‘Twas the Night of Samhain

‘Twas the Night of Samhain

 

 

‘Twas the night of Samhain and all through the house,
Not a creatures was stirring except for my spouse.
The incense it burned in his cauldron so black,
For witchcraft and magick he’d a wondrous knack.
The circle was drawn with the athame of power,
The guardians were called to each quarter tower.
The Lord and the Lady attended our rite,
In wonder and glory and power and mite.
The dearly departed came as our guest,
To live once again after their rest.
We bid them goodbye with a tear in our eye,
Such a lovely presence of loved ones so nigh.
The candles danced in the flickering light,
With the Great Rite we bid them all a good night.
The guardians thanked, have all sped away,
The Lord and the Lady, thanks for the day.
The night of Samhain, Gods bless this house,
A circle of wonder ’round me and my spouse.
—(Unknown)

Buzzing In To Say Have A Super Tuesday!

Hi there, Bye there, lol! Sorry I am running late. I am worse than Lady A on being prompt anywhere. But today I have a good excuse. We were debating over what we were going to do for Samhain. We still didn’t come up with anything and we were at it for about two hours. Maybe by the time Samhain gets here, we will know what we are doing. I hope!

That would be a good topic for discussion, what are your plans for Samhain?

 

More Tuesday Comments

PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion.  You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up  to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals.  Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven.  Once again  this is a person choice.  Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca:  Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner.  Groups tend to work skyclad.  Covens use a degree system.  Individuals are initiated by the  coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca:  Started in the 1960’s in England.  In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca:  Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s.  They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and  Gardnerian crafts.  Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca:  Founded in 1972.  Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition.  They are very close to the  Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner.  He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon  traditions.  Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s.  Feri teacher tend to add something of  themselves to the religion as they teach.  They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God.  This is a feminist movement of the craft.  The  covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca:  The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru.  This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches:  This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches:  This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete.  Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background.  This need not be  so.  Follow the one that calls to you.

What type of a witch are you?

Solitary:  Practices the craft alone and does not work with a group or coven.  By the Gardnerian and Alexandrian way solitary witches    are not witches.  In order to be considered a witch you must work with a coven.

Eclectic:  These witches pick chose and mix various traditions.  They have no set path.

Hereditary:  These are the practitioners who have been taught the craft from their relative.  The craft was passed, unbroken, from    generation to generation.

So, now, do you want to be a solitary witch or work with a coven?  Let me give you a few Pros and Cons to consider.

PRO

If you join a coven you will receive lots of support.  There are people available with the same beliefs to talk to.  You will also get some structure.    You can work your way up from dedicant to High Priest(s).

CON

Just by the fact that there is structure in a coven may discourage some people.  The coven decides on the where, when at time of the Sabbats and    meetings.  If you break the laws of the coven (dishonor) you will be asked to leave.   The cons of a coven are not unlike those that relate to any group    activity.

PRO

OK, so you will go solo and be a solitary.  This means that you can learn at your own pace.  You can follow your own schedule for Sabbats, within    reason.  You attire is strictly up to you.  Some solitaries will join with a know coven to celebrate Sabbats.  You can design your own rituals.

CON

The major downside is that you are on are on your own.  Help and guidance from knowledgeable witches are not going to be readily available.  The    solitary had no linage to look back on for guidance.  Solitary witches are looked down on by name of the coven witches.  What do you know – a class    structure L

So what type of training do you want?  You can find metaphysical shops and seek help from them.  You can use the local library or book shop.  If you    have internet access there is a wealth of information available for you.

You may want to join a coven.  This decision must be made carefully.  Some covens are basically nothing more than social groups.  Others are based on    the D & D games.  Be selective, just as they will want to interview you, you should reciprocate in kind.

NOTE:  Witches do not try to convert people.

Once you have decided upon a coven go to a few open Sabbats and meetings, if permitted.  If you can not attend an open Sabbat write the coven off.  With    the exception of two Sabbats, all others can be open.

Sit down with the Priestess / Priest and see what the coven will want of you.  The will also ask what you can bring to the coven.  Remember, a coven    becomes your family away from home.  The coven should NEVER supercede your home life.  You family will always come first.

