Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Calling Upon the Ancient Ones

By , About.com Guide

 

When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history — maybe you’ve heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you’ll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol — instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.

Setting the Mood

 

Before you perform this meditation, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie’s diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather’s old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been.

You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it’s even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you’re outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors — the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you’d like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense.

Claiming Your Birthright

 

Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths — and weaknesses — and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.

Recite your genealogy — aloud if you like — as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:

I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam and returned to tell the tale. James was the son of Eldon and Maggie, who met on the battlefields of France, as she nursed him back to health.    Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed aboard Titanic and survived. Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly, who farmed the soil of Ireland, who raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children…

 

and so forth. Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with “those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know”.

If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you — even if it doesn’t make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people — some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expectations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.

The Wicca Book of Days for July 14th – A Mighty Half Month

The Wicca Book of Days for July 14th

A Mighty Half Month

 

The runic half month of Uruz (or Ur) begins on July 14, and will end on July 28. Uruz symbolizes uruses –  also known as aurochs – the wild, long horned cattle that are now extinct, but were very much alive and roaming Northern Europe when the language of the runes came into being. Any human who was able to run down, hunt, and then kill one of these swift, huge, and ferocious creatures had accomplished an impressive feat indeed, so that this rune has a double edged meaning, for the strength that it signifies refers to the might of both the beast and its conqueror.

 

Bastille Day

The French national commemoration of the morning of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which led to the French Revolution, and then to the establishment of the Republic of France, it a very good excuse to celebrate the principles of liberte, egalite and fraternite today.

Dragon Magick

Dragon Magick

 
 
Western and Eastern European and Scandinavian dragons are the true fire dragons. They are primarily guardians of gold, described as the life blood of the earth, and live in caves. The Oriental dragons are mainly air and water dragons, associated with life-giving rain, with winds and storms and with gems and pearls, through there are the fiery kinds as well, as seen in processions.
 
Dragon magick uses the spiritual power associated with fire-breathing dragons to protect your own particular treasures. These treasures might be tangible ones like your home or your family. Less tangibly, treasure to you might represent speaking the truth or receiving honesty from others, the power to develop your career or heaing powers, or the ability to love or gain knowledge. Dragon magick is also good way of manifesting prosperity in your life, not for its own sake but in order to have the resources to do all the things you want to – and so that you don’t need to worry and can bring happiness to others.
 
For despite their bad press in Christian times as symbols of the earth mother, dragons are essentially wise and noble. Of course, physical dragons don’t exist. By means of visualization however, you can build up a connection the huge energy field of the dragon that exist spiritually, the same way the love and altruism are real.
 
Fire dragons are variously described as possessing all or some of the following: eagles’ feet, bat-like wings, the front legs of a lion, a reptile or dinosaur’s head with a huge mouth and teeth from which smoke and fire pours, huge scales, the horns of an antelope, a soft underbelly and a spade-like snake or lizard-like tail that may being close to the head.
 
Smaller fire drakes, found in the myths of France and Germany, don’t have wings, but are red and have fiery breath. They live in caves with their great hoards, the riches of the earth.
 
According to Bulgarian dragon lore, the male dragon is the fiery one and is a benign protector of humans and the crops, in contrast to his watery and less well-disposed sister. In this tradition, dragons have three heads and wings.
 
The ruler of the fire dragons is called Fafnir, whose name comes from the Norse and German culture. He was once a dwarf but was transformed into a dragon because of his love of the treasures he created and the metals he forged. He was killed by Sigrid Volsungr or Siegfried who burned himself, licked his fingers and so absorbed the dragon’s power to commune with the birds.
 
This isn’t a straightforward legend and has a lot to do with the overcoming of the earlier earth goddess power as typified by the dragons. Therefore, Fafnir shouldn’t be thought of as a greedy dwarf who became a dragon to be slain, as in the patriarchal, monk-recorded legends. Rather, Fafnir is lord of the dragons, who guards from the greedy and insensitive the power of the hidden treasures, whether these be of the goddess or your own potential. So if you do include Fafnir in your dragon chants recall his wonderful craftsmanship and how he conserves the minerals of the earth – not a bad lesson for modern times.

Nemausus

Nemausus

Deus Nemausus is often said to have been the Celtic patron god of Nemausus (Nîmes). The god does not seem to have been worshipped outside of this locality. The city certainly derives its name from Nemausus, which was perhaps the sacred wood in which the Celtic tribe of the Volcae Arecomici (who of their own accord surrendered to the Romans in 121 BC) held their assemblies (according to Encyclopædia Britannica 1911), or was perhaps the local Celtic spirit guardian of the spring that originally provided all water for the settlement, as many modern sources suggest. Or perhaps Stephanus of Byzantium was correct in stating in his geographical dictionary that Nemausos, the city of Gaul, took its name from the Heracleid (or son of Heracles) Nemausios.

An important healing-spring sanctuary existed in the town; it was established in some form at least as early as the early Iron Age but was expanded after the Romans colonised the region in the late 2nd century BC, when there was active Roman encouragement of the cult. Another set of local spirits worshiped at Nemausus (Nîmes) were the Nemausicae or Matres Nemausicae, who were fertility and healing goddesses belonging to the spring sanctuary.

Saint of the Day for August 9th is St. Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc

Patron of soldiers and France
b.1412 d.1431

St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices “of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret” told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30.

The Languarge of Herbal Folklore (Today’s In-Between Posts)

Lovers have long used the beauty of flowers and herbs to express true feelings from their hearts. the individual meaning of each herbs, spice, and flower began in the Orient and was introduced to the West in 1716 by Lady Montague while her husband served as the English ambassador to the Turkish government in Constantinople. The language of herbs and flowers soon spread to France and reached its height of popularity in the nineteenth century. Flowers and herbs added spontaneity to romance and made flirting great fun. Some believe each herb and plant still has a silent message for each of us. As we learn to harmonize with Mother Nature, we will gain more understanding of the nonverbal communication that speaks from our hearts.

The following in-between posts are adapted from The Language of Flowers (Dover, 1965) and The Folklore of Plants (Dyer, 1889).

Travel with Daydreams

Travel with Daydreams
Adapted from The World Dream Book
by Sarvananda Bluestone
Inner Traditions, 2002

While most of us cultivated the fine art of daydreaming as an escape
from boredom in school (a practice which serves some of us well at work,
too!), daydreams can be used to bring us to new places, teach us more
about ourselves, and enrich our lives.
Your daydreams are magical passports. Here’s how you can travel with
them:

1.) Find a place and time where and when you can do nothing. This kind
of daydreaming requires your full attention, so find a place and time in
which you have no responsibilities. Unlike ordinary daydreaming, this is
not about escaping from something. It is about going to something.

2.) Close your eyes. If you have your own way to relax, feel free to
employ it, but definitely close your eyes. Our eyesight can be a
distraction, and we don’t want to be distracted from our daydreaming.
You might want to take a few deep breaths, inhaling slowly through the
nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth.

3.) Think of something you have wanted to do and have not yet done.
Don’t just think about it–actively imagine what you want. The more
specific the images, the better.

4.) Do what you have wanted to do. Here’s the key. In a dream we can do
anything, we can be anywhere. We can travel through time and space. We
are not bound by logic or practicality. We can visit the dead, speak to
the unborn. There are no limits here other than those that you impose
upon yourself.
Again, be as concrete as you can be. If, for example, you’ve wanted to
visit France, be specific. France is a large place, but the waterfront,
at, say, Marseilles is more specific. I’ve never been there, but I can
conjure up a breeze from the sea and the smell of fish. Which leads
to…

5.) Pay attention to all of your senses. The problem with visualization
alone is that it focuses on one of the five senses–the sense of sight.
We do more than see when we dream. We feel, and sometimes we smell and
touch. Surely in our dreams our sense of sight is foremost–that’s how
we’ve been trained. But in a daydream we can use all our senses.
In my Marseilles daydream, I’d allow myself to imagine not only the
sight of the harbor but also the smell of the fish, the feeling of the
sea breeze on my skin, and the sound of the seagulls. The more senses,
the merrier the daydream.

6.) Let yourself explore. Now that you’ve reached the place where you’ve
wanted to go–explore. Walk, fly, swim if you want to.

7.) Do this more than once. Daydreaming takes practice. The more we do
it, the better we get at it. Once again, more of what we call
daydreaming is about getting away from a particular situation. In
imaginative daydreaming we create something to go toward. It takes
practice. The sky’s the limit!

The World Dream Book

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0892819022/caremailgreeting

Copyright © 2002 by Sarvananda Bluestone Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.

 

Submitted by Akasha

Saint of the Day for July 12th is St. Francis of Assisi

Saint of the Day

St. Francis of Assisi

Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181.

In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son. Far from being excited or apologetic because he’d been gone, Pietro was furious because she’d had his new son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. The last thing Pietro wanted in his son was a man of God — he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with France. So he renamed his son Francesco — which is the equivalent of calling him Frenchman.

Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father’s wealth and the permissiveness of the times. From the beginning everyone — and I mean everyone — loved Francis. He was constantly happy, charming, and a born leader. If he was picky, people excused him. If he was ill, people took care of him. If he was so much of a dreamer he did poorly in school, no one minded. In many ways he was too easy to like for his own good. No one tried to control him or teach him.

As he grew up, Francis became the leader of a crowd of young people who spent their nights in wild parties. Thomas of Celano, his biographer who knew him well, said, “In other respects an exquisite youth, he attracted to himself a whole retinue of young people addicted to evil and accustomed to vice.” Francis himself said, “I lived in sin” during that time.

Francis fulfilled every hope of Pietro’s — even falling in love with France. He loved the songs of France, the romance of France, and especially the free adventurous troubadours of France who wandered through Europe. And despite his dreaming, Francis was also good at business. But Francis wanted more..more than wealth. But not holiness! Francis wanted to be a noble, a knight. Battle was the best place to win the glory and prestige he longed for. He got his first chance when Assisi declared war on their longtime enemy, the nearby town of Perugia.

Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered in the fight. Only those wealthy enough to expect to be ransomed were taken prisoner. At last Francis was among the nobility like he always wanted to be…but chained in a harsh, dark dungeon. All accounts say that he never lost his happy manner in that horrible place. Finally, after a year in the dungeon, he was ransomed. Strangely, the experience didn’t seem to change him. He gave himself to partying with as much joy and abandon as he had before the battle.

The experience didn’t change what he wanted from life either: Glory. Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream. But before he left Francis had to have a suit of armor and a horse — no problem for the son of a wealthy father. And not just any suit of armor would do but one decorated with gold with a magnificent cloak. Any relief we feel in hearing that Francis gave the cloak to a poor knight will be destroyed by the boasts that Francis left behind that he would return a prince.

But Francis never got farther than one day’s ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. And return home he did. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle — the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor.

Francis’ conversion did not happen over night. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis’ turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God’s grace overwhelmed him with joy. But life couldn’t just stop for God. There was a business to run, customers to wait on.

One day while riding through the countryside, Francis, the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God…that he had passed.

His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, “Francis, repair my church.” Francis assumed this meant church with a small c — the crumbling building he was in. Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father’s shop and sold it to get money to repair the church. His father saw this as an act of theft — and put together with Francis’ cowardice, waste of money, and his growing disinterest in money made Francis seem more like a madman than his son. Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounce all rights as his heir.

The bishop was very kind to Francis; he told him to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. He not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes — the clothes his father had given him — until he was wearing only a hair shirt. In front of the crowd that had gathered he said, “Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, ‘Our Father who art in heaven.'” Wearing nothing but castoff rags, he went off into the freezing woods — singing. And when robbers beat him later and took his clothes, he climbed out of the ditch and went off singing again. From then on Francis had nothing…and everything.

Francis went back to what he considered God’s call. He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands, not realizing that it was the Church with a capital C that God wanted repaired. Scandal and avarice were working on the Church from the inside while outside heresies flourished by appealing to those longing for something different or adventurous.

Soon Francis started to preach. (He was never a priest, though he was later ordained a deacon under his protest.) Francis was not a reformer; he preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. Francis must have known about the decay in the Church, but he always showed the Church and its people his utmost respect. When someone told him of a priest living openly with a woman and asked him if that meant the Mass was polluted, Francis went to the priest, knelt before him, and kissed his hands — because those hands had held God.

Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat…and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. “Here is our rule,” Francis said — as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more — live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe!

Francis never wanted to found a religious order — this former knight thought that sounded too military. He thought of what he was doing as expressing God’s brotherhood. His companions came from all walks of life, from fields and towns, nobility and common people, universities, the Church, and the merchant class. Francis practiced true equality by showing honor, respect, and love to every person whether they were beggar or pope.

Francis’ brotherhood included all of God’s creation. Much has been written about Francis’ love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. We call someone a lover of nature if they spend their free time in the woods or admire its beauty. But Francis really felt that nature, all God’s creations, were part of his brotherhood. The sparrow was as much his brother as the pope.

In one famous story, Francis preached to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their wonderful clothes, for their independence, and for God’s care. The story tells us the birds stood still as he walked among him, only flying off when he said they could leave.

Another famous story involves a wolf that had been eating human beings. Francis intervened when the town wanted to kill the wolf and talked the wolf into never killing again. The wolf became a pet of the townspeople who made sure that he always had plenty to eat.

Following the Gospel literally, Francis and his companions went out to preach two by two. At first, listeners were understandably hostile to these men in rags trying to talk about God’s love. People even ran from them for fear they’d catch this strange madness! And they were right. Because soon these same people noticed that these barefoot beggars wearing sacks seemed filled with constant joy. They celebrated life. And people had to ask themselves: Could one own nothing and be happy? Soon those who had met them with mud and rocks, greeted them with bells and smiles.

Francis did not try to abolish poverty, he tried to make it holy. When his friars met someone poorer than they, they would eagerly rip off the sleeve of their habit to give to the person. They worked for all necessities and only begged if they had to. But Francis would not let them accept any money. He told them to treat coins as if they were pebbles in the road. When the bishop showed horror at the friars’ hard life, Francis said, “If we had any possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them.” Possessing something was the death of love for Francis. Also, Francis reasoned, what could you do to a man who owns nothing? You can’t starve a fasting man, you can’t steal from someone who has no money, you can’t ruin someone who hates prestige. They were truly free.

