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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Tarot And The New Moon

b2ap3_thumbnail_Shadowscapes_2Cups.jpgTarot and magic is an interesting subject. It's also a fairly old one or so I am led to believe. I wanted to share another super simple spell that can be done at the new moon. September's new moon is on the 24th (or 23rd depending on your time zone).

In my practice, I was taught that the New Moon esbats were a time for doing healing work. Sometimes we had a bowl for names of those we were doing work for. Other times we simply spoke their name into the Circle. New Moons were one of my favorite esbats with my training coven because they were a quieter working.

Using Tarot in a New Moon esbat for healing is not a precise science. There are 78 choices after all. And let's not get started on the number of combinations.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Dark Mother

Autumn is my favorite season. As the Autumnal Equinox/Mabon/Alban Elfed approaches, I’m thinking of how this season has always carried a sense of magic and spirit… of descent into the sacred secrets of time… a place of reckoning, with a wise power that can see you as you go, while all the foliate cover falls away… a place where truth can’t hide. Truth is powerful and healing and terrible and cleansing and undeniable, and this is the cathartic season where you feast on it, and it feasts on you.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Arrows and Garlands

One of the signature symbols of the modern Old Craft movement is the crossed arrows and garland. It is a striking and evocative image which I find, as I peruse the literature, to have occasioned much discussion but little articulation. The symbol, however, has much to tell, to those who care to ask.

These days the garlanded arrow-cross receives attention mostly as an adornment for the stang, the standing forked pole that is the unembodied image of the Horned. Most discussion seems to center around the composition of the garland (what vegetation, at what season) and its presence or absence. Rarely do I find discussion of meaning.*

In its first appearance on the public stage, though, the symbol—though associated with the stang—is freestanding. We see it first in an illustration in Justine Glass' 1973 book Witchcraft, the Sixth Sense—and You. There a rather sloppily-made mixed garland of leaves, flowers, and feathers is pierced by two diagonally-crossed arrows, one with black fletching and one with white. They would seem to be mounted on a wall above what is described as a “keppen rod.” This is clearly what would later be called a “stang,” in this case not a hayfork but a pole with a curved metal end-prong, probably used for removing pots from an oven.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Spiritual Experiences Abroad in England

In the summer of 1987, when I was 18, I studied at the University of Warwick, England. The quotes in this post are from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts.  I visited the British Museum, cried when I saw the real original Beowulf, and encountered a real rune stone.

     “It was taller than me and must have weighed more than a truck, and unlike the ancient tome I’d perused, it was not protected by a barrier.  Cautiously, I touched its surface, traced the carved design, looking for traces of old paints.”

The only psychic impression I got off of it was great age. I did receive strong psychic impressions from places I visited in England, though. Object reading and place reading was not one of my natural powers, but I had developed it through reading the set of runes I had made.

The image that accompanies this post is of Avebury, a henge more primitive than Stonehenge. About 4,500 years old, it's the largest stone circle in Europe.

In the following quote from my memoir, mom and I had rented a car and were traveling around on the weekend when we did not have classes. Mom was taking a class at the University of Warwick, too, a graduate level course for professional development for her career as a public school teacher.

      “Mom and I went to Stonehenge, but it was fenced off, and tourists were kept so far back it was like looking at a picture instead of being there.  I stretched and stretched with my mind but I couldn’t get any impressions off it; it was out of my range.

     Then we went to Avebury.  Not just people but sheep as well were allowed to wander among its stones.  There I felt power.  Each stone was a spearpoint piercing the sky, a conduit by which earth and wind, rain and sun spoke to each other.  The ditches and roads, the circles and lines, formed a web that radiated unto infinity.  Life-force, numina, mystery, magic, god, these were the words invented for such a feeling.  Solid stone, green grassy earth, the caesura in the movement that was an old green ditch, filled with emptiness, by these symbols the ancients did invoke the holy.