Once you are in total agreement – both ways you can apply to become a dedicant.  During this time you will be kept under the eye of the Priestess and    Priest.  Your initial training will last for a year and a day.  After that time, if upon the agreement of all, you can become an initiate.  From that point    on you will go through the three degrees of initiation.  Each degree will take a minimum of a year and a day to complete.

Being a member of a coven is a commitment.  You will be expected to attend coven functions.  Covens usually meet to celebrate the 8 Sabbats – holidays    of the God and 13 Esbats – holidays of the Goddess.  Members of the coven are given a part to perform during the rituals.  Not showing up for ritual is a    major NO-NO.  If you do not make it you can ruin the ritual.

You may also be asked to help the coven.  Many covens take on community work to help the community.

Many covens plan outing and fun events for their members…

One thing to remember no matter what path you choose; When the Student is ready, the Teacher Will Appear.

Things to Remember

There are possibly hundreds, possibly thousand different types of witches.

You need not join a coven to be a witch.

If any witch asks you to do something that is immoral, illegal or makes you uncomfortable, DO NOT DO IT.

You will find your teacher when the time is right.

The Unfinished Journey .. The Best Is Yet To Come ?

The Unfinished Journey .. The Best Is Yet To Come ?

Author: Crystal Crone

As I sat in the quiet of my sitting room last week, my mind drifted back over the years of my earth journey. I wondered to myself if this could be because I was now comfortably at ease in my life as the ageing crone. I tried to shake myself out of my mauling by focusing on all the things that were pressing my mind for attention.

Dinner lay uncooked on the kitchen unit, birthday cards lay unwritten on the table, and my journal had thrust itself under my nose as I had gone to my cupboard for candles, as if crying out for attention. Well, dinner can wait until I am good and ready, the pen is not my exclusive right in this house full of people and so what if I hadn’t made an entry in my journal for four days!

No one would know that except me and as nothing ritualistic or momentous had happened during those days, why should I worry?

Now old girl, I thought wryly, is this you doing what you said would never happen and kicking back against this ageing process you have found so comfortable? I soon made up my mind that there was far more going on than this!

Life for Pagans is fairly disciplined by the very nature of our beliefs and for me to slip outside of what is the norm for me is both unusual and quite a shock to this fragile system.

So with all this in mind, I took myself off to the chopping board to redesign what was to have been a heartily cooked meal, to a hastily prepared salad. All the while my mind was ticking over, trying to establish what was going on here and why the rebel I never knew existed, was pushing its way to the front of my mind in an effort to be heard.

I hope I can be believed when I say that my life as a crone has never held any fears or regrets for me. In fact, I have never really noticed the transition in many ways as, following the passing of my daughter, I became both substitute mum and nan to my grandchildren. I guess there has never been time to notice those lines forming on smooth skin, or the vision that seemed slightly impaired, or the feet that ached at the end of a long day.

No, in all honesty my life seems to stretch down the years with fun, laughter, discipline of devotion and of course, tears of loss from my life of those who were part of me.

Thinking all this, I banged the hastily prepared salad onto plates (just to make it look as if some thought had gone into the preparation really) and returned to my chair in my now sun bathed sitting room, to mull over these new and disturbing thoughts in my head.

My long journey hasn’t always been easy, or even good in parts, but is has been mine to make. Along the path, I have met many people who have left their mark on my life, made a few mistakes, or errors of judgment had one or two regrets to I guess. Being me, I have never really focused on my destination (if you but knew my ability to get lost on a journey I may have made many times before, you would understand why that is :)), but my journey has been very important to me in terms of personal life satisfaction. I never ever got everything I tried to do right … why should I have done so, I am mortal after all, not some divine creature.

So with this in mind, I got to thinking about life in general and the world in particular!

To say it has changed beyond belief since I was a child is to state the obvious. After all, many rivers and streams have run under proverbial bridges since that time of old! I guess that the safest thing to say is that changes came, I complained, or rejoiced, as the case may be, that so much change was surely unnecessary, then continued to walk my path in a way that suited me and my way of life best.

I was always mindful of cause and effect, always as careful as I could be that my actions did not impact in a negative way, on the lives of others. Mostly, I was able to live as maiden, mother, and now crone, according to my own will.

