline triad of deities, along with Jupiter and Minerva

* Guardian of Rome’s finances, under the persona of Juno Moneta: this role makes sense, as her diligence for keeping the individual family together extends to keeping the welfare of the community intact.

* Embodiment of a woman’s juno (female spirit), equivalent to a man’s genius (male spirit)

 

Juno

Luis López Y Piquer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Juno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, these many roles tend to be overshadowed by her reputation for being a jealous, vindictive shrew. Unfortunately, when one thinks of Juno, one is likely to associate her with any of these unflattering traits:

* incestuous wife

* jealous nag

* spiteful wife who seeks vengeance at the expense of the young ladies who catch Jupiter’s roving eye, rather than upon Jupiter himself

* wicked stepmother

It is a shame that these negative traits seem to outweigh the sheer complexity of Juno and her many roles. Nowadays many would call her a strong woman and a multitasker extraordinaire: a woman of accomplishment who is focused on the welfare of her family.

What are your thoughts about Juno? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Blessed Be!

Juno

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juno_sospita_pushkin.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Juno_sospita_pushkin.jpg Juno

Full Moon of June 2014

Full Moon and Friggatriskaidekaphobia

All full moons are special in their own right, but this month’s full moon, peaking tomorrow, is extra special because it coincides with Friday the 13th. Fear not, though: despite common superstition, this day, and night, need not be unlucky. In fact, this full moon, also known as the Honey Moon, the Strong Sun Moon,  the Rose Moon, the Flower Moon, or the Strawberry Moon,  can be even more auspicioius, if you decide to make it so. Bad luck need not be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Below are some full moon ideas to consider:

1. Draw down the moon. Become a living receptacle for the Goddess and Her creative energy. Drawing down the moon is an excellent way to recharge your spiritual batteries.

2. In an esbat ritual, focus on drawing good fortune to yourself, but don’t stop there: also concentrate on drawing good fortune to your family, friends, local community, and world. As with any full moon, this is an excellent time for spellwork that deals with manifestation, protection, love, and prosperity.

3. Design and plant a moon garden. Some plants to consider are the moonflower, white azaleas, Queen Anne’s lace, magnolia trees, candytuft, and white chrysanthemums, among others.

4. Make and enjoy mooncake, moon cookies,  or moon pies. Wash them down with beverages associated with the moon such as milk, white grape juice, or white wine–no, not moonshine: that beverage is illegal and not where I am going with this idea.

5. Make a moon braid. Have fun with this craft. Above all, have fun.

6. Bring out the Tarot cards, runes, pendulum, or other divination tool of choice. Ask questions about what is going on in your life or any concerns you may have.

7. Dance outside in the moonlight. Why not?

May the Goddess smile upon you: Blessed Be!

 

Full moon

This file is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted”. (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.) Full moon

Shadow Side and Bright Side

Shadow Side and Bright Side: Two Sides of the Same Coin

We all struggle with ourselves. On the one hand, we have a Bright Side, the sunny, nice, responsible, socially acceptable aspect of ourselves. While this side is often embraced, rightfully so, we also have a Shadow Side, what Jung called the Shadow and what the Star Wars movies called the Dark Side of the Force (cultural and racial biases aside), the decidedly socially unacceptable aspect of ourselves where fear, anger, envy, frustration, and other ominous emotions reign. Our Shadow Side is often villified and shamed, and we are exhorted to shun this side of ourselves. However painful, though, the Shadow Side may be, it is as necessary to our development as whole beings as is the Bright Side.

For years (centuries, eons–whatever your preferred time reference), we have been presented with a dichotomy: good vs. evil, with the expectation that we choose–or are fated to experience, as with the protagonist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” or even with the protagonist in the Star Wars movies–one or the other. This dichotomy assumes that these choices are mutually exclusive. However, we need both sides.

The virtues of possessing the Bright Side are fairly obvious, at least for individuals who do not have any sociopathic tendencies. But why strive to understand and to accept, if not to embrace, the Shadow Side? After all, the Shadow Side is unpleasant, frightening, even painful. However, being in touch with one’s Shadow Side makes empathy and compassion for others’ suffering possible. Having experienced any of the emotions that the Shadow Side offers and having overcome these difficulties allows us to provide comfort and guidance to others who may be facing the same or a similar internal battle. Thus, the Shadow Side works hand-in-hand with the Bright Side; without acknowledging this role of the Shadow Side, we would be little better than Pollyannas on steriods, devoid of empathy: not an ideal way to progress spiritually.

What are your thoughts about the Shadow Side and the Bright Side? Please feel free to contribute your comments (no spam, please) in the comments section. Blessed Be.

 

Shadow Self

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paseando_en_Ipor%C3%A1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Paseando_en_Ipor%C3%A1.jpg Shadow Self

Non-Profit Organizations

Non-Profit Organizations of Interest to Pagans

I’m still getting into the swing of things, with getting back to blogging on a regular basis. To that end, and to provide a (hopefully) valuable service, I am providing a list of non-profit organizations that might resonate with you. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive: it is meant to be comprehensive at best.

 

Non-Profit Organizations that are Specifically Pagan-Centereed:

AREN: Alternative Religions Educational Network

Cornerstone Pagan Fellowship

ERA: Earth Religions Assistance

Lady Liberty League

OLOTEAS: Our Lady of the Earth and Sky

Order of Scathach

Pagan Pride Project

PEN: Pagan Educational Network

Spiral Scouts: This organization, while founded on Pagan principles, is open to children of all faiths.

The Wiccan Interfaith Council International

The Witches’ League for Public Awareness

 

Non-Profit Organizations that Deal with Women’s Issues, the Environment, and Other Concerns:

Action against Hunger

Adopt a Platoon

Amnesty International

Appalachian Trail Conservatory

Arbor Day Foundation

ARME’s Beagle Freedom Project: This is one non-profit organization that is near and dear to my heart. Here’s one video that depicts a rescue of laboratory beagles, as well as another video of a more recent rescue.

 ASPCA: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Care

Center for Biological Diversity

Coral Reef Alliance

Doctors without Borders

EarthJustice

Environmental Defense Fund

Feeding America

Greenpeace

Habitat for Humanity

Human Rights Watch

International Refugee Committee

Make-a-Wish America

National Audubon Society

National Coalition against Domestic Violence

National Resources Defense Council

National Wildlife Federation

NOW: National Organization for Women

One Billion Rising: this is another non-profit organization that is near and dear to my heart. This organization promotes awareness of violence against women through proactive change–using dance as a voice. This worldwide event is traditionally held on Valentines Day; however, events can be held any time. For a short promotional film about One Billion Rising, click here. Click here for the One Billion Rising video and here for the “Break the Chain” video.

Operation Smile

PAWS: Performing Animals Welfare Society

PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Pet Partners

The Sierra Club

The Wilderness Society

World Wildlife Fund

 

Are there any favorite causes of yours that did not make the original list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section. Blessed Be.

non-profit organizations

Involvement in Non-Profit Organizations is at the heart of earth stewardship.