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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Memories of Yule Past

One of the things I love most about our sabbat celebrations are the memories we create for ourselves when gathering together for ritual, food and fun! Needless to say, I have cherished each and every one of my many memories of friends and family throughout the years and this year was certainly no exception. The Goddess and God bring special people into our lives for a good reason and, in that respect, I have been truly blessed.

Rhiannon's new ritual robe

 
The Oak King & The Holly King dual

"The Gang"

Richie and mom Judy

Mike 'n' Naomi

   Just chillin'

Yule gifts!


Though now that Yule is over, we can happily look forward to Imbolg and the promise of spring. I must admit, next to Samhain and Beltane, Imbolg is perhaps my favorite of all the Wiccan holidays. I really love the way the light from our candle flames illuminate my home during ritual as we all stand inside the sacred circle - holding our single white candle in our hands in honor of the Goddess Brigit. It is truly a lovely sight to behold!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cheers!


Well, it looks like the New Year will soon be upon us once again as we celebrate with family and friends. We stay up to watch the ball drop on Times Square, sing “Auld Lang Syne” and shout “Happy New Year!” My husband and I always like to watch “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve” while drinking Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante.

It’s been quite an interesting year for us. We were fortunate enough to be able to celebrate my mother and father-in-laws’ 50th Wedding Anniversary by taking a 6-day cruise to Bermuda and my husband and I also bought our first home this past year! This coming year, we are planning to take a trip to Canada with my in-laws and I am so excited! I have never been to Canada before, but my mother-in-law tells me the scenery is absolutely breath-taking!




 I have always wondered; however, where our New Year’s traditions came from and how this holiday was celebrated years ago? The celebration of the New Year is amongst the oldest of all the holidays which we, as Americans, observe. It was first celebrated in Ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox or first day of Spring which we,  as Wiccans, call Ostara.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its’ own particular mode of celebration, but it is pretty safe to say that our modern New Year’s Eve festivities pale in comparison. The Romans observed the New Year in late March, but their calendar was continually changed by various emperors, causing the calendar to soon become out of synchronization with the Sun. In order to set the calendar right, in 153 BC, the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the New Year.

However we choose to celebrate the New Year, it will always be a time of rebirth, planting new crops, blossoming and a chance for us all to start anew!

From my family to yours, I wish each and everyone a safe and joyous New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Rhiannon" (Introduction to previous post, "The Silver Wheel")


"Once in a million years a lady like her rises!"
                                                                     - Stevie Nicks

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Silver Wheel

I have just finished reading a wonderful book called “The Silver Wheel” by Marguerite Elsbeth & Kenneth Johnson. This book explores the story of the Celtic Goddess Rhiannon, as written in “The Mabinogion." The authors attempt to relate her story to the trials and tribulations of women today. The following is a rather condensed version of Rhiannon’s amazing story.  

Rhiannon was the Celtic Goddess of song, white horses and death. Her name means, "Great Queen" and she is often depicted as a beautiful blonde-haired Goddess riding a swift, white horse. She is also considered a Triple Goddess – maiden, mother and crone. She was the wife of Pwyll, Prince of the Land of Dyved and the mother to their only son, Pryderi. She was wrongly accused of murdering her son and then later found innocent after he was returned to Dyved by his foster guardians. The child had actually been kidnapped by a man named Gwawl. Gwawl was the man whom Rhiannon’s father had promised her to before she had met Pwyll and a man whom she did not love. She and Pwyll had tricked Gwawl into releasing her from her fate of becoming his wife. Gwawl took his revenge by taking her child and framing her - making the kidnapping look like a murder.

After Pwyll had died years later, Rhiannon married Pryderi’s brother-in-law, Manawydan whom she was promised to by Pwyll upon his death. Together they ruled the Land of Dyved. Until one day, Rhiannon, her husband and Pryderi’s wife, Cigfa suddenly discovered that they were all alone in the land – everything else was gone! They roamed the land trying to find out what had happened. The next day, while hunting, Pryderi and Manawydan’s dogs chased a wild boar into a castle. When the dogs did not come back out, Pryderi went into the castle after them. When he did not come out, Rhiannon insisted upon going into the castle after him. As she entered the doorway, she found Pryderi’s hands frozen to a golden bowl which was attached to a fountain made of marble stone – his feet stuck to the slab of marble upon which he stood. Rhiannon then took hold of the bowl which enslaved him and she too became frozen to it. Neither one were able to speak. As night fell, the castle vanished!

 

Years after, while planting three seeds, Manawydan discovered that the first two seeds had been destroyed by a huge mouse. He decided to catch the mouse and place a noose around its neck to hang it. While attempting to hang the mouse, a Bishop approached him and began begging him not to kill it! Manawydan refused to let the mouse go until finally the Bishop explained to him that the mouse was actually his pregnant wife who had an enchantment placed upon her and that he was the one who cast the enchantment over Dyved to avenge his friend Gwawl, whom Rhiannon had dishonored so many years ago.

Manawydan insisted he would not let the creature go unless the Bishop freed his beloved wife Rhiannon and her son, Pryderi, and also promised to never harm him, his wife or her son ever again! The Bishop agreed and Rhiannon and her son were returned to Dyved where they finally lived happily ever after.

And oh yes, in case anyone was wondering, Stevie Nicks' beautiful song, "Rhiannon" was indeed written about this very inspirational Goddess! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Angels

There was once a time had anyone asked me if I believed in "angels," I would have said to them, "I don't know ... not particularly." I never really had any convictions regarding the subject either way. I was taught by my Reiki Master to use the aid of the Archangels whenever performing reiki. As a matter of fact, I have a beautiful statue of an angel holding a star in her hands with stars and moons draped at her feet on my reiki altar.


Recently; however, I have had an experience which has caused me to revisit my "on the fence" view about their existence . I now can say in all sincerity - they really do exist!

A couple of evenings ago, my husband was out with a good friend of his at a local pub. Now, this particular establishment is heavily frequented by college students - many of whom are the most arrogant and obnoxious group of young people you will ever meet. My husband was drinking his second beer when he got up to use the men's room. According to his friend, about 5 minutes after my husband returned to their table, he began to act strangely tired all of the sudden. When his friend asked him about this, my husband replied that he was probably just tired because he had been up since 4:30a.m. that morning. Thinking nothing more of the matter, they both decided to leave and go home. Unbeknowst to anyone at the time, my husband's beer had been drugged at some point earlier that evening at the pub. He became disoriented while driving and ended up in a very treacherous part of the city. Dazed and confused,  he was eventually found wandering around the dangerous streets by the police and without his car!

The next thing I knew, the police were at my front door. They had brought him home, unecessarily handcuffed at that, adding that my husband was "lucky he wasn't killed!" About an hour later, after the drug had worn off, he became violently sick and still remembered nothing about the incident.

The next morning we decided to look for the car - expecting it would have either been stolen or vandalized. Amanzingly, everything was still intact - husband AND car!

When I think back on the chain of events of that horribly scarey night, I realize that "luck" had absolutely nothing to do with the way things had turned out. I have never been the sort of person who believes in coincidence and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason - not by chance!

This particular experience has prompted me to do some further reseach about angels and where they came form. I found out that angels actually do not have their origins in Christianity. They were, in fact, written in Hebrew scripture years before the Christians adopted them. They are messengers of God in both religions none-the-less. Their Wiccan correspondences lie with the Archangels and they are Michael (South/Fire), Rafael (East/Air), Ariel (North/Earth) and Gabriel (West/Water).

Although I still do not beleive that angels have wings or look like little cherubs, I now know in my heart that they are real. They are protective entities that look out for each and every one of us when we truly need them most. They are, literally speaking, "Guardian Angels!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

There's Sisters and then there are "Sisters"

I am sure you are all familiar with the expression, “Blood is thicker than water”? Well, I can honestly tell you that this is not always necessarily so. My former sister-in-law, Robin, is not only my “sister in the craft”, but she had also been my very dear friend long before we had become related to one another. In fact, we both felt an instant connection from the time we were first introduced to each other all those many years ago.

As close as I am to my natural family, she showed me that it is possible to be just as close to someone who is not related to us through blood.  Over the years, we have laughed together, cried together and shared our inner most thoughts and feelings. It is a bond which cannot be broken by divorce or any other kind of tragedy – it seems as though she and I have been through it all together.

This often serves to remind me of how our Wiccan brothers and sisters can also be as close to us as our own family – even though they may not share in our family lineage. I, myself, have never had any biological sisters per se; however, I have plenty of “sisters” in my life in which to call my own. They are all a part of my family and I can’t imagine my existence without them. Like Robin, they are indeed a precious and irreplaceable gift from the Goddess!

The following poem was written for my sister Robin, who has chosen the beautiful craft name Aurora Skye and it suits her well!