Francis was a man of action. His simplicity of life extended to ideas and deeds. If there was a simple way, no matter how impossible it seemed, Francis would take it. So when Francis wanted approval for his brotherhood, he went straight to Rome to see Pope Innocent III. You can imagine what the pope thought when this beggar approached him! As a matter of fact he threw Francis out. But when he had a dream that this tiny man in rags held up the tilting Lateran basilica, he quickly called Francis back and gave him permission to preach.

Sometimes this direct approach led to mistakes that he corrected with the same spontaneity that he made them. Once he ordered a brother who hesitated to speak because he stuttered to go preach half-naked. When Francis realized how he had hurt someone he loved he ran to town, stopped the brother, took off his own clothes, and preached instead.

Francis acted quickly because he acted from the heart; he didn’t have time to put on a role. Once he was so sick and exhausted, his companions borrowed a mule for him to ride. When the man who owned the mule recognized Francis he said, “Try to be as virtuous as everyone thinks you are because many have a lot of confidence in you.” Francis dropped off the mule and knelt before the man to thank him for his advice.

Another example of his directness came when he decided to go to Syria to convert the Moslems while the Fifth Crusade was being fought. In the middle of a battle, Francis decided to do the simplest thing and go straight to the sultan to make peace. When he and his companion were captured, the real miracle was that they weren’t killed. Instead Francis was taken to the sultan who was charmed by Francis and his preaching. He told Francis, “I would convert to your religion which is a beautiful one — but both of us would be murdered.”

Francis did find persecution and martyrdom of a kind — not among the Moslems, but among his own brothers. When he returned to Italy, he came back to a brotherhood that had grown to 5000 in ten years. Pressure came from outside to control this great movement, to make them conform to the standards of others. His dream of radical poverty was too harsh, people said. Francis responded, “Lord, didn’t I tell you they wouldn’t trust you?”

He finally gave up authority in his order — but he probably wasn’t too upset about it. Now he was just another brother, like he’d always wanted.

Francis’ final years were filled with suffering as well as humiliation. Praying to share in Christ’s passion he had a vision received the stigmata, the marks of the nails and the lance wound that Christ suffered, in his own body.

Years of poverty and wandering had made Francis ill. When he began to go blind, the pope ordered that his eyes be operated on. This meant cauterizing his face with a hot iron. Francis spoke to “Brother Fire”: “Brother Fire, the Most High has made you strong and beautiful and useful. Be courteous to me now in this hour, for I have always loved you, and temper your heat so that I can endure it.” And Francis reported that Brother Fire had been so kind that he felt nothing at all.

How did Francis respond to blindness and suffering? That was when he wrote his beautiful Canticle of the Sun that expresses his brotherhood with creation in praising God.

Francis never recovered from this illness. He died on October 4, 1226 at the age of 45. Francis is considered the founder of all Franciscan orders and the patron saint of ecologists and merchants.

Copyright 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.

Saint of the Day for June 10th is Blessed Joachima

Saint of the Day

 

Blessed Joachima
(1783-1854)

Born into an aristocratic family in Barcelona, Spain, Joachima was 12 when she expressed a desire to become a Carmelite nun. But her life took an altogether different turn at 16 with her marriage to a young lawyer, Theodore de Mas. Both deeply devout, they became secular Franciscans. During their 17 years of married life they raised eight children.

The normalcy of their family life was interrupted when Napoleon invaded Spain. Joachima had to flee with the children; Theodore, remaining behind, died. Though Joachima reexperienced a desire to enter a religious community, she attended to her duties as a mother. At the same time, the young widow led a life of austerity and chose to wear the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis as her ordinary dress. She spent much time in prayer and visiting the sick.

Four years later, with some of her children now married and younger ones under their care, Joachima confessed her desire to a priest to join a religious order. With his encouragement she established the Carmelite Sisters of Charity. In the midst of the fratricidal wars occurring at the time, Joachima was briefly imprisoned and, later, exiled to France for several years.

Sickness ultimately compelled her to resign as superior of her order. Over the next four years she slowly succumbed to paralysis, which caused her to die by inches. At her death in 1854 at the age of 71, Joachima was known and admired for her high degree of prayer, deep trust in God and selfless charity.

Comment:

Joachima understands loss. She lost the home where her children grew up, her husband and, finally, her health. As the power to move and care for her own needs slowly ebbed away, this woman who had all her life cared for others became wholly dependent; she required help with life’s simplest tasks. When our own lives go spinning out of control, when illness and bereavement and financial hardship strike, all we can do is cling to the belief that sustained Joachima: God watches over us always.