Monday, September 30, 2019

All Is Well, And All Is Well

Summer officially ended here last week, as it did in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, but more importantly- to me, at least- Autumn began.  Autumn is MY season, when  the night air turns chilly and there is a whisp of wood smoke in the air, and the leaves stripe the mountains with bands of color. Dusk comes sooner as the sun dips down behind those same mountains, and the night creatures cautiously come out : a cloud of little brown bats swoop and dance, squeeking in delight as they chase insects; the locusts ( foks in this part of Applachia call them 'cadydids') vocalize a catch and call tune; and deer quietly forrage for fallen acorns.

Life goes on in its own way. To those of us who are a little closer to the Earth and mind the signs of the seasons, it is nearing the final harvest before Winter sets store. We await the opening of the Veil, which for me always begins with a subtle hum and shiver. Death pulls back the curtain many times during the year, but never as wide as when the Beloved Dead cross back into the land of the living for that short yearly period of time at Samhain.

But until then...Life goes on in its own way. Nights are quiet, yet alive with the creatures who thrive under the shadow of darkness. I spend them mosty reading and sipping hot tea, lilting jazz music playing in th background, buried in the stories of others' lives, or learning new things about this spiritual path you and I have chosen.

Or is it more accurate to say we have been chosen by the Mysteries? I sometimes wonder which it is, and always come to the conclusion that it's both. My exploration of the Craft often flows along like a river, and with much the same turbulance, and often obstacles to overcome. But all is well, even in the rough patches. I have been a witch long enough to know how to ride the river-when to hold tight to my raft, and when to just let it wash over me.  Which ever happens...all is well....and there are no coincidences.

There is a reason and meaning for everything, as the song goes. Take for example the lovely rosemary plant I found at the grocery store a couple months ago: I watered it with care, and enjoyed its spunky, piney fragrance for weeks until one morning I was trimming up my window garden and realized it had died seemingly overnight. It sat there brown and shriveled, it's little branches still full and intact. I nearly threw it away in my disappointment, until I realized it would go well in some incense. So I carefully preserved it and put it away for use later. 'Later' came sooner than expected with the death of one of my favorite people. The rosemary I had carefully preseved went into a batch of incense I made up to burn in  her memory. Normally I would have only had a few spoons of rosemary to cook with and would have had to purchased enough for spellwork.

As I ground the herbs, it occurred to me that the little rosemary plant knew its purpose long before I did...and thus the Mystery did provide for a need. In the last few days I have made that same protective funeral incense two more times, in memory of a friend taken by cancer, and for another friend's father who passed away just this afternoon. Usualy I made this particular blend no more than once a year, usually at Samhain. But now...I have made it three times in the space of less than a month, and I will curate another batch to celebrate the crossing of the Veil by the Beloved Dead at the end of October.

It is a simple recipe: 1 part lavendar,1 part rose petals, and two parts rosemary. Grind the ingredients fine by hand, while speaking your intention over the bowl. Add by pinches to a burning charcoal. The incense has a floral, woodsy aroma. You can adjust the ingredients as you like. You can also make an offering oil version with fresh ingredients added to a light carrier oil such as sunflower oil. Let it sit at least a week and strain and shake befoe using.

And so it is...all is well, and all is well.

Monday, July 22, 2019

When A Wizard Comes To Call

Oberon Zell stopped over on his walkabout in March.( Okay, I am still a little stunned to hear myself say that.)  Earlier in the year I was reading his Facebook page, and he mentioned that he was making a walkabout to various festivals and appearances and would be needing lodging to make his way more affordable . It would also give him the opportunity to meet people and make new friends.

I have been an admirer of Oberon and Morning Glory's writing for nearly all of my journey through Paganism. They were there in the beginning with the first legally registered Neo-Pagan Church (Church of All Worlds, or CAW). 

Church of All Worlds is a remarkable concept in spirituality which allows for individual spiritual exploration while providing a like-minded community from all over the United States and the World.
I have used texts from CAW and HOME ( Holy Order of Mother Earth) for many years in my own and public rituals and because of their wonderful diversity and viewpoints that have always worked beautifully. Oberon writes in the congenial voice of a beloved elder...which he most certainly is.

Long story short...I PMed him and offered a place to rest and share a few meals on his journey, and much to my surprise, one day he called. During the conversation, and considering that people have all sorts of dietary preferences these days, I asked what he ate. "Oh, food." he replied mischievously. I swear I could see the twinkle in his eye over the phone.

