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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pine: Scent & Magic of the Season

No matter the time of year, the scent of pine is evocative of winter holidays and stirs up fond memories. Unfortunately, stress is often a part of the season; however, the revitalizing scent of pine aids in dealing with nervous tension and exhaustion. Diffuse a little pine essential oil to perk up from mental fatigue or when you need mental clarity. Fostering a sense of peace and well being, it helps balance emotional ups and downs. To help relax, diffuse two parts lavender with one part pine.

The pine tree was venerated since the time of the Assyrians and Egyptians. The Greeks associated it with Pan and other woodland gods and because it was extensively used for shipbuilding, it was also dedicated to Poseidon. To the Romans the tree represented the power of male virility and the pine cone was a symbol of fertility.

Throughout Europe and the British Isles, elves, faeries, and pixies were said to live in or gather around pine trees. Germanic peoples revered the tree and believed that it was home to spirits. Pine was commonly used as a Yule log and branches were hung in homes to celebrate the winter solstice and to keep evil spirits at bay.

While there is often confusion about the difference between pine and fir trees, there are two simple ways to distinguish them. Pine needles grow in clusters of two or more; fir needles are attached to branches individually. Pine cones hang from the branches and point downward; fir cones sit upright on the branches.

Magically, pine is well known for purification, which works for releasing negative energy and is especially effective in public spaces. This same quality makes it an ally in defensive magic. Use pine for blessings and to attract abundance. The scent helps to steady and focus the mind for psychic work as well as communication with spirits.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
True Love Tea
Here’s a recipe to create exactly the right mood for romance. The verse at the end references the Garden of Eden before the fall. Gather the following:
  • 1 ounce dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 ounce dried and pulverized rose hips
  • 1⁄2 ounce dried lemon balm
  • 1⁄2 ounce dried mint (ideally peppermint)
  • 1⁄2 ounce dried meadowsweet
 
Stir ingredients together in a clockwise motion. Store in a dark, lidded jar.

To make tea, add two teaspoons of herbs for each cup of boiled water. Steep for five minutes while visualizing your heart’s desire, and before straining, say aloud:

Herbal brew of love's emotion,
with my wish I fortify.
When two people share this potion
their love shall intensify
as in the Olde Garden of Love.

 

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 Killing a Grizzly the Old-Fashioned Way: With a Longbow and a Stone-Point  Arrowhead

Dear Boss Warlock:

Help! I've been a witch for 25 years but, come December, what with all the presents, trees, and parties, I keep hearing the C-word slip out of my mouth when what I really mean is "Yule". The other night, one of my students actually corrected me. It's humiliating. What can I do to exorcise this foul demon?

Retrogressive in Raleigh

 

Dear Retro:

I hear your pain. Verbal precision is one of the truest arrows in the witch's quiver.

Here in the US, the C-word is so pervasive that to eliminate it requires an act of will, if not one of magic. Fortunately, you're a witch, so you've got plenty of both.

After all, what's the witch's most important tool? (If you're thinking “athame,” think again.)

As pagans, of course, we're so often out of synch with the overculture that, come Yule, it's easy to stop swimming and just let ourselves drift lazily along on the current for a while. But, in fact, despite the overlap of season and a certain amount of iconography, our Yule and theirs are really two very different holidays. (I mean, just look at the names: Yule and C-day. One is taut, muscular, sexy; the other slack, hissy, frumpy. You decide.) It's vital here always to remember that Yule came first. That's historic fact. Yule isn't our C-day; C-day is their Yule.

