We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Handsome Master, Barbara Eden and, Oh My! (revised)

Everyone has heard of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it!” Well, when it comes to the Djinn, no truer words were ever spoken. To say that they were “tricksters” would undoubtedly be a huge understatement! So who exactly were these so-called “Djinn” and where did they come from? According to the Koran, they were originally called the “Shayahteen” (Sha-ha-teen) and then later became known as the Djinn or Jinn. In Islamic scripture, they were made out of fire with no fixed appearance and, like the transformative element of fire, they could change their form and appearance – human or animal. Needless to say, they were far from the Hollywood-created version we call Genies. They were adversaries of humanity, but they were not; however, adversaries of God. They were said to have been created before man and may well predate both Christianity and Islam. In Zoroastrian Persia, before the coming of Islam, evil spirits called jaini were thought to cause disease and misfortune. The word djinn is derived from the Arabic “jinni” or demon and its’ root word is janna which means “to cover or conceal.” 

In "The X-Files" episode, " Je Souhaite," FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully investigate a case involving a female djinn who teaches them all about "being careful what you wish for ..."  and that no matter how clever you may think that you are when making the perfect wish, the djinn are almost always more clever in the end! In the final scene, the djinn offers Mulder his three wishes. He thought about it long and hard, and his first wish was for world peace. And in the blink of an eye, the djinn made everyone in the world vanish. Ergo, his second wish was to undo his first one, and his final and third wish was to free the djinn forever from her fate of damnation as such an entity.
Although, in Islam, they were originally believed to be good or evil, we in the Western world, view them much as we view demons – sent to ruin our world any way they can. Just like humans, the Djinn were held accountable for their actions and indeed Allah would take the day of the last Judgment to them.
It is also said that humans can call the Djinn forth to do their bidding. This is, of course, how the story of the Genie came about - along with the idea of free wishes. However, there appears to be no evidence that the Djinn could actually do little more than trick magick and perform minor spells and charms.


I, personally, do not believe in the existence of the Djinn anymore than I believe in the devil or Satan himself. As a student of mythology and ancient religions; however, I thought that the subject might make for an interesting read ~ not to mention fun!




Saturday, January 24, 2015

Imbolc: The Bride Altar


Every year while preparing my altar for Imbolc, I set aside a small side altar for which to adorn various framed wedding photos of family and friends. Since the Goddess is in her maiden aspect as Brigit, and historically speaking, the word "bride" was actually taken from her name therefore giving this sabbat that connection, I thought it only fitting to surround my home with these very special memories in her honor.

My mom and dad

Hubby & I on our wedding day
 
Lady Sabrina Rhiannon

I also place a small white votive cande on the table with a nice Imbolc poem as an added touch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Very Special Birthday!


Today was a very special day indeed. It was my dad's 82nd Birthday! He is still residing at the Laurel Center Rehab Hospital and so we all gathered there to celebrate with him. All of  the wonderful nurses and staff wished him a Happy Birthday as well.


I had a bouquet of flowers, a little stuffed teddy bear, and a birthday balloon with a beautiful card delivered to his room this afternoon. He loved them!!!



The teddy bear had a cute little red heart sown on his one paw


My mom and dad ...




All in all, I'd say he had a lovely little birthday, and after everything he has been through so far, deservedly so!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

As Fate Would Have It

 As part of this week’s “Throwback Thursday” post, I thought I would share a little true story with you all ~ and so my dear friends, here goes … 



When I was ten years old, I was introduced to the world of baton twirling while attending a neighborhood picnic. I noticed the neighbor’s 17-year old daughter, Joanie, practicing her two-baton twirling routine in the driveway and my mother asked me if I would like to take twirling lessons. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes!” I remember thinking to myself what a beautiful, elegant sport this was. Not to mention that my mother was also a baton twirler in her youth.

A week later, I met the woman who was to be my Twirling Instructor all through elementary school and up into my high school years. Her name was Jill Rozum and she was, and still is, the best teacher in the world! I loved her so much, my mother immediately enrolled me in Jill’s drum and twirling corp. called, “The Boutiques of Berks County,” with whom I marched and performed with for many years after, eventually making Co-Captain.  I was such a shy kid back then and she taught me so very much about determination, pride, hard work, and believing in myself! Not only by giving me the tools in which I needed to acquire quite a few (1st place) trophies in twirling competitions, but more importantly by showing me how to have confidence in me.

