Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Crone

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In my third and final installment covering the aspects of the Goddess, we turn to the Crone. Ancient Hag of the boundless wisdom. I hope that you enjoyed the last two sections.

Charge of the Crone

Come closer my grandchildren sit at my feet and hear my words. Let me tell you the story of my life and the lessons I have learned. Know that I am the Darksome terrible Goddess, but I only bring terror to those who do not understand.

I am Hecate, the Crossroads. I am Morganna, Raven of Battles. I am the widow descending to the Underworld to find my lost husband and my future son. And I am the womb that they are born from.

Know that at lifes end I will be waiting for you; to guide you through death and into rebirth. And that I will be there at birth to guide you through birth into life.

To truly taste life is to worship me. For Magick and art are my domains and my greatest lesson is love itself. So let there be compassion in your anger, power in your humbleness and mirth balanced against discipline.

Yet remember that if you seek to remove my veil and see my true face you have only to look within for I am always with you from the beginning to the end.
Aspects

Who is the Crone? She is the one who, wrapped in mystery, brings the wisdom that is key to unlock the ancient mysteries. She is blunt and sometimes harsh but that is only because she has learned the value of unfettered honesty. The end of her life draws near and she has no time to indulge people in their illusions. She can be turned to when the world has baffled you, because she has lived a long life and more likely then not she has already solved the puzzle that faces you.

See her face in the dark of the Moon and the cool night shadows and look within to know that she has always been with you from birth through death. She is the tomb that is the womb that leads from death into the rebirth and new life.

The Crone goddess of the Welsh was Cerridwen. A shape-shifting goddess of divination and enchantment. Her cauldron is a symbol of death and of life. It represents the womb and the tomb through which we have all passed and will pass again.

Her cauldron can contain the elixir of immortality that allows us to pass through death and into rebirth to live again. It may also contain the waters of Knowledge. Which would make it the Grail that Arthur seeked so long for. For a king of the Celts ruled by the will of the Goddess.

The ancient race of the Slavs worshipped a Goddess called Baba Yaga. She is the old crone that guards the Water of Life and Death. She is oftentimes represented as the wild untamed forces of nature but as we know the storm brings the water of life allowing for rebirth.

Her symbols are the birch tree, the tree of beginnings and endings. She was also known as the White Lady as she is stiff and white and carved of bone.


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Mother

Monday, December 29, 2008
In my continuing series on teaching the different aspects of the Gods to kids, here is the section on the Mother aspect.

Rede of the Mother
Listen close and hearken to my words:

I who am Demeter, giver of fruitfulness and abundance; I who am Arianrhod, the Turner of the Heavenly Wheel; I who am Selene, Queen of the Starlit Heavens and Goddess of the Moon; I who am Hera, Goddess of the Hearth.

As I am the Goddess of the Moon. I am the bringer of change in your life. And although you may not see the wisdom, all I do is done for the betterment of each and every one of my children. But fear not for I am also Hera, Goddess of the Unchanging Hearth and I bring that growing power to each of your ventures, if they follow the Rede.

But also remember that for each of these gifts that I offer you, you must in turn spread your gifts to the people around you. Be a light in the world to show the way of love and the way of peace and passivity. But do not think that I counsel you to let yourself be trodden upon. Stand firm in your beliefs and for your rights. Yet do this while remaining calm and loving. And I assure you that if enough of you do this then it will spread like all wondrous things will and the world will be united in peace and love.

Let each person lead their own lives. yet counsel in love if you see them doing harm to themselves or others. Also lead by example. Live these words and others will follow. For do not actions speak louder than words?

I give you all my blessings and shower you in my Love. Blessed Be!
Aspects

The Mother is an aspect of the Goddess that at first glance seems self-explanatory. The Mother is the mother right? While she is that nurturing force, she is also self-sacrifice personified. But not self-sacrifice for its sake, rather she will sacrifice her needs and desires and even herself for her children and those she loves.

As the Maiden was the Virgin, so has the Mother commited herself to her lover and to her children. Now that she is grown older she can no longer worry only about today and how she is affected, for she has brought new life into the world and she carries that responsibility.

She is the gateway to life and the womb that grows the seed. She is the Moon and the Earth and the controller of tides. She is universal love and the path to peace.

Demeter as the Goddess of grain and fertility was an important deity to the ancient Greeks. She was the mother of Persephone who was also called Kore. And in that story we see the dedication found in this aspect. She never stopped seeking for her lost daughter and when she found her she braved all things, even death, to rescue her.

Before her marriage to Zeus, Hera was called the Queen of Heaven because she ruled over the heavens and the earth and was responsible for every aspect of existence, including the seasons and the weather. She was also known as Juno in the Roman pantheon, the Goddess of weddings. Her sacred animals were the peacock and the cow. The cow symbolizing Hera's watchfulness over her children and the peacock symbolizes her beauty and immortality. She has been called upon in olden days to bless and protect a woman's marriage. Bringing fertility and protection for her children.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Maiden

Sunday, December 28, 2008
One of the most often questions from my youngest is about the Goddess and God. So I sat down and wrote up some poems and guidelines to help explain the different aspects of Them. Today I figured I would share with you the work I did on the Maiden. Hope that you enjoy.

Song of the Maiden

Hear the words of the Maiden:

I who am La Primavera, The Springtime. I who am the promise of Life and the hope for immortality. The one who from beneath my dancing feet spring flowers. I who am the Virgin, untameable. Robed in white, pure and untouched by the world's strife.

I bid you to be merry in all you do. When you make love be sure to think of me for your little deaths are a chance for the beginnings of a little life. And at every birth think of me. For whether boy or girl I am also born there.

Every drop of rain is a blessing falling from my lips, so rejoice in the falling rain. I represent life unbridled, untamed. So I bid thee remember to be unashamed to sing or dance when the mood takes thee.

For every dance and every song is but an expression of the Song of Creation and the Dance of the Creatrix.

Count thy blessings every day and let not sadness take thee for every ending and misfortune leads to a new beginning and greater fortune. There is no room for sadness in the worship of Me.

Also remember not to fear the night for after every night there comes a new dawn. And I promise tht if ye look careful you can see me arrayed in clours wondrous on every morn at the rise of the Sun.
Specific Goddesses

This is the aspect of the Goddess pertaining to Youth and Innocence. She is the Eternal Virgin but not in the patriacharchal sense of a woman before sex or marriage but in the older sense of the word, a woman that belongs only to herself.

The Maiden aspect has many lessons for us. To love without bounds, to view the world through the eyes of innocence and to live in the moment. Through her we learn mercy and compassion. She is also a goddess of passion and gracefulness.

But as much as the Maiden lives in the now, she does not forget her duties. Nor does she let her innocence allow her to be taken advantage of. She is the Huntress, the Warrior Queen as much as she is the Midwife and the Gardener.

There are many Goddesses that fall into this aspect. One example is Artemis who was born after a short and painless labor. After her birth she then turned around and became midwife and nurturer to her Mother, Leto, and helped her mother to give birth to her own twin brother Apollo. Because of this Artemis became the Goddess of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who listened most closely to the appeals of women. This Goddess' association with the wilderness around us, symbolized her own untamed nature. Because of her independence she became the best huntress of the Gods. She was also often depicted carrying a torch to light the way for others, leading them through territories yet uncharted.

There is also the Goddess Kuan Yin who's story best tells us about her. In her youth she was Miao Shan a maiden that wanted to become a Buddhist nun but was forbidden to do so by her Father. He tried to have her married off and when she refused he sent soldiers to kill her. She was saved by a tiger but then descended into the Land of the Dead and freed the souls in bondage there. Rose again and was greeted by Buddha himself who sent her into hiding on the isle of P'u T'o Shan where she reached enlightenment. Yet her suffering had taught her mercy and compassion so that she stopped short and turned back with the pledge to save mankind. That she would not reach enlightenment until everyone else before her reached there.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Yule!

