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.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thor in Utgard

Sunday, June 28, 2009
I had planned on doing this story tomorrow but with all the comments I figured I would replace it with some more Greek myths. But I had also promised a story on Thor this week as well. So here it is. Hope you enjoy!

When Loki and Thor set out to visit Utgard, city of the giants of Jotunheim, they came across a peasant's cottage, and going in were made welcome by the peasant, who unfortunately had not enough food to satisfy the voracious appetite of the thunder god. Thor, however, seeing the problem, killed his goats, and they ate the meat, Thor's strict instructions being that no-one should break any of the bones.

The peasant's son, however, a lad called Thialfi, unable to resist, broke a tiny bone and sucked the marrow. When morning came, Thor gathered the bones of his goats together, waved his hammer over them, and they sprang back to life. Thor noticed, however, that one of them limped slightly, and he perceived that his orders had been disobeyed. Furious, he demanded to know who had defied him, and Thialfi admitted that it had been he. Because the lad confessed of his own free will, Thor relented, and took Thialfi with him to Utgard.

On the way there, the trio encountered a huge mansion with five rooms, and they slept in one. During the night they were disturbed by terrible noises, and on awakening the next morning found that the mansion they had slept in was in fact the glove of a huge giant, who introduced himself as Skrymir. The giant's ribbing annoyed Thor, and he cast his hammer three times at Skrymir's head, but the giant just shrugged the blows off contemptuously. Finally he left, advising the three to stay away from Utgard. They went anyway.Mjollnir Image

Greeted by the king of the city, Utgard-Loki, the three were asked to prove themselves worthy to sit at table with giants, and Thialfi offered to race their fastest youth, but though he ran his fastest, his opponent always outstripped him, sometimes arriving back at the finish line before Thialfi had left. Disheartened, the boy admitted he was defeated, and Loki challenged their best eater. Although he ate like a horse, Loki could not beat his opponent either, who not only ate the meat and bones, but the dishes and table as well.

Finally, it was Thor's turn. Given a huge horn to drink from, he was told that their weakest man could empty it in three draughts, but though he drank long and deep, by the time he had taken his third attempt at emptying it, the horn was still almost full. Next, he was asked to try to pick up Utgard-Loki's cat, but could only move one paw off the ground. Finally, much embarrassed, he challenged the giant's best wrestler, but Utgard-Loki scoffed that his giants would not lower themselves, in the light of how the thunder god had acquitted himself so far. But if he liked, said the king slyly, Thor could wrestle his old grandmother. Dismayed, Thor found himself struggling against the old crone, who in fact forced him down to one knee.

Much ashamed, the trio partook of Utgard-Loki's hospitality, and the next day made to leave. But the king met them at the gate, and explained to them that they should not feel so disheartened: for the youth Thialfi had raced was none other than thought, which no man can beat in speed, Loki's opponent had been fire, which devours everything, and as for Thor, the first of his feats, the lowering of the level in the drinking-horn, Utgard-Loki explained that the horn had one of its ends in the sea, and the level of the sea in that area had gone down a considerable distance due to the thunder god's massive draught. The cat Thor had tried to lift had been Jormungand, the world serpent, and the giants had been much afraid to see that the thunder god could actually lift one of its feet up! And the old woman had been old age, against which no man has defense. The king of the giant city also admitted that he had been Skrymir, and that he had only avoided serious injury from Thor's hammer by moving a mountain between his head and Mjollnir.

Hearing of the deception, Thor hurled his hammer at Utgard-Loki, but the giant had disappeared, as had the city.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

God of the Week

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Since my last post, starting a series on myths for children seems to be a hit. I figured I would start another series of posts on the Pagan God. If you look around the internet you will find a lot of info on the Goddess but a lack of info on the God.

So I figured I would seek to remedy that here.

This week I am going to start with Thor, Mighty Redbeard, and protector of the common man. Often portrayed with a hammer he was revered as the God of thunder and sky. Along with the common man he was the patron of farmers and with that came his association with weather and crops. And in case you haven't heard of him he was a God of the Norse and various Germanic tribes.

His hammer called Mjolnir was a magical weapon and one he always carried. According to Wikipedia;
Thor owns a short-handled hammer, Mjolnir, which, when thrown at a target, returns magically to the owner. His Mjolnir also has the power to throw lightning bolts. To wield Mjolnir, Thor wears the belt Megingjord, which boosts the wearer's strength and a pair of special iron gloves, Járngreipr, to lift the hammer. Mjolnir is also his main weapon when fighting giants. The uniquely shaped symbol subsequently became a very popular ornament during the Viking Age and has since become an iconic symbol of Germanic paganism.
 According to the myths he was the son of Odin and the giantess Jord (The Earth).

Tune in next week and I will tell you some of his stories. You may want to subscribe, if you haven't already, email is the easiest. Hope to see you all around.

Blessed Be!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Children's Stories - Introduction to the Greek Gods

Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm thinking of starting a new weekly series. In this series I would share different kid friendly myths from around the world that I have found. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Today's story comes from Activity Village. I hope that you enjoy.

A long time ago, when the world was much younger than it is now, people told and believed a great many wonderful stories about incredible things which neither you nor I have ever seen. They often talked about a god called Zeus, who was king of the sky and the earth; and they said that he sat most of the time amongst the clouds on the top of a very high mountain where he could look down and see everything that was going on in the earth beneath. He liked to ride on the storm-clouds and hurl burning thunderbolts right and left among the trees and rocks, and he was so very, very mighty that when he nodded, the earth quaked, the mountains trembled and smoked, the sky grew black, and the sun hid his face.

Zeus had two brothers, both of them terrible and great, but not nearly as great as Zeus himself. The name of one of them was Poseidon, and he was the king of the sea. He had a glittering, golden palace far down in the deