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    Ostara

    Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:01 AM [General]

    "Shall we go out into the street, Easter my dear, and repeat the exercise? Find out how many passersby know that their Easter festival takes its name from Eostre of the Dawn?" - "American Gods" (chapter 11), by Neil Gaiman

    Spring is here but winter's chill still cluches tightly to the days. Still, there is work to be done. The last week in March was spent scrubbing the house top to bottom: Dusting the furniture and ceiling fans, washing the curtains and venetian blinds, washing the walls & baseboards and hard floors with a few drops of Louisianna Van Van oil added to the water, etc.

    As last year, the holiday snuck up on me so I delayed my spring celebration until Easter. My first task on easter morning was the spiritual cleansing of the house. I had my ritual bath, got dressed in light colored clothing and began.

    White flowers are a must, both for offering and asperging. My fumitories are an uncrossing incense (to which I will add a pinch of sulphur) and white sage.To my usual smudging feather, I have attached a black hen's feather. The basin is for my cleansing wash which contains a tea made from 13 uncrossing and protection herbs, sea salt, and Firey Wall of Protection oil. 

    When I was finished, I did not have the dramatic sign that I did last year but the house felt calm and peaceful. So I began cooking/baking. This sweet almond bread hides some golden rasisins inside.

    After the intense spiritual cleansing and two dinners I was near exhausted but still one more thing to do: My Ostara ritual! 

    I dyed my eggs naturally. The yellowish orange color was made by boiling the eggs with a tablespoon of ground tumeric. The light blue was made by boiling the eggs with a handful of blueberries. The decorations were paint and marker.

    Only after taking the picture did I realize that in my tiredness I drew my celtic spiral wrong. But I left it because it was still made with love and one has to learn to laugh at one's self rather than get frustrated because the offering wasn't perfect. The Gods don't demand perfection, but honesty.

    My offerings were the eggs and the bread I had made earlier. I also had a small glass of honey mead. For this ritual, I used the Homeric Hymns to Jupiter and Juno. It was my first time invoking them together but it felt comfortable, if a bit serious. I finally lay down to rest after my long day but I had the beautiful smell of lilies in the house for days!

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    Imbolc

    Saturday, April 20, 2013, 8:18 AM [General]

    Where does the time go? I realized that it's nearly Beltane and I haven't even posted about Imbolc yet!

    Well, I'll keep it short and sweet. I had been making my plans for a garden. Given last years poor showing, I've decided to let the vegetable garden law fallow while I work on ammending its soil. Instead, I will focus on expanding my herb garden on the side of the house.

    As I did last year, I welcomed the return of light, blessed my seeds and made my goals for this new year.

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    A Busy Yule!

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 7:16 PM [General]

    Here's hoping everyone had a safe and blessed Yule.

    On the night before Yule, I helped a friend of mine celebrate Mother's Night, a tradition of staying up all night to greet the Norse goddess Freya in her arrival as the morning Sun. I didn't make it the whole night but I stayed up as late as I could and woke early to watch the sun rise. I was outdoors and I played the song "The Dawning" by Hagalaz Runedance on my phone as I recited this prayer:

    Hail to the Day! Hail to the sons of Day!
    Hail to Night and her daughter!
    Gaze on me gently standing here;
    Give your blessings on my battles!

    Hail to the Gods! Hail to the Goddesses!
    Hail to the all-giving Earth!
    Wisdom and lore grant me, so long as I live,
    And healing hands.

    (Adapted from Poems of the Elder Edda, by Patricia Terry)

    I didn't travel this year but I was blessed in that a dear friend of mine participated in my ritual with me. Here are a couple shots of the altar with fresh Holly and Pine:

    The cookies in the offering bowl are gingerbread men. It was a simple improvised ritual but the two of us had great energy. It is a memory I will cherish.

    This holiday season was also an important occassion as not only was it my niece's first christmas, it was the first time my Boyfriend's parents would be joining us for christmas dinner. I would be cooking for 7 people. So, lighting a candle to Vesta, I tackled this menu:

    Appetizers: pigs in a blanket, maple-bacon wrapped cocktail weenies, cheese/crackers and sliced summer sausage, goose liver pate, and mulled apple cider

    Sides: Salad of mixed greens with walnut & cranberry served with a balsamic vinegarette, Stuffed artichoke hearts, brussel sprouts with cranberry and bacon, and mustard-roasted potatoes.