     Then there was music.  It flowed like fog across the greensward, ancient instruments, young women’s voices, words hovering on the edge of intelligibility, like a forgotten mothertongue.  It fit so well with the mood of Avebury that for a moment I did not did realize it was real physical sound waves, and not something originating in my head.  Then the words switched to English and I caught, “ancient ring, magical ring of stones.”  Drawn as if by elvish minstrels, we followed the music to its source:  a little shop at the edge of the fold, built of the ubiquitous golden brown stone.  The tape playing was Clannad:  Magical Ring.”

Somewhere in England, I had a profound spiritual experience in a Christian church.

      “In some town or other, mom and I went into an old church, in the idle way tourists will enter any old building.  I was not trying to sense anything, being uninterested in Christianity, but the power hit me as if walking in its threshold were like plugging into a socket, eight hundred years of history flash-downloading.  My eyes noted high, arched windows, and wooden pews mostly empty, but my mind saw bare earth, a grove of trees, a holy place long before the Christians came.  Then the foundations were dug, and it surprised me to feel no animosity between the pagan and the Christian ways of using this place, as if both were mere costume-changes in the same play.  Stone by shaped, grey stone, bit by bit and pane by pane of colored glass, over generations, the loving hands of simple craftsmen and the gold and silver of merchants and lords built high toward heaven a defining structure.  The brightly colored banners on the walls spoke of armies, soldiers and knights contesting outside these walls, but inside coming to beseech their god for victory, or afterward, for forgiveness.  All the hopes, all the pain, all the fear and joy and guilt of every villager who passed within these walls welled up within me in an instant, discreet from each other yet massing like an army of the ancient days.  Then times changed, the clothes on the villagers, the soldiers, and their betters changed, and there was more joy, more grief, weddings and funerals and births and confessions, and then times changed again.  The lords and ladies, knights and wealthy merchants went away.  The villagers became townsmen, sophisticated and agnostic.  The ranks on the pews thinned.  Then the tourists came.  In the church bareheaded they came, with cameras and laughter, more interested in the building than in the purpose for which it was built.  It was so sad, so sad, I couldn’t bear it.  I swayed on my feet, and had to sit down, there on a wooden pew.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Preparing for the Dark Half of the Year

As many of you know, my main form of financial security is renting apartments for landlords here in Chicago. It's really an exciting job, and it's one that does more than just pay the bills. At the same time, I'm helping people with a basic need: Shelter. (it's one of the Big Three I've heard; Food and Clothing being the other two.) Oftentimes, I show apartments while people are still living there, and it's always fun to learn new ways to decorate and make the best use of space. It also teaches me what not to do, based on my personal preferences.

Over the years, my husband Ron and I have played with all kinds of styles for our own brand of interior design, based on our budget, what we like and what makes sense. I know there's professionals out there, I'm working for one right now in fact, but at the end of the day, all of that advice means nothing if I don't like it and/or it doesn't serve its purpose. We have our own set of rules when it comes to interior design, which in many cases mimics the standards, but we do so with a Pagan eye for detail.

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A New Face in Canadian Pagan Music: Tara Rice

Tara Rice is a brand-new Pagan artist from Toronto, Ontario.  She contacted me via my website to ask me to listen to her new single.  I was enchanted!  I immediately invited her to join our Canadian Pagan music anthology project (now set for this November) and asked if she'd be willing to do an interview.  She's a friendly and enthusiastic but professional young woman and I was impressed with her thoughtful answers.  You can find more information on her or her music at her website: www.tararice.com.

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PaganNewsBeagle FaithfulFriday Sept 19

On Faithful Friday the Beagle seeks out interesting tales of religion of all kinds. Today, we have: a story of Siberian shamans; the mysterious theft of the Sehkmet statue -- solved; a new website for British traditional Witchcraft; a Buddhist shrine arises in the inner city; and how people of different faiths (or none) differ and are similar regarding morality.

This story from the Siberian Times offers a glimpse into the world of traditional Siberian shamans. (Trigger warning: story includes visceral photos.)

Last year, the statue of Sekhmet from Las Vegas area Temple of Goddess Spirituality disappeared. Now we know the rest of the story.

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