AURORA SKYE

She shines like the sun
With blue eyes so bright
And her blonde hair glows
In the pale moonlight

So warm and so sweet
Her heart filled with light
Like the goddess of dawn
Love beams at her sight

She entered my life
With a smile that gleams
She’s my confident, my friend
We share our hopes and  our dreams

Like the moon and the stars
We are sisters of fate
With strong family ties
And a loyalty so great

We’re as close as can be
We've a bond she and I
She’s loving and kind -
She's Aurora Skye

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Creating Sacred Space


We all know the importance of creating a sacred space when practicing Wicca. Not only does it help us to stay grounded when meditating or performing our magickal workings, but it can also aid us in maintaining our sanity after a long, hard, stress-filled day of work! Let's face it, we all need to have our own "personal" space - our own little corner of the universe where we can go to in order to relax and keep a well-needed sense of balance.

Personally speaking, I find that retreating to my sacred space makes me feel whole again after an especially hard day of dealing with lifes' stressful demands. It refreshes my mind and spirit. I simply dim the lights in my reiki room, light my altar candles, sit in front of my altar and meditate for a while - allowing all of the negative aspects of the last few hours of my day to gradually flow out through my body. When I am finished meditating, I say a little blessing in honor of the Goddess and God - thanking them for their love and guidance.

 
Sister Support - sitting and meditating with my friend WillowBree (1999)

Although it can sometimes be difficult for us to set aside a bit of time out of our everyday busy lives, it is important that we find enough time to "recharge our emotional batteries" as it is absolutely essential to our mental and physical well-being. For me, it makes all of the difference in the world!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lavender Cookies with Rose Water Icing

Well, the truth is I am actually a teacher, not a writer and, as my Home Economics teacher used to say, I am definitely not “Becky Homecky!” However, my brother-in-law made these delicious cookies one year for one of our sabbat ceremonies to use in our cakes and ale ritual. They are easy to make and a must try!

Ingredients Needed:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon crushed lavender
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
5 1/2 teaspoons water
6 1/2 teaspoons rose water
Red food dye for pink coloring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs, lavender, flour, baking powder and salt. Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

While the cookies bake, prepare the icing by mixing the powdered sugar with the water and rose water. Add red food coloring to desired shade of pink.  Drizzle over cookies after they have cooled.  Makes about 4 dozen


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Respecting The Three-fold Law

I find that when teaching students, the one question which naturally seems to arise is, “Is it okay to use magick to protect myself?” The answer to this question is yes! We may indeed use magick to protect ourselves from the physical or psychological harm of another; however, we have to be extremely careful as to make sure that we are carrying out the spell properly. Protection spells, most especially banishings, must be thought through very carefully! For example, we must be absolutely positive that we are banishing the negative energy resulting from a persons’ actions – NOT the person them self! Our intent always plays a huge factor in any type of magickal working and spells for protection are no exception. Should you decide to write your own protection spell, you will need to choose your words wisely. I can not stress this enough!

The Three-Fold Law teaches us that whatever we send out into the universe, be it “good” or “bad” energy,” will come back to us three-fold. While this fact is undeniably true, The Three-fold Law further states, “Lest in thy self defense it be, ever mind the Rule of Three!” In other words, even in situations where we feel the need to protect ourselves, we must continue to abide by the Law of Three. Those who choose to ignore this, run the risk of suffering the very serious consequences of their actions. It is absolutely imperative that we respect this “universal law” as it is not to be taken lightly and certainly nothing to fool with. I have seen these kinds of spells go terribly awry when not thought through carefully enough! 


As it is with everything in nature, there is a “delicate balance” between banishing the negative energy directed toward us and drawing the positive aspect of a new beginning into our lives. When performed correctly, these types of spells can be highly effective and, even more importantly, will not manifest themselves in a negative way. Personally, I have found that using one white votive candle (to represent pureness of spirit) and one black votive candle (for banishing negative energy) works extremely well! 


The fact still remains; however, that nothing is ever 100% full-proof and protection spells should only be used when absolutely necessary. Perhaps it would be helpful for us to remember that old adage, “What goes around, comes around!”

Blessed be



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Appreciating Differences

I remember shopping at a local flea market a few years ago looking to buy a book on Jewish culture for my Wiccan friend as a Yule gift. I saw a used book stand and confidently walked up to the saleswoman and said, "Good day! I was wondering if you would happen to have any books on Christmas? I have a friend who wishes to learn more about his Jewish heritage." Of course, after I misspoke I immediately realized my "slip of the tongue." But before I had the chance to correct myself, she very sternly replied, "No, no it's Hanukkah, my de-ah, Hanukkah!" I promptly apologized and we both shared a little chuckle, deservedly so, at my expense.


