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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Feast of the Sheaf

In the beginning was the Seed.

Before the Yule Tree, was the Yule Sheaf.

Across a broad swathe of Northern Europe—from Scandinavia, through the Baltics, and across Russia—the central symbol of Yule was (and in many places, still is) the Sheaf.

The Sheaf goes by many names. In the Old Language of the Witches, it was called the Yule-Neck (no relation to the body part). In Ukraine, where he's known as Didúkh, “Grandfather,” it wouldn't be Yule without Grandfather Sheaf, with his bristling golden beard.

The symbolism of the Sheaf is rich. He's the crop, continuity, the ancestors, family, community. He's men. He's seed, animal and vegetal.

Men are the seed-bearers. In every generation, we sow, tend, reap, and guard the seed.

Here in Paganistan, the men of the clan will gather on one of Yule's Thirteen Nights—whenever it's convenient, there's no set time—for the Feast of the Sheaf.

Then we pour to Grandfather Sheaf, we sing, we dance, we tell the stories. We eat the traditional pudding made entirely from seeds; we drink, we feast. The power that we raise is for the keeping of the seed through the winter: for its preservation, and for its new growth in the spring. Even now in the very depth of winter, it is our duty to work for the well-being of next year's harvest, for “frith and year.”

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    "We will come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves." Too bad that's the only part of that song I remember.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

We are circling
circling together
joining hands and singing our heartsongs15241873_10211357352159540_1723198054005383828_n
this is family
this is unity
this is celebration
this is sacred...

(We are Circling)

The first candle on the Solstice Wreath is lit. The element of Air. Breath. Life. Hope. Clean air for everyone. Clear communication. Family harmony.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Families of Dragons

To understand dragons better, people have commonly divided them into various families. As with scientific classification, organizing dragons into groups gives folks a framework to learn about them. By studying dragons in families, you can discern who are friendly and who are dangerous. Since each family has their own unique talents, they can also offer their matchless wisdom to seekers.

In Western Tradition, dragons are usually grouped into families by the elements. I have used that system to construct my classifications of dragons. Living in the East, the Dragons of the Air ride the winds. Meanwhile, the Dragons of Fire reside in fire, and are of the South. In the West, the Dragons of the Waters frolic in the waters. With the Air Dragons and Ice Dragons, Water Dragons rule the weather, as well. Ruling the Earth and guarding its treasures are the Dragons of the Earth, who reside in the North. Because each dragon family governs a cardinal direction, therefore in rituals a seeker can avoid the hostile ones and ensure her safety.

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Making a Difference with Pop Culture Magick

Unless you’ve been hiding under a particularly large rock for the last month you’re probably aware that the USA is in the process of setting itself on fire.  Regardless of your political ideologies, chances are good that you feel pretty threatened these days due to the escalating violence that seems to be everywhere.  We’ve gone beyond the point of “someone should do something about this.”  We’ve officially reached “I need to do something about this.”  It’s time for us to put on our big kid pants and actually do something about the state of the world.

In good times it’s usually enough to do subtle magicks to gently influence the state of the world, but we are not facing good times.  In troubled times we need to do everything in our power to make a difference because no one else is going to do it for us.  The most effective way to use your magick to actually affect the state of the world is to enhance your mundane actions.  Unless you’re the Sorcerer Supreme (and maybe even if you are) magick alone is just not going to cut it.   There is so much energy being thrown by all sides of the current political situation that the only way to cut through it is with mundane action enhanced by magickal action.  We need to do both.  Thankfully there are a lot of ways we can do this, particularly using pop culture magick.

Pop culture magick is particularly well suited for adding weight to our mundane actions.  Characters like Captain America and Superman are already rooted both in popular consciousness and the American cultural identity.  We don’t need to struggle in our magicks to find a sympathetic resonance with our goals of boosting truth, justice, and the “American way” because they’re already there.  Our pop culture heroes are famous for making a difference in hard times, making them near perfect allies in these times.  Further, because they are so rooted in our culture means that they already energetically touch just about everyone that we might want to affect with our magick, making hitting our targets that much easier.  We don’t have to bring our pop culture magick to the mundane plain because it’s already there, ready to help us make a difference.