    Main Course: Roast Goose with sage apricot stuffing and Baked Ham with a honey-mustard glaze.

    I'm including this information about the dinner because I believe that the act of preparing food and sharing a meal with the ones we love can itself be a form of magic. I have noticed how people come together over food and it's vital to any celebration.

    It also reminded me how special it is to give a gift of of your own labor. Earlier in the month I had made an advent wreath for my mother using pine boughs purchased from a local nursery. I had also made some cross stitched ornaments that I gave to many of my family members.

    When I finally settled down after all the cooking and family visitations were done, I rang bells to celebrate the birth of Sol Invinctus and mediatate on the meaning of this season.

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    Samhain

    Sunday, November 4, 2012, 11:20 AM [General]

    "Real?" Moundshroud, insulted, almost fell from his bramble-cat broom. "Ye little gods and fishes, lad, every town had its resident witch... In every tiny village, boy, in every scrubby farm the old religions hide out." - The Halloween Tree, Ray Bradbury

    I hope everyone had a safe and blessed Samhain. Luckily our neighborhood sustained very little damage from Hurricane Sandy. But the weather on halloween was definitely gloomy.

    Jon and I had carved pumpkins the night before and I gorged myself on old Universal Pictures monster movies.

    Halloween night was a blast. I had spent over $75 on Halloween candy to give out to the kids and by the end of the night had forked over 134 bags of candy. I dressed as a witch and turned my porch into a witch's lair. 

    Sppoky music and halloween tunes, played coutesy of my iPod and speakers. I was handing out candy, performing a fire trick with some flash paper, and reading fortunes for about 3 hours (even managed a broom dance number to "I put a spell on you") then I headed inside to do my ritual.

    My altar was mostly the same "memnto mori" set up as last year, adorned with a small pumpkin, indian corn and some dried maple leaves. The potted plant in the window is Nicotiana, a couple leaves of which were burned to honor my ancestors. Since June I had started researching my family tree and through a combination of family interviews, documents, and research on Ancestry.com I can now trace at least two branches of my family tree back six generations. I called upon these relatives by name and welcomed them home for this night, pouring wine in greeting. Because of my Italian heritage, I have been feeling more and more connected to the Roman Pantheon so I invoked Pluto and Proserpine as my dieties for this rite. 

    This winter I have several projects in mind to keep myself busy and deepen my study. I will post more on these as they progress.

     

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    one year of Sabbats

    Sunday, September 30, 2012, 11:39 AM [General]

    Blessed Mabon. It occurs to me that I started journaling my Sabbats a year ago. I love looking back on the entries here to see how I celebrated. Now, I get to see how many elements stay the same with me and how many I choose to change. This should be a fun learning experience.

    I started my reflections the day before. Realizing that the last day of summer was upon us, we should stop and acknowledge all the best of that season. As kids we tred to pack every day of summer with adventure and there's no reason to stop because we grow up.

    This mabon was very busy. I hustled and bustled to clean the house and do my shopping (being sure to buy autumn flowers for my altar)...

    and then I baked whole wheat rye rolls in honor of Vesta. For my dinner I made a hearty venison stew with root vegetables.

    And for desert, an Apple Rasin Strudel. Apples being one of the foods associated with Michelmas, I really saved myself some time.

    Then I set up my Altar. The offerings were from my garden: Onion, tomato, Jalapeno, basil, and one of my freshly baked rolls.

    And here's the finished result:

    The altar cloth was a gift from Jon shortly after last mabon. It was an autumn themed placemat and I just adore the colors and leafy patterns. The minicorn was a purchase from last year but the flowers and gourds are new and add a much needed touch.

    For my ritual, I used the Hymns of Orpheus for my invocations choosing the Hymn to Ceres for the Goddess and the Hymn to Bacchus for the God. The blackberry wine in my offering I'm sure must have pleased him.

