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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Protective Blessing for Cats

Protective Blessing for Cats

Bast of beauty and of grace,
Protectress of the feline race,
Shield (name if pet) from all hurt and harm,
And keep him/her always safe and warm,
Watch over (name of pet) from day to day,
And guide him/her home if he/she should stray
And grant him/her much happiness,
And a good life free of strife and stress

~ Dorothy Morrison

A Loving Home

“Cats have nine lives; three for playing, three for straying and three for staying”

The other night I received a phone call from my long-time and very dear friend Fran. She explained to me that her daughter had to move into an apartment which would not allow her to take her 10 year old cat, Pepsi. Pepsi is a gorgeous gray and white Maine Coon who was originally a rescue cat and is a “lover” with the sweetest, most awesome personality you could ever imagine! Maine Coon cats are more commonly known as the “dog lover’s cat” because they are so cool and laid back by nature and get along with almost every kind of dog. We had an absolutely beautiful one who lived to be 16 years old and her name was Sabrina, also a rescue cat, whom we lost about six years ago.

As usual, we were not necessarily looking for yet another kitty cat, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that, somehow, this cat was meant to be with us (and our cat clan of three) for whatever the reason. Besides, I always swore to myself that if I ever had the chance to adopt another Maine Coon someday that I would take it.

 It is always difficult for anyone to have to give up their beloved fur baby and a decision I have, fortunately, never as of yet had to make. But rest assured,  Pepsi has definitely found himself in a loving home to live out the rest of his days and I am so grateful to have the chance to give him what he would probably never have had at an animal shelter being that he is an older kitty.

Unfortunately, he has never been around another cat before (let alone 3!) and so the only challenge will be getting him adapted to living with ours.  But, hopefully, with much time and patience, we will be able to accomplish this and Pepsi will have a permanent place in our home and our hearts for the rest of his life.  Although in the end, the choice is ultimately Pepsi’s, I hope that he chooses to stay with us - after all, how many kitties are blessed with the opportunity to be rescued twice in their nine lives?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Addition for Ostara

This afternoon I had such a pleasant lunch with my sister Robin. We always remember each other on our birthdays and the Sabbat holidays. This year, she gave me a beautiful new gift for my birthday to decorate my altar for Ostara. It is a lovely little lavender, egg-shaped candle holder – perfect for Ostara!

 In addition, she also gave me a box of my favorite Yankee Candle scented tea lights to go with it. The scent is called "Storm Watch" and it has an extremely fresh smell. I also enjoy the Yankee Candle scent of “Midsummer’s Night.” (Okay, I admit that I am an absolute fanatic for Yankee Candles – lol!)

I have collected so many Sabbat decorations and such over these many years, but it is always the thoughtful gifts from friends and loved ones that hold the dearest meaning to me because I treasure them so much. I can’t wait to grace my altar this year with this special gift!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friends, you just gotta love 'em

Well, I must say that I have had a very interesting birthday today. I woke up this morning to 26  "Happy Birthday"e-mails and  Facebook messages from my awesome family and friends. (I just turned 47 years old - EEKK! How did that happen?) 

Then, my good friend and fellow co-worker, Kiki Love (cool name, right?), was kind enough to treat me to lunch for my birthday along with her daughter who also works with me. She took me to a place close to where we work called, "The Old Country Buffet." We were sitting down at our table enjoying our food when all of the sudden an announcement came over the intercom which said, "Attention everyone! We at The Old Country Buffet would like to wish a very speical Happy Birthday today to Kim!"

Needless to say, after I had turned about five different shades of red, I began to laugh hysterically!  Because as embarassing as it may have been, I thought about how lucky I was to have such a thoughtful friend who would do something so sweet. That was, by far, the most interestingly fun part of my day!

Tomorrow, my sister Robin is also taking me out for a birthday lunch. It is really wonderful to know that I am surrounded by so many people who love and care about me so much and, honestly, Goddess knows what I would ever do without them. I am very thankful each and every day that I have such wonderful friends and family in my life.

Thank you so much to all of my friends and family for once again making my birthday special - I love you bunches!!!

My Kiki-girl and Brett

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Becoming Pagan Clergy

Once in a while, someone will ask me how I became a member of the Pagan Clergy – what led me to this decision and why? Well,  as a child I was raised into the Lutheran faith. Every Sunday morning I joined my mother and brother in church, reciting the 23rd Psalm and singing hymns along with the rest of the congregation. I always knew; however, that something didn’t feel right to me. For some reason, I could never really “feel” the Christian teachings in my heart. At the age of 14, I stopped going to church all together. A few years later, I decided to give my Christian roots one more try by attending an Open House held by one of our local Lutheran churches. Alas, when I was asked “what percentage of my pay” I was willing to give to the Church every week when I could barely afford to put food on my own table, I felt so disheartened that I left the Church for good and never looked back.

