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The Morrigan by Dan Goodfellow 2014 www.dangoodfellow,co.ukThere's no doubt about it- we live in modern, changing times, when the old religious power structures and dogmas of the past are being rapidly over turned and quite rightfully, often treated with disdain. That's good. Free thinking, and free expression are wonderful things and we should be grateful that we can on the whole, in the West at least, practice our spirituality freely, according to our own ideas and inner promptings. There shouldn't be a problem with that- should there?

Well, sadly, there is sometimes. With the power to be our own clergy, comes responsibility, or the consequences for the lack of it.

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The Secret Heart of Samhain

I was picking apples one afternoon. I'd worked my way down the row into the oldest part of the orchard when suddenly, for just a moment, I began to wonder if somehow, like some character in a story, I had stumbled out of this world and into Another.

I don't know how much you know about apple trees. They say that originally they came to this world from the Other World. Whatever the truth of that may be, what I can tell you about the apple trees of this world is that they always bear flowers first; then come leaves, and later fruit. There's never a time when they bear all three at once. In this, they are said to be unlike the orchards of the Land of Youth, which in fact do just that. The undying trees of that Land, so they say, bear flower and leaf and fruit at once, all at a time, together.

And that's just what I saw in the orchard that day.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_140528-MUSHROOM-FAIRY.jpg        I awake to the bright sunshine of an early September morn and as I yawn and stretch ready to start the day, a chill in the air makes me shudder. Ah yes, the sun is still shining, but here is a definite reminder that the seasons are about to change. I pull back the curtains to chastise the crows who so noisily woke me and am greeted by an opaque film of condensation upon the window. Autumn is here. 

        I trundle toward the wooden gate at the bottom of my garden swinging my basket in eager anticipation of the bounty I am about fill it with. Big red juicy hawthorn berries beckon me enticingly and I think of the tincture I will make with them, good for the heart and the soul and my stock for the coming year. Huge plump orangey rose hips lay in wait by their side and my mouth waters at the thought of the sweet, sticky syrup they will become. I add huge purple  berries from the elder tree and my arsenal of herbal remedies, ready to beat the Winter blues is nearly complete.

       Lavender pink wands of loosestrife wave me on by as I continue my medicinal harvest and I notice how the branches are drooping from the drought of a long hot Summer.

       Geese fly in formation overhead and I marvel at the sight, like a spear piercing the blue sky, intent on its target, home they fly. I trip and stumble and giggle to myself as I look down to find the empty shells of acorns strewn all around me, evidence indeed that I am not the only one on a mission to fill my larder. Little holes in the ground where squirrels have been busily hiding their nuts and others have been digging them up.
And there, just there, I spot a most perfect ring of tiny mushrooms, hundreds of them just crowning above the blades of grass.
 b2ap3_thumbnail_140604-appletree.jpg
           I return to my garden to pick the Bramley apples that have fallen to the ground and on my way a handful of blackberries fall into my basket. A crumble is in the making. As I bend to gather the apples I notice how the lawn is covered with tiny hammocks of cobwebs all glistening in the early sun, rocking gently on the breeze. I hail to the fairy folk who have slept there.

         Cobwebs everywhere hanging from branches and twigs, the handle of the spade I left in the flower bed, from flower to flower, everywhere, cobwebs.  They trap the early morning light in a canvas of magical crystal like artwork and I am drawn closer, enchanted by their magic. So pure. So fragile.

      I prepare the apples for the crumble and marvel at how they can turn from firm slices to powdery fluffy puree in an instant, just as you turn your back for a moment and something moves just out of vision on the wall above the aga. 


b2ap3_thumbnail_140530-spider-1.jpg


         

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Yikes I just saw that spider in my bathroom and when I tried to shake in out from the glass and the envelope, it stuck to the enve

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Worshipping Water Without Waste

We've all heard the advice about how to conserve water, especially during the summer months when drought and brush fires hit even the Pacific Northwest.  Water conservation is incredibly important and intrinsic to all of life on this planet.  For those of us who work with Water as a spiritual aspect of our paths, practicing water worship can sometimes leave one feeling guilty.