    After my busy day, the ritual was peaceful and very much needed. Afterwards, I met some of my friends for a girls night out and we celebrated (again, thanks Bacchus).

    Mabon is supposed to be the witch's thanksgiving and over the course of the day, I found myself grateful for many things: the home I help keep in order and the family I keep it in order for, the food we have (and are very rarely wanting), the friends that surround me, and the talents I possess.

    Blessed be!

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    1st Harvest - Lammas

    Thursday, August 2, 2012, 9:46 PM [General]

    The fruits of my labors are starting to pay off. The seeds I had blessed are now growing into a beautiful herb garden. Pictured are Basil, dwarf parsley, Dill, Chives, Basil (Sweet and Purple), Borage, and Nasturtium.

    I harvested some herbs to press and add the information to my herbal grimoire

    From left to right: Dill, Sweet Basil, Purple Basil, Mint, Red Clover

    My sister and I took a trip to the local farmer's market and we found some real maple syrup (and some maple cotton candy too!). I got some great buys on Tomatoes, Zucchini, Leeks, and Corn. The corn was $3.00 for a half dozen but the very nice woman working the stand threw in an extra ear. She claimed the corn was small this year and with the drought we've been having I'm not surprised. But still it was a wonderful gesture. I can't wait to go back.

    When I arrived back home, I took out some fresh parsley that we had left over made a loaf of garlic and parsley bread to use as offering, along with some fresh Basil, fresh cream and a small container of maple syrup.

    I started my ritual by reading invocations from the Hymns of Orpheus. It's so easy to let your voice fall into a musical cadence while reciting his poetry. So, putting on some music, I did, swaying slightly with the rhythm as I read the Hymn to Ceres. I also read the Hymn to Apollo the same way and I noticed my candle flames burning tall and strong. I think the Gods notice when we're joyful in our observances and, what can I say, it had been a great day.

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    A Midsummer Ritual

    Monday, July 2, 2012, 7:47 AM [General]

    Midsummer has been particularly hot here, especially comapred to last year. I started by day with a breakfast of blackberry pancakes, drizzled with syrup and blackberry juice, and toast with fresh honey off the comb.

    My ritual was a simple one. I decorated my altar with oak leaves I found on the ground during a walk and fresh, brightly colored flowers.

    The pipe was used as part of an ancient Roman rite called the Lesser Quinquartus to honor Minerva, the inventor of the flute. My offering is a simple glass of plum brandy.

    I was also lucky enough to catch a local performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at a local park

    (Titania and Oberon square off while Puck looks on)


    Inspired by Titania and Oberon, I did a fairy blessing on my house.

    OBERON:through the house give glimmering light

    by the dead and drowsy fire

    every elf and fairy sprite

    hop as light as bird from briar

    and this ditty after me

    sing and dance it trippingly

    TITANIA: first rehearse your song by rote

    to each word a warbling note

    hand in hand with fairy grace

    we will sing and bless this place

    I made sure to leave an offering, even so, the playful fairy mischief abounds. I had to upload my pictures twice. :D Blessed be!

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    Beltane

    Friday, May 4, 2012, 8:51 PM [General]

    Work has started on my garden. Even if it wasn't as soon as I wanted due to a freak cold splash. But I was about to mow the yard when I found this fellow lurking about. He was nice enough to pose for this pic before flying away.

    We had a beautiful Beltane so I took a nice long walk to the store to grab some last minute ingredients for my cakes.

    My offering was a batch of Lime Poppy Seed Muffins and a glass of red wine.

    I decorated my altar with fresh flowers, both from my yard and store bought.  I also have a piece of Rose quartz and Jasmine incense to set a romantic energy in my circle.

    My ceremony was short, but my boyfriend and I enacted the Great Rite and it was very beautiful and powerful. Celebrating the wedding of the God and Goddess has brought on meditations about my own relationship. Though Jon and I have been together for nearly six years, we just recently started living together. I'm grateful for his presence in my life and look forward to what the future holds for us.

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    Blessed Ēostre!