Thursday, December 18, 2008
Yes I know that Yule is technically Sunday but I am going to be out of town this weekend spending time with family. So here is a children's ritual for Yule.

Supplies:
  • Four Candles -- yellow, red, blue, green,
  • A bowl of water
  • A bowl of dirt
  • A feather
  • Musical Instruments if you so wish
  • Bell for each of the children participating
Ritual:

Arrange the colored candles and other items in a circle around you. In the East put the yellow candle and the feather. In the South put the red candle. In the West put the bowl of water and the blue candle. And finally in the North put the bowl of dirt and the green candle. Light these candles as you set them out. Walk with your children from candle to candle, ringing a bell as you leave from candle to another.

Start in the East and tell them that it represents Air. Wave the feather at them so that they can feel the wind.

In the South tell them that here is Fire represented. Carefully let them feel the heat from the candle.

In the West talk to them about Water. Have them wash their hands in the water.

In the North speak about the element of Earth. Let them touch the dirt.

When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us.

Now sit with your children and tell them about Yule. Talk about the battle between Holly King and Oak King after the rebirth of the Sun. If they are worried then you can assure them that the Holly King will return in the Fall. Last year I posted some poems around this time. They were 'Twas the Night Before Yule" and 'Twas the Night of the Solstice". You can read these to your children as well.

Have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.

When you are done spend the rest of this Sabbat enjoying a huge feast. Take a look through the different recipes that I have posted in the last few weeks or cook some of your own. But most important of all spend time with family and friends.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Oak King

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The last time I talked about the God, I spoke about the Holly King. But the other half of that aspect is the Oak King. The ruler over the light half of the Year. He is the sapling and the young stag leaping through the woods. As you read in my children's story, he is the Sun King as well. Born on Yule he takes on the task to revive the Earth, his Goddess.

One of his other names is the Horned Lord. And as such I figured I would share a poem I wrote a while back entitled, 'The Charge of the Horned Lord'.
I am the Horned Lord, Cernunnos, guardian of the cycle of birth and rebirth. I am the youth of Spring and exuberant life. My breath is the warming Southern wind. I am the Oak dressed in Brown and Green. I am the protective hunter, King of the animals and I am the wild Pan. Lovemaking, laughter and feasting are all testaments to my power and might. To love is to worship me. I am the Lord of the Greenwood, The Sun King and Heaven's Lord among countless other incarnations. I give to man these gifts; little children of all ages, ecstasy of the spirit and of the body, and I provide the path to self-illumination.

I am the Sun and consort to the Earth Mother and the Star Goddess. I am the priest of the Sun. I am the gnostic upon the throne at the center of all life. And I am the leader of the Wild Rade that leads to the Underworld, which is your inner self.

I am the fire in every beating heart and the waters of the soul, the Earth of the body and the breath of the mind. Call on me as protector and warrior for I am the God of Battles.
I bring the rain, the ultimate promise of life, hear my voice and my laughter in the sound of the falling rain and be joyous.
Blessed Be!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread

Sunday, December 14, 2008
One of the most traditional dishes at this time of the year is gingerbread. My kids and I absolutely love the rich taste of the ginger and molasses. So this past weekend we decided to make some gingerbread.

We had originally planned on making a gingerbread house, but we have had to many failures at that project. So we settled on making shapes instead. Following is the recipe that we used. Hope that you all enjoy as much as we have.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together in medium mixing bowl
  2. Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl with electric mixer
  3. Add molasses and egg and beat well
  4. Gradually beat in flour mixture
  5. Press dough into thick flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap
  6. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight
  7. Roll dough to 1/4 thickness on lightly floured surface
  8. Cut into shapes
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 300 degrees
  10. Cool on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes
  11. Remove wire racks and cool completely



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Holly King

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This season of Yule is his season. The time when he is strongest. But it also signals his end, for as the sun is reborn on Yule morning so does he pass away into the Underworld. But who is he?

He is Jupiter, streaking across the sky. He is Cronos, or Old Man Time. He is Odin on his eight-legged horse and Thor in his goat drawn chariot traveling the winter sky. A modern name for him is Santa Claus.

While He is responsible for the winter season and the suffering of the Goddess and the Earth. He is also responsible for bringing us gifts and the Earth a much needed and deserved rest.

So turn to him in this time of reflection and give thanks for that chance to breathe. And if you feel that you can't take the time, then slow down and ask him for that time. But don't let this resting time be a period of laziness. Instead let it be a time for renewal and rebirth.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yule Log

Sunday, December 7, 2008
One of the oldest and probably the most well known traditions for this holiday season is the Yule log. Traditionally burnt on Yule night to hold the darkness and winter at bay, since it was the shortest day and longest night of the year.

My family does not do this tradition because we do not have a fireplace. Although we could build a substitute that doesn't require one. To make a Yule Log that will last from season to season, follow the instructions below.

Supplies:
  • You need a log around 3 feet long. The type of wood does not matter. Although oak would be more traditional.
  • Four pillar candles. Red, Black, White and Green or Gold.
  • Drill and/or chisel.
  • Saw
Instructions:
  1. Measure out four spaces the size of the candles that you have decided to use. Aim to have them an equal distance apart.
  2. Then drill or chisel out a shallow depression that the candles can sit in without falling out.
  3. Saw off the bottom part of the log so that it can sit without wanting to roll.
  4. Then put candles in the holes. From left to right: Put the red, black, white, green or gold. These represent the Holly King and Crone. Then the Maiden and Oak/Sun King.
You can burn the Holly King and Crone candles until Yule night. A litle every night. Then light all candles on Yule night. Yule morning you can put out the red and black candles, since their season has then officially passed.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crafty Decorating Ideas for Yule

Thursday, December 4, 2008
There are many crafts for Pagans to engage in for this holiday season. We all know the traditional crafts but may be lacking in the knowledge of how to actually make those things. So I figured I would post some instructions and ideas for decorating your house for Yule.

You can use cardboard and some gold and/or silver foil to make stars and suns. Or use paper to make snowflakes. My family coven decorates a grapevine wreath with symbols and silk flowers for the season. You can decorate it with holly and ivy, poinsettias, and pine branches.

For those among us who are uber-crafty you can make your own full fledged wreath, instructions here.

What kind of crafts does your household do for Yule? Comment below and let us all know.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Hope that your holiday is joyous and bright. OK, I know that that is a cliche but I really mean it. This holiday is about family and giving thanks for the bounties that we have received. So take some time to do that and I will see you all again on Friday.

And oh yeah, enjoy all the food!




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes -- Part 2

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A few hours before I sat down to write this post, me and my youngest daughter prepared the turkey for cooking on Thanksgiving. This involved finishing thawing the turkey and washing it thoroughly. I then rub the turkey down with butter and then olive oil. Followed with kosher salt and poultry seasoning. Now the turkey is in two plastic bags sitting in the fridge.

Tomorrow I am planning on boiling the turkey necks for broth and making the cornbread for the stuffing.

But today I am going to share with you my recipe for macaroni and cheese.

You will need:
  • 1 lb colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • Small amount of milk around 2 cups
  • Two eggs
  1. Boil macaroni according to directions on box.
  2. Shred all cheese together in a bowl.
  3. In a large pot beat the eggs and milk together. 
  4. Then scald the mixture. In other words get it to just before boiling.
  5. Now add the cheese by the handfuls allowing time between each for it to melt nearly completely.
  6. When the cheese has all been added and given time to melt thoroughly, resembling a fondue, pour cheese mixture into elbow macaroni and stir in.
  7. Next bake at 325 degrees for about an hour or until the top has become golden and crispy. If the edges are cooking to fast you can cover them with aluminum foil.
Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes -- Part 1

Monday, November 24, 2008
With Thanksgiving a mere three days away. I figured I would share some recipes and tips that I use for this holiday. But today won't be all of them, so stay tuned for tomorrow when I will put up some more.