So, how do we honor Water without wasting it?

We start by honoring methods of conservation to preserve what is sacred.  We also must be mindful as we perform rituals to use only as much as we need, and show our gratitude at every step.

These are a mix of familiar, practical ways of working with water, as well as spiritual ones.

1. Showering.  If you're like me, stepping into a shower is invigorating, and if I'm not paying attention to my actions, or I'm not in a rush, I feel a strong urge to stay in the water and be embraced by its fluid arms.  Thankfully, I spent a few of my formative years in California, where water conservation is drilled into the heads of middle schoolers several times a year.  Unless you're especially dirty or have an illness that demands staying in the water longer, showers can be kept three minutes (my daily target) or up to five minutes in length.

When starting up the shower, it's recommended you collect the cool water in a bucket or bin while waiting for the water to get hot, and while it's great on a garden or to water your plants, it's also excellent for any divination work, blessings, or other water work you're planning on doing that day.

2. Baths. Whether you clean or just soak in a bath, make it count.  Plug up the drain as soon as you start, turning on the hot water only until it gets hot, then begin to adjust the cold water.  If it's too hot, turn down the hot water rather than turn up the cold.  Fill the tub only to the amount you need.  Use this time in a tub to meditate, cast spells based on water, or give thanks to the water beings, gods, or goddesses with whom you manifest intention.  A bath oil at the end of the bath will help seal in the water you've enjoyed, and continue its blessings.

I use my bath soaks primarily for self-healing work.  I add epsom salts, herbs, or oils depending on what I need.  Mugwort, steeped as a tea for two hours ahead of time, is an excellent addition for women needing to balance their hormones and regulate menstrual cycles.  It's very cleansing, and if you have tea left over, it's good for a once-a-month lucid dreaming session when drunk at night.  For women needing an after birth soak, or if you're a person who suffers from cysts or tears in your pelvic floor, a postpartum sitz herbal bath* is incredibly beneficial.  When healing in the tub, I ground, open chakras, and then perform Reiki on the affected areas that need the most healing.

3. Kitchen Rituals.  The water you drink each day is a blessing in itself.  Before taking the first sip of each glass, take a moment to thank the water and to put into it the intentions for healing, continued health, or ritual.  I recommend avoiding bottled water, as its production and consumption wastes water, harms global and local ecologies, and often harms the people living near bottled water plants by destroying local aquifers.  If you find your tap water unpalatable, add a filter to your faucet, keep a water filtration pitcher (add mineral rocks for an extra boost), or add fresh fruit and herbs** to your water pitcher for a hint of flavor.

Any kitchen witchery that uses water from boiling to washing should employ basic conservation methods: save water after straining, left over teas, etc. for watering plants.  If your ritual or meal left a bath of broth, freeze it for soup or reduce into a magical sauce. (Don't forget to sing while you cook!)  The glass of water in the image was used to water my indoor plants after its intended use; remember to give back to the earth or a nearby stream as often as you're able.

When cleaning your ritual tools, set aside a bin or half sink for soaking, to minimize water waste.

4. Gardening.  From shower and kitchen come rich water that can be used to tend your garden.  Pay attention to what might have mixed into the water in question and use where most beneficial: you don't want to use a broth that came from peppers in the same soil where you're growing them!  Also, save your cooking water for outdoors, or you might have odors you didn't expect.  Your shower water is better for indoor plants.

If you have an outdoor garden and can afford either the cost or the energy to install a gray water system, such as a reed pond, you can create a luscious place for meditation and ritual while making the most of your water and attracting beneficial wildlife (here, froggy, froggy!).

Another wonderful feature to include in any witch's garden is a rain barrel both for irrigating medicinal herbs and casting late night spells.  A splash of captured rain water on your feet as blessing or into the soil where you've planted a fertility talisman is perfectly safe.  Just be certain you use potable water for any portions of your ritual that require drinking.