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Tea for Two: Magical Properties of Herbal Tea

What do you need to transform in your life now? This list of herbs and associations can be your guide; one of the smartest ways to approach this methodology is to brew right before bedtime. You will awaken to a freshly infused herb. Some of the most popular herbs and fruits used to create infusions are as follows:

  • Caraway Seeds: aid in romantic issues, helps with colic
  • Catnip Leaves: make women even more attractive
  • Chamomile Flowers: help with sleep, good for abundance
  • Dandelion Leaves: make wishes come true
  • Echinacea: makes the body strong
  • Ginseng Root: increases men’s vigor
  • Nettle Leaves: lung function, hex breaking
  • Peppermint Leaves: clear tummy discomfort, cleansing
  • Pine Needles: increase skin health as well as financial health
  • Rose Hip Fruit: packed with vitamin C and can halt colds and flu
  • Sage Leaves: purify energy, antibiotic
  • Skullcap Leaves: prevent insomnia and sooth nerves
  • St. John’s Wort: antidepressant
  • Thyme Leaves: antiseptic, a protectant
  • Yarrow Flowers: reduce fever, bring courage and good luck
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Have you spoken with the Sun lately?

Have you said “thanks” recently for his goodly (and godly) gift of light? Of warmth? Have you thanked him for your very life?

If not, why not? Are you in the habit of taking gifts for granted?

(Of course, one might just as readily say “her” here; the Sun is a star and, as such, an ungendered being; or maybe “pangendered” would be better. But we, as humans, gendered beings ourselves, are—as ever—wont to project. He or she is not the point here; you is the point.)

Me, I speak to the Sun every day, individual to individual: when I can, at least. (Alas, it looks as if today, I may not get the opportunity. Historically, December is Minnesota's cloudiest month.) When first I see the Sun in the morning, I kiss my hand and greet him. I thank him; I tell him that I love him. (“Love to you, my Pahh.” ) When he nears the western horizon, I bid good-night, farewell, See you in the morning, kissing again my hand.

(Similarly, I also daily greet the Earth, the Moon, the River...the pagan's day—and life—is filled with gods.)

Does he hear me when I do this? No, probably not. But that obviates neither the relationship, nor the responsibly. The Sun burns in self-sacrificial love; this is his nature. We say “thank you” and “I love you”: this is ours.

What are we, we living beings? Are we not minerals and energy, minerals-in-motion? One from the Sun, the other from Earth. Truly, in the most literal way possible, we are sunlight and soil, children of Earth and Sun.

In us, they see, and think, and understand. In us, they know love and thanks. This is our “why.” Is this not a wonder?

Humans, we speak in words, and dance. Gods speak in what they do, and are.

Soon comes the Yule of the year. Now, we speak to the Sun on our own recognizance, one on one.

Then, we will do so together.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

If you don't yet know Christopher Raible's no-holds-barred parody of the Christmas classic, from his 1964 Songs for the Cessation of Strife, you probably should.

 

God(s) Rest Ye, Unitarians

 

God(s) rest ye, Unitarians:

let nothing you dismay.

Remember, there's no evidence

there was a Christmas Day.

When Christ was born

is just not known,

no matter what they say.

 

Oh tidings of reason and fact,

reason and fact,

glad tidings of reason and fact.

 

There was no Star of Bethlehem,

there was no angel song;

there couldn't have been wise men,

for the trip would take too long.

The stories in the Bible

are historically wrong.

 

Chorus

 

Our current Christmas customs

come from Persia and from Greece,

from Solstice celebrations

of the ancient Middle East.

This whole damned Christmas shpiel

is just another pagan feast!

 

Chorus

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Enchanted Icing

You can mend broken hearts and enchant any would-be love interest with lemon balm. This recipe takes the cake, either one of your own making or store-bought sponge cake. Try a lemon balm version of the above Sweetheart Shortbread and glaze it with the icing; it will be certain to turn anyone who tastes this into your devotee.

  • 6 lemon balm leaves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 drops vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 candied lemon (using above recipe)

 

Combine water, vanilla, and lemon balm and soak overnight. Strain out the herbs and add sugar into the liquid. Grate in the zest of the lemon and whisk, squeezing in lemon juice if needed for fluid consistency. Pour this icing over the cake and top with sprinkles of candied lemon and lemon balm. This distinctive dessert is a spell spun of sugar.
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