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SageWoman Blogs

At SageWoman magazine, we believe that you are the Goddess, and we're devoted to celebrating your journey. We invite you to subscribe today and join our circle...

Here in the SageWoman section of PaganSquare, our bloggers represent the multi-faceted expressions of the Goddess, feminist, and women's spirituality movements.

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I’ve not posted a blog for a while, as I’ve been on a deep retreat with the land, and finishing my latest book- more on that soon. But I wanted to share what I think is one of the most important things to connect with on the Celtic path at this time of the year- the plant Vervain, verbena officianalis.  Vervain is one of the few plants we know the ancient druids venerated, as the Roman writer Pliny recorded how in the height of summer, just before dawn, the druids gathered Vervain, as Sirius the dog star rose in the sky. Vervain was so sacred that they would give the earth an offering of honey for its loss, and would gather the herb with their left hand, after drawing a circle of iron around the plant to disconnect it from the land. When they had gathered it, they would hold it up to the star to be infused with its energy, without the direct light of the moon or sun touching it.

Vervain is an herbaceous perennial, that grows about 2-3 feet tall, with toothed, rough textured leaves, a woody stalk, and in the summer it has small, pale purplish flowers. It’s relatively easy to grow from seed, and is happy in most positions, so long as it doesn’t dry out completely. Vervain can be hard to find for some, but is easily bought on line and once you grow some it self-seeds easily.  Yet this simple, modest little plant is possibly the most magical and powerful ally in the witches garden.       

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Deck Review: The Herbcrafter's Tarot

As a long-term fan of The Gaian Tarot, I eagerly awaited receipt of the new Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck illustrated by Joanna Powell Colbert and written by Latisha Guthrie. I knew from the first card that I was in b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_8376.jpglove. The illustrations for the Herbcrafter’s Tarot are exquisite and breathtaking. Even the precise detail of the illustration on the back of the deck as a whole is enchanting. It has become my favorite card-back illustration of all time, the little tincture bottles, butterflies, and sprigs of herbs prompting a sense of discovery and joy every time I touch one. Instead of immediately shuffling the deck and drawing a card, which is how I usually approach a new deck, I made the decision to approach The Herbcrafter’s Tarot card by card, day by day, even (mostly) resisting the urge to peek ahead at the cards to come. It is truly a deck to be savored and I knew from the third card that I could recommend it wholeheartedly to others.

Drawing inspiration from the shared Celtic heritage of the authors as well as from Latisha’s Mexican-American heritage, The Herbcrafter’s Tarot is a sister deck in many ways to The Gaian Tarot. Like a traditional tarot deck, it includes 78 cards. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana follow an herbcrafter’s journey. The Minor Arcana cards are divided in four suits, aligned with the four elements: Air (Swords), Fire b2ap3_thumbnail_66007504_2368806219998253_6388625486133592064_n.jpg(Wands), Water (Cups), and Earth (Pentacles).  Each card contains a detailed colored pencil drawing in photorealistic style. Each card is alive with vibrant detail and thoughtful connection, most of the illustrations containing very subtle nods to the original major and minor arcana cards of traditional tarot decks. Depending on the suit and type of plant, some of the herbs are shown in the act of being prepared or harvested, in use in baths or teas, or in their native environment. The People cards for each suit, depicting the hands of women healers at work, have been titled according to the archetypes each woman embodies as she “matures into her craft from wonderer to warrior to midwife to teacher.” The skilled, creative, intuitive hands of Hijas (daughters), Adelitas (warriors), Madres (mothers), and Curanderas (healers) are represented in the People cards. Accustomed as I am to the faces and personalities of the people depicted in full in The Gaian Tarot, I did find myself sometimes missing that human component and wanting to see who is “behind the scenes” of the beautiful herbal layouts, nature mandalas, works in progress, and the gnarled hands at work in The Herbcrafter’s Tarot. The inclusion of scenes, plants, and hands rather than faces is intentional, however, because the primary perspective of the deck is from that of the plants.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    What a wonderful review, I love this deck, too!
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I'm really in love with it! I keep thinking of more things I should have added to the review--it is visually "nourishing," I find.

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Unfreezer Spell

Even if you avoid a lot of print and social media. Even if you don't own a television with cable news. Even if you have wifi at the whim of the fairies who ration your streaming. Even if, with all these provisos, you would have to live in an underground bunker to have missed the terrible news that the solar eclipse is bringing into the light.

And if you care about the treatment of children. Or if you just care about human beings. If you are a woman who has learned that certain powerful people who are employees of a government department are creating memes where a Member of the House of Representatives is felating them...because humiliation is what really rocks their rocks off in a secret Facebook group.

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Celebrating the insects

This is the time of year when I see most insects. Dragonflies, damsel flies and demoiselle flies over the water. Hungry, blood-seeking insects at twilight. There have been unidentifiable red moths (too fast, too far away). I’ve seen my first stripy caterpillars – who will grow up to be cinnabar moths. I’ve rescued various other caterpillars I couldn’t identify, I’ve put bees safely onto flowers, and got out of the way of passing beetles. It’s busy out there.