I have had blessings, to many to recount, these were no doubt balanced in some way by my losses, which were fewer, but raw to my soul. I have reveled at Sabbats, danced at celebrations, performed my rituals and spells with honor and devotion and tried to point young seekers of paths to where the knowledge, or help, for their intent lies. All very satisfying one might think, so why this sudden departure from the norm, to the world of the ageing rebel?

Does this happen in the lives of everyone approaching a time in their lives when the end of the road is far more visible in the distance than the beginning ever was? And why is it that I had never given any thought to this before, I wondered?

As I grappled around my mind for something to blame for these phenomena (the human side of me looking to blame something again), I was consumed by laughter that bordered on hysteria almost! Of course this time will come upon all who are walking the path of life toward end destination, I was willing to bet that each and every one had reached the same impasse as I at some stage to.

The revelation it was to me to finally acknowledge the end destination should not have been the cause of my hysterical laughter for sure, so from that I had to assume that it must be my blessed peace that awaited me in the Summerlands, or that the “rebel” had been born, so to speak. I decided it was neither … I am as yet unprepared for journey’s end and nor am I about to rebel against that which has formed the foundations of my life.

My bemused sister, returning from a hard day at work, looked at me with something in her face close to an intention to call on the men in white coats, bearing a straight jacket. It took a very hastily thought up explanation to allay the fear I saw in her eyes for sure!

After she and the children had feasted on my oh so carefully prepared salad, we sat and spoke about the way she had found me when she came in from work. She has four years to catch up to this day in my life and I would like that she, or anyone else that may come to this, will realize as I did that it isn’t negative to think journey’s end, especially if you have tried to fill your life with all you wanted to do.

Being human, we will always find things we would like to have done, there will be many things we will wish we had thought more carefully before we did, but at end stage it was our journey to make whatever.

I can’t say this world is a good place to be; who could with all the abuse we make of the precious gift the Mother gave us to care for. People are feared for their safety as fundamental Islamists attempt to impose by terror, their beliefs on others who want nothing more than the freedom and peace to follow whatever faith they choose believe in.

Our wildlife is threatened by climate change and civil liberties we always took for granted are stripped away at an alarming rate these days. But even with all that, we live in a world that is so precious, we can choose to learn or not, we can follow a path we choose for ourselves because we are basically all spiritual beings living a human existence. This ageing crone has many of years of devotions under her belt (well maybe a skirt as the waistline has not been compatible with belts for some time now :)), so I am prepared to listen in reflective silence these days.

The people I have met have been there for a reason, a season and hopefully, many for a lifetime. I have hopped on and off “the bus of life” many times on my journey … on occasion I would have to be dragged back on board kicking and screaming, but all in all it has been good for me and mine.

I would say to young Pagan pathwalkers that if the experiences of an old crone count for anything, it is to say that the future lies in their hands now. There is much to be done, many voices to be heard, the young amongst us are our hope for the future. They must never forget that the best of learning comes from the voice of experience, so the elders amongst us must be heeded as they draw on those experiences.

But they are the absolute future.

We who travel on to journey’s end will do what we are able to save for them the wonders of our precious world, as we draw on their youth and strength to give power to our tasks yet to do.

The Mother never said it would be easy, no bump free ride was ever promised, but she did give us gifts in life that were ours to use, or not.

As I said, I have met many learned people who have inspired and enlightened me; I have thought at times that I know all the answers because of my age. I know now that we are never meant to have all the answers and that is not to be regretted, but rejoiced in, as it means that the best may still be yet to come.

My heart tells me that it is, even if the signs are not so good at this precarious time for our planet.

I wish all, Pagan or otherwise, a journey without fear, a life full of fun, laughter and adventure with the promise that age is interesting and not at all as bad as it may seem. For myself, I will journey on in the same manner I have lived my whole life, the destination may be over the horizon, but I have far to much to do to approach it willingly.

After all, I shall become a great grandmother of yet another soul needing the loving arms of this old crone I feel :).

The Broomstick

The Broomstick

by Tiger Von Pagel

This issue’s topic, Lammas, is the first Sabbat of the harvest season, focusing on the first cut of the first crop ready to harvest, often a grain such as wheat or barley. The harvest reaches its peak at Mabon and concludes with the final reap at Samhain. Because of the association with the grain Lammas is traditionally a beer Sabbat.

