Mabon: A Time of Balance

Mabon Has Arrived!

Today, on September 22, 2014, we see the glorious arrival of Mabon, or the autumn equinox, in the Northern hemisphere. Mabon,  also known as Equinozio di Autunno and alban Elfed, among other names, appears with resplendent colors of red, orange, yellow, and brown–most dramatically in the New England states (sniff).

The equinox is a time of balance, when day and night are of equal length; after the autumn equinox, in the Northern Hemisphere, nights will gradually get longer until we reach Yule, or the winter solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, in contrast, residents see the arrival of Ostara, or the spring equinox, and will see days becoming increasingly longer until the arrival of Litha, or the summer solstice.

Within the Wheel of the Year, Mabon marks the time where the God has either died or is significantly weakened, depending on tradition. This Lesser Sabbat is the second of three harvest festivals –the others being Lughnassadh and Samhain–and is an excellent time to mark your own personal harvests in your life. What has come to fruition in your personal, professional, or spiritual life? What are you reaping from the seeds of promise you have planted earlier in the year? Ritual activities might revolve around this reflection.

Increasingly, Mabon is also the occasion that sees many Pagan Pride observances; many of these Pagan Pride events involve, among other things, collecting nonperishable foods for the hungry.

(325-365) Happy Mabon!! (6180970374)

Here is a sample Mabon invocation for you, to be adapted as you wish: “Blessed Lord and Lady, forces of balance, aspects of light and dark, sowers and reapers of the harvest, I welcome and embrace Thee in body, mind, and spirit. Blessed Be.”

For a Mabon feast, roasted (or, in my area, barbequed) meats and vegetables are appropriate, as are any squashes, beans, and salads. For Mabon, I like to serve succotash, a mixture of lima beans and corn, as a simple harvest dish. Apple cider and red wine are great as Mabon beverages.

Blessed Mabon to you and yours!

Perimenopause and Meeting the Crone

Perimenopause: Getting Acquainted with the Crone

Hot flashes. Irregular menstrual periods. Night sweats. Moodiness. These are among the many symptoms of perimenopause, a natural life stage for women that can be annoying, intimidating, or even downright frightening. After all, is this not the stage that leads to the specter of old age and the appearance of the archetypal Crone in our lives?

We have all seen the archetypal Crone: the old, no, ancient hunched-over, slow-moving hag with more warts than natural teeth. With this archetype we see the Crone always dressed in a black hooded cape, all the better to hide her thinning skin and hair, as well as any other things that society deems imperfect, such as wrinkles and–gasp! grey hair. According to the archetype, she is a mean-spirited old woman who will cackle loudly–chuckling simply will not do. She is the archetype of the Wicked Witch, the one who, according to folklore, tries to eat children and to prevent one girl, in the wrong place at the wrong time, from returning home.

Wicked Witch2

 

 

Meeting the Crone, the Wise Woman part of ourselves, through the stage of perimenopause, need not be a scary experience. True, she is down to earth and will tolerate no nonsense, but she can also be a gentle aspect of our existence, imparting a soothing insight as her gift to us. Plus, if we take good care of the body, mind, and spirit–as we should be doing anyway–we can defy the archetypal image of the crone that recalls a hunched-over, decrepit figure. We can be vital, energetic, even sexy. I have written before that we can embody all three aspects of the Goddess–Maiden, Mother, and Crone–inside of us. Now, more than ever, I believe that all of us who are experiencing the journey of perimenopause need to remember this bit of wisdom. Blessed Be.

 

Demeter: Deity of the Month

Demeter: Agricultural Mother Goddess of Honor

Demeter, Greek agricultural goddess as well as a goddess of the harvest (literal, but also the figurative harvest of middle age), is the mother to Persephone, also known as Kore.
She is the bringer of the changing seasons, according to one myth: Hades had enticed Persephone into the Underworld to be his wife and queen. She had eaten six pomegranate seeds while in the Underworld; according to the rules, anyone who ate while in the Underworld was doomed never to leave. However, at Demeter’s behest, a compromise was reached: Persephone would spend six months out of the year in the Underworld with Hades and then six months on the earth with her mother and other loved ones. While Persephone was on earth, the warm seasons would ensue and crops would grow. When Persephone was in the Underworld, the colder seasons would arrive, and the earth would hibernate.

Demeter is also associated with Hecate, who helped the Mother Goddess find her kidnapped daughter. Demeter represents unflagging strength through hardship and heartache, as well as a willingness to do whatever it takes to find and to protect Persephone.