A couple of years later, I met my husband. He took me to a place called New Hope in Pennsylvania. New Hope is a small little village with all kinds of quaint little shops. Among them was a shop called, “Gypsy Heaven.” I was immediately drawn to this place and totally in awe! There were candles, various gemstones and incense, jewelry and books of every kind. This is when I first heard of the religion of Wicca. I bought a few things including a book called, “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver Ravenwolf (a good starter book, by the way). Finally I had found a belief system that made sense to me and I remembered feeling as though I was “coming home.”

So, for the next few years I continued to study on my own and, during that time, I was fortunate enough to meet several others who followed the Wiccan path. One of them was a woman named Lady Sabrina Rhiannon who would later not only become the High Priestess who performed my legal handfasting, but she would  also become my Reiki Master and very dear friend.

Becoming a Pagan Clergy member was not a decision in which I took lightly. When I did finally decide that this was something that I definitely in my heart “needed” to do, I approached Lady Sabrina Rhiannon who helped me get started. She told me that she became ordained through the Universal Life Church, a legal interfaith organizational church which believes in, “Do Only That Which is Right.”  I then filled out my application on their website where I was able to pick my official clergy title and soon after I received my Clergy Certificate and credentials. I began ordering my clergy supplies from them as well such as marriage certificates and Wiccaning documents – both of which I have had a need for over the years. I also have had the pleasure of officiating an inter-faith wedding. (please see my post, “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”)

I love performing wedding ceremonies and, as a member of the Universal Life Church, I may legally perform them in any state. Of course, each state has its’ own set of laws in which we as clergy must abide by, but I feel that it is important that everyone have the right to get married in the way they so wish. After all, this is a day that you will want to remember for the rest of your life and the memories will always be yours and yours alone.

Why We Need Pagan Clergy

Ten years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to be legally handfasted in our back yard. The problem was we did not know any clergy who would be willing to perform our wedding ceremony.  Little did we know that the Goddess and God would soon provide one for us. 

A short time after I met Lady Sabrina Rhiannon, she informed me that she had recently been ordained by the Universal Life Church. She very graciously agreed to officiate at our legal handfasting ceremony and we were indeed blessed! Not only had she become a good friend to us, but she would become our Pagan Minister as well!  Since neither my husband nor I wished to get married in a church, nor did we want a civil ceremony, this was a dream come true!  Even though we lived across the street from a Justice of the Peace, who was kind enough to offer to officiate for us at our home, it was so very important to us that we have a Pagan wedding.  Needless to say, we had a beautiful handfasting ceremony - surrounded by family and friends! 

 About a year later, I, too, made the decision to become ordained by the ULC. I thought about how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to choose “how” I got married and how many others did not have that same choice.  Not only that, but I felt that it was extremely important that we have Pagan clergy for all of our other Rites of Passage as well – Wiccanings, funerals, etc. Having Pagan clergy not only gives Wiccans, but other non-conventional faiths the same rights that mainstream religions have.  Unfortunately, for all the “lip service” we as a society give with respect to “Freedom of Religion,” we still somehow manage to fall adequately short of the concept. The fact remains; however, that freedom of religion means freedom for ALL religious beliefs – not merely the politically acceptable ones!

I am proud to be a Pagan clergy for the Universal Life Church. The founders of ULC fought for our right to practice what we believe and they fought hard! They gave us the ability to perform legal marriage ceremonies throughout the entire United States and; furthermore, they gave us the legal right to found our own organizations i.e. covens, groups, congregations, etc.

Of course, as with most other laws, each state has its’ own set of guidelines and requirements which we as clergy must abide by.  Still, just think how far we have come since The Middle Ages.  We, as Pagans, are at last becoming recognized.

Our Wiccan Handfasting - September 22, 2001

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wacky Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wacky Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom has made this really yummy Pennsylvania Dutch cake called a “Wacky Cake” for my birthday.  It is a moist, chocolate cake which is so good that it really doesn’t even need icing to taste great. Anyway, my mom baked one for my birthday last weekend and so I thought that I would include her recipe on my blog.

Mixed together ~
1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Stir all ingredients until evenly mixed and pour into an ungreased pan. Make three holes in mixture: (1) 5 tablespoons melted butter (2) 1 teaspoon vinegar and (3) 2 teaspoons vanilla. Over all, pour 1 cup of cold water. Mix until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients ~
3 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 lb. butter or margarine
2 ½ - 3 cups 10 X sugar
Beat well or until right consistency

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friendship Blessing Ritual

Friendship Blessing Ritual

You will need ~
1 pink candle (for love and friendship)
1 white candle (for purity & spirit)
Astral candles (for birthdays - see chart below)
Rose incense & incense burner
Rose Quartz gemstone
Pink altar cloth
Pink roses and/or carnations
Blessing oil
Tarot cards (optional)
4 corner candles
1 gold God candle
1 silver Goddess candle
Bowl of salt
Cup of water
Chalice of wine
Ritual cakes or cookies
Piece of paper

Cast circle and call the corners in usual manner. Cleanse and purify circle by sweeping the perimeter using besom.  Light the rose incense and invoke the God and Goddess. Anoint pink and white candles and the Astral candles with Blessing Oil and light. One at a time, repeat the following incantation:

“Friendship mine, friendship true,
 Friendship sent from me to you;
 Friendship strong, friendship free,
 Friendship sent from you to me;
 Friendship true, friendship bold,
 Friendship new, friendship old;
 More precious now than gold or gem,
 May our friendship never end ~
 This we ask in the name of the Lord and Lady,
 So mote it be!”

Now toast to your friendship by taking a sip of wine from the chalice and breaking off a piece of the ritual cake or cookies. Write a special wish on the piece of paper that is just for the two of you then light the paper using the flame from the pink candle and place in cauldron to burn. (the ashes will be taken outside to release back out into the Earth afterwards).   If using the tarot cards, now is the time to do so.

When finished, close ritual and open the circle. Thank the deities and release the ashes in the cauldron outside – remembering to give back to the Earth.

Aquarius       -       blue and green
Pisces            -       white and green
Aries             -       white and pink
Taurus          -       red and yellow
Gemini          -      red and blue
Cancer          -      green and brown
Leo                -      red and green
Virgo             -     gold and black
Libra             -     black and blue
Scorpio         -     brown and black
Sagittarius    -     gold and red
Capricorn     -    red and brown

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Far is Too Far?

Are religious beliefs and morality really one in the same? Do they necessarily go hand in hand together? Most definately not. Morals are not the same thing as religious beliefs. Everyone has (or should) have morals - religious or not.

I recall a conversation I had many years ago with a former co-worker. She was a Fundamentalist Christian who had always felt the need to try and change my beliefs. One time, while in the process of attempting to convert me, I remember the conversation very quickly turning into a religious debate on the subject of religious wars as she asked me, “Wouldn’t you kill for your religion?” The question not only appalled me, it literally took me aback and, without hesitation, I immediately replied, “Absolutely not!” As a Wiccan and Solitary Priestess, I would never even consider committing such an act in the name of Wicca – or any religion for that matter. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch trials – these were not the actions of so-called “moral” people. These are merely examples of how religion, any religion, can be and has been taken too far. I do not feel we should need religion to dictate to us what is right and wrong. To me, it is purely a matter of common sense. Religion is still after all a man-made concept whereas “faith” is not.  For this reason, I much prefer the word faith to religion. Our faith is very personal to each and every one of us and should never be used by anyone or any group for some personal or political agenda such as religious wars, governmental laws, religious control through church dominance, etc.

If only we, as a society, could just learn to use moderation in our daily lives rather than taking things to the extremes and realize that too much of anything isn’t necessarily a good thing. As a member of the Pagan clergy, I am and always have been a very strong supporter of religious freedom; however, I don’t believe it should be at the expense of harming someone else. That being said, just think of all the good that could be achieved if we all learned to respect one another’s beliefs – religious or otherwise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blessed Be Again

Blessed Be Again

Upon a dark and windy hill,
On Samhains’ eldritch night
I saw the Crone with withered hands
By balefires burning light
Her eyes were full of wisdom,
The threads of life She span
And sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

As I walked out on Yuletide,
The winter winds blew cold
I saw the Winter King a-standing,
Grey and grim and old
His cloak was pulled around Him,
A child was in His hand
And He sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Upon the morn of Bridgit’s Day,
I saw a lovely sight,
The Goddess standing by me
All crowned in starry light
The crescent moon beneath Her feet,
The stars were in Her hand
She sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Upon the first of April,
I saw the Holy Fool
He was a merry prankster
The Lord of all Misrule!
He looked at me and winked an eye
And danced and sang and then
He sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Ostara came with blossoms,
Life flourished everywhere
I saw the Mother smiling,
With flowers in Her hair
She stood among the growing fields,
In heather and in glen
And sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

As I walked out one May morning,
‘Twas on the blooming heather
I saw a Maiden dancing there
In fair and sunny weather,
The Beltane fires were burning high
The dancers round did spin
They sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Upon Midsummer’s heady day,
I saw John Barleycorn
Walking proud and tall there
In the sunny, shining morn
His beard was long and golden,
He looked at me and then
He sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Upon a singing Summer day,
At dawn on Lammastide
I saw the Craftsman smiling
On sunbeams he did ride
He brings us light and knowledge,
To help our fellow men
He sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

Upon a chilly autumn day,
All sheltered from the storm
I saw the Harvest safe at home
The families snug and warm
They sat and gave their thanks
And laughed and smiled and then,
They sang, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

The Spiral Dance goes on and on,
The King and Youth and Child
The Gentle Mother, Aged Crone
And Maiden meek and mild,
And so the yearly circle
Turns in eternal spin
So sing, “Blessed Be and Blessed Be
And Blessed Be again!”