Of all the native wild things, insects are the ones I have the most trouble identifying. There’s so many of them. I can identify a grasshopper, but not which kind of grasshopper it is – and there are many. I can only reliably identify a couple of bee species. I know a handful of beetles and the rest are little scuttling mysteries. I have some idea about butterflies, am rubbish at moths, and have no clue about flies. I try to learn a few new names every year but at this rate I will remain embarrassed by my ignorance for the rest of my life.

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Solstice Songs

 

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  • Robin Fennelly
    Robin Fennelly says #
    Lovely! Thank you for sharing this Tasha...

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PREVIOUS | MASTER | NEXT

Hi and welcome to this round of the Tarot Blog Hop. We've now been doing this for a while.  How long have you been hopping along with us? I'm the wrangler for this blog. As the saying goes, I've only myself to blame. :D

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  • Jay Cassels
    Jay Cassels says #
    At last I can log in to this again! Thank the oh gods of technology for alt browsers... I have always made these associations for
  • Joy Vernon
    Joy Vernon says #
    Oddly, even though I learned Neo-Pagan ritual work and circle casting with calling the quarters, I didn't learn to associate the t
The Summer Solstice: A Day of Awakening!

The Great Wheel has turned once again and the longest day, the Summer Solstice, offers opportunity to stand in the heat of Solar Flame, cast the strength of our Inner Sun into the spotlight and bask in the expansive culmination of the prior months’ hard work and efforts. 

This is the time in the Great Year that I call on the Fires of the Goddess in all of her power and strength. She is raw and visceral. Palpable and the shadows that she casts are far reaching and soothing in their transformative directive. She is the ebb and the flow. The expander and the contractor of what I allow to flow from her bounty.
 

We can use this dynamic of energy to call forth our Inner Sun and the energetic changes that have occurred in concert with the increasing of the outer sun’s strength and have brought us to this midpoint of peak. To consciously engage the energy of the Solstice as a tool for enlivening our inner light is similar to the pulling back and tautness of the slingshot band forming its own state of temporary imbalance in order to send the stone straight, steady and fully propelled on its intended course. It is the tipping of the scales towards one extreme of expansion before the necessary contraction that draws all into a state of equilibrium and (temporary) balance at the equinox. This cycle of expansion and contraction- balance and purposeful imbalance- occur in a pattern of alternating the center of focus and the point of expression. 

We find ourselves drawn to the longer days that have been gradually moving towards the apex of this day of the longest hours of light. We feel ourselves emerging into the fullness of this Light filled with the realized potential and life sustaining energy of the sun. We are infused with its power and take pleasure in opening our senses to the full experience of being lit from within and shining that magick on all we encounter. This is the center of our focus and we cling to the last vestiges of daylight before the cycle moves towards the waning time.

And, it is from this place of extreme that we drink in all of the light we able to hold to carry us forward in the days and months ahead, knowing they will bring increasingly shorter hours of daylight and longer times of nightscape. This absorption of the catalytic fires will be the fuel that will burn throughout the months ahead as we move into the space of darkness, cold and introspection and become the lantern of that light.

I usually craft a personal working for the solstices and the equinoxes using the solar energies as the continuous energetic thread. Below is a simple ritual that you may use to celebrate the Solstice as an awakening to and reaffirming of the solar energies that are part of our inherent make-up. Each of the workings I do serves to enliven and increasingly strengthen the solar current. It is this current that I use for energetic protocol and workings. And, it is this current that supports the lunar work that I do. In this way, I maintain the tools that are needed so that I may remain in sync with the energetic tides that flow around me and have as my foundation the Inner Sun that will Light the way. 

A Ritual of Awakening

For the working: 

1/Gold or Yellow Pillar Candle
1/White Pillar Candle
1/Black or Dark Pillar Candle
Candle snuffer (optional) 

Place the candles in a triangular shape on a small altar table. The White Pillar would be the point of the triangle with the Gold on the Left base and the Black on the Right base. A white or gold altar cloth would be suggested. Something plain is preferable rather than a patterned cloth. Everything should be very simple, uncluttered and clean with the candles as the central focus. 

Sacred space is prepared is whatever way is compatible with your path. Invoke those Patrons, Guides or Deity that you work with and wish to have witness and support this rite. For my ritual I would use the gold candle, as the sustaining light and the black as holder of the dark and the midnight Sun. The white candle serves as the inner anchor for the energy. 

Make statement of your intent to enliven and awaken your Inner Sun that its flame may burn brightly in the months ahead. You want to speak this aloud, so that all of your subtle bodies may respond to the physical vibration of the words you are setting forth. 

Begin by lighting the Gold candle. Declare this candle as the energy of the Sun held in its peak of potency and life sustaining properties. It is the catalyst that bursts forth at the dawn of each day. It is the strength and fullness of light as the midday sun. And, it is the drawing of the solar energies into the belly of night; still burning brightly as its mysteries are held in the Midnight Sun. Take some time to connect with these energies and envision this solar cycle in whatever way presents and feels natural to you. Breathe in deeply, feeling the expansion of your lungs and imagining this expansion as the heat and warmth of the growing sun.

Next, stand before the White Candle. Make declaration that this candle represents the pure illumined energy of your Higher Self and the power and strength that is held within. This candle represents your Spirit and the true nature of your being, that flows with the cycles of nature, the seasons, the Universal and Cosmic laws. Feel its resonance within you as you speak each work of description. You may also wish to say your mundane and magickal names, affirming your identify in Spirit and Matter.

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