Thursday, January 21, 2016

Imbolc: After The Ritual

Irish Rarebit with salad and tomatoes

By now pretty much every Pagan-centric blog on the Web has published it's own version of the history of this Sabbat and it's meaning, citing  their favorite ritual expressions. The majority of them are creative and on target. I don't feel the need to rehash a history lesson about Brigid and her attributes, or gamely announce that Spring is on it's way, but I do have a few suggestions for merry-making after the fact.

So this is not a post about Imbolc rituals; it's a post about what you might like to do after ritual.

Eating is one of the very best ways to ground yourself after ritual because the very act of physically nourishing yourself shifts the vibration, re-focusing your attention to another activity.

Since Imbolc has a keen association with livestock giving birth-herd animals such as sheep, goats and cattle in particular-why not make the choice of after-ritual refreshments reflect that association? An offering of assorted cheeses made from the milk of various animals would be a most welcome form of protein for hungry ritual participants. And here's a plus:cheese can cause pleasurable feelings in the human brain, a scientifically founded statement based on the fact that chemical components in cheese releases  neurotransmitters-chemicals like Dopamine,Serotonin, and Tryptophan. There are also many choices of delicious herbed cheeses available on the market. Serve with a variety of whole grain crackers or breads, or go to a little extra trouble and make brischetta ( grilled or baked slices of Italian or French bread) and top with cheese, or crustini to dip in a hot cheese sauce.

Have you ever made real Irish Rarebit (aka as "rabbit")? It's often served as a light course at High Tea throughout the British Isles and is relatively easy to make:

2 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons of lightly salted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
4 slices of heavy bread such as whole wheat or soda bread

Put the cheese,butter and milk into a sauce pan and stir gently until  creamy and smooth. At this stage, add the vinegar and mustard (or 1 tsp of prepared mustard) and blend. Meanwhile, lightly toast the bread on one side only in a broiler, and when this is done, pour the sauce over the untoasted side of the slices of bread and broil until bubbly and golden. Serve immediately while hot. The addition of a little chopped pickle on each slice makes it very nice.

Of course you could serve a salad made of  tender shoots and greens, and sprinkle a bit of grated cheese on. Spinach, chard,curly endive, and arugula are delicious.

Is there anything more satisfying than a steaming bowl of soup? Creamy potato soup is delightfully rich and gratifying. Add leeks, shredded cheddar, or bacon. And don't forget about garlic, which mellows and imparts a lovely taste when it's cooked. All of these suggestions are keeping with the Celtic theme of Imbolc.

If for some reason you aren't into cheese, you might find herbed butter better to your liking. Making your own takes a little effort, but it is an inexpensive alternative. Serve herbed butters with a variety of crackers or morsels of bread.

 I think sharing a little food and drink after ritual enhances the experience of those who have made the magick and makes magick of another kind. Is there anything more magickal than the combination of friends and food?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blackstar: A Mystical Farewell

David Bowie died a few days ago. I had to let that sink in because it seemed so surreal, like one of his videos.

Ziggy Stardust has blasted off to the unknown; the Thin White Duke has faded into a wisp of smoke. And while I haven't been a consistent fan of his work, I've had my moments. The tapestry has been torn, nonetheless.

I spent my teen years with Bowie and his various alter-egos subconsciously romping in the background. A fascinating individual, he was outrageous and pushing at the boundaries- take gender preference for example-was he gay, bi or simply metrosexual? Does it matter? It did add to his mystic. It was rumored he had an affair with Mick Jagger, but he ended up marrying the gorgeous Somalian fashion model Iman. Bowie himself was no slouch in the fashion department, bringing elegance to Music and Pop culture.  I've always like Bowie's exponential experimentation with jazz and the saxophone, which he uses not so much sonically, but rather to express an occult, mysterious lack of dis-ease and Darkness in a situation. ( I have to wonder how much of this was influenced by his half-brother, a saxophonist suffering from schizophrenia who eventually committed suicide by walking in front of a train in 1985.) David Bowie  had a relationship with the Shadow Self I could never quite pin down. Truly, it was like he actually was from another planet.

His last album, Blackstar, and in particular the video of the title song has created the kind of cacophony and controversy he is known for-like the story that went around the internet for a few days that 700 Club talking head Southern Baptist Rev. Pat Robertson stated, "... Some poor punk singer called forth a demon, but on the way the demon heard David Bowie rehearsing for a gig, and decided to take him back, just for kicks...As a matter of fact, there's probably a room full of demons somewhere in Hell right now, and they've probably got Bowie performing his greatest hits while slowly roasting on a skewer or something...". Now, as so much as I have a visceral dislike for most televangelists, and the Rev.Robertson in particular, the story about what he said after hearing about Bowie's death is blatantly not true. Yes, it sounds remarkably like the type of nasty, mean-spirited, vitriol Robertson spews forth like so much pea soup on occasion...but he didn't say it. And Goddess help me, I never thought I'd ever be defending the jerk, but fair is fair. He didn't do it, but I have a feeling the opportunity still awaits him.

Bowie is so much the stuff of myths and legends, so much so that it has been inferred that he used coded references to magician Aleister Crowley in his work. “My overriding interest was in Kabbalah and Crowleyism. That whole dark and rather fearsome never–world of the wrong side of the brain.”, wrote Sean Egan in Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie. Often- through his various personas- Bowie communicated messages considered to be of occult significance. The inner sleeve of the CD version of Space Oddity shows him in quasi- Egyptian/ Spaceman regalia, in a pose that echoes that of a famous photo of Crowley in his magician's  robes. Bowie had a more than passing interest in Egyptian mythology, and it showed in his choice of costuming and personas. Ziggy Stardust (from Space Oddity) is an androgynous  messenger sent by 'The Infinites' to announce the arrival of the alien Starmen. He does this by becoming a rock star literally fed and kept alive by his devoted fans. When the aliens do arrive, they dismember Ziggy, taking on his essence in order to become literal beings. If you know your mythology, it's easy to frame Ziggy as a sacrificial dying god. His androgynous nature confirms this as he represents the balance of all opposing forces; he is Androgyne personified,wearing the seal of spiritual illumination upon his forehead. If you have listened closely to Bowie's catalog over the years you will notice the theme of the descent from the heavens ( and hell, too) weaves through his songs. There is a pointed reference in Station to Station with the lyrics, "Here we are with one magical moment from Kether to Malkuth." Pretty straight up and hard to miss, right? From the highest (Kether) to the lowest (Malkuth)-the descent from heaven to earth once again, and if that wasn't enough, the album cover photo shows Bowie in one of his Ziggy costumes making a line drawing of what is unmistakably the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Nearly five decades later we have Blackstar, which opens upon  juxtaposed  scenes of an obviously long deceased astronaut ( Could this be the tragically lost Major Tom of Space Oddity?); a remarkably beautiful but surreal horizon dominated by the Blackstar (What to me appears to be a fully eclipsed sun complete with corona which I believe to possibly be an allusion to the Midnight Sun of alchemy, or to Bowie's life being eclipsed?) and a planet in near darkness (Is this the light of the Divine shining in the Darkness of Men?); a shadowy, candlelit image of  a Mediterranean-style villa called Orman (which is a Norse word for 'snake', if I recall correctly); and  Bowie's latest character, the blind Button Eyes, narrating/singing,"On the day of execution/On the day of execution/Only women kneel and smile." The scene cuts to a woman  walking silently but assuredly to the dusty corpse of the astronaut (who seems to have  made himself comfortable, resigned to his fate). As she lifts the visor and reverently gazes upon the jewel-encrusted skull (decorated in a style we see most often used for holy persons) we see she is  a devout worshiper there to retrieve a holy relic and indeed we later see her  holding the skull in veneration while  the headless skeleton of the astronaut  slowly floats off into space as it is drawn up to the Blackstar. "At the center of it all...your eyes" sings Button Eyes, who is now accompanied by some quite obviously frightened villagers who twitch and shake convulsively in a manner that strikes me as being symbolic of being over-taken over by a force wholly beyond their control. It is reminiscent of the shaking of Parkinson's Disease patients with just a touch of Sufi ecstatic dance.  Lightening flashes in the sky over a scene of destruction and desolation  ( the type so often depicted in space sifi genre), we see a glimpse of the lone candle burning in the dark, Button Eyes and the villagers reacting to the approach of the woman carrying the relic (which is now enshrined in a glass box). Cut to the next scene of a circle of women
( Priestesses? Witches?) gathering in what appears to be  the casting of a magickal circle, echoing the convulsing dance of the others, and then depart, only to assemble later to perform what strikes me as a stylized version of the Great Rite.  Bowie is next seen ( no longer as Button Eyes) as an Elder High Priest grasping a worn book, the now familiar Blackstar emblem emblazoned on it's cover. He raises the book up and shows it to an unseen audience (perhaps us, the viewers, who have become a part of this passion play). He lifts it  not as much in reverence rather as a signal of ... Recognition? Readiness? Surrender?  Perhaps all of that? The Elder High Priest intones an incantation as he lowers the book, but his eyes continue to search the skies. His expression is most striking to me since learning of Bowie's death: Is he looking through the Veil to the Otherside?