While most circles and Sabbats have wine or juice as the traditional libation, this time of year is dedicated to beer. Beer making is usually most associated with Germany, however the Irish will tell you that their brews are their life’s blood. Ireland has built an entire culture out of the brewing and consumption of beer.

The most famous brewery in Ireland is the Guinness brewery, located on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin. Two lesser known stouts are brewed in the southern city of Cork, Murphy’s and Beamish. Breweries are open to the public and offer tours as well as tasting, but the experience can feel a bit too touristy at times, especially at the Guinness brewery, which includes a souvenir store next door.

For a more authentic Irish experience, it is best to visit the local pub. In smaller Irish towns, the pub is the center of all evening activities, offering food, live music, lively conversation and, of course, pint after pint of beers, ales and stouts. In the larger cities, pubs can number into the hundreds. James Joyce once wrote, “Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub,” and of course, the answer to that is don’t pass them, just go in each one. Dublin’s oldest pub is the Brazen Head, first established in 1198, and much of it is exactly the same as it was 800 years ago. You may even suspect that some of the more colorful occupants are left over from opening day.

Here in Seattle we are fortunate enough to have several “authentic” Irish pubs. Downtown in Post Alley is the Owl and Thistle, a spacious tavern which combines Irish decor with a waterfront atmosphere. Live music is the major attraction here, with the best nights belonging to the Owl and Thistle Band, a trio which performs Irish folk tunes alongside original music and the requisite rendition of “Danny Boy.” The Owl and Thistle has a great menu too, with fish and chips and the best brown bread outside the Emerald Isle.

In Fremont there is the Dubliner Pub, a smaller, more cozy venue which offers Guinness, a number of microbrews on tap and not just one but twodart boards (and real dart-boards, too, with score kept on an old fashioned chalkboard, not one of those electronic facsimiles). They serve meals as well, including delicious lamb stew, but be warned, the kitchen closes early.

In addition to the numerous breweries in the area, you can actually try your hand at brewing your own at U-Brew Seattle in the Greenlake area. U-Brew Seattle offers recipes which imitate all the most popular brands on the market, including Guinness of course. They provide all materials and tools necessary for the process, they sell bottles or you can bring your own to recycle, and, best of all, they do all the cleanup. Brewing your own can be a time consuming process, and two sessions are required, one for the actual brewing and another a few weeks later for the bottling.

For those of you who wish to imbibe without waiting, might I suggest that you check out the specialty brews of Samuel Adams? Much like the traditional European brewers, Sam Adams offers seasonal beers, which at this time of year include a light Summer Ale and a Cream Stout which has a sweet, almost chocolaty taste.

Of course, you may wish to be a part of the harvest process from start to finish, and later this month there is a unique opportunity to do just that in Eastern Washington. The town of Colfax in Palouse County holds the Palouse Empire Fair on Labor Day Weekend. The entire town, along with several hundred tourists, gather for a traditional county fair which culminates in the harvest of the barley fields. The cutting is done the old fashioned way, with swinging scythes and horse drawn wagons. The fields, which could be cut in a manner of hours with modern machinery, take two or three days to complete, and visitors are left with a rare glimpse of the bounty the Gods provide to us, as well as the serious amount of work it takes to bring this bounty to fruition.

Staff

Staff 

Today’s staff is either chosen in accordance with your height, or by how it feels when used as a walking stick. Where some Witches perfer a shorter staff, others like the extended length. Of all the wooden tools, the staff is often seen as a symbol of honor and authority, and is normally decorated with magical symbols, talismans, bells, amulets, and trinkets given as gifts to the bearer tied with leather strips or sturdy cord and other unusual magickal bits that relate to its owner. In a group environment the staff of the high priest or high priestess may have symbols that relate to how many covens they have under their direction and how many members they have initiated. Like the wand and the rod, the staff is used to direct magickal current, often out-of-doors, but also used indoors if space permits. In more shamanic groups, the staff has replaced the sword. A staff carved with knobs and topped with a wooden replica of a human skull is specifically used at Samhain to honor the dead, or in other rituals where ancestors play a pivotal role: a duo derivation from Canadian Indians tribes and Haitian Voudou traditions, through ancient Celts did put the heads of their enemies on poles to capture their power and honor their valor. Obviously the Witches of today don’t carry reconstructionism that far.