Demeter is a Mother Goddess, and this aspect comes out during the warmer seasons of the year, roughly from Ostara through Mabon. From Mabon through Ostara, though, Demeter shows her aspect as Crone as she grieves for her daughter’s imposed time in the Underworld. She shows that while a woman enters one life stage, she does not necessarily discard the others. Demeter teaches us that we can all have aspects of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone inside us: yes, one will predominate, but the spirits of the other two can inhabit us as well.

May Demeter fill you with wisdom and inspiration. Blessed Be!

 

Demeter mourning Persephone 1906.jpg
Demeter mourning Persephone 1906” by Evelyn De Morganhttp://visionsofwhimsy.blogspot.de/2011/04/happy-birthday-mum.html. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Deity and You: Little Ways to Connect

Deity and Little, Everyday Ways to Cultivate a Spiritual Relationship

Celebrating the Sabbats–Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasagh, Mabon, and Samhain is a major way to honor one’s relationship with Deity, as is observing and working with the monthly Esbats. This is beyond dispute. However, one can also choose small but powerful ways, each day, to foster a closer relationship with the Goddess and with the God.

We all have busy, hectic lives, fraught with stresses from work, home, and the occasional emergency that topples anything resembling order. Sometimes in the bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to take time out for our own spiritual well being. Yet this is exactly what we should do, even for only a few minutes each day, in order to be grounded. Hence, here are some suggestions for stopping, even briefly, to connect with Deity.

1. Meditate in front of your altar first thing in the morning. Light a candle and/or hold a crystal in your hand and focus on the Goddess and the God. You can also do this in the evening, shortly before going to bed.

2. Go on a Spirit Walk. This can take as little as five minutes, but even within this short time focus on nature’s sounds–the leaves rustling, the birds chirping–sights, textures (avoid this one if you see poison ivy or poison oak), and smells.

3. If your workplace or place of errand features any kind of landscaping, go ahead and stop to smell those roses — or whatever else is blooming.

4. Take a few minutes to watch the sun rise and/or set — preferably both.

5. Before eating a meal, take a moment to feel the food’s life energy. Give thanks for this energy.

6. Do a little yoga in the morning or evening. Even fifteen minutes will relax you. Think of the Lady and The Lord as you do your Sun Salutation or similar routine.

7. Take a nice, relaxing bath at whatever time of day is right for you. You’ve earned it. As you soak in this watery womb, think of and give thanks to your special relationship with Deity.

Blessed Be!

Representation of Deity

By Camocon (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons Triple Goddess, representation of Deity

Cleansing and Consecrating Ritual Tools

Ritual Tools: Cleansing and Consecrating Is More Than Making Them Shiny

Recently, we have been talking about various ritual tools: the athame and the chalice, and so on. Whenever you procure a ritual tool–whether you buy it, make it, or find it–you want to cleanse that tool before you first use it, especially if someone else’s negative vibes have touched that tool, and periodically afterwards (several times a year, at least). Then, you want to consecrate that tool, blessing it in the name of the Lady and the Lord for the good of all and harm to none.

Why do all this? First, you want to set these ritual tools off as holy, special, sacred. You want your good spiritual vibes to permeate the tools. And you want to discourage negative energy from trying to invade your tools: this negative energy could seriously interfere with magickal or other rites.

Different ways of cleansing a ritual tool exist: pick the method that is right for you and for the tool. Here are but a few options at your disposal:

1. Cleanse, using the elements. Waft air, using a feather, over the ritual tool. Pass the tool through or above fire (the latter is recommended for candles; make it quick). Sprinkle a little salt, repreenting Earth, on the tool. Finally, sprinkle a few drops of water on the tool. As an option, you can touch the ritual tool with the athame, representing Spirit, as well.

2. You can use just one element to cleanse the ritual tool. You can bury the tool in the earth for a few weeks (don’t forget where you buried it, of course), hold it underneath running water, hold it against a gentle breeze, or let it sit underneath the afternoon sun for a few hours (not recommended for candles).

3. Place the ritual items underneath the light of a full moon and let them absorb the moon’s energy all night.

4. If you are a Reiki practitioner, you can use Reiki energy to cleanse the tools.

5. You can visualize a cleansing light in blue, pink, white, or another color that you associate with cleaning. Visualize that light emanating from your hands and embuing the tool with clean, positive energy.

After you cleanse your ritual tool(s), be sure to bless them in the name of Deity, saying something like, “In the name and service of the Lady and the Lord, for all good works, and for the benefit of all and harm to none. Blessed Be.”

