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

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Legend of the Swan-Woman

I have always enjoyed Celtic mythology, most especially when it involves a little romance. This is one of the reasons why I chose the name of the Celtic goddess “Caer” (Ky-air) as my craft name. Not only is it a beautiful name, but her story is one of love and desire.  Her name is Caer Imbormeich which means, “yew berry.” She was the daughter of Ethal Anubail, a faery king from Connacht. She is considered to be the Celtic Goddess of  prophetic dreams,  love and music.

According to an old Celtic myth, an enchantment was placed upon her which caused her to change into a swan every other year at the festival of Samhain. Only the love of a god could break the magickal spell. Aenghus MacOg (“Aenghus the Young Son”) was a god who presided over love and youth. He aided many star-crossed lovers. After Caers’ beautiful face appeared to him in a dream, he became quite smitten with her, falling into what can only be described as a deep lovesickness. He learned that she, in her swan form, lived on a lake called Dragon’s Mouth among a troop of 150 female swan companions. If he could distinguish her from the others, she would be free to leave with him if she so chose to do so. However, the only way he could gain entry into Caers’ world to rescue her from the spell was to join her in transformation.

After using his divine powers to change himself into a swam at Samhain, Aenghus searched for his bewitched love at Dragon’s Mouth lake where each pair of swans was linked by a chain of silver. Because Caer was a goddess, a golden chain decorated her neck and this is how Aenghus was able to correctly identify her. He called out to her, asking her if she would have him as her lover and flee the lake to spend forever together. She happily agreed and the two circled the lake three times.

The romantic tale of Caer Imbormeich and Aenghus MacOg concludes when they escape as swan lovers to Aenghus’ sidh (faery mound) at Brugh na Boinne after their song-filled flight cast an enchantment of sleep over all who heard it for three days and three nights. It is said that every year on Samhain eve, their song of enchantment can still be heard by all those who live near the lake.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Solitary Beltane Ritual

Solitary Beltane Ritual

Items Needed:
One tall Green candle (for God)
One tall White candle (for Goddess)
4 corner candles
Cauldron for Balefire (if performed outdoors, make a Bonfire)
Ritual candles - different shades of green
Rose incense to burn with sage in cauldron
 cup of water
 bowl of salt
chalice of wine or juice
Athame (for The Great Rite) and/or wand
Spring and Summer flowers to decorate altar (optional)
(Cast circle and call the corners then light the incense)

INVOCATION OF THE GOD: (light  tall Green candle)
“I now do call upon the eternal God in the ancient way, as Young Lord and Oak King - Horned One of the Forests. I bid Ye welcome and ask Thee to come forth and join Thy Lady Goddess in the Holy Rite of Sacred Union. As it is willed, so mote it be!”

INVOCATION OF THE GODDESS: (light tall White candle)
“I now do call upon the eternal Goddess in the ancient way, as Lovely Maiden, Mother and Crone – Three-fold Goddess be. I bid Ye welcome and ask Thee to come forth and join Thy Lord God in the Holy Rite of Sacred Union. As it is willed, so mote it be!”

“Blessed be this day of Beltane,
 Wedding day of the Goddess and God;
 Holy day of sacred marriage,
 Holy night of sacred union.”

Light the surrounding green rituals candles and say –

“Tonight  I celebrate the union of our Mother Earth to Her consort, our Father God, the Green Man and Great Lord of the Forests, as nature rejoices in a blaze of color and life.”

Go to the altar and pick up the cup of water, hold upwards and say –
“Blessed be the sacred union which manifests all creation!
 Behold the womb of the Mother,
The entity from which all life flows,
Blessed be the Lady!”

Go to the altar and pick up the athame, hold upwards and say –
“Behold the phallus of the God,
 Fruitful principle of the universe,
 Blessed be the Lord!”

THE GREAT RITE (Symbolic) –

(Pick up chalice of wine or juice then say):

“Blessed be you, my Lady,
 The Holy Bride of Heaven and Earth,
Come unite with Thy Lord in the ancient rite of sacred marriage!”
(Pick up athame and then say):

“Blessed be you, my Lord,
 The Holy Groom of Heaven and Earth,
 Come unite with Thy Lady Goddess in the ancient rite of sacred marriage!”