The friend whom I am referring to is my very dear friend and our long-time solitary group member, Matthew.  When it comes to witches, some of us are what are considered to be a hereditary witch - meaning a witch who can trace his or her bloodline back at least three generations. Some of us are natural witches and some of us are even mixed with another faith.  Such is the case with my friend Matthew. He is a Wiccan; however, he also chooses to acknowledge his Jewish roots.  Traditonally in the Jewish religion, it is the mothers' side of the family which determines the faith of the next generation of children. Even though Matt's mother does not choose follow the Jewish faith, his grandmother did.




It is interesting to note that the six-pointed Jewish Star of David was orginally a Pagan symbol known as the Seal of Solomon. In fact, the menorah, which is also associated with the Jewish religion, is often used by many Wiccans (myself included) during esbat rituals. The main reason for this is because of the number "9" which has long been considered a magickal symbol.*


Although I have been Matt's teacher in Wicca for all these many years, I am now finding myself learning from him as well. To me, one of the most beautiful things about Wicca is its' open-mindedness and willingness to learn from others. It is not solely a matter of education; however, it is also a case of appreciating eachothers' differences - whatever our heritage.


"Shalom lecha, ahavti, my friend, and a Blessed Yule to all!!!


*Reference taken from the book, "The Sabbats" by Edain McCoy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Matter of Faith


As a Wiccan, I faithfully celebrate Yule and the Winter Solstice. As a daughter; however, I still spend the Christmas holidays, church aside, with my Christian family. There may be a few of my fellow Wiccans who might believe that in doing so, I am in conflict with my Wiccan beliefs. As I see it, I, myself, am not celebrating Christmas - I am merely respecting the fact that my family does.  I love spending time with my family and friends and since that does not interfere in any way with the fact that I am Wiccan and celebrate the sabbat of Yule, I certainly do not see any problem with it. 

For example, my husband is agnostic, but he has always respected my decision to be a Wiccan. Even though he does not actually participate in our circles and sabbat celebrations, he is still there with me and he helps me in any way he can.  He has always stood by me and supported me throughout these many years. The fact that he does not follow my own personal religious beliefs, does not mean that he can not be accepting of them.


As a Wiccan Priestess and teacher, I am also a strong advocate of religious tolerance, and as such, I truly believe in “practicing what I preach.” After all, it is a road which runs both ways.  It is important for us to remember that, ultimately, we all breathe the same air and we are all a part of the same universe – regardless of our various faiths and diverse religious beliefs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On A Silver Day

Last March, my friends and I had the pleasure of meeting Silver Ravenwolf, renowned author of several books on Wicca and witchcraft and a witch who is known for her eclectic style.  She came to Reading, PA to teach her seminar on Pow Wow. For those who are not familiar with Pow Wow, it is a form of magick with roots in German witchcraft dating back 400 years ago.




 As Silver would say, "It is a belief system, not a religion!"  Pow Wow is indigenous to South Central Pennsylvania and heavily associated with a group of people called the Pennsylvania Dutch who live primarily in the Lancaster county area.  Although I, myself, was actually born and raised in Berks county, Lancaster is just a "hop, skip and a jump away," so to speak, from where I live.  My great aunts and uncles used to speak the Pennsylvania Dutch language and, growing up, I learned some as well. 




Naturally, I had heard of Pow Wow, but never really knew much about it or its' true origins.  Pow Wow draws heavily upon ancient chants, talismans and personal energy.  Unlike their ancestors, a majority of the Pennsylvania Dutch people of today do not even acknowledge its' existence - either because their faith lies strickly with Christianity and as a result they do not follow the Craft or because of the fact that over the years it has deteriorated to a great degree into simple faith healing. Unbeknownst to many of them; however, the hex signs which they hang on their barn doors for protection from fire are a form of Pow Wow. Hex signs are used for a variety of different reasons, other than protection. For example, they are also used for luck and love. 


My friends posing outside Celtic Myth & Moonlight - Sara, Lady Sabrina Rhiannon & Deb.

With Silver Ravenwolf at her book signing

I found Silver to be a terrific speaker, witty and extremely personable. Given the chance, I would definately attend another one of her seminars and I would highly recommend them to anyone!

"Ich leibe bisht du!" (I wish you love) -

Lady Caer Morganna 


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Crafts

Well, it's that time of the year again and I am working on my crafts for the holidays. They are fun and I really enjoy making them!


Mabon wreath


Samhain wreath

Yule wreaths



Celestial wreath


 Heart wreath\


Ostara wreath



I also made these crowns which we use in our sabbat rituals every year.