How do you cleanse and consecrate your ritual tools? Do you use a method not mentioned here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Blessed Be!

Ritual Tools on Altar

By Fer Doirich (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
A Wiccan Altar with Ritual Tools

Suicide, Mental Illness, and Deity

A Recent Suicide: The Day the Laughter Died (with apologies to Don McClean’s “American Pie”)

Today I had planned to write about consecrating and blessing ritual tools, but yesterday’s news of Robin Williams’ suicide has put that topic, temporarily, on the back burner; I will revisit this topic next time. To say that Robin Williams’ death by suicide is a tragic loss, a heartbreaking blow to the loved ones, friends, colleagues, and fans he leaves behind is a gross understatement. Sufficient words fail here.

Robin Williams had been battling severe depression, as numerous Americans do each year. Depression, and mental illness in general, tend to be widely misunderstood, maligned, and stigmatized: even in twenty-first century society. We have distanced ourselves, somewhat,  from the nineteenth-century mentality, which saw mentally ill people as little more than freaks in a freak show: one fashionable pastime of the day was to go to a local asylum to gawk at the patients. However, how far have twenty-first century citizens come, truly, when it comes to understanding mental illness in general and depression in particular? Could societal ignorance have contributed to Robin Williams’ suicide? Did we fail him? Did he fail himself?

Whatever the case,  it would seem that he fell into a deep abyss and could see no other option than suicide as a way out.

From a Pagan point of view, each soul is born in order to learn a specific life lesson; this life lesson, however, may take more than one lifetime to learn. At death, according to some Pagan faiths, the soul goes to the Summerland, a place of rest and reflection, and also a place to review the life lesson: similar to a final exam, except without the test anxiety: here, Deity fills the role of patient teacher. One who commits suicide says, in effect, “Forget the final exam: I’m not doing this,” leaving the lesson to be learned in another lifetime. From this point of view, suicide is an exercise in futility.

Regardless, Robin Williams’ death is a senseless tragedy. I feel for his pain and that of his family. His is a life snuffed out much too soon.

Rest in peace, O Captain, My Captain.

symbol of depression and suicide

By César Astudillo from Collado Villalba, Spain (Suddenly, a black rose) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Suicide

Miscellaneous Ritual Tools

Other Tools for Ritual

In our continuing discussion of ritual tools, we come now to the nice miscellaneous category. Within this category are the besom, cingulum, incense, scourge, sword, bolline, and stang–all items that may be useful as you connect with Spirit. Keep in mind that the witch, or other Pagan, technically speaking, needs only herself or himself: the tools merely sharpen the mental focus and cue the mind that ritual–a sacred connection with the Goddess and the God– is happening and  magick is afoot.

The cingulum, sometimes spelled singulum, is a symbol of initiation in some traditions, particularly British Traditional Wicca,  and is a specifically colored cord, traditionally nine feet in length, that is worn around the waist.

 Incense is an herbal blend that is ground and then burned during ritual. You can buy or make incense in joss sticks, cones, or loose.

The scourge is a tool used to flagellate members in some traditions, notably Gardnerian Wicca.

The sword is often used as a ritual tool, instead of an athame, in certain traditions. Like the athame, the sword represemts the God.

The boline is is a curved knife, shaped like a half moon, that is used for cutting herbs–most famously, mistletoe–cords, and other items for and in ritual.

Boline Ritual Tool

Boline Ritual Tool, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1y908LW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stang is a staff that has two prongs or horns on top. Robert Cochrane  is usually credited with introducing the stang to Wicca.

We have talked qutie a bit about ritual tools lately. In the next blog post, we will discuss consecrating and blessing ritual tools.

On another note, this upcoming weekend, on August 10. we will see this month’s full moon, and it will be a supermoon–the closest supermoon yet this year. This month’s moon is also known as the Sturgeon Moon, the Green Corn Moon, and the Grain Moon.

Blessed Be!

 

Candle as Ritual Tool

Candle: Symbolism and Illumination

In our ongoing series about ritual tools, we come next to the ever-useful candle. This ubiquitous tool is used to symbolize the Goddess–often in colors of silver, white, red, or black– and the God, often in colors of gold, orange, or green. Also, in some traditions, candles are used to mark the Four Quarters: East, South, West, and North.

A central candle is often used to open and close the particular ritual ceremony.