-Joe Bethancourt

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Lovely Little Surprise

This morning I was sitting at work covering the company switchboard. As I watched the numerous flower deliveries walk through the front door, I thought about how beautiful all the arrangements were. Some had musical balloons attached to them and some were accompanied by a huge teddy bear, you know, just business as usual on Valentine’s Day. Suddenly, a woman walked in with a lovely bouquet which consisted of huge red roses and pretty little pink carnations with a tiny card attached that said, “I love you – Brett.”

Needless to say, I was not only surprised, but elated! It was good to know that after almost 20 years together, my husband and I still felt the same way about one another. Later on, after I had arrived home, he handed me a beautiful, romantic card. As I read the words, I realized that we didn’t still feel the same way about each other – we are actually happier because our relationship has grown so much over the years as have we. Time has given us a new found love and respect for one another. A deeper understanding of who “we” are and why we have stayed together all these many years despite all of life’s many up’s and down’s.

 It hasn’t always been easy, but having one another to lean on helped get us through many a rough patch. All  things considered, I can’t imagine my life without him and, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prayer for Peace

"O Gracious Mother and Merciful Father,
We pray that you help the leaders of this world to have compassion in their hearts,
That you give them the wisdom to end the suffering caused by wars,
And the understanding that only through peace will we truly be happy;
We humbly ask you to guard and protect all of our brothers and sisters in the military,
And give comfort to their loved ones,
May you lead us from death to life,
From falsehood to truth,
Lead us from despair to hope,
From fear to trust,
Lead us from hate to love,
From war to peace,
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our Universe;
Let our words be spoken in truth,
And our hearts show only love."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Witches Cords

I first learned about a Witches Cord back in 1998 when Willow and I attended a Wiccan community gathering in New Hope, PA. It was a Samhain celebration and one of the “party favors” in which they handed out to everyone in attendance was a rolled up scroll tied by three ribbons. The colors of the ribbons were black, orange and gold, the traditional colors of Samhain, and the scroll contained a Witches Cord sabbat spell or blessing.

The Witches Cord, sometimes referred to as a Witches Ladder, is a very simple and effective magickal working. It can be done in a Coven or by a solitary practitioner. Cords may be used in any general working or can also be used in Sabbat celebrations as mentioned above. This is a very old method of cord working which involves much concentration and visualization. The cords or ribbons are traditionally 18 inches in length and three different colors, preferably the colors which correspond to the specific spell or wish. It is usually accompanied by a type of chant or prayer while braiding the ribbons together:
“By the knot of one, the spell’s begun…
   by the knot of two, it cometh true…
   by the knot of three, my will shall be…
   by the knot of four, the power is more…
   by the knot of five, my spell’s alive…
   by the knot of six, the energies mix…
   by the knot of seven, the future I leaven…
   by the spell of eight, the power of fate…
   by the power of nine, what’s done is mine!”
When finished, the cord should be hung up some place where you can see it everyday. Sometimes our Wiccan group, The Old Path Enlightener’s Circle, uses Witches cords in our Sabbat rituals. We make a sabbat wish as we pray to the God and Goddess for the good of all. They are very easy to make and we really enjoy making them.  Although it is typically a Celtic tradition to make a Witches Cord on Samhain night, (this is the Witches New Year) as an expression of what you wish or hope for in the year to come, we also perform them at other times of the year as well. The following is an example of how to make a Witches Cord:
A WITCHES CORD (for Ostara)

What you will need ~

3 cords or ribbons approx. 3ft. in length (Pink, Light Blue and Lavender)
Ostara Incense (jasmine, rose, strawberry)
Charcoal Tablet
Cauldron or heat-proof container
Herbs (honeysuckle, Iris, violet)
Stones (rose quartz, moonstone)
Bag to contain your herbs and stones

Fold one end down of your ribbon & tie together to make a knot. Make a loop so that you may hang your cord in your home. Braid the three strands of ribbon together. As you are braiding, concentrate and say aloud what you are wishing for. When you are finished, tie a knot. On your braided cord, hang your bag containing your herbs and stones then add anything that has meaning to you that would be appropriate for the spell ~ jewelry, coins, etc.

Before hanging, charge your Witches Cord by passing it through the burning incense (over the charcoal) while saying:
“By the Divine Powers of the Lord and Lady,
  I charge this cord with positive intent and ask that my wishes be granted for the Sabbat of   
 Ostara. So mote it be!”

Give thanks to the Lord and Lady by giving an offering back to the Earth.