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Samhain 2016

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Samhain 2016

 

Samhain (pronounced saow-in) is a gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest. In Wicca and other contemporary systems it occupies a "spoke" on what is called the "wheel" of the year, of which there are eight spokes in all. The year, seen as cyclic (although moving forward) reasons that the eight festivals (or sabbats) occur in the same fashion, and move from one "spoke" to the next, in the cycle.

 

Samhain is seen as a time when darkness is "dominant", that is, when the sun's tilt causes the days to become shorter and the nights longer. On the calender that's the time between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. At the time when Samhain is upon us, the major harvests have been reaped from the year, historically a time where animals would be slaughtered and salted for the harsh cold season, and all prepare for the oncoming winter. It is a time of celebration both of the abundance and prosperity yeilded from the natural world and the celebrants' hard work put in to that yeild! It is a time of remembering the deceased and blessed/beloved dead; a time of communication with ancestral spirits. It is said that the "veil between the worlds is thinnest" on Samhain, and subsequently is a time full of ritual observances and spirituality.

 

Even from a non-pagan perspective and merely as seasonal celebrations, if one understands enough about the natural processes upon Earth, a reflection and celebration of those seasonal hallmarks and phenomena can be worthy of respect and a party! It's not just in a mystical sense.


The altar loaded with offerings~

 

My Samhain celebrations began at midnight, in the morning-of halloween in the darkness. The altar was adorned with a bounty of offerings - the witches don't have bland communion wafers, but delicious platters of mouth-watering, stomach-rumbling foods! Pomegranates and walnuts (both seasonal and local staples), Apples and walnuts drizzled in honey, cakes iced in the shape of the eight-spoked wheel, and beer filling the chalice. Incense heavy in the air and candles burning tall and bright, the ritual sabbat went well. The wheel has turned once again~

 

On the night-of, I went "robe and bell" walking around town in the rain. I had donned a black mantle that semi-kept out the sprinkling rain. I had no pre-destined route but wandered around aimlessly, ringing my bell solemnly. I felt like I was leading some sort of spiritual procession, like as I was ringing my bell spirits and nearby entities, goblins and fairies would follow behind me in my walk. I could feel as if I was the leader in some sort of invisible procession.

Humans and Plants: A Connection in Magic

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Humans and Plants: A Connection in Magic


All life on earth is dependent on plants at some stage or another for their survival. The "web of life" perfectly illustrates the delicate manner in which all things are indeed reliant upon each other in a complex but fragile system. When an animal eats a plant, two things are gained from this: the physical matter (or food-substance) of the plant-body is "accumulated" into the form of the animal, and energy-potential (or chemically bound energy) is released from the plant, in the forms of sugars and starches &etc, through which the animal may utilize for activities. These two functions obtained by the animal through the plant is a connection between them, for the latter is reliant upon the former for sustenance. However, plants do not necessarily require interaction on the part of humans or animals, although many particular species do use animals as a vessel for transference, plants can reproduce and populate without animals and are not verily dependent upon them for their own survival.

 

This connection between plants and animals is even more complex and intrinsically blurred when we reach the microscopic organisms, because many among them resemble animals as much as they do plants. And many of the processes in plants and animals are very similar or even practically identical - "if they are limited to certain fundamental functions."[1]

 

One plant is not the same as another, as there are different species. But insomuch as an orange tree and an apple tree are trees, they offer up different fruits, and it is these differences that are called the "spirit" or "personality" of the plant. For what makes them different, and separates them from each other? Humans have anciently sought to understand the Why?, before they understood the How?. What an herbal remedy provided to the sick for the ancient peoples must have seemed divine in origin. And in the domain of plants where they and humans had to coexist for thousands of years, we have an almost inexhaustible stock of stories and lore based upon their origins, and individual characters, throughout many cultures.

 

We must understand both the intimate and cellular - internal - workings of the plant, and the casual, every-day relationship with the plants, to have a full and rich appreciation for the plant-life. The magic and lore surrounding many plants, herbs and roots distinct the plant and gives it it's own character, and it only makes the scientific understanding of the organism more enjoyable and interesting.

 

In the ancient world as well as the modern, plants are the sources of many industries and are indispensable if not highly desirable for human civilization. We manufacture textiles from plant fibres, build our houses using wood, paper products allowed us increase in communication and knowledge, even many of our beverages and medicines contain plant derivatives. We use and rely on plants just as much as we do today as we did in the ancient world., and our dependence upon them has never wained.

 

However removed man may think himself from the seemingly inanimate world of plants he depends on them in ways which are more crucial and real than may be realized. The place of man (and animals) in this cycle of interaction and interconnection with plants gives a deep and spiritual sense of profundity. The precarious nature of plants in general shows the activity that happens between them and the external ecosystem around them. In many cases, as in a garden - without man there to water the plants, they would die - and so they rely on humans in that way; which makes the connection more concrete.