He is next seen in a dramatically lit attic, it's roof line cathedral-like and sings, "Something happened on the day he died, Spirit rose up...Somebody took his place and bravely cried,' I'm a Blackstar...' and then," How many times does an angel fall?" The narrative continues in this direction, with the phrase 'I'm a Blackstar' repeating in call-and-response, a mantra transcending what becomes a descriptive, if odd, explanation of the nature of the character Bowie the Enigma has now assumed. It is as if he becomes a Trickster, as he dances about, even thumbing his nose at one point.  In it he employs both the archaic Polari  and fictional Nadsat ( the language from A Clockwork Orange). There are also some lasciviously writhing scarecrows thrown in for good measure among the mysteriously jittery villagers (what's a little crucifixion without a sexual element? Crowley would be proud, and oh, here's a random thought that just popped into my head: if Orman is actually Norse for 'snake', there is a veiled reference to the Kundalini of sex magic. Crowley, wherever he is, is probably laughing his ass off by now.). Adding to the cast of obscura is some sort of vague monstrosity that destroys the scarecrows; a skull that may possibly belong to the lost Major Tom ( human who becomes divine, like The Man Who Fell to Earth), and oh, did I mention that the woman who found it had a tail?
( Signifying the devolution of humankind?) And finally, the re-occurring line, " At the center of it all"  What? The Occult? Thelema? Depravity? Transformation from human to Divine? Or simply the understanding of personal vision?

Maybe we will never fully know-and perhaps that's exactly as Bowie intended. Perhaps,showman that he was- David Bowie's Blackstar was meant to keep us guessing so that his name continued to be spoken, and thus, he truly could obtain a type of immortality.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

One With Nature: A Mid-January Meditation

It is a good day, even if it is raining. The roots of grass and trees need this long drink of water on a cold January day to prepare for the Spring to come. So even if it is overcast and cold it is a good day. The Earth now sleeps in this Winter, but soon-very soon-the first crocus will dare to sacrifice itself to announce that it time for rebirth. Crocuses never last long here and mostly wilt in  the cold, but their momentary appearance is the embodiment of hope.

It is a good day.Cold nights will give over to warmer ones. Buds of every kind will joyfully burst forth. So even now, it is a good day.

It is a good day. There is food in the pantry and a roof over my head, even if this place is not my ideal. Mountains just beyond the windows are still a wondrous sight that greets me every morning. An occasional glimpse of deer and other wildlife is still a gift. So I will make do until something better is given to me.

It is a good day. My books and cat keep company with me. There is usually a cup of hot tea and a few cookies, and I cannot think of anything more comforting for right now.

Thank you, Goddess for this good day, and all it's gifts.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

And As For 2016...

The public loves hearing predictions and I'm no different.  I think it has to do with the fact that we all enter the year feeling a little confused or afraid of the future. Whether we admit it or not, we are creatures of habit and feel more secure when we know what is to come. I find psychic predictions fascinating, the more far flung and improbable, the better.  I don't hold stock in any one individual in particular, but I've always been drawn to the work of Joseph Tittle who brands himself as "Spiritman". I had a very positive, very accurate reading in person with him in 2002 when I visited New Hope, PA. He was shy but personable, not perfectly polished, but open to conversation. This was years before he became nationally known from appearances on America's Psychic Challenge. While I do think he has an authentic gift: I don't subscribe to his conspiracy theories. But to each his own. I still believe he's one of the legitimate psychics out there.

Having said all that, I don't consider myself particularly in tune to making predictions, but at some time during the point where the calendar year crosses the threshold, I do a meditation, draw a few cards, and take note of what comes to me. Otherwise I don't have a set method other than to just sit and wait...and to be honest, there have been times when nothing has happened. Nothing at all. At other times events roll through my head in disjointed fits and starts. All I normally get are snatches of things that I have to fit into context later. That's where the cards come in handy; I use them for clarity. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

So, whatever it's worth, here's what came to me last night......