As with any situation, change has to start with you.  For many of us the most difficult step in making a difference is the first one: getting off our couches and actually doing something.  This is where you can do workings with characters like the Hulk, Princess Leia, or Mulan to use your anger and defensive emotions as a catalyst for taking action.  Use the energies of righteous defenders like the Federation (Star Trek) or the Shadow Proclamation (Doctor Who) to motivate yourself into taking direct action like protesting and calling your local legislators.  One of the most effective things you can do to actively change the way things are going is to phone your senators and representatives.  You can boost the effectiveness of these communications by invoking righteous and persuasive characters like Superman, Captain America, and Aslan and letting their energies help you to make your voice heard.  (If you have anxiety about calling your reps here’s a great article on making things easier on yourself)  If you’re really uncomfortable calling your senators and representatives you can also email or write them a letter (though this tends not to be quite as effective as calling, it’s better than not making yourself heard at all).  Use the courage, determination, and persuasiveness of your favorite pop culture icons to make your voice boom.

Another great way to boost your ability to make a difference is to enchant donations as you make them.  Whether you’re sending firewood to Standing Rock, giving canned good to food banks, or providing hygiene products to local shelters, we all want to make charitable donations stretch as far as we can.  We can do so by putting everlasting gobstopper charms on food donations, casting a bag of holding charm on clothing donations, or a Wisdom of Gandalf spell on book donations.  You can enhance your volunteerism by invoking the strength of Fesik (Princess Bride) or the endurance of Strider (Lord of the Rings).  Use your magick to heighten the impact of your mundane actions.

You can do even more if you’re comfortable casting spells on others (do this or not according to your own ethics).  One options is casting clear seeing spells for the ignorant.  There are a lot of frighteningly misinformed and mentally manipulated people out there that could use a dose of clear understanding of their situation.  Call on characters like Hawkeye, Superman, or Wonder Woman to part the veil of ignorance and let people see the true nature of reality.  Llasso of truth anyone or perhaps a Mythbusters spell?  Another option is casting personal responsibility spells for the apathetic or inactive.  Call on characters like Tony Stark or Buffy the Vampire Slayer to bring the full weight of personal responsibility on the indifferent.  (See my July Boondock Saints spell against indifference)  You can even take it so far as to cast guilt spells upon the perpetrators of injustice.  Given the season, using the three ghosts of Christmas from The Christmas Carol seems terribly appropriate.  The possibilities are endless.

It doesn’t matter what action you choose to take in these times, so long as you do choose to act.  The current political situation in the US has seen an unprecedented rise in violence against anyone viewed as “other” and we are all “other” in some way.  This is not the time to “wait and see,” it’s time to take a stand before things get even more out of hand.  Inaction in times like these is effectively endorsing bigotry, hatred, and fascism.  Be brave and make a difference.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_3779149-no-you-move-cap-says.jpg

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Throng of Boars

In the old Witch language, the constellation that we know as Orion was called Eofor-ðring: literally, “Boar-throng.”

We don't know why.

It's likely that there was once a story to explain the name. Doubtless this Ever-thring (as we would say today), this throng of boars, belonged to—or was defeated, or captured, by—some god or hero, and ended up in the sky as a result.

We'll never know.

Boars were meaningful to the ancestors. Their likeness appeared on battle-gear. Boars are fiercely protective, and nothing stops them. You can always recognize a boar-spear because it's got a cross-bar. If it didn't, the spitted boar would drive his own body up along the spear-shaft, just to get at you. Seriously.

In Old Norse mythology, the boar belongs to the phallic god Frey, whom some would identify (controversially) with the God of Witches. His name means “lord.” The Anglo-Saxons had the same word with the same meaning—fréa—but whether to them it also was the name of a god we simply don't, and probably never will, know.

So much has been lost since the old days, like the story of the Ever-thring. What has come down to us has come down to us in pieces.

And thereby hangs a mandate.