Fast forward to last Thursday night, while opening up my sewing kit to hem my hubby’s pants, I found an old “The Boutiques” patch which I hadn’t seen in many, many years and forgotten I had. I put it aside and did not think much more of it again … until the next day. Ironically, after 30 plus years, I ran into my former twirling instructor, Jill, while strolling into a Burger King on my lunch hour. We talked and did a bit of catching up since we last saw one another. I told her about the patch I had just found the night before as she simply laughed and said, “Guess it was fate!” I told her that the years I spent in “The Boutiques” were the best years of my life! To which she replied, “You know, a lot of my former students have said that to me.”



Karin (my former twirling partner), Jill, and I at “The Boutiques”25th Year Reunion gathering for both alumni and current members alike.



Me in 1976 ~ a year after joining “The Boutiques” Drum & Twirling Corp.








In addition, I recently found a former student of mine of whom I had mentored back in my teens when she was only 6 years of age. We found one another on Facebook and she very thoughtfully sent me this kind message:

"Hi Kim. I was sitting here looking at your friend request, the name was so familiar but I couldn't place it. I pulled up your pictures and saw the album ‘Boutiques’ and memories came flooding back. When I left ‘The Boutiques’ my mom had me join the Thunderbolts. I have you to thank for introducing me to twirling. Kept up with it all through Junior high and high school and did individual competitions and had won several 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. I didn't stay with baton the whole time. I did big flags, rifle and saber. I was with a senior drum corp. out of the Lehigh Valley area for several years after school. I miss it but still have my very first baton and the last one I used. My daughter is 19 months old and can't wait till she's old enough to pass them to her and hope she enjoys it as much as me. Thank you very much for that.” ~ Gillian Wickel-Day


In fact, baton twirling builds both self-confidence and self-esteem. When you have to perform in front of thousands of people, it is a real confidence-builder.


A majority of twirlers use some type of water-proof tape to wrap around the shaft of the baton for gripping in the event that their hands begin to sweat during practices and/or performances.





With my twirling partner and friend in competition, Karin, during an exhibition performance in 1982.



A pic my mom took just before a competition at Schuykill Valley High School ~ 1982


“Talent Olympics” competition performance (Hershey, PA) in 1981 ~ 1st Place …


                                      And, again, in 1982



A 1982 Memorial Day Parade in Sinking Spring, PA (I am pictured front, left)



    Taken at one of “The Boutiques”  Christmas Parties ~1982







Karin & I continued to twirl together all through Junior & Senior High School. We are pictured here just before a half-time performance in our senior year at Wilson High School, 1983.



And so in conclusion, well, what more can I say? ... Great sport and precious memories in which to last a life-time.




Monday, January 19, 2015

The Gods & Goddesses of Imbolc


Although traditionally Imbolc is associated with Brigid, the Irish/Celtic goddess of hearth and home (amongst a few other things), there are a number of other deities who are represented at this time of year. 

Thanks to Valentine's Day, which has its' roots in the Roman pagan celebration of Lupercalia, many gods and goddesses of love and fertility are honored at this time as well.