Religion and Politics
An escalation of civil unrest across the country, especially in the South. I don't think any of us really need psychic abilities to come to that conclusion, but years of suppressed, misplaced anger is going to bubble to the surface, and it's going to manifest just short of a civil war.The government and media may not admit to this, but the best way I can describe this event is the way in which I see this happening. As a direct result of this, there is going to be a huge shift away from fundamentalist Christianity. Progressives have been heralding a post-modern Christianity for years, and I see this beginning to take place at this time. As the poor in our country head back to the level of poverty we experienced during the Dust Bowl era, the foundations of Biblical literal thought will crumble from the inside, replaced by a new understanding of the teachings of Jesus that are applicable to us today. Many of those who have been enslaved-yes, that's the word I feel best colors the mindset- by religious leadership who's agenda is more aggrandizing themselves  than glorifying Deity will have the proverbial "ah ha" moment, and as that ripples through the populace, the mindset of the Bible belt- the South in particular- is going to radically change and that will affect everything held culturally sacred in those areas, including politics.

It's going to reach a zenith when a well known religious figure shockingly commits suicide.I saw a figure as this flickered by like a film in fast-forward mode, but his features were blurred. I know that sounds lame, but that's how I saw it happening. What I can say is this man comes from a well known Christian family of long standing, someone who is considered 'royalty' in conservative fundamentalist circles.

I feel the murder of a high profile individual, possibly a political candidate, will take place later this year.

And speaking of politics, I think we're going to have quite a few long time Politicians in the unemployment line in the next year. I see a whole herd of "dark horses" galloping through our political system from the grass roots up.

It will not be a good year for religious extremists, but the terrorist group Daesh will be seriously crippled after they attempt to destroy a revered Egyptian icon, possibly the Sphinx. While I saw the Sphinx in particular in my meditation, that could have been symbolic for any Egyptian icon.

Nature and Natural Occurrences
During my meditation I saw huge waves crashing far over a shoreline. The fragmented scenes I saw were places where waves are unusual, and there was a huge loss of resources because these areas
(I feel there is more than one) are not prepared for this type of activity. I saw water rising in a long, wide river, and when the waters receded, they created two distinct channels. I want to say this is in the mid west, but I am also seeing the area around the mouth of the Mississippi.

I saw some sort of earth change in the Grand Canyon, but nothing of definite clarity.

The earth will crack and shift in many places, particularly the Philippines, will also experience multiple tsunamis.

I also saw many wild fires in desert areas both in the US and abroad, possibly Australia, throughout the year, one coming on the heels of another. Some are the result of weather extreams, and some from earthquakes. In one place in particular, I saw the earth open into a huge crevice; I have no idea of the location. I saw a major earthquake along the East Coast extending into Canada. I also see a bridge collapse in New England, unrelated to the prior event.
This year's corn, coffee, tomato crops will fail, driving the prices of these foods sky high all over the world.
Sometime mid year, an asteroid will split, and knock one of those pieces into an orbit that will possibly affect Earth in someway.

My meditation also revealed a historic theater in flames, possibly in London. I saw a marquee that said "Royal Albert Hall", but again, this could have been merely symbolic and an indicator of a historic building related to the British. ( My psychoanalytic background is Jungian, so many times what I see are archetypes and not factual.) I also see the theater community mourning the loss of a beloved actor; this is not related to the previous prediction. In another scene which played across my mind's eye I saw a headline that an established rock star had fallen gravely ill, but no indication of the outcome. I am assuming this individual did not die, because I saw nothing portending death, only illness.( And to for this I will admit to have seen David Bowie or Prince, but again, because they are both tall and thin and share physical characteristics, that could have been an archetype speaking.

I saw many transportation mishaps on the major Eastern corridor.

But it's not all negative and bad...

A new, effective drug that cures certain types of cancer will be announced soon.

Oil and Gas prices will stay low.

Archaeologists and religious scholars will make a joint announcement as to conclusive proof that Jesus Christ  had a wife. I know this is a perennial favorite in predictions, but this year I feel it will become fact.

A cause for Autism will also be announced
, but this is only one of many, and it will cause an uproar because it will target the mother's lifestyle choices years prior to pregnancy.

Congress will start to seriously talk about Universal health care in the US.


After awhile, focusing in this way simply exhausts me. It's not in my nature to just toss off predictions, and I don't feel I'm particularly gifted in this area. But there have been times that I have been correct, or been correct and said nothing publicly. Like everything else I do here at this blog, my intention is to share my unique magickal/occult experiences; I am far from a prophet and make no claim to being any sort of superior seer. I just thought it would be interesting (and a bit fun) to share these things with you.