 

There are many ways to come to realize the importance of plants: from the regular every-day life of humans to the mental-sphere of mystery - understanding one compliments the other, and should not be held to be in water-tight compartments, so to speak. Appreciating the life around you comes in many forms! Through plants the beautiful but fragile nature of life can be pondered more deeply, as well as learning and expanding one's ever-growing knowledge base.


References

[1]p.6; Transeau, Sampson & Tiffany

Paganism and Spirit Shrines

Posted on September 7, 2016 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Paganism and Spirit Shrines


"Just to awaken in the night from a drowsy slumber, to gaze out through the window upon the glorious rounded full moon. Silently flying and all is still outside, for a moment awake I sit transfixed by that serenity, almost captured within by those moon beams, and the lustrous magnificence of that disc that rules the night."

 

Even without those rituals, being in the experience directly is oh such the more powerful. As a child my spiritual and supernatural experiences were dynamic. Much was /play/. But a lot came naturally, the way of interaction with these other forces and realms was almost child-like; meaning that there was no hindrance in the activity, and as a child one is pure of cognitive filler, so it comes easily. Not having the long drawn and complex ceremonial procedures, by having that child-like direct experience or contact, with that divine entity leaves an impressionable memory upon the individual that strengthens the bond therewith, and leaves the gate open wide for further dynamic, creative rapport and experiences, even say, in hallowed places where the nous may be dreadful and terrifying rather than kind and benevolent.

 

As a child I was having these very real, direct experiences with supernatural forces of nature by doing simple child-like things, or ways of interacting with them. I believe paganism could be related to this way, in that matter. There were no rules or order on how to approach any such spirit or thing, so it was all very real and subjective, and fluid. There were many different beings, not even any sort of hierarchy. I all thought of it as very "together", that is, all very on the same plane. It wasn't very hard for me to understand as a child, because a lot of what I was doing were things a child could understand. I didn't need (or have) any system that I interpreted these things through, so it was all very personal, and the way I had gone about things was direct and there were many ways of having these interactions. Incidentally which is a reason why I believe paganism is "child-like" - not in the regard of not being developed or any such manner - but because there are no restrictions upon spirituality, the supernatural is very much dynamic, and many-faced. Such are the ways of paganism.

 

I find myself even now interested greatly in the local and wayside shrines and spiritual and hallowed places. It seems as if many of these beings that reside at these places had their origins in some small local deity of supernatural figure, which through time concreted and into the form which it is venerated today. Perhaps many of these figures had their origins within the brains of that child-like paganism, manifesting from the endless ways that nature mysteriously does, and nothing is homogenous because of it. So we see hundreds or even thousands of these very specific, highly individualised spirits and beings.

 

These local and very personalised entities preoccupy the world with the living. They are given physical images and forms, vehicles or vessels of manifestation. And regardless if an individual does not believe in these entities themselves, they still exist regardless, in their forms or concepts.

 

I made an effort to seek out some of these local shrines and spirit-enclosures. Of course, as one would probably suspect, living in 2016 in California, you aren't going to find many places. Beyond the Temples and Sanctuaries for the religions of the non-abrahamic kind where one could usually find shrines and spirit houses, I could not locate a single one. Wayside memorials are a kind of shrine, but it is not in my interest to visit every roadside accident! Even though I do pay my respects to them if I happen to pass.

 

I was interested in those strange and country-located spirits. The small altars and places where local divinities or forms happen to be located. Much of the population here in this area is devoted Christian or Catholic. And considering that my particular town has over seven churches in it's 3 mile radius, there aren't many people who would keep up these shrines or so publicly admit to where they are. So I was off on my quest.

 

I was led into the rich history of my local area. I learned about the local indigenous tribes and their cultures. I even wrote to one but elicited no response. From my own research I had discovered that sacred places were seen as numerous, before the arrival of the colonists and white settlers; apparently there were many springs, and lush vallies, etc. - many places of unusual configuration deemed sacred. But the emproachment of the foreigners and the forced conversion of their peoples quickly wiped out much of the surrounding lore.

What does exist is fragmentary.

 

I started to ask around from people I knew. Some said they knew not a clue, others recommended haunted houses or other-such-locations. But I was not interested in communing with the ghosts. I had researched about my particular county and discovered that there were many former settlements in the area which are no longer on modern maps and are no longer maintained by the county. But there was little to no information either save for the place-names and locations.

 

In lieu of having little to no avail in my search for the more mysterious spiritual shrines, I decided to construct one, myself. On the banks of Stony Creek at the base of an old dead tree is a small enclosure made of loosely stacked stones taken from the creek bed, into a circular shape, with a gap as the 'entrance' and only standing maybe 8 inches tall off the earth. Inside the little enclosure sits a red jasper stone (a 'heart') on which is a small figure fashioned of creek mud and rocks, representing the spiritual force or presence of the area. It gives the spirits in the area a place to localise and humans a way to interact with them.


The small shrine at the base of an old dead tree.


I'm observing the status of the shrine as time progresses. If anything is amiss, I replace it properly, and patiently. So far nothing has been strewn or destroyed, about a week later. The note I had left remains, and the small footpath leading up to the shrine seemed more tread, as if people had stopped to see the curious feature. I have yet to see others leave offerings or votives.