I bought my turkey this weekend so that it is thawed by Tuesday night (I may have to do some additional thawing in cool water Tuesday evening). The reason for this is that I rub the turkey down with butter and olive oil and a combination of spices (typically kosher salt and poultry seasoning) on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The result, come Turkey day? One of the moistest turkeys that I have ever tasted.

Although I don't stuff my turkey, I do make some stuffing as a side dish. Here is the basic recipe I follow.
  • 4 lbs turkey necks
  • 1 box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Poultry Seasoning
  1. Boil turkey necks to make a broth. I usually make nearly a gallon of this. In this I also add the celery, carrots, onions, and peppers. Two notes here, I put the onions in chopped in half with skins intact for the best flavor. And second the peppers on day two and three tend to turn mushy, so it is up to you whether or not you add them
  2. Make corn bread and when cool crumble up in same pan used to bake it.
  3. To this add the boiled vegetables and shredded meat from turkey necks. Turkey necks have small verterbrae in them, easy to see but a pain to debone.
  4. Then add some broth. I have never measured the broth I use, aim low and then add more if it is to dry. The ideal amount is enough to soak everything but not enough to have the bits swimming.
  5. You can also add some poultry seasoning for flavor. If you so desire.
 Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Do We Offer Up Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Finally, we have come to the end on my series on the Creed of my Family Coven. Hopefully I have shown that this is a system that actually works to improve those that follow it. Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to get people to convert to my way of thinking. I just was trying to show merit.

The end of the Creed talks about offering up Thanksgivings. A topic which I think is appropriate since Thanksgiving is next week. I have talked yesterday about what I had to be thankful for.

But what about you, my reader, what do you have to be thankful for? Comment below.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And as We Receive Power and Blessings

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Back on last Friday, I began talking about the Creed of my Family Coven. And in that article I talked about how until recently they were a working theory. Today's article addresses that idea.

I say that it was a working theory since it had not come to full fruition. The reason for that was that I wasn't truly embracing the edict of the former line. I was not living my life as truthfully as I should have, I was not following the Will of the Universe, my True Will.

So I decided to stop fighting and give in to the flow. The first thing was the beginning of this blog, which led to me finding Lydia Crabtree and through her, Family Wiccan Tradition International. While in FWTI I was led to the Clergy program, in which I am currently halfway through my first year of study. Now I am the Family Coven Weaver for FWTI as well.

All of these things are the embodient of what I mean when I say that we receive power. It is not power over anyone or anything. Rather it is the power of influence that living a loving, light-filled and truthful will enable you to have. But the condition is that if you fail to live any part of this life, then the power will leave you.

Then we come to Blessings. As I have learned to accept the fact that I am valuable and people listen to me and value my opinions, I have realized blessings beyond anything I can imagine. I have found new friends which have fast become like family. I am genuinely happy and stress free for the first time in a long time. My bills which are not gone are at the very least paid on time and I continue to have a loving wife and children and a house that will keep me warm during this upcoming winter.

So as you can hopefully see, this Creed can lead you to a rich life. One that is truly blessed by the Gods.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So That We May Have Strength and Truth

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
As I continued my personal journey through this Creed, I realized that I gained strength through doing so. This strength was emotional, in that I was more stable and level-headed. And it was spiritual as I came closer to living and realizing my true Will, which is really just the Will of the Gods and the Universe.

But then the dilemna arose. How do I continue to live in Love and Light? I thought that I must have some ethical code to live by. Some set of virtues to adhere to. For as the old saying goes, 'Pride goeth before the Fall'.

This ethical code and the need for it is embodied in the single word, Truth. Live a life that will enable you to never have to lie about anything that you do. If you do nothing that you are ashamed of, or have the need to be, then why would you have to lie about doing it?

Yet one must also be vigilant in pursuing truth and a pure method of living. Simply saying I can do whatever I want, as long as I harm none does not cut it. Too many Pagans I have met, do not have a moral compass. And I feel that it is important to have a strong moral compass so that you know how to shape your life and give it some form of structure.

Blessed Be!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Into The Light My Friend

Monday, November 17, 2008
The second half of the first refrain in my Family's Creed talks about living in light as well as love. But what exactly does this mean? In this case I am talking about the natural occurence that happens after learning to love one's self.

In Plato's Republic he tells the story of a cave and the inhabinants inside.

[Socrates is speaking with Glaucon]

[Socrates:]  And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

[Glaucon:]  I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -- will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

Certainly.


Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

Certainly.

He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

To be sure, he said.


And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

No question, he said.
This story is an allegory of the world that so many of us live in. People are content to live in darkness and despair. Ashamed and afraid of the their past (and sometimes current) actions and of theirselves, they refuse to be honest with themselves and to be real with the world.

So spend some time thinking about yourself, are you completely honest with yourself? What things do you hide from everyone, including you? I don't need to know but you do, if you hope to be complete.

Think about how much energy you spend feeling bad and how much of your energy is used to wall this stuff away.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

All You Need is Love. Love is All You Need.

Sunday, November 16, 2008
While what the title says may be true, the question is what exactly is Love?
 
On the physical side Love, as Mark Twain put it, is the irresistible feeling of the need to feel irresistible. Yet this Love that I am talking about is not just physical love, but rather it is the same Love that the Gods feel for us and that we should feel, first for ourselves and then for everyone else.

This spiritual Love, can be best summed up in a greeting from India, Namaste. This single words means, "The Divine in Me recognizes the Divine within You". In other words it recognizes that we are all part of the Gods and all worthy of Love.

So, now that we have a rough definition of Love, the question is: What are the steps towards learning to Live in Love? First you must learn to forgive and let go of all negativity, including grudges and jealousy. Then you must examine yourself and make a list.

First on this list, you need to put down the things about yourself that you do not love. Remember be honest. Second put down on the list, those things about yourself that you do love. After you finish the list you need to learn to love yourself. If you have negative habits work on changing them. Hey I never said that this would be easy.

I have always heard that learning to love oneself is the hardest thing that one can do. Because it relies so much on naked and brute honesty with one's self.

When you can learn to Love yourself then the Love for all else will follow.

I would love to hear all of your stories, thoughts and comments, so please comment below. And oh yeah, join me the rest of this week as I further explore the Creed of my Family Coven.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Creed of my Family Coven

Thursday, November 13, 2008
One of the most important things that a Family Coven can do to establish themselves is to create and write down a moral code. A list of ethics that they wish to live by and to instill in their children. I have already covered a good list of Pagan Virtues, but I figured that I would cover my own personal code. (For long time readers bear with me. I know I covered this before but I promise that this time will be different.)
May we learn to live in love and light
So that we may have strength and truth
And that we may receive power and blessings
These three lines are the essence of how I conduct my life. I don't need long edicts or complicated dogma. Although these three lines are much more complex then they seem. They can embody a lifetime of personal journeying to complete and embody.

Until very recently these three lines were a working theory. In essence I knew that they could make some one a better person, but I had never personally experienced or witnessed it. But now through my work with FWTI, I have begin to realize and reap the benefits of following this Creed.

For a long time I understood the part of Love, although I struggle to define it, I knew that I loved myself and the Gods and all the world. I know that sounds like a cliche, bear with me. I understood the parable of Plato's Cave, that the light was enlightenemnt and wisdom and that not everyone is comfortable with this.

I felt the strength that came from living in Love and Light. I understood living a life that was true to myself and that was an honorable one. But I struggled when it came to the part about Power and Blessings. I, first off, wanted nothing to do with power or the responsiblity that comes with it. And secondly I was struggling to much financially to understand where the Blessings came in.

But then I realized that I could not be truly living in the light, if I was not following the will of the Gods. Which at the root was really my true will, since We are all of Them as They are of Us. So I began to accept the responsibility that was being offered to me, I have accepted the position as the Family Coven Weaver for FWTI, which gives me the honor of working with other Family Coven's to build their own Family Traditions.

Through doing this, although I have suffered from some losses, overall I have received blessings in plenty. So now I can say that this a system that works, but you must be willing to accept all parts of it, without seeking for the power that it will bring.