5. Community Involvement. Whether you're a solo practitioner or part of a group or coven, show Water you're dedicated by taking part in community conservation efforts.  Reach out to stewardship groups, societies for the conservation of a given body of water, or watershed protection groups.^  Many of these groups need volunteers, as well as donations, to help clean or maintain local bodies of water. If your local watershed is being threatened by a company, talk to your representative about stopping or constraining harmful practices.

Take time to both offer prayers and blessings to your favorite ocean, pond, lake, or river, while also picking up garbage along the water's edge.  Get others involved in your efforts, and you can begin and end each volunteer session with a call to Spirit, a prayer, or a sung blessing (you might even dive right in, if the day's warm enough).

Water provides us with life, take care of it, bless it, and it will bless you right back.  Don't forget to go for a swim!


*Use a premixed blend of sitz bath herbs, or make your own using 1/4 cup each of comfrey leaf, plantain leaf, red raspberry leaf, yarrow flower, calendula flower, sheperd's purse, uva ursi (a.k.a. bearberry) leaf, and epsom salts.  Steep for thirty minutes in boiled water, and add to a shallow bath.

**Making my own fruit waters has made summer more enjoyable.  Some of my family's favorite blends are: blackberry with sage, raspberry with mint, blueberry with peach, cucumber with lemon slices, strawberry with nasturtiums, and orange with lime slices.

^There are a host of non-profits working both on local and national levels to conserve waterways.  Those I love most in Washington include Stewardship Partners, People of Puget Sound, and Water Tenders.

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It’s back to school time, and that has me thinking about those of us who no longer spend much time in a classroom. I’d like to encourage us to think deeply about different purposes and practices of learning so that we can shape our own back-to-school intentions for ourselves. One of the biggest ways to make a difference is to practice what's not perfect.

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Call for Submissions: Masks of the High One - a Devotional Anthology for Odin

A little more than a year ago, I put out a call for submissions for Prayers to the Allfather, a book of prayers and rituals for Odin. Well, despite a number of people being kind enough to share my CFS across the internet, I received exactly three submissions. Due to various factors in my life at the time, I just wasn’t feeling equal to writing the bulk of a book of prayers on my own (since when I think prayers, I think poetry, and I am not primarily a poet), so I reluctantly shelved the project for a while.

Then I got to thinking: maybe a prayer book is too limiting. Maybe most other pagans, witches and polytheists out there also shy away from writing prayers for public consumption, either because they feel too personal, or because (like me) they associate them with poetry and feel unequal to the task. Maybe I pigeonholed my own project into the remainder bin.

And then it occurred to me: no one (to my knowledge) has yet to come forth with a devotional anthology for and about Odin. All of my initial foot-dragging on the notion of such a project aside, I finally had to ask myself whether I wanted to be the one to step up to the plate and do this, or whether I wanted to wait until someone else did it, and have to live with the regret.

And so, here we are. Today, on August 30th 2014, I am opening submissions for Masks of the High One: A Devotional Anthology for Odin. Submissions will close on May 1st, 2015.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't usually work with Odin but your blog inspired me this morning and I couldn't stop thinking about it during lunch so I wro

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The Humility of Surrender
Eleven months in, I am one month away from a year, a full year. One year since the freedom to go and to do whatever moves me left. One year since I could choose what I ate, when I slept, when I woke, what I listened to, what I watched, what I wore and when. One year is just around the corner and I couldn't be happier.
 
It's been almost a year since I walked through the veil of transition between Maidenhood and Motherhood.
 
In my typical Scorpio fashion I have jumped in full force, straight into the deep end. She is yet to be 'babysat' by anyone besides my husband, she sleeps with me at night, on me to nap, my breasts are forever at her disposal, we are pretty merged, my Maiden and I at this point. It seemed the most natural way in the world for her and I to be together at most times, it feels as if a part of my insides was birthed outside of me while remaining a part of me. Like I gave birth to my heart and now I hold her as close and as dear as possible.
 