 

When the more "popular" and well-known spirits, saints and entities have their due shrines and places of veneration, but those almost primal - natural, and primitive - spirits don't have a chance - why not give them their own respective shrine? Distinct from the the new age 'nature-shrines' - creative arrangements using natural objects, which are more of spiritual expression rather than contact with a local nous - in a place where perhaps these spirits have never had shrines or places of veneration themselves, it is curious to see that innovation - giving the spirits a voice themselves, will go in an area where it has never been.


Another view of the shrine.

 

Truly, I believe this very creative process of making a proper shrine to a local spirit, is the very fabric of what paganism is, or can be; it is the fluid and dynamic development of spiritual forces and entities, the act of giving manifestation to these natural presences. It allows for an intimate, deeper and profound connection with the forces of nature and the local "feeling" of a place. Without rigidity, or structure, this very direct connection with the spiritual force of an area gives a different dimension of understanding and the relationship one has between themselves and that place more intimately, and more broadly the forces of nature.


The creek-spirit's form.

Lughnasadh 2016

Posted on August 2, 2016 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Lughnasadh


The time of year when the wheel turns to Lughnasadh historically is a gaelic festival celebrating the beginning of the harvest season. I celebrated personally by going out to the garden and tending to the plants! I have some nice muscato grapes growing on our vines, so I had picked some clusters to try and also use along with other fruits, flowers and vegetables to decorate my altar for the sabbat-ritual.


I baked a "harvest cake" to celebrate the event; making it simple but delicious, and sharing with friends, family and our neighbors. I also cut a piece to put on a plate for my altar as an offering.


I also decided that I wanted to make my own type of mundus, or a type of offering-pit used in roman times for specific purposes. I dug a simple hole in a patch of earth in my plot and with simple oration and due praise, I buried the offerings I had picked from my garden in the soil to my deities-of-choice. I had an image in my mind afterwards as if the earth-pit was a belly that had been fed and now is filled-up: the earth was happy, and I could feel it.


Generally, these harvest celebrations I would imagine would be celebrated during the light of the day, when the Sun is high. For me, I celebrated in the night. Dancing around a circle, incense thick in the air, candles casting dozens of equally-dancing shadows around. The night went well, and the gods were pleased.


The Altar, decorated with a cornucopia of harvest fruits and vegetables; incense and candles, flowers decorating~

New site, and life updates

Posted on July 8, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Over my time through the small inception of my blog as a ritual one, my understandings have changed dramatically though gradually. Many of my preconceived notions, ignorances, and misunderstandings were illuminated with the light of wisdom. And I thank much the community on many of the forums I am a member of; there are too many individuals whom I could thank for their insights and experiences.

 

We evolve through time. I always remind people, "we're always going through phases - if you don't think you're in a phase - you're in a phase!" The person you are this year is likely not the same person you were the previous year. Each year we experience new things, trials and tribulations, and all that happens in our personal lives. We grow and develop.

 

I used to say I was "celibate" (for being a Witch). I used to think black magic was "bad". I had no idea what Voodou or Satanism was really about. I didn't know lots of things, and I said a lot of things. I met many experienced people on online forums, and it was with the openness of mind, willingness and hunger for learning new information - that unknown information - that really set the sails for where I am and who I am today. And I think it's been nothing but positive in the end, because everything is a learning experience.

 

In that end, my focuses today are much the same, but also different than what they were when I started my blog and joined those forums. I mainly perform the Sabbats and Esbats, as I've always done. I work more with plants and herbs, fats and oils, and concoctions. My experiences with more complex, elaborate ceremonial rituals - like evocations - have dwindled, although the regular, more general, and palpable communication with spirits have increased.

 

I think that over time, the incorporation of the spiritual and supernatural, the way I treated it from how I started, has changed into much the more natural. I don't see a need for the elaborate symbolisms and trappings of ceremonial magic (for the ends I'm currently doing) when my daily contact has been very fruitful. Don't get me wrong - I still love a good ritual - but over time I have found that the heartfelt, meaningful - simple - connections, are fantastic. I've been able to achieve more with the "simple things" than with complex ceremonial procedure.

 

I should also mention here that I'm currently moving in with my boyfriend, have jobs lined up and working. So in sum - Practicality, rather than 'magicality', has appeared to pay off. Now is the time to spice it along with beneficial magics.

 

This new blog website is a much needed, fresh deep breath from the old. I should be categorising things much easier, and taking due care to update the blog on how things are going! I will still keep the contents of most of my old blog website available on the new one (although it's going to take some time to get everything posted again), and much of the information will be updated and revised for today, with new notes, commentary, and perspective.

 

In starting to pack my bags both physically as well as spiritually - I've decided to perform a variety of lunar workings based upon the phases of the Moon in correlation with my move. I will be starting with the New Moon (or what's left of it - I took a while to deliberate how I wanted to go through with this) and with visionary and trance techniques. - and that's for another article :-) New Moon workings. Stay tuned!


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