I hope that you all will join me next week as I cover each of these things in greater detail. To make it easier here is a link to subscribe to my blog by email or rss. Hope to see you all around.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dealing With Loss Through Faith

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
While we can all hope for our lives to run well without hiccups, bad stuff happens. It is how we deal or learn to deal with these things that define and make us as the person we are. Right now in my life there is a mix of good and bad. Gain and loss.

I am progressing in my studies with FWTI. While not rich, I am paying all my bills and the future is looking bright. But at the same time my wife and I are dealing with the grief of a recent miscarriage. My oldest is having allergy issues, so we are having to thin the zoo that is my house i.e. get rid of some fur babies.

As a result I have spent some time over the last few weeks thinking on how faith can carry us through all things even the loss of a child. Some people blame the Gods for what has happened, rather then to just understand that bad stuff happens to good people. And that to live is to take the risk to suffer. There is no vendetta against us from the Gods. While other people turn to the Gods and ask for the will to continue on, and the strength to overcome the obstacles that have sprung up in their path.

I much prefer the second course. But I understand how difficult it is to not blame the Gods. Some has to take the blame, right? But my family coven talks about learning to love so that we may walk in the light. This means that we must learn to love if we ever are to be complete as a person. But this love can not be just for earthly things, it must include (if it is to be true love) the Gods along with ourselves.

And besides the Gods loves us as their children. How can they wish harm to any of us?

Thoughts? Comments? Please use the comment link below and let us all know.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teaching the Elements to Children

Thursday, November 6, 2008
I have had questions in the comments on this blog on the best way to teach children about Wicca. Below is a sample outline of an exercise that I did with my four year old. I think it worked very well so I figured I would share it with all of you.



Items Needed
  • Bowl of Earth
  • Bowl of Water
  • Feather
  • Tea light or votive candle
  • Four Candles -- Yellow, red, blue, green
Arrange colored candles in a circle around you. Putting the appropriate color candle and elemental representation in each of the quarters. Have your children sit with you and tell them that you are going to talk about the elements.

Say:
The world is made of five elements. Everything in it.

Move to the East and wave each of the children with the feather. Ask them if they feel the breeze. Tell them that is Air. Have them breathe in and out. Tell them that they have Air within them, that it is all around them. Show them the yellow candle saying that yellow is the magickal color of the element of Air.

Take them deosil to the South and light the tea light. Now, with extreme caution, let them feel the heat from the candle. Tell them that this Fire. Have them put their hand over their heart, feel the warmth and the beating of their heart. Tell them that this is a sign of Fire within them. Show them next the red candle and say the red is the magickal color of the element of Fire.

Continue on to the West and handing around a bowl of water, let each of the children dip their fingers into the water. Tell them that this water. Then have them lick their lips. Ask them if it feels wet, say that this the water within them. Show them the blue candle, telling them that this is the magickal color of the element of Water

Finally go on to the Northern quarter. Hand them the bowl of Earth and let them feel the dirt. Tell them that this is Earth. Tell them that their bodies and the bones within are made of the element of Earth. Show them the green candle, telling them that this is the magickal color of the element of Earth.

Now take time for any questions before continuing onto Spirit.

Ask them, "Are you different then me?" They should answer yes. Ask them if they know what it is that makes us different. The answer is that it is spirit that makes us different. We each have a different spirit within us. When you talk to the Goddess and God they are spirit. Spirit is what makes us alive. There is no color for spirit because you cannnot see it, you can only feel it.

Tell them next that: When we do ritual we cast a circle made of spirit around us. It separates from our world, where we have to go to work or do chores and takes us to a magickal place. And in circle we call the Four Elements as watchtowers to watch over us and protect us while we honor the Gods.

Take a few final moments for question time.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grandmother and Grandfather

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Song of the Grandmother

Come nearer my grandchildren. Gather in close and listen to the words of my song. I sing of my life. Long has that life been yet its end is near.

My names are many. I have been called Cerridwen, Baba Yaga, Hecate, Morgana and by many other names. I am wisdom embodied and all of life's knowledges resides with me. Be heartened and know that I watch over you always.

So if you seek wisdom, advice, or knowledge come and ask. But do not mock me because I am old. For once was I young and beautiful. Once was I the Maiden daughter and the Mother. And to some I am those people still. So listen well and learn my lessons.

Listen for my stories in the wind. Look for me in the weaving of the winter bare branches and hear my ancient voice singing in the crackle of the fire.

Tale of the Grandfather

Grandchildren, grandchildren gathered around my chair. You warm my heart and keep me young. I am the storyteller and the keeper of tradition. My body won't let me dance the sacred dances and my voice is to old to sing the Holy Songs. But my mind is still sharp and I can pass my wisdom down to the next generation.

What was that? Oh yeah my name, who I am. Well I have been known by many names. I have been called Hephaestus, and the Holly King. I am grandfather Winter and the Ruler of the Underworld, Hades.

If you come to seek wisdom. Listen for the lonely wind rattling through the trees and rocks. Look beneath the silence of the falling snow. Come and sit by the fire and if you look hard enough you will see me smiling out at you with a glint in my eye.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making Soup

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
This is really a two part post, but the point of the post is to show how you can cook good food for very cheap. This past week since it has finally turned towards chilly weather, (well more like cool but one can hope right?) I decided to cook some soup but I didn't want to spend a lot of money.

So I dug in my freezer and found some chicken scraps that I had set aside, some cooked and frozen elbow macaroni and a medley of frozen vegetables as well. So I started the chicken scraps boiling in a pot, to this I added salt and some garlic powder and a tinch of black pepper for taste.

When this broth was finished, I strained out the scraps and reserved the broth. Then I started some butter to melt in another pot, I added a tinch of oil to keep the butter from burning. When the butter was thoroughly melted I added some flour and browned it to make roux. When it was brown and just before burning I stirred in the chicken broth and kept it moving to make cream of chicken soup. To this concoction I then added the frozen vegetables and the elbow macaroni, now thawed of course.

My kids have subsequently tore up the soup in the last couple days. In fact there is probably only two helpings left.

As I said the point of this post is to show that for cheap you can make some fantastic food. I save all the scraps that I can. From steak to chicken to ham and pork all can be used for something. Either for soups or for cooking beans.

Feel free to add any other recipes or tips in the comments below.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Samhain!

Thursday, October 30, 2008
Supplies:
  • Four Candles -- yellow, red, blue, green,
  • A bowl of water
  • A bowl of dirt
  • A feather
  • Musical Instruments if you so wish
  • Bell for each of the children participating
  • Jack O' Lantern
Ritual:

Arrange the colored candles and other items in a circle around you. In the East put the yellow candle and the feather. In the South put the red candle. In the West put the bowl of water and the blue candle. And finally in the North put the bowl of dirt and the green candle. Light these candles as you set them out. Walk with your children from candle to candle, ringing a bell as you leave from candle to another.

Start in the East and tell them that it represents Air. Wave the feather at them so that they can feel the wind.

In the South tell them that here is Fire represented. Carefully let them feel the heat from the candle.

In the West talk to them about Water. Have them wash their hands in the water.

In the North speak about the element of Earth. Let them touch the dirt.

When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us.

Now sit with your children and tell them about Samhain. Tell them that this is the time that our ancestors can cross over and visit. Set out a plate for the dead and for the Gods. Read them a children's story for Samhain.

But don't let this day be all about solemnity. Have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.

When you are done spend the rest of this Sabbat enjoying a huge feast. Take a look through the different recipes that I have posted in the last few weeks or cook your own. But be sure to enjoy the bounty of the Earth at this the third harvest.

Since many of you will be trick or treating tomorrow, here is a link to a site on safety. Remember safety is important, fun can come later.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Samhain Dessert Recipes

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I know my earlier post on pumpkin recipes, had dessert recipes in it but there is more to Samhain then just pumpkins. So I figured a separate post was in order. Here are some classics, hope that you enjoy.