Winter King crown

Holly King crown


Oak King crown

Brigit's crown


Beltane Goddess crown


I used to sell wreaths like these when we would have our O.P.E.N. (Old Paths Enlightener's Network) craft shows. Now I use them to decorate on the holidays!


Brightest Blessings,

Lady Caer Morganna




Saturday, November 27, 2010

Earth Sisters


In fate they so did meet
In friendship they so stayed
Neither realized the kind of bond
That yet was to be made

Judy, so shy and quiet
And Kim with Pisces eyes
Both are kind and caring,
Free spirited and wise


As years went by so quickly
Their lives seemed such a mess
Always striving to move forward
But growing so restless

Until one day they finally found
A love they both could share
In the precious Lord and Lady
Who are always everywhere

They chose their craft names wisely
One Rhiannon, one Caer
And thus respect natures' powers
Of Fire, Water, Earth and Air

They worship now in perfect trust
As they give back to the Earth
And where they once felt unalive,
They now can feel rebirth

So with each passing day
Their sisterhood grows strong
As does their love of music
Which they share in dance and song

They know someday the time will come
The question, not where but when
As Merry Meet, merry part
And Merry they'll meet again


by Lady Caer Morganna


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Witch Song

Who were the witches? Where did they come from?
Maybe your great, great grandmother was one
Witches were wise, wise women they say
And there's a little witch in every woman today

Witches knew all about flowers and weeds,
How to use their roots and their leaves and their seeds
When people grew weary from hard working days,
They made them feel better in so many ways

When women had babies the witches were there
To hold them and help them and give them care
Witches knew stories of how life began
Don't you wish you could be one? Well, maybe you can

Some people thought that the witches were bad
Some people were scared of the power they had
But power to help and heal and to care,
Isn't something to fear, it's a pleasure to share

(by Bonnie Lockhart)
Artwork by Sabrina Underwood - The Ink Witch

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Paganism: A Legitimate Religion

Is Paganism really a legitimate religion/faith? The following are excerpts from an article found in a London newspaper on Paganism and Witchcraft. I thought it interesting and felt compelled to share it on my blog:

“Organizations such as the BBC and the Metropolitan Police are devoting more and more time to the understanding of Pagans and Witches.  According to 2001 figures, there are 144,500 Buddhists, 300,000 Pagans & Witches and the registered Jewish population numbers 259,000.  Astonishingly, around 100 members of the Armed Forces now classify themselves as Pagans and a further 30 as Witches. There are also thought to be about 500 Pagan Police Officers.”

The article goes on to say that Police Officers are now being educated on “how to approach Witches & Pagans.”  They are “instructed to avoid touching a Witches’ Book of Shadows and not to handle the ceremonial dagger known as the athame.”

Diane Narraway, the leader of the Weymouth Druid coven and a teacher of tarot and witchcraft, summed it all up by saying:

“We are soldiers, civil servants, teachers, housewives, accountants, university lecturers, farmers, care-givers, historians, policemen and women, forestry workers, gardeners, call center workers, office clerks, dancers and shop workers.  We live our lives quietly, paying taxes, working hard, loving our families, donating to charities, being part of the fabric of society.”

Yup, pretty much says it all - nuff said.

 

Friday, November 19, 2010

What is a Witch?



What does it mean to be a witch? Well, to begin with, it is far more than simple spells, potions, rituals and divining the future. It is a way of life – the feeling one gets from communing with the elements of nature and every living thing around us. Calling oneself a “witch” means making a personal choice – a commitment to the divine universe and to helping others while enriching our own lives as well through the knowledge of our Mother Earth and Father God.

Being a witch means never judging anyone nor interfering with their freedom and right to choose their own path. It means always respecting yourself, others and the laws of nature.  It means many things to many people. Although, I have often heard it said that it is a lot like “coming home” and, truly, it is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2011 Sabbats & Esbats


Sabbats
Imbolg - Wednesday, February 2nd
Ostara/Spring Equinox - Sunday, March 20th
Beltane - Sunday, May 1st
Litha/Summer Solstice - Tuesday, June 21st
Lughnasadh - Saturday, July 30th
Mabon/Autumn Equinox - Friday, September 23rd
Samhain - Monday, October 31st
Yule/Winter Solstice - Thursday, December 22nd


Full Moon/Esbats
Wednesday, January 19th
Friday, February 18th
Saturday, March 19th
Monday, April 18th
Tuesday, May 17th
Wednesday, June 15th
Friday, July 15th
Saturday, August 13th
Monday, September 12th
Wednesday, October 12th
Thursday, November 10th
Saturday, December 10th