While slowly dipping the athame into the chalice, repeat:

“Chalice to athame,
 As Goddess is to God;
 Father is to Mother,
 As man is to woman,
 Behold the sacred union of The One!”

Replace the chalice and athame back on the altar and say:

“By this act of love, all life comes to be;
 By this act of faith, I proclaim my place on the eternal cycle of life,
 The Lord and Lady reign eternal!”

Now toast to the Lord and Lady by drinking from the chalice and breaking off a piece of the bread – setting aside a portion to give back to the Earth later.

“I am a child of deity,
 I am part of the creative life force which moves the universe;
 I am part of all that is –
 Though we are apart we are always together,
 For we are one in the spirit of our Goddess and God;
 Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again –
 Blessed be!”

(Close ritual, thank the deities and remember to give back to the Earth)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Enjoying Imbolc!

Imbolc - 2010

I love everything about the sabbat of Imbolc – the Fire goddess Bridgit, the beautiful white candles which illuminate such elegance, the promise of spring, making our homemade altar crafts ... 

Bridgit’s candle with Her name inscribed in Witches Alphabet

Bridgit’s Bed decorated with crosses and besoms

Draco & Rhiannon wearing the Imbolc crowns

Our Bridal table in honor of Bridgit

... and of course spending time with friends and family!


The guys just hangin' out

                       My sister Robin and her hubby Jim

This year; however, we are planning on celebrating Imbolc with Lady Sabrina Rhiannon and her great group of guys and gals!



Thursday, January 27, 2011

OK, we've had enough snow .../"Hazy Shade of Winter"

So far this winter for atleast twice a week every week, since the beginning of last December, we have had either snowy and/or icy weather - which is characteristically unusual even for Reading, PA at this time of the year. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love to watch the snowflakes falling down from my living room window when I am sitting at home – it really is the most beautiful scene! I actually don’t even mind shoveling all that much. However, driving in it to work and back is an entirely different story.

Sometimes I so wish that I could go back to my days as a kid when my little brother and I used to enjoy playing in the snow together. Nothing too crazy, just the usual stuff like sledding down the snow-covered hills in our back yard and an occasional snowball fight or two. We even helped to clean off my parents’ cars because we would always use the snow off of them first to make snowballs (my parents had to have loved that!).

Ah yes, the good old days, right? You know, the time before we all had to actually grow up and become as responsible as our parents? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to relive those moments again just once in a while? Oh well, I can dream, can’t I? …  J

A Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel

Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the salvation army band
Down by the riverside, it's bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned
Carry your cup in your hand
And look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hang on to your hopes, my friend
That's an easy thing to say, but if your hope should pass away
It's simply pretend
That you can build them again
Look around, the grass is high
The fields are ripe, it's the springtime of my life

Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me
At any convenient time
Funny how my memory skips while looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka and lime

I look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground...
Look around, leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground...
Look around, leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Earth Prayer

O Great Spirit of the South,
Radiance of the rising Sun,
Spirit of new beginnings,
O Grandfather Fire,
Great fire of the Sun
Power of life-energy, vital spark
Power to see far and to imagine with boldness
Power to purify our senses,
Our hearts and our minds
We pray for the good of this planet Earth
And all living beings on it

O Great Spirit of the West,
Spirit of the Great Waters,
Of rain, rivers, lakes and springs,
O Grandmother Ocean,
Deep matrix, womb of all life
Power to dissolve boundries,
To release holdings,
Power to taste and to feel,
To cleanse and to heal,
Great blissful waves of peace
We pray for the good of this planet Earth
And all living beings on it

O Great Spirit of the East,
Invisible Spirit of the Air,
And of the fresh, cool winds,
O vast and boundless Grandfather Sky,
Your living breath animates all life
Yours is the power of clarity and strength,
Power to hear the inner sounds,
To sweep out the old patterns,
And to bring change and challenge,
The ecstasy of movement and the dance
We pray for the good of this planet Earth
And all living beings on it

O Great Spirit of the North,
Protector of the fruitful land,
And of all green and growing things,
The noble trees and grasses,
Grandmother Earth, Soul of Nature,
Great power of the receptive,
Of nurturance and endurance,
Power to grow and bring forth
Flowers of the field, fruits of the garden
We pray for the good of this planet Earth
And all living beings on it

- Ralph Metzner

(Taken from the book, "Earth Prayers from Around the World" edited by Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon)

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's the Difference?

My husband once asked me, “What is the difference between a Wiccan ‘coven’ and a Wiccan ‘group’?” Good question! Well, actually there are a couple of differences between the two. First of all, groups like our Old Path Enlightener’s Circle are not nearly as rigid as traditional covens tend to be. For example, we don’t necessarily celebrate our sabbats on the actual date. Since all of our adult members work full time jobs and some also have family obligations due to children, etc., it is extremely difficult most of the time to get everyone together at the same time on the exact sabbat or esbat date. It simply is not realistic with all of our busy, everyday schedules!

Instead, we choose to hold our celebrations as close to the actual date as possible. Although if we can, we do celebrate the sabbats on the exact day, I think of the sabbats as more of an honoring of the Goddess and God than anything else. Therefore, unless there is a specific reason such as spell work we may wish to perform during the ceremony, I do not feel that we necessarily need to perform all rituals on the actual date. Naturally, sabbats such as Samhain and Beltane are best celebrated on their actual days due to the fact that they are the only times during the year in which the veil between the worlds is thin. For the most part, I don’t feel that “when” is of such a great importance so long as we “do” in fact honor our Deities.

Samhain -2010

Our esbats; however, are only performed if they happen to fall on a night when we can all get together. The main reason for this is obvious. With the exception of a Blue Moon, we are blessed by the Goddess with only one Full Moon a month. Full Moons are very powerful indeed and are generally accompanied by some type of magical working such as healing spells, Drawing Down the Moon rituals or any sort of work which can not be done at any other time of the month.

Another difference is that, since we are an Eclectic group, we like to incorporate various traditions into our rituals from time to time. This allows us room for both growth and learning. We also do not limit ourselves to working only with one another. When needed, we gladly help each other for a common goal – healing spells and the like. But we also work with others whom we implicitly trust outside of our solitary group.

With Lady Sabrina Rhiannon and some of her coven members - Yule 2009

What I love so much about Lady Sabrina Rhiannons’s coven, The Coven of the Silver Moon Circle, is that even though I don’t always participate in their circles due to the fact that they only perform their sabbat ceremonies on the actual nights, they are still an Eclectic coven. I am very grateful that I have always had the chance to surround myself with such awesome, like-minded individuals. I am growing spiritually as a person and so there are times when being a solitary isn’t quite enough. Being part of a group gives me the feeling of unity that I sometimes feel that I need. For me, it is a wonderful feeling!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Celebrating Ostara - The Spring Equinox

Ostara is The Spring Equinox which is celebrated between March 20 and 22. Many of the Easter traditions of today are rooted in this sabbat from Easter bunnies to painted eggs. In the Druid tradition, it was known as Alban Eilir.

The sabbat of Ostara originates from the Germanic countries. Early Western European Pagans called it the Festival of Eostre.  Eostre was the Teutonic Lunar Goddess of Fertility and Her sacred animal was the hare. (The Saxon version of the Germanic goddess was Ostara). Eostre’s feast day was the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. The word "Easter" is derived from this goddess’ name.
The Christian celebration of Easter was set close to this Pagan holiday in an attempt by the Church to convert local Pagans - designating their Easter celebration, which they believed commemorated the resurrection of Christ, as the official holiday.
Early European Pagans celebrated the renewal of life and the on- coming of the new planting season. Seed corn and barley were planted by hand, with special ears of corn saved to create the corn dolly or kern king, symbol of the sun god Lugh, who was sacrificed at Lughnasadh – the First Harvest. This is the sabbat when both light and dark and Goddess and God stand as equals - for this is the time of balance. 

Since it was a Pagan custom to exchange painted eggs during Eostre’s Festival, our Wiccan group usually decorates our Ostara eggs, exchanging them and then leaving them on our altar in honor of Eostre until the evening is done. After ritual, we continue to clelebrate with a feast of our own - enjoying our delicious food and refreshments!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Any man can be a Father, it takes a special person to be a Dad

I must say that I owe much of who I am as a person today to my father. He is absolutely, without a doubt, the most kind, warmest, wisest fellow I have ever known. He is the kind of person who would give the shirt off of his back to a stranger in need – honestly. He always seems to keep a chin up and a positive attitude about life no matter what happens. He has made so many sacrifices over the years for our family so that we would never have to want for anything.

My dad is a very open-minded Aquarius (his birthday is January 22) who loves animals, nature, science (go figure, right?), and science fiction. I once remember taking him to a Star Trek convention, since we both have always been huge fans, and we had such a blast! He is also the coolest dad I have ever met. He has very diverse musical tastes ranging from Hank Williams, Sr. to Bruce Springsteen and Sophie B. Hawkins. He is an extremely laid-back, easy-going person who always manages to stand up for what is right. For example, he has always been supportive of my decision to be a Wiccan and has gladly educated himself on what witchcraft is all about. On more than one occasion, he has stood up for my right to practice my beliefs even to the behest of certain family members. Likewise, I would stand behind him as well and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my dad.

My dad Bill, Brett, me & my mom Elrita

As his daughter, I am ever so proud of him and I feel very blessed by the Goddess to have a father like him. Tomorrow he will turn 78 years old. Happy Birthday, Dad – we love you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Meditations

If you do not find peace in yourself,
You will never find it anywhere else.

Until you make peace with who you are,
You will never be content with what you have.

Remember that we are not strangers,
But friends that have not yet met.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Defending That Which is Right

The other day, I read an excellent post on The Zen Witch blog titled, “Be the Change.” In it, Willow writes about how we, as Pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, etc., should not have to feel we must lie about our beliefs or religion - nor does she wish to raise her children to ever be ashamed of who and what they are. Her point was, basically, that we can’t expect a change in society’s attitudes toward us if we continue to hide in the “broom closet” all of our lives.

Among the comments which she received, was a very upset Christian who, apparently, was under the delusion that our Founding Fathers built our Country on the Christian religion and; therefore, they were also ALL Bible Christians. This individual was referring to, of course, our Freedom of Religion Act.

As I have said before, I am a strong advocate of religious tolerance; however, it MUST go both ways! Normally, I do not allow the ignorance of others to engage me as I have dealt with this issue for a number of years, but this time was much different. The person who was being attacked for her beliefs is a very close friend of mine and someone whom I have known for several years now. Admittedly, I have never been very good at defending myself; however, my family and friends are a different matter. I could not allow myself to just sit back as usual and take it in stride, so I defended Willow, and our religious freedom, by replying to this Christian woman on her blog.

So with the help of my husband, whom I call a “walking encyclopedia of history,” I intelligently explained to this Christian about our so-called “Christian” Founding Fathers and what the Freedom of Religion Act really meant in their own words:

“Where the preamble declares is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting ‘Jesus Christ’ so that it would read, ‘departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by the great majority in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its’ protection the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedon, the Hindu and the Infidel of every denomination.”
 – Thomas Jefferson on The Religious Freedom Act

“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion.” – John Adams, November 4, 1796

“But it does me no injury to say there are twenty gods or no God.”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1782
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
-Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, 1/24/1814
“This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”
– John Adams letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817
“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”
– Thomas Jefferson, 1782
With all due respect, our Founding Fathers were speaking of a “generic” God, NOT Christian specific. Perhaps it is people such as this who need to study their history and learn a little bit more about what “freedom of religion” really means. My Christian friends do not judge me nor do they try to convert me in any way. They believe in God as do I, they just choose to worship in a different way. We respect each other’s religious beliefs regardless of “what” we label ourselves.
Blessed Be!
Our Yule pic -  1998

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

Quite a few months ago, I had a student who was referred to me by Lady Sabrina Rhiannon. He had originally come to her asking to be taken on as one of her Wicca students. Since she had already begun teaching her class 2 months prior, she asked me if I would be willing to take him on instead, as she did not wish to disrupt her current students by slowing them down. I told her that if she would send me her Wicca criteria, I would get him caught up to the point where, going forward, he could then join her and the rest of the students.

I began teaching him twice a week for 2 hours each day at my home. After the end of the third week, he asked me if he could continue his studies with me. So the next day, I spoke to Lady Sabrina Rhiannon and explained the situation. We then both agreed that he would stay on with me instead of joining her class.

His name was Gary and he worked as a counselor for the Berks County Prison, he was a long-time member of the Masons, and a hereditary witch! In other words, his bloodline could be traced back to his great-grandmother. His grandmother had played a very active role in introducing him to witchcraft when he was a child, but he had not taken his studies any further until about a year ago.

Four months into his studies; however, Gary had decided to stop showing up for class. You see, the problem was that he wanted to rush his Wicca studies instead of taking his time to learn the correct way.  I can honestly say that he was one of the most naturally gifted witches I have ever met. Had he had a bit more patience with himself, he could have benefited greatly and learned “how” to hone his natural abilities. Perhaps at some later time, he will decide to finish his studies, but if he doesn’t, I wish him all the best in all his future endeavors.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Green Man: The Magnificent God of the Forest/"Green Man" by XTC

Of all the many forms in which our Lord God takes, I must say that I love His Green Man aspect the most! He is both lover and consort to our Lady Goddess, the Earth Mother, and our Father always -The Oak King and Holly King respectively.

Historically speaking, the Green Man goes all the way back to pre-Christian Europe, Ireland, Scotland and Russia. He represents our kinship with the trees and the woods and the cycle of renewal and rebirth. He is known by many different names as He is recognized in almost every tradition. For example, he is heavily associated with Cernunnos (Celtic god of the forest), Dionysus (Greek god of Wine) and Bacchus (Roman god of wine), to name a few.

My Green Man Yule tree ornament

Our Wiccan group, Old Path Enlightener’s Circle, always honors The Green Man or “The Oak King” at our Beltane celebrations. This is the time when our Lord God and Lady Goddess unite in the “sacred rite of holy marriage.” We re-enact this sacred marriage ceremony during the symbolic Great Rite. This is one of the many reasons why I love Beltane so much and why it is amongst my favorite of our Wiccan celebrations. Lady Sabrina Rhiannon’s group, The Coven of the Silver Moon Circle, chooses a May King and Queen during their Beltane ritual. Everyone inside the circle walks in between two balefire cauldrons for a total of 9 times while making one wish each. Typically, the Celtic Fire god Bel or Belinus is honored at this particular sabbat, as the word Beltane literally means, “Bel-Fire,” but we much prefer to honor The Green Man.

Draco & Rhiannon lighting the Spirit candle during the symbolic Great Rite - Beltane 2008

Some time ago, my husband found this really awesome song called, “Green Man” by the group XTC. When I listen to it, I can’t help but to envision a huge temple in the middle of a beautiful green forest with people bowing down on their knees on the stone temple steps to worship him. I really love this song as it definitely has a special place in my heart!

-          Sal Ranieri

"Green Man" by XTC

Green Man lyrics – by XTC (full version)

Please to bend down for the one called the Green Man,
He wants to make you his bride
Please to bend down for the one called the Green Man,
Forever to Him you’re tied
And you know for a million years He has been your lover,
He’ll be a million more
And you know for a million years He has been your lover,
Down to the skin to the core

(Heed the Green Man, heed the Green Man)

Please to dance ‘round for the one called the Green Man,
He wants to make you his child
Please to dance ‘round for the one called the Green Man,
Dressed in the fruits of the wild
And you know for a million years He has been your Father,
He’ll be a million more
And you know for a million years He has been your Father,
Run to His arms at the door

Lay your head, lay your head, lay your head
Lay your head upon the Green Man
Lay your head, lay your head with mine
Lay your head, lay your head, lay your head
Lay your head upon the Green Man
Build a bed out of oak and pine

See the Green Man blow His kiss from high church wall,
And unknowing church will amplify His call!

Please to bend down for the one called the Green Man,
He wants to make you His bride
Please to bend down for the one called the Green Man,
Forever to Him you’re tied
And you know for a million years He has been your lover,
He’ll be a million more
And you know for a million years He has been your lover,
Down from the hills to the shore