Ultimate Caramel Apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 10-inch square piece of styrofoam
  • 6 popsicle sticks or small wooden dowels
  • 6 Red Delicious or Golden Delicious apples
  • 3 ounces white chocolate
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water and sugar.
Over low heat, stir mixture gently until sugar is completely dissolved.
Increase heat to medium low and cook, without stirring, until mixture is a dark amber color.
Remove from heat and carefully stir in heavy cream (mixture will bubble up and spatter a bit, then subside.)
Set aside to cool and thicken.
Cover styrofoam with waxed paper to catch caramel drippings (this will be a stand for caramel apples).
Insert popsicle sticks into bottom center of apples.
Dip top half of each apple into thickened caramel.
Insert bottom of popsicle sticks into styrofoam, allowing apples to stand upright so caramel runs down sides of each apple.
Refrigerate to harden.
Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in top of double boiler above gently simmering water; stir until smooth.
Transfer melted chocolate to pastry bag fitted with small writing tip.
Drizzle thin, random strips of white chocolate over each caramel apple.
Repeat melting and drizzling with semi-sweet chocolate.
Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Apple Butter Muffins

From Pastrywiz.com
Recipe By : Jenni Miller
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins or nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (the first 7 ingredients) and make a well in the center.
In smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients (the next 6 ingredients).
Pour wet mixture into the "well" of the dry ingredients and stir just to combine (10-15 strokes).
Fold in raisins with as few strokes as possible.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups (if you don't use muffin liners, spray the pan with cooking spray). Bake 20-25 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.
Remove muffin tin to cooling rack and cool 5 mins. before removing muffins from tin. (Do *not* let muffins cool completely in the tin.)


Monday, October 27, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Recap

Monday, October 27, 2008
Now that I have covered all the virtues on my list, I feel it is time to put up a summary of this topic. One of the most important roles of a parent is to create an ethical system for their children. For they are too young and inexperienced to create one.

So I encourage you to go back over this list and make your own list. Talk with your significant other, if you have one, and write a list of what your family's virtues are going to be and a little explanation. I don't recommend including your children in this, because you may wind up with virtues like eating ice cream for lunch on Sundays. Now while this may be a fun one, it will get old quick enough.

Let this list be fluid and as your child(ren) gets older or your family gets larger (or smaller) go back and reexamine this list so that it makes sense for your current situation. When your child gets old enough (teenager is my plan) have them examine this list and try to figure out on their own why the list has the virtues and ethics that it does. Because a time is coming when they will be moving away and will have to create their own reasons for living an ethical life. They won't have you the parent(s) looking over their shoulder to make sure they live good, so "Because I said so", wont be good enough.

I hope that you have enjoyed this multi-part post and have learned something from it. If you have any comments, the form is below.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Samhain Activities - Mute Supper

Thursday, October 23, 2008
Probably one of the most common traditions in modern Wicca and Paganism is the Mute Supper. This being a plate of food that is set out for any visiting spirits on Samhain night, specifically spirits of ancestors that have passed on.

This is one tradition that we try to follow every year. We do not always have the opportunity to all sit down and have a meal together as a family, but we do our best to make time to have dinner with the family, both the living and the passed on, at Samhain.

There are no set rules for this activity. But our Mute Supper is never solemn. We believe in honoring the dead through laughter and drink. A lot like an Irish wake. Of course your Supper can be solemn if that is what works for you.

But either way take the time this Samhain to lay out a supper for the dead. Honor your ancestors with this ritual.

Blessed Be!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Wisdom

Monday, October 20, 2008
A lot of people throw the word wisdom around. They talk about how wisdom only comes with age. But it has been my experience that some times it doesn't even come then. In fact I have met children and young adults with great wisdom.

But what exactly is wisdom? Well first off it is not knowledge or common sense, but it includes those things. Rather wisdom is the proper use of knowledge and thoughts. We can have knowledge but if we don't act on it in a proper and "wise" manner, what good is it?

Wisdom is that which allows us to make decisions that do not involve ourselves getting drowned in drama or calamity. And as to be expected, wisdom cannot be taught. It can only be gained through experience, whether in this life or in past lives.

So I call on parents to let your children grow up without a lot of interference. To many parents are quick to save their kid from all obstacles and disasters. But if they do not have to save themselves growing up, then how can they learn to ever save themselves? How can they gain the insight and wisdom to make the right decisions if they never have to learn or to think? Now don't think that this means to let your kids get in over their head, but it means if they fail a test or to get on a team, then tell them to work harder next time, don't call the teacher or coach and complain. Let the child face the problem head on.

Thoughts? Comments? Please comment below.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recipes for Samhain -- Fruits & Vegetables

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
There are a few fruits and vegetables that are traditional for Samhain, besides pumpkin that is. A few of these are squash, and apples. Nuts are also traditional for this time of the year. It is the time of the last harvest and so those things that we associate with late fall are the foods we will be wanting to prepare.

So here are a few recipes for you to enjoy:

Apple nut Stuffing in Acorn Squash
  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 6 slices of white bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. each rosemary and thyme
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 dried apple rings, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup warmed milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsps. butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare squash, set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together bread and spices, set aside.
  4. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tsp. butter until melted. Add chopped apple rings and nuts. Saute until apple is slightly softened and nuts are golden in color.
  5. Add apple and nut mixture to bread mixture.
  6. Add warmed milk and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Dot squash halves with butter.
  8. Scoop stuffing into hollow squash halves
  9. Put squash halves on a baking sheet, brush lightly with butter, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  10. Squash will be ready when soft and fragrant
Clear Sight Carrots
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions

Boil or steam the carrots until tender. Drain. Add the butter, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon; stir until the carrots are well-coated.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Discrimination

Monday, October 13, 2008
This is a virtue that cannot be taught it can only be given the room and time needed to grow on its own. For discrimination (in this case) is the ability to be able to discern the truth in others. To see the real meaning of what people say. In other words to not be gullible.

As parents there is not much we can do in this regard. But we can help to point out our children's errors in logic. To show them, through example, how to see the real truth behind people. This requires us, as parents, to be candid with our kids.

Yet many parents I have met cannot have a real conversation with their kids. It is something that is beyond their capabilities as parents. But this isn't just in their role as parents they have a real problem having a "real" conversation with anyone. I talked about this in my post on efficiency as a virtue.

I encourage you to read that post and the book that it talks about. Then sit down and talk with your kids. They need and want that attention from you. Have regular conversations with them, it is the only way they are going to learn anything worthwhile.

Blessed Be!



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who is Odin? What can he teach us?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
He is the Norse God of wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt. Yeah I know that is a big list but he is a big and powerful God.  As the principal deity of the Norse Pantheon he was the head of the Aesir. His children include Thor, Baldur, Horur.

One of the best known stories about Odin is his adventure on Yggdrasil, the World Tree. In this story Odin hung from the World Tree, after being pierced in the side by his own spear, for nine days and nights. In exchange for this sacrifice he was given the wisdom that gave him his power over the nine worlds.

As we approach this quiet time of Samhain, this introspection and seeking of wisdom seems to be quite appropriate. But oftentimes wisdom does not come with out a price, we cannot have the room to embrace new things unless older and more worn out things pass away.

So take some time and examine your own spiritual life. What things do you need to cut away? What are you yearning for? What holes do you need to be filled in? You may find that as you listen that those things are already there just waiting for you to be ready.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recipes for Samhain -- Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Personally I have never been a fan of pumpkin flavored anything, but since this the most prevalent food of this season, I figured I would give it another try. So I went to the store and bought a small pie pumpkin. A small one that weighed like two pounds or so.

I then chopped the pumpkin in half and gave a half to each of the kids for them to scrape out the seeds and the strings, which I had to help them with. I then baked each half for about an hour at 350 degrees. Then, when cool, the kids got their half back to scrape out the flesh of the pumpkin from within the shell.