I am not usually star struck because I have worked as a production assistant in the entertainment business for many years. Celebrities are a unique breed of individuals, and their needs ( and demands!) are equally unique. I have become quite unflappable and immune to the wonderful weirdness that spills over from celebrity....but I was totally tongue tied ( and embarrassed to be so) with the Wizard OZ on the phone. I was gobsmacked that he actually called because my little corner of Southwestern Virginia is rather remote. But call he did and we made arrangements for his visit in late March.

As we don't have too many universally accepted elders in our Pagan community, I am quite honored to have shared my home with a man I consider to be the Father of the Neo-Pagan movement. Hopefully I don't sound too gushy, but it was an absolute thrill to have the unique opportunity to share  the evening with such a charming and knowledgeable man. He is truly a scholar, a treasure trove of history and science...a humble and a wonderful conversationalist, a bawdy trickster, with not a pretentious bone in his body. He is kind and appreciative, and throughout dinner ( at which I served some truly awful wine-sorry!) we plumbed the depths of one another's respective intellect through lively, serious and sometimes silly conversation. What did we talk about? Everything! Mermaids and Paganism, people who are mutual acquaintances, his art work, love, aliens, the Grey School,religion, CAW...and Morning Glory.  Out brief conversation about her was especially poignant for me, as I have always held her as the embodiment of the Goddess. How I wish she could have been at the table with us, but actually, in hindsight, she was. I wish I'd set a place for her.

It was a night to remember, at least for me. Not the last, I hope. The Wizard OZ is a rather enchanting fellow. I am pleased to have been able to have given back just a little to one who has contributed so much to the person and spiritual practitioner I have become.

Bright Blessings, my Friend! There is a light in the window for you, and the door is always open.

Good Journey Home: Rosmary Ellen Guiley Dies

So sad to hear of the sudden passing of beloved author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, a pioneer of paranormal exploration and occult subjects. If you aren't familiar with her work (who isn't?) look her up. The author of too many books to mention her, she also wrote several encyclopedias. I cannot fathom what a huge undertaking that must have been for a single encyclopedia, much less several.

Visit her Facebook page for remembrances from around the world. As we grieve her passing there unfolds a certain beauty in knowing that she's finally found the answers to many of the questions she had about the realms of existence in our universe and beyond. Rosemary now knows the Great Unknown Mysteries.

Hail the Traveler and Good Journey to her as she transitions to the next wonderful life in the Summerland.

A Few Words On Sacred Waters

As a Pisces, I am naturally drawn to the element of water. Running water is among my favorite sounds. I have sat mesmerized by a stream watching the water rush over rocks and carrying leaves downstream. I love all manner of water: the a fore mentioned rushing streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, and rain. The place I'm most drawn to are spots where the water bubbles up through the aquifer to form what many call a "sacred well".

All water originating from a natural source is sacred. There is no need for it to be blessed by anyone- it has been blessed by the Goddess at the moment of Creation. The act of ritual blessing is a reaffirmation of that original sanctification.

We are born from the depths of our mother's womb in water, and before that at our primordial emergence. I won't argue theology or dogma about the subject, because I believe all the creation stories - most featuring the element of water- are true. I believe they come together, as many of our stories do, each contributing an essential part in our history.

There are few places we can drink the water unfiltered and unprocessed. I mourn for the state of our natural waters, particularly the oceans where so many creatures I consider relatives dwell. Humans have done more unintentionally and through outright denial and ignorance to pollute and defile our precious oceans. We continue to do this, through sheer greed and want of financial gain.To be perfectly honest, I don't have an answer about how to really reverse the damage we've done other than to encourage each of us to do what we can to restore this shared habitat.  You do whatever you can, and I will do what I can by actively and  individually working to  hold these places as unique, special and holy. If that means going down to the local stream once a week and picking up trash and debris, or participating in an organization that focuses on environmental issues through protest or monetary the work. Then bring it to your altar so the gods can see you are doing the work.

Meanwhile, remember that your purification bath is much more than washing away negativity before is a blessing, because water is a sacred thing.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Under Attack

For the last several months I've been battling a form of malware called "Widget Server", which redirects my blog when I sign in. now...I can beat it to open the page and post, other times I'm blocked accessing my own blog.

It's getting rather old. There are ways to remove it, but I haven't been successful, so I'm currently leaving the page up so I can write and post. Blogger seems to offer no solutions, but frankly, I like the format and don't care for the others I've seen, including Word press. I don't want adds on my blog unless I put them there myself ( occasionally I will post in support of a friend's business).