  • Aradia (Italian): Popularized by Charles Godfrey Leland in Gospel of the Witches, she is the virginal daughter of Diana. There is some question about Leland's scholarship, and Aradia may be a corruption of Herodias from the Old Testament, according to Ronald Hutton and other academics.
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  • Aenghus Og (Celtic): This young god was most likely a god of love, youthful beauty and poetic inspiration. At one time, Aenghus went to a magical lake and found 150 girls chained together -- one of them was the girl he loved, Caer Ibormeith. All the other girls were magically turned into swans every second Samhain, and Aenghus was told he could marry Caer if he was able to identify her as a swan. Aengus succeeded, and turned himself into a swan so he could join her. They flew away together, singing exquisite music that lulled its listeners to sleep. 
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  • Aphrodite (Greek): A goddess of love, Aphrodite was known for her sexual escapades, and took a number of lovers. She was also seen as a goddess of love between men and women, and her annual festival was called the Aphrodisiac.
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  • Bast (Egyptian): This cat goddess was known throughout Egypt as a fierce protector. Later on, during the Classical period, she emerged as Bastet, a slightly softer, more gentle incarnation. As Bastet, she was regarded more as a domestic cat than a lioness. However, because of her position as a guardian, she often was seen as a protector of mothers -- as a cat to her kittens -- and childbirth. Thus, she evolved into the identity of hearth goddess, much like Brighid in the Celtic lands.
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  • Ceres (Roman): This Roman agricultural goddess was a benefactor of farmers. Crops planted in her name flourished, particularly grains -- in fact, the word "cereal" comes from her name. Virgil cites Ceres as part of a trinity, along with Liber and Libera, two other agricultural gods. Rituals were performed in her honor prior to spring, so that fields could be fertile and crops would grow.
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  • Cerridwen (Celtic): Cerridwen represents powers of prophecy, and is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the Underworld. In one part of the Mabinogion, Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons -- beginning in the spring -- when in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesen, the greatest of the Welsh poets.
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  • Eros (Greek): This lusty god was worshipped as a fertility deity. In some myths, he appears as the son of Aphrodite by Ares -- the god of war having conquered the goddess of love. His Roman contemporary was Cupid. In early Greece, no one paid much attention to Eros, but eventually he earned a cult of his own in Thespiae. He also was part of a cult along with Aphrodite in Athens.
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  • Faunus (Roman): This agricultural god was honored by the ancient Romans as part of the festival of Lupercalia, held every year in the middle of February. Faunus is very similar to the Greek god Pan.
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  • Gaia (Greek): Gaia is the mother of all things in Greek legend. She is the earth and sea, the mountains and forests. During the weeks leading up to spring, she is becoming warmer each day as the soil grows more fertile.
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  • Hestia (Greek): This goddess watched over domesticity and the family. She was given the first offering at any sacrifice made in the home. On a public level, the local town hall served as a shrine for her -- any time a new settlement was formed, a flame from the public hearth was taken to the new village from the old one.
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  • Pan (Greek): This stud-like Greek fertility god is well known for his sexual prowess, and is typically portrayed with an impressively erect phallus. Pan learned about self-gratification via masturbation from Hermes, and passed the lessons along to shepherds. His Roman counterpart is Faunus.
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  • Venus (Roman): This Roman goddess is associated with not only beauty, but fertility as well. In the early spring, offerings were left in her honor. As Venus Genetrix, she was honored for her role as the ancestress of the Roman people, and celebrated as a goddess of motherhood and domesticity.
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  • Vesta (Roman): This hearth goddess of Rome was the one who watched over home and family. As a hearth goddess, she was the keeper of the fire and sacred flame. Offerings were thrown into the household fires to seek omens from the future. Vesta is similar in many aspects to Brighid, particularly in her position as a goddess of both home/family and of divination.     

In Remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ January 15, 1929 - August 4, 1968




"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Countdown to Spring: Imbolc Traditions


The sabbat of Imbolc is known for being a time of purification and the anticipation of spring. Here are some customs that have long been associated with this sacred holiday. 

Spring Cleaning

This is the time to give your home a good thorough cleaning in preparation for a visit from Brigit. If you happen to have a fireplace, it especially should be cleaned very well. As a part of the magical purification of the house a birch branch should be used to symbolically sweep the floors. Birch has strong associations with Brigit, and has long been used for rites of purification and new beginnings. All of this should be done prior to the eve of Imbolc, when a small dish of butter should be placed on a windowsill and a fresh fire kindled in the hearth or a candle lit in honor of Brigit.
 

Making the Brideog/Brigit's Doll

Long pieces of straw or rushes should be gathered and fashioned into the shape of a doll. The image should be dressed in white doll clothing or merely wrapped in a white cloth in the manner of a dress. Her image should be decorated with bits of greenery, early flowers, shells and pretty stones. An especially pretty shell should be placed over her heart. When finished, she should be consecrated with a few sprinkles of sacred water while invocations to Brigit are spoken. The process is called a Brideog (BREE-JOG), or "little Brid" and is an important part of the traditional Imbolc celebration.
 

Brigid's Crosses

This is the most widely practiced custom associated with Imbolc. Following the making of the Brideog, the extra straw should be gathered up and saved, for use at the family or coven feast on the eve of Imbolc. These are weavings of straw that can be as simple as a few strands or perhaps even more elaborate. At the end of the evening, you should sprinkle it with a bit of sacred water and speak a request/prayer of Brigid for blessing and protection of the home and family. Crosses that were woven by the children should be hung on the wall over their beds. 

Divination

The eve of Imbolc is the best time of the year to perform divinations, specifically pertaining to the future welfare and prosperity of your family.

Imbolc Feast

On the eve of Imbolc, a feast should be held. The doll should be placed on the outside of the home next to an open door. Begin the feast with a prayer of thanks.

Brid's Bed

As the evening of the Imbolc feast winds down, gather up the last of the straw and place in an oblong basket in the shape of a cradle called "leaba Brid" (LAWA BREE) or "the bed of Brid". Place the bed on your altar (or near the hearth if you have one). Then place the Brideog into the bed and place a small straight wand of birch with the bark peeled in the bed beside the figure. This wand is called "slatag Brid" (SLAH-TAHG BREE) or "'the little wand of Brid.

In folk practice, it appears mostly as a holiday centered on the household, but it can easily be turned into a community celebration as well.