Ritual Candle

Candle in the Dark
By Paolo Costa Baldi (Own work) [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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, candles are often used in specific spells, such as attracting love or money (during the waxing or full moon) or banishing a bad habit (during the waning moon). The spell candle is usually anointed with a blessed oil beforehand, applied from the outside of the candle in (for attracting) or from the inside out (for banishing). This ritual tool can be a taper, pillar, figure, or other candle: the possibilities are limited only by your own vivid imagination.

figure candle

Witch Black Candle, available at Lune Soleil Enteprises bit.ly/1osnlqX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And let’s not forget that using candles in a Wiccan or other ritual imparts an air of mystery and of hidden, arcane knowledge: this tool certainly adds to the spiritual, occult ambiance.

Any new candles should be cleansed and consecrated with the Four Elements –air, fire, water, and earth–and then blessed by the Element of Spirit. This is a topic for another time, but here is a quick guide for your convenience.

If you are in an area that is under a fire warning, or in another area that does not allow burning candles, one solution is to use a battery-operated flameless candle. This option ranks as approximately better than nothing, and it is not as sexy as the real thing, but it is something to think about.

What are your thoughts about the candle as ritual tool? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section. Blessed Be!

 

Celebrating the Early Harvest: Lughnassadh

Early Harvest Time: Lughnassadh

Lughnassadh, also known as Lammas and Cornucopia, celebrates the early harvest of summer, when the garden and/or field is overflowing in abundance. According to the Wheel of the Year cycle, this is the time when the Goddess is markedly pregnant with the God; the God Himself (as Father and not as unborn Son), is either weakening or has just died, depending on the tradition.

Lughnassadh is also a time to celebrate figurative early harvests in addition to literal ones. To that end, I brainstormed my own some early harvests, in no particular order:

1. I have realized more time for pleasure reading and have completed some books on my ever-growing must-read list, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

2. I have increased the level of more me time, without the guilt that usually accompanies it.

3. I have gained more quality time with loved ones (both two-legged and four-legged loved ones).

4. I have harvested a more comfortable peace with my own body.

5. I have realized more of a work-life balance.

6. I have gained more consistent workings of my creative imagination and sense of humor, and the permission (given by myself) to let both run freely.

7. I have learned more fully the ability to forgive instead of the act of holding a grudge.

8. I have harvested an increasingly closer relationship with the Goddess and the God.

 

Cornucopia, symbol of harvest

© Roland Fischer, Zürich (Switzerland) – Mail notification to: roland_zh(at)hispeed(dot)ch / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unported, via Wikimedia Commons Cornucopia, symbol of harvest

 

 

Some Harvest Quotes to Inspire You

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” – William Blake

“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year.” – Robert Frost

“A brier rose whose buds yield fragrant harvest for the honey bee.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

“It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.” – Margaret Fuller

“. . . it is impossible you should take true root but by the fair weather that you make yourself; it is needful that you frame the season of your own harvest.” – William Shakespeare

 

Blessed Lughnasadh, everyone! Blessed Be!

Wand as Ritual Tool

Wand: Another Magickal Tool Used for Directing Energy

In our ongoing discussion about different magickal tools used in ritual, we come next to the wand. Traditionally, this ritual tool is a slender, handheld wooden stick about the length of one’s forearm and can be handcrafted or store bought: whatever feels right to you.

The wand, associated with the God and with either the element of Fire or of Air–depending on tradition–is used to direct energy in a more subtle, gentle way than that of an athame. This ritual tool is especially used in Ceremonial Magick, although it can be used in any everyday ritual.

Magician with Wand

By Fuzzypeg at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons Wand and Magician {{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the magickal tools in Wicca and in other Pagan paths, the wand is certainly the most iconic. Not only does the Wand figure prominently as a Tarot suit, but it also makes an appearance in the Magician card. What would Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother be without her wand? Other popular characters associated with the wand are the titular character–portrayed by Micky Mouse or otherwise– in “The  Sorceror’s Apprecntice,” as well as the pupils, especially Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter book and movie series. On a more sinister side, the wand figures prominently in Circe’s character in Homer’s Odyssey and in C. S. Lewis’ antagonist in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Oak, willow, and ash are among the most popular woods for creating the wand.

 

wooden wand

Rustic Ash Wand, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1o8SNGb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In recent years, wands have been made of other materials besides wood. Wands made of certain metals, such as copper and silver, and of crystals, have become increasingly popular.

 

wand

Mini Chakra Healing Wand, available at Lune Soleil Enterprises bit.ly/1AtwPHJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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