    Sunday, April 8, 2012, 12:13 PM [General]

    So due to time and financial issues, I moved my celebration of Ostara from the equinox to instead coincide with Easter Sunday.

    Over the last week of March, I scrubbed the house top to bottom and managed to donate or discard a great many bits of clutter and junk that were hanging around. because things need to be physically clean before they can be spiritually cleansed. I started my Easter sunday by cleansing myself, smudging, and anoting myself with potection oil and then began an elaborate spiritual cleansing/purification ritual on the house.

    This was my altar at the start of my ritual. I began by casting a circle and doing my ritual observance of the holiday. Note the oils on the left and the the incense on the right. That would later be used to cleanse the house. I meditated upon my task and asked for aid in proceeding and protection from the ever helpful spirit, St. Michael. 

    I made sure to have white flowers and an offering of honeymead for the Goddess Vesta. Since she's the patron of hearth and home and one that I feel a personal connection with, I thought it more than fitting.

    Quickly summarizing the details: the walls were washed with fresh water to which was added a blending of oils and a pinch of blessed salt. Then I fumigated with incense and anointed the doors and windows with protection oil. 

    I felt inhcredibly drained and had to ground myself afterwards. So I quickly washed my hands and face with Florida Water Cologne, had a glass of water and one of the eggs my mother and I had dyed for Ēostre.

    Later today will be filled with family gatherings and good food so I will indulge myself in these and share my blessing of fertility in all its forms by giving out some of the home-made Godiva chocolate Liquer truffles I prepared last night.

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    Candlemas and the Quickening Moon

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 10:57 AM [General]

    The end of January is here. It's the perfect time to make final selections from the garden catalogs, plan the garden layout and start preparing. Inspired by Ellen Dugan's wonderful book "Garden Witchery", I'm going to try planting a moon garden this year.

    In Roman tradition, this time of year is for honoring the Goddess Ceres and praying for peace and prosperity:

     

    "Come peace, your flowing tresses wreathed with laurel. Let your gentle presence triumph in the whole world. Let there be no foes. Add incense to the flames that burn on the altar of peace, pour a wine libation, pray to the deities, may peace last forever." (Ovid, Fasti 1.720)

    The moon was in aries recently and, being an aries myself, it kicked my ambitions into high gear. It's common to start spring cleaning around this time so, for my ritual, I started with a purification of space and of self. I scrubbed the kitchen floor and stove as I center many rituals here. I also cleaned my bathrooms, bedroom and ritual room, my personal spaces. I washed the walls with Chinese wash and 7 drops of Fire Wall of Protection oil. 

    Chinese Wash recipe:

    6oz Liquid Castile Soap

    3oz Murphy Oil Soap

    1/2 oz Van Van Oil (16 parts lemmongrass oil, 8 parts cironella oil, and 1 parts each of vertivert, palmarosa, and gingergrass oils. Let sit for 1 week and add to 1/2oz of almond oil with a pinch of lemongrass and pyrite to each bottle made)

    7 pieces of broom straw

    Add a capful/spoonful of this mixture per bucklet of water to dilute.

    I smudged the whole house and myself with white sage. I also visted the local garden center and picked up a few seeds and some soil. On the way home I saw a neighbors oak tree standle beautifully majestic in the front yard. I whispered, "Oh great oak, please leave me a gift." As I approached, I saw a fallen branch at the base of the tree. I didn't have much on me so I left a few pennies at the base of the tree, prayed my thanks and took the branch home. I have enough length to make a wand and with the remaining I made an equal armed cross tied with red thread for protection and hung it in the window of my altar room.

    My ritual was simple. I lit a white candle, and anointed my newly purchased seed packets with blessing oil. I made a list of long and short term goals I want to accomplish and planted my seeds. I prayed over them that as they grow and flourish, so will my goals come into fruition. The next day, I got my answer from the universe. I opened a fortune cookie that read "energy spent now preparing for tomorrow is sure to bear tasty fruit."

    The quickening moon is today. While usually, we see the full moon as a time to complete projects and reflect, this moon is a good time to start projects. I have many plans set into motion and I am trying to stay motivated by setting 2-4 item "to do" lists for myself.

    Blessed be!

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