Malwarebites says the fix ix simple, but so far I haven't been able to fix the problem.

Hang in there, gang. I'm not easily beaten.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Hare In The Moon

Manitou,the Great Spirit to the Algonquin tribe manifested himself as a hare. Great Hare, also known as White Hare, was thought to live on the Moon ( another version says he lived with his Grandmother, and that she was the moon). Great Hare was visible to his people from earth on the face of the moon and as he looked down over all, he was considered to be the Provider of All Life - water,wind,fire and soil and all that came from them.

Yet in other traditions, Hare was a Trickster figure,wiley,quick and mystical. He is credited with the creation of the Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society of the Northeastern native tribes, a secret magical lodge. Their gathering places are in open spaces beneath the moon, or in domed structures which mimic the shape of the moon [].
The hare is associated by most tribal peoples with birth and rebirth (partly due to its relatively short gestational period of 30 days), an auspicious creature sacred to their culture because of its fertility and abundance.
However, not every ancient culture thought so highly of them: the Biblical book of Leviticus called the hare or rabbit "unclean". Others thought the creature so taboo that it was  unlucky to even speak its name. The Greeks of antiquity protected the hare " ...for the sake of Artemis" because it was one of her symbols and therefore refused to hunt it. Superstitions were frequently associated with the hare or rabbit because they were believed to be a common disguise for witches and commonly witches' familiars ( a close second to the black cat). It was purported that the only way to kill a witch who had shape shifted into a hare or rabbit was with a bullet made of silver-the moon's metal. ( Much like the werewolf myth.)
The hare was lucky or unlucky at various times in history, as folk lore associated with them morphed and changed in  public opinion.  During World War I, it became the fashion for loved ones to give a soldier going off to war "a lucky rabbit's foot" ( But not so lucky for the rabbit, eh?) Mothers hung the amulet above their children's beds for protection throughout the night. With this new positive association came the habit of saying " White Rabbits, White Rabbits, a pinch and a punch for the first of the month" ( or variations such as " Rabbit, Rabbit") to wish others good fortune throughout the month.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Spiritual Meaning of the Blue Porch Ceiling

Haints are the malevolent spirits of the dead trapped between this world and the next.The word haint is a variation of another word-haunt- and comes from the Geechee Gullah language/culture of the South Carolina-Georgia coasts and barrier islands. It's primarily used throughout the old South, although I have heard it occasionally used in New England also. Despite it's muddied origins, it's still understood that a haint is defined as meaning a ghost - but  a type of ghost unlike any other... haints are vengeful, violent... the undisputed mischief makers of the Shadowlands.

Haints are right up there at the top of ghostly entities in the Southern US, and like all apparitions and superstitions, they have an Achilles Heel: they cannot cross water. Short of building a moat around the old homestead, citizens of the Old South  have a much more practical and stylish solution...they paint their doors, window sashes and porch ceilings blue. Not just any blue, but a particular shade that reflects the hue of the sky and water that has become known specifically as Haint Blue. The original paint was made with lime and milk and whatever blue pigment was available, adjusting it until it was a shade they thought matched the sky and water in their area. The idea was to trick the haints into thinking they had come upon water, which they could not cross. A blue porch ceiling served a similar purpose, where the haints would be confused into believing they were flying into the open sky. Therefore, on either account, they did not enter the dwelling and vex the residents with their mischief.

Using the color blue  is a universal  method of deflecting spirits. It's not only used by the Gullah descendants of freed African slaves in the coastal South, but by some Scot Irish in the Appalachians as well. For the mountain dwellers, woad, used in their homelands as a blue dye, was mixed into milk paint and applied to porch ceilings to not only keep out ghosts and malevolent spirits, but the lye added to the paint had an added bonus of keeping out insects as well. Sometimes the ingredients would ferment, which also acted as a natural insecticide.

Nowadays any variation of sky blue, aqua, baby blue, light teal blue or green, or a color representative of  water/sky can be used. The major paint manufacturers all have their own version of haint or porch ceiling blue. It's now up to the tastes of the individual which shade to use to complement the color scheme of their home. It's interesting to note that the shade will darken in the light during the day, following the path of the sun. Sometimes it looks like the sky, and other times a body of water.

Notably, the belief that the color blue repels evil is not limited to the Southern US: in the Western US, turquoise painted doors serves the same purpose, while across the ocean, a stripe of  azure blue was often seen painted across the top of doorways in ancient civilizations. Evidence of this can be seen in Greece and Italy today.