Despite this energetic vortex that envelopes the two of us, somewhere throughout this year it became apparent to me that I was going to need some downtime, this need developed into a routine known in the evening as 'Daddy/Daughter' time, this is my time to unwind. When we decided, my husband and I that downtime was very much a necessity for me, the vision that I held was of me knitting, reading, writing, meditating, napping and drinking tea. I'm happy to say that at 11 months this is pretty much how my sacred space looks 80% of the time.
 
Daddy/daughter time didn't begin quite so crisp and clean in the beginning months for me, it began quite secularly, those nights definitely weren't my pride and joy at the time. In hindsight I now see how much I gained from them, the humility and the permission to be human, to be a mother that was not a cookie cutter of the 'Domestic Spiritual Goddess' that I was holding up for myself to attain.
 
Daddy/daughter time began with me addictively watching TV series and eating potatoe chips (often they were organicish) and drinking pop (cane sugar instead of white....) getting as many "ep's" in as I could and fervently escaping into other worlds. I posted on my personal Facebook page asking for more show recommendations when I had devoured Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, The Tudors, Boardwalk Empire and finally Orange is the New Black. My Priestess sisters, energy community and homesteading friends suggested some nice healthy mindful practices rather than T.V. They had the same vision for a healthy, full time to self that I had had. I just wasn't there yet. I felt myself slink away from announcing my dirty little TV and snacks habit and just sank even further into the couch cushions. I sank and I feared that I may have lost all of who I thought I was. I wondered if I was going to loose my Priestess self, if I was going to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom that didn't write, hold circle, offer services to others and ate junk food and watched T.V.  I'm so appreciative that I allowed myself to sit and eat. I'm grateful that I didn't push and that I was were I was and allowed that to be okay. These months humbled me, they revealed my humanness, not only in my need to take time for self, but in my ability to experience a little sloth without loosing my soul or my calling in the process.
 
I learned throughout my development as a Priestess, that nothing, absolutely nothing is as powerful a principle in the life of a Priestess as humility.
My mentress, the Priestess Aquarius, would teach me this during every learning session we spent together. "Above all Candise, a Priestess must be humble," she would tell me during my training. It was these words that followed me when I fell into a depression during a 'dark night of the soul' three years back. Similar to, yet nowhere close to as dire, this dark night of the soul mirrored my surrender into the couch potatoe phase that I have just been through. Both of these situations called for me to fall into what was and to allow myself to be in those moments, to let go of what I thought life should look like and to flow with the River of life. My dark night of the soul began when a man who has lived this lifetime shrouded in darkness, one who had wreaked havoc on my life when I was a young Maiden re-appeared in my life temporarily three years ago. I fell to pieces as years of frozen and unacknowledged trauma rose to the surface. My first response was to 'spiritual leapfrog' through the pain. To skip over the pain, to deny it, to spiritualize it away, simultaneously I felt myself teetering along the thin line of self-destruction as my old wounds promised to take me over the edge and back into the black abyss of self-destruction that I had lived in once long ago. In that moment of choice a silent clarity descended upon me and I made a deal with Goddess, I said to Her, "okay, I'm going to fall apart now. I'm going to feel everything I didn't feel when I was abused so many years ago. I'm going to fall to pieces and I'm not going to rush to come back together, I'm just going to let it happen and I need You to carry me through this." And I did. I just fell completely to pieces. For one full year I did little more than make it to work, the rest of the time I cocooned on the couch, I barely ate or showered, I went to trauma therapy and fought the voices in my head that argued that therapy wasn't as evolved as breathworks, meditations, Shamanic journeying and communal circles (all of which I also attended). My world turned black and I wasn't sure I would ever see colour again, my pride was stripped away from me and I flowed along the river of despair until one day I was delivered to the shore. I stepped away from the river integrated, more whole than I had been before I fell apart and I was gifted with experiences that I could offer others on the shamanic path. Suddenly I had less 'answers' for others and more experience to share in. This was the heavy pill of humility that I swallowed and this experience has taught me that being real, being human is worth more than any shiny ideal of a spiritual woman that I could try to fit into could ever be.
 