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An Integrated Model of Wellness for Difficult Times

“What drains your spirit drains your body. What fuels your spirit fuels your body.” 
― Caroline MyssAnatomy of the Spirit


As a chaplain working in a healthcare setting, I am intimately familiar with the current efforts to include the emotional and spiritual aspects of health into a more traditional allopathic medical model. In many respects, we are seeing great progress as integrative and functional medical models are starting to incorporate more holistic and alternative treatments like reiki and acupuncture in treatment plans for patients. But what does it mean to have an integrated model of health? And why is that so important in times of distress, especially now around the holidays and as a result of current political events?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Be Dangerous. Make Art.

“Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

(This is a companion piece that I wrote the same time as the post I published yesterday over at Patheos called The Dangers of Witchcraft)

Time and time again, I find myself pondering the above quote from Rilke.  It came to mind again recently as several people have remarked to me about the importance of making art in the years to come.  I pondered it from both practical (making a living) and spiritual (making a cultural impact) contexts.  

To make art - in a historical/evolutionary context - was a dangerous thing.  Think about it -when you focus on creating something that isn't specifically devoted to food or shelter, it's taking a risk.  Yet, it's an investment in fully living, an opportunity to enhance and transcend our experience, to connect with the divine and the Other.  It was a struggle for our ancestors - yet it was the creation of art that advanced us forward as a species. Today, surviving may not seem so balanced on a razor's edge, but there's still risks in making art. 

Art is the expression of the soul, the exploration and manifestation of intent. It not only suggests the vulnerability of the maker, it magnifies the whole of society - its best attributes, as well as its worst.  The latter is especially disconcerting to the comfortable, the entitled, and those seeking to control.  Art is fine, as long as it's on their side, promoting their ideals, matching their proverbial couches. 

A struggle against the making of art may not have seemed so apparent in modern society, but the evidence has been slowing creeping in for decades.  A little story for you to explain:

I didn't have any issues with sports until my teens. That's when it was starting to become apparent that schools were cutting back on the arts.  There was often the explanation that it was for saving money, but suddenly the sports programs would see new equipment, more investments in stadiums and so forth.  Yes, sports are great for keeping folks active and team-building, but there's also an undercurrent of herd mentality.  Be part of the crowd, support the team, have school spirit.  You could perhaps argue that maybe the arts don't benefit a school in the same way - but there are plenty of noteworthy competitions and events that involve the arts, and band, orchestra, dance, theater, literary magazines and newspapers all involve working in team structures. The arts also encourage critical thinking, valuing individuals for their diverse talents, and giving young people creative outlets to express and discover themselves. 


So I don't think it's a coincidence that soon after we began to see the cuts to art departments in schools, we were rocked by Columbine and similar tragedies.  We've continued to see a disturbing rise in school/mass shootings, to a point where it's become so much more common over the years, that it's become practically "normal."  There are so many different reasons cited for the why and how, but not many correlate the lack of funding for the arts with mental and social well-being. Take away the arts and you cut off the stimulation of creative thinking, self-healing, and the access to reasonable outlets to channel expression through. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_psychicpower-web.jpgThere's an illusion that art is elitist, that it's for the genteel and the high-end (an effort to take it out of the hands of all people), but art has always been a process for and by all. It is a product of and by the dangerous, of those who see differently, those who wish or need to make their voice heard.  When art has not rested peacefully on a wall, it has been banned, shunned, and ridiculed - until its message is absorbed.  Every major movement in art has gone through the eye of the needle before finding acceptance and understanding. 

The truth at the essence of the concept of the "starving artist" is not a romance about a person unfit to make a "proper living" - but someone with a vision strong enough that they reject being silenced and risk being comfortable to see it through. 

So many cultures have plundered and destroyed art that has come before them - as a means to silence history, to rewrite and change the narrative.  From Nazis destroying the work (and lives) of European artists of the late 1930's-40's to fundamentalists destroying ancient artifacts in the Middle East and China imprisoning their artists who dare to speak out through their work. Whether it's through violence or a slow stealthy strangle, art has been attacked because it has been seen as dangerous. 

All because art is the result of focused intent. Intent is the root of magick. Art is magick, and art is dangerous. Art can change our viewpoint and that of the world. Don't forget that, and for the love of all things human and divine, don't stop making art. 

(painting: "Spellcraft - Psychic Power - by the author)

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