The recipe we used for pumpkin bread is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree, packed
Directions
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. 
  2. Add the eggs and mix well. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. 
  4. Stir in prepared pumpkin. 
  5. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. 
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until bread tests done.
Now that I have baked this bread, I must say that my palette has truly changed. I actually enjoyed the pumpkin and am planning on buying a larger pumpkin this week to make more of this fantastic bread. I must tell you that the two pound pumpkin only yielded me about 3 cups of usable pumpkin puree, so if you are planning on making more than a couple of loafs you will want either more pumpkins or a larger one.

Happy Cooking and Blessed Be!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Efficiency

Monday, October 6, 2008
Efficiency, defined by Webster, as the quality or degree of being efficient. A wonderful thing that is, being efficient. Doing things successfully with as little effort as is required. This is the key to a minimalist lifestyle. But one that many of us struggle with. As the deluge of books and TV shows on organization and productivity can attest to.

We can't seem to organize things or even let go of things that we don't need. We buy bigger houses so that we can buy more stuff, which we pile in storage and the garage and the occasional closet and then forget about it.

So how can we be efficient? Well you can make the resolution, this is a great time for that since Samhain is sometimes called the Pagan New Year, to clear out your life. Both of physical and spiritual things. Clean out the things that you don't genuinely need, if it makes it easier then just box the stuff up and come back to it in six months and see if you have missed anything.

Also take the time to clean out the dead weight in your personal life. I think most of us can say that we have friends, that aren't really friends. They come around to mooch off of us and disappear when we are strapped and can't help them anymore.

This won't be an easy process but it will make your life run better. Guaranteed.

What do all of you do to be more efficient? Share any links or tips below in the comments.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Raising Children in Wicca

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This is a topic that my views have changed on. When I was with my first wife I believed that since she was Christian and I was not that we should take the middle road and not "impose" religion on our child. Now I have been through divorce and am remarried with another child. My new wife is Pagan and so we decided together that at the very least our child together will be raised Wiccan.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I believe, after much deliberation, that to not give your child a religion, regardless of what that is, does the child a great disservice. And makes them unprepared for a world of different religions vying for their soul.

So what steps should you take if you want to raise your children in Wicca? Well that answer depends on their age. For the older children it can be as easy as just telling them what you know and including them in ritual.

But for the younger children, how do you explain things as complex as ethics or even the different faces of the Goddess and God? I recommend breaking these different topics down into smaller chunks, that their short attention spans can process.

Physical representations can be helpful as well. When I taught my child about the elements, I sat her down with the different colored candles all around us, along with items symbolizing the different elements. I then walked her around the circle, letting her experience, see and learn about the different elements.

This is just one of the many things that you can do to introduce your child(ren) to Wicca. The key to all of this is to be creative. And above all make the lessons fun.

I would love to have some comments on what all of you do to teach your child. Or have you even made the choice to raise your child in faith?

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Pantheon Should We Follow?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I had a very interesting comment earlier today (Thanks Deidra), that inspired me to write this post. But first I think that I should explain a little about what I believe. Although I classify myself as a Wiccan, I am a very eclectic practitioner. It is my belief is that in the beginning, we were created and put here on the Earth as one people, with one language and one religion. And over time we were split up, winding up as we are today. So I have made it my life's mission to uncover the ties and common threads between the world's religion, both current and ancient.

This being said, the comment asked about whether it was OK to follow deities of different faiths and not convert. The example given was Kuan Yin, which is one of my personal deities. So my answer it that I believe that you should follow the deities of whatever pantheon you feel drawn to, even mixing pantheons if that is what works for you. For in the end they are all just different faces of the Goddess and God, which in turn are just parts of the Universal Creator.

Blessed Be!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Precision

Monday, September 29, 2008
Precision. Such an open ended word. What exactly is meant by it in this context? We can define it as the act of being precise and accurate. But I don't think that it is enough of a meaning to answer the question. Rather I would say that precision is being precise in thought, word and action. Meaning that we should strive to be unambiguous in speech and action.

To many people I have met seem to have a problem just speaking their mind. We couch ourselves in half truths and hesitate to speak our minds. Instead we should be upfront and honest with first ourselves and then with everyone else in our lifes.

I have just finished reading a book, called 'Fierce Conversations.' This book does a great job of addressing the benefits of being "real" in our conversations, with real world examples and exercises and lessons. If you have ever wished that you could find the courage to speak your mind, then this is the book for you. For if we are not precise then how can people know what we mean or want.

Blessed Be!





Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ancestors. To Worship or Leave Out?

Sunday, September 28, 2008
One of the more unique parts of my spiritual tradition is the veneration of ancestors during my rituals. In my circles I call five points instead of the normal four, the fifth being the ancestors, "those who have gone before us and shall come after us." By this I mean both my ancestors and descendants.

This idea of ancestor worship and veneration goes back to ancient times and is found scattered all over the world, from the Chinese to Africa. But there is one common thread that can be found in almost all of the traditions; the inclusion of food as an offering.

Now I can understand that this may be tough for some of us, especially in America. Many times our families are scattered far apart and, even if we live close, we do not hold the bonds of family very high. In other words many of us are not close to our family. And why is this a problem? Well if we do not know where we came from then we cannot truly understand what makes us tick. And to use the old cliche, if we don't know the past how can we know where we are going in the future?

So I encourage you to take the time to say a prayer honoring your ancestors, during your rituals. To reach out and reconnect to your family. Listen to their stories and you might even learn something. And of course your ancestors don't have to be blood related. One of the ancestors of my Family Coven is a good friend that we adopted into the family at the end of her life. Her words and brief time with us still touch us all today.

Family Coven is a trademark of FWTI


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Building Family Traditions

Thursday, September 25, 2008
If this is what you are seeking to do, then you have already what is the first step. You found this blog. OK, all joking aside. There are a few other things that you can do. And I figured the best way to tell you is to explain my own Family's tradition.

I am an avid fan of food and as such food and eating is the center of much of my tradition. We also have a grapevine wreath and a family altar that we decorate to honor the Sabbats and the changing seasons.

I try to do at least one holiday appropriate activity for each Sabbat with my youngest, Lassair. Here some examples. For Yule we sing carols, for Ostara we paint Ostara Eggs. Keep tuned in here and check out the archives, lower down on the right, for more ideas.

We hold ritual for the Full Moons together as a family and the Sabbats as well. We have started Lassair on bedtime prayers and we watch the stars and the changing of the seasons. We have built a strong system of Pagan Ethics and we teach them to the children as well.

These are just some ideas and things that we do. In fact our tradition, since Lassair is so young, is just beginning to take a solid form. Over the following years I will chronicle the growth of this tradition. So again I encourage you to subscribe and stay tuned for more info. And if you have any traditions that your Family engages in, please feel free to comment below.

Blessed Be!   


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Role of the Mother Priestess

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Yesterday I covered the role of the Father Priest, and today I want to cover the other side of the coin; what the Mother Priestess does. She is the nurturer and the light of the Family Coven. And as the moon guides us through the darkest night, the Mother Priestess can do that for the other members of her Family Coven.

She is also a protector of her children and the shoulder that they cry on when they fall (whether physically or otherwise). As she is supported by the Father Priest, so is it her role to support Him. In my Family Coven I take much responsibility on my shoulders. I work the most and manage the money and subsequently I blame myself for things not ending on the right note, for not being able to give my family everything they want. And it is my wife, as Mother Priestess who knocks sense back into me and helps me to overcome. And for this I am greatly appreciative.

But what else does the Mother Priestess does? She can be the initiator of the young girls into young adulthood. She is the reflection of the Goddess in all her aspects, not just in the Mother aspect. She shows Her sons how to treat a lady and Her daughters on how to act and how to expect to be treated.

With the Father Priest, She helps to establish the ethical code of the Family Coven. And works to instill those core values into Her children. Along with this She is the teacher of the young minds on the lessons that only a Mother can give. The ability to nurture, and to feel, to have compassion and instinct.

I know this article isn't long, but I have a very limited experience on being a Mother Priestess, if you know what I mean. So to all the Mother Priestesses out there, please comment and let us know what you all do to help in the spiritual upbringing of your children.

Blessed Be!   