So I fell into my couch once again, though this time out of burn out rather than despair and I just watched as much TV as I could, I trusted the process despite my very alive pride that yelled at me that I was loosing all of my Priestess self in this year of Motherhood. I struggled with my 'Superwoman' archetype that had envisioned me baking, cooking from organic scratch, writing, knitting, sewing, visitng friends and humming a merry tune all the way through. I judged myself, harshly, after all I only had one little baby. I had so much help from my husband. I wasn't working. She slept great. So what was my problem? Simply put I was drained. In the Waldorf tradition of thought, which is rooted in anthroposophy a woman's child is under her 'Madonna Cloak' for the first three years of life. Energetically my Maiden sucks up as much of me as she can and I need to reboot. So I sat. And I watched, and I watched and I snacked.
 
Until...
 
One night when my Beloved and my daughter returned from their Daddy/daughter time I realized that I didn't feel rested and rejuvenated as I had before, I felt saturated in surface level noise. My deep need to fall into unconscious media/junk food bliss had passed, naturally. I had trusted the flow and eventually I did loose my desire. I took at trip to the library, I took out a magical novel. I pulled out my knitting. I picked up doll making instructions for my daughter's birthday and I began to be what I had envisioned, a Priestess filling herself up with art, crafts and inspiration. It was the perfect example of being a modern day Priestess for me, finding the balance between nurturing my soul and honouring where I was. When I surrender to what is and I follow the flow of the Mother I can trust that it is okay to be human and it is okay to be other than how my ego self wants me to be. Shortly after I received my first 'energy session' client since I had been pregnant. My Beloved packed my Maiden up for their evening time together and I saged the healing room/nursery. I lit candles, I grounded down and opened up to the inflow of the Goddess and worked with the woman on my table. I felt exhilarated. I felt deeply connected to me. I saw that when I trust, when I surrender. I can have moments of least resistance that look less than evolved to me without loosing my sense of the magical, my connection to Source.
 
A Priestess is a conduit for the worlds, Heaven, Earth and all of the realms in between. It's okay to enjoy some of this Earthy realm. I didn't know this. Not for a very long time. It has been a pleasure being able to just unwind and relax some of these high standards that I've held for myself.
 
That is perhaps one of the greatest gifts beyond my Maiden that has come of my transition into the Mother phase of life. Letting go of everything that I thought I knew. In the morning I get no more then 10 minutes of my much desired yoga practice in. For months I would go from pose to pose with this sense of wound up anticipation, at what moment would she start to climb on me, fuss for me? How long could I yoga for?! Until one day truth descended. It doesn't matter how long my practice lasts, it matters how present to the practice I am. I began to bring full awareness into my warm up, giving thanks for the opportunity to do just one cat/cow if that is what that day's practice offered me.
 
Amidst the changes, feeding, singing, playing and cleaning I have found that while my time for self has lessened my presence with self is increasing. A new joy and appreciation for the freedom to choose what I engage in matched with a reverent focused sense of receiving as much as I can out of the moment has offered me a more zen like approach to my life than I have ever had. The years worth of books that I studied and the hours of meditation have all brought me to this. An awakened, living presence of the everyday interspersed with moments of spiritual practice.
 
Eleven months in and I have begun to transform in ways that I had never imagined. I look down the spiral path in front of me and stand in awe and wonder some days. I look behind me and see what the years of the Maiden taught me, freedom, authenticity, love, romance, adventure, exploration, heartache, delusion, confusion, mistrust, enchantment, awakening, passion and blossoming. In front of me I see the winding road of Mother, I wonder who it is that I will discover myself to be as I continue to walk further into this phase of my life. I wonder about the humility that is almost enforced upon my ambitious soul as I surrender myself in service to my family. I wonder about the woman that will walk from the Mother phase into her Enchantress years down that spiral path, Goddess willing. I watch other women now, women who are well along their Mother phase and beyond, I listen to them, I want to know what it was like for them in their different phases of life. I am so curious and so nervous (not knowing is not an easy place for me) and so excited to see what this sacred path will revel to me.
 
Eleven months in and I'm finally at a loss for words.
 
Grace Be With You,
Priestess of Grace
Candise Soaring Butterfly
 
 

 

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