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Role of the Father Priest

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I wrote an article back in the beginning of this blog on the role of a Pagan Father. So I have kind of covered this topic in the past. But I wanted to write this article anew since my views have changed slightly since then.

First I must say that the idea of the Family Coven along with the Father Priest and Mother Priestess, comes from FWTI (Family Wiccan Tradition International). A wonderful organization that was founded by Lydia Crabtree. So all respect must be given to her, for introducing me to the idea of Family Covens and all that they involve.

It is my belief that the a Father Priest has the responsibility to support his family's Mother Priestess. But support her in what? Well the short answer is; In building the traditions of the Family Coven. I am hesitant to begin speaking of gender roles, because I am not a sexist. But I believe that women and men are different and have different and unique energies to bring to any task and especially in the creation and upbringing of children and in the building of their spiritual tradition.

In my Family Coven, since I write this blog, I am the creator of lessons for the children and some of the traditions. And I bring the masculine energy of the God to my daughters. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously, since how their experience with the opposite sex will begin with me.
Me and my wife are a big fan of the old-school views on husband and wife, with a modern twist of course. We both work and both share household chores. But she takes more of a responsibility in the daily raising of the children, while I take more responsibility in providing and tending to the support of the family. While we came to this arrangement naturally, looking back I saw that in Wiccan mythology the Goddess (Mother) is nurturing while the God (Father) was the provider. But this doesn't mean that I do not nurture my children. For I am a firm believer in balance. We all have Goddess and God within each of us.

So what should the Pagan Father look like in your Family Coven? Well that answer will be different as each of us. I believe that he should take on the masculine role as teacher and leader but embrace his "inner Goddess" so to speak. He should seek to be balanced. Strong but flexible. Loving but stern. The epitome of maleness but still in touch with his inner feminine. I seek to be the best provider, teacher, healer, rock of strength, meter of discipline that any person can be. I am far from perfect but I try my best to be just that.

On a side note: this is something that I see lacking in Wicca and Paganism at general. There are good fathers but there are not, or at least very few, good Pagan fathers. Too many I have met in Paganism just kind of drift along with the flow of people around them. Men for some reason are not deeply involved in Paganism. They do not try to be leaders. Although through networking I have found a few that I know are great fathers. But this is just a pet peeve of mine, one that I won't cover this day.

I would be interested in comments, below, for any of you that see anything that I left out. Or that you think should have been left out.

Blessed Be!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Courage

Monday, September 22, 2008
Courage defined by Webster as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. The ability to face fear and overcome it so that we can persevere. Whether that fear is a fear of ones self or of failure.
But this musn't be confused with bravery. For fools are brave and rush into things with fear and thinking. But wise people are courageous and overcome adversity.
This is a virtue that we all should cultivate in ourselves. But how does one do that? Well that answer can not just be straight-forward and easy. Rather it is something that will vary for each of us. We must, each of us, face our fears and examine the roots of that fear.
Through this, and only this, can we learn how to defeat our fears and worries. When we do this then courage will fill the gap.
<--part 8


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Mabon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Happy Mabon to all of you!

Supplies:

Five Candles -- yellow, red, blue, green, brown
A bowl of water
A bowl of dirt
A feather
Musical Instruments if you so wish
Bell for each of the children participating

Ritual:

Arrange the colored candles and other items in a circle around you. In the East put the yellow candle and the feather. In the South put the red candle. In the West put the bowl of water and the blue candle. And finally in the North put the bowl of dirt and the green candle. Light these candles as you set them out. Walk with your children from candle to candle, ringing a bell as you leave from candle to another.
Start in the East and tell them that it represents Air. Wave the feather at them so that they can feel the wind.
In the South tell them that here is Fire represented. Carefully let them feel the heat from the candle.
In the West talk to them about Water. Have them wash their hands in the water.
In the North speak about the element of Earth. Let them touch the dirt.
When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us.

Now sit with your children and tell them about Mabon, while you light the brown candle. Tell them about the journey of the Goddess into the Underworld. The story of Isis or Inanna. Take this time to tell what each of you are thankful for.

Now have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.

When you are done spend the rest of this Sabbat enjoying a huge feast. Take a look through the different recipes that I have posted in the last few weeks or cook your own. But be sure to enjoy the bounty of the Earth at this the second harvest.
Blessed Be!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I know that I am in danger of sounding like a broken record, but Mabon is the Pagan thanksgiving. And in my family we spend the time reminiscing over the past year and the successes and failures that we have had.
So we all gather around the table, set out with a huge bounty of food, and offer up prayers of thanks for all that we have received. This gives us an opportunity to reconnect with members of the family we haven't seen enough of and to give advice or congratulations to any who need either.
What are your family's traditions and activities at this Sabbat as it comes upon us quickly? Comment below and let us all know.
Blessed Be!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Sincerity

Monday, September 15, 2008
This is one virtue that I struggled to define adequately. But what I came up with was that sincerity means truth in word and act. That when you say something that that is what you mean and follow through. It goes far beyond just honesty and good follow through.
Rather it is knowing that you can do what you say and not saying what you know you can't do. I know that I keep falling back on the old cliche. But it continues to be true. Lead by example. If your kids know that you mean what you say then they will eventually seek to emulate that in their own life.
Doing what you say can be with them, either in discipline or in reward. Or it can be your interaction with the world at large.
<-- part 7 part 9 -->


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Children's Crafts -- Futhark Runes

Sunday, September 14, 2008
A good way to introduce young children to divination in an easy to understand manner, is to help them make a set of futhark runes. Then slowly over time they will learn how to read them and understand them.
Although traditionally the runes were used for magick and not divination, there are many schools of thought today that uses them as a tool for divination. To use them in such a manner you would place them a bag and draw out however many that you needed for the reading you were doing.

All that you need to make a set of runes is:
  • 24 small stones
  • acrylic paint
  • thin paintbrushes
Then the task is as simple as painting the runes on the stones. Here is a link to the individual runes and their subsequent divinatory meanings.
Blessed Be!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Herbal Oils for Magick

Thursday, September 11, 2008
There is nothing better in the act of magick then to use the tools or supplies that your own hands have crafted. This being said many Pagans, that I have met, seem to be clueless about somethings. So here are the basic instructions for making oils from the herbs that you have either bought or grown in your garden.
  • Select fresh, dry plants. Wipe off any dirt and discard damaged parts. You should select enough plant material to completely fill the jar you are going to be using.
  • Coarsely chop the herbs and pack them into a clean and very dry jar. Use a jar with a very tight fitting lid as some herbs will 'gas-off' which can cause oozing.
  • Pour your oil slowly over the herbs all the way to the the very top of the jar. Poke the herbs with a long, thin object to eliminate as many air pockets as possible This will reduce the opportunity for mold to grow. Fill with oil to thevery top and screw the lid on very tight.
  • Label your jar with the date and type of herbs and oil used.
  • Keep the jar on a flat surface at normal room temperature for 6-8 weeks. Leaving the herbs in longer could result in mold.
  • Pour off into a clean, very dry jar. Strain herbs through a clean piece of cloth.
  • Let sit for several days after you decant it to let any water that seeped from the herbs settle to the bottom of your jar. Pour off into a new clean, very dry jar.
  • Label your creation and store in a cool dark place.



Monday, September 8, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Forbearance

Monday, September 8, 2008
Continuing on in my series in Pagan Virtues we come to the virtue of forbearance. So what, exactly, is forbearance? Well it is the art of self-control. Yes, I know short answer but it is the easiest to say.
Forbearance is the act of restraining oneself and not giving into our baser natures. It is what keeps us from being vicious and cruel and allows us to show compassion and love.
All good parents already teach this to their children whether they call it that or not. We teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. Some of us probably even say to them, "control yourselves."
On another level forbearance becomes the act of letting things go. To not hold grudges or to turn the other cheek. Now this doesn't mean that we should let the world walk all over us, but rather that we should not be ruled by our anger and our hate. Rather that we do not act as the world acts. One of the greatest lessons I have learned, was through becoming a Conservative. This lesson was that no one has any power over you except that which we give them. I believe that if many of us can learn this, then the world will become a better place.
If we hold a grudge against someone or we hate them in our hearts then they have been given the power to upset us. And it is us that has given them this power.
It is time for us to ourselves take this power back and to teach our children to never give it. Let us have forbearance and hold in faith that all will be the way it is supposed to be.
Blessed Be!
<--part 6 part 7-->


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mabon Crafts -- Making a Gourd Rattle

Sunday, September 7, 2008
One of my projects in the next coming months is going to be the making of a gourd rattle. I have not found a commercially made or sold rattle that has the sound that I want. So I am going to try my hand at making my own.
It doesn't look like a difficult project, so I figured I would share with all of you the instructions that I have found during my research.

Materials
  • 1 dried gourd, any shape or size, but hard and firm
  • Rattles-seeds from gourd, pebbles, beans
  • Knife or hand saw, to cut neck of gourd
  • Narrow spoon or knife
  • Dowel or stick, 6" long and the width of neck of gourd in diameter, if necessary
  • Twine or heavy string
  • White glue
  • Poster paints and shellac - for decorating if you wish
Instructions
  1. With knife, cut off the narrow end of the gourd; if neck is long enough, leave most on for handle
  2. With narrow spoon or knife, scoop out seeds and membrane inside the gourd. Save seeds for rattle.
  3. Dry gourd in the hot sun or oven at a low even temperature.
  4. When dry, fill gourd with seeds, beans or pebbles.
  5. If it's long enough for a handle, reattach gourd end with white glue.
  6. If dowel is needed for handle, place glue on one end of dowel and insert in the neck of gourd (B). Dry. Dip twine in white glue and wrap firmly around the dowel and up the gourd about 1/2" (C).
  7. If desired, paint a bright colorful design on gourd with poster paint; when dry, shellac to protect finish. Or you may leave it natural.
Hints:
A long season of drying in the warm sun and wind is the best for gourds. In colder climates the process can be speeded up by a warm oven. Be sure the gourd is completely dry before cutting otherwise it will shrink and wrinkle. In other words if you can't hear the seeds rattling then don't cut it.

Blessed Be!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Kindliness

Monday, September 1, 2008
Next in my series on Pagan Virtues is the virtue of Kindliness. Probably one of the easiest of the virtues to learn. So what is kindliness? Well simply speaking it is the act of being kind. And it is the end result of following the Wiccan Rede, 'An it harm none, do as ye will. For doing no harm is the end result of being kind.
But how to teach this to the children. That can be as simple as reminding them to be kind and correcting them when they stray from doing kind things. But it can be as complex as setting up imaginary scenarios and asking them what the appropriate thing in that situation would be to do.
This also has the added benefit of relieving and abating the complex known as being a brat. We have all met the children that are mean and selfish. Being taught Kindliness would be the balm that their spirit would need.
Blessed Be!



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mythology Synchroblog 4: Children's Story for Mabon

Thursday, August 28, 2008
Mahud of Between Old & New Moons has brought us together in an another Synchroblog. This topic being; On Otherworlds.
This post is just one of the many other posts found in this fourth Mythology Synchroblog. Here is a list of those other bloggers.
To me the Mabon season is the perfect time to talk about journeying through Otherworlds, specifically the Underworld, because in my spiritual tradition this is the time that the Goddess leaves the world and begins her journey to Summerland to find the lost Sun King. She subsequently returns as Samhain, infused with light and pregnant with the Newborn Sun.
In this myth I see many parallels with our own eventual journeyes through the Otherworld. As She faced the monsters on the dark paths throught the Underworld. So shall we all face the monsters within, on our own journey to find enlightenment. One of the other parallels in this myth si the finding of the Sun, the light of the world. Now while most us wont' be repsonible fo r the rebirth fo the Sun; each of us, if we choose to take the Journey, shall find the light of our world. Shall find the enlightenment we are supposed to experience in this lifetime. Th elight that will finally chase away all the Shadows that we clin to and strengthen through the fear and shame we feel about them.
I am a firm believer in working diligently to incorporate the Shadow aspects of our personality into a whole, and more complete person: And so this why I believe that a journey into the Otherworlds is an important one. For the Otherworlds, while existing as a place outside of us, also exists with each and every one of us.
This being said I wanted to share with you the current installment in my series of children's stories about the different Sabbats. I hope that you all enjoy it.

"Grandfather, is the next story of the Gods, the one for Mabon, is it sad?" asked the little girl as she looked up with tears in her eyes. "I don't know if we can take another sad story"
The Grandfather paused for a moment and looked down at her upturned face and said, "The next two stories are sadder then the last. But they only make you sad because you have forgotten how it all ends and begins at Yule."
"You mean the rebirth of the Sun King and the Goddess becoming young again?"
"Yes children that is exactly what I mean. For you see there must be sadness if there is to be happiness or we wouldn't appreciate it. There must be winter for every summer so that everything can have a chance to rest.
"And that is what this Sabbat is about. It is the finishing of the work to prepare for the winter. The harvest of the fruit and vine and the storing of supplies and repairing of tools and such.
"But it is also the time that the Goddess leaves us on her annual journey to the Underworld in search of her lost love, the Sun King. For with his death, the magick that they had laid in the Spring had began to fade and Winter was coming fast. And this was a fitting time for her to leave because the fruit that is harvested is like her. They are the womb that holds the seed with a promise of new life. And she is the same.
"So She went to the shore and lit a bonfire of the sacred woods and began to chant and to dance. Longer and faster did She dance. Around and around she spun and finally Her spirit lifted from Her body and began its long journey down into the Underworld.
"I will not speak of all the scary things that she faced. From Giants and Ogres to Dragons and other Wyrms all seeked to block her way. But none were strong enough to block her path. For she came in love everlasting and of course, having been this way before, she knew the ways to avoid most dangers.
"But finally She came to a pool glowing with Golden Light and the scent of roses filled the air around Her. She had finally found her lost love. But he slept with the sleep of Death on the edge of the pool.
"With Her voice raised in song, she began to wash the body of the fallen Sun King. She sang of power and love. Of racing across the green grass in spring and the warmth of the Sun in late summer. The smell of all the flowers in bloom and the feel of swimming in cool water on a hot summer day. All the things that the Sun King could bring back to the Earth if he only lived.
"Finally after what seemed an eternity the Sun King awoke and looked at Her and smiled. 'My Goddess,' he said, 'I have not the strength to return in this body. I will not survive the journey back into the land of the living. But I will dissolve my body and go into you as a spark of life that you can foster and grow until the time is right and ordained.'
And with a last breath He did just that. With a burst of light his body turned into energy and infused the Goddess, further aging her but giving her the strength to make the new Sun within her.
"And so with this She began her journey back to the land of living. Now see children there is always hope even in the darkest of times. The Sun has begun his journey back to join us in the land of the living. And the Goddess while apart from us is soon to return."
With this the children smiled, for the story wasn't as sad as they had expected it to be. And it let them know that all was going to be OK.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Patience

Monday, August 25, 2008
Probably one of the hardest things for anyone to learn. But also one of the most important lessons to learn. My spiritual teacher always talks about Wicca and the organic method. Meaning that things happen in the time and way they are supposed to happen, we just have to be patient enough to wait for it to happen. Now this doesn't mean that we can sit idly by and wait for the bills to be paid. Rather it is to take life one day at a time and to just let things flow.
For a long time I struggled against the flow of the Universe and the Gods, so I can attest to the fact that things will change and happen if we are just patient enough.
But how do we teach this to our children? You can start small. For example, in the Spring, my family is planning on buying a "butterfly from caterpillar kit". The act of waiting that my children are going to have to endure will be almost more than they can bear. But through waiting for the reward they will learn some small measure of patience.
I'm interested in hearing about different ideas from all of you. So go ahead and comment and let me know what you all think.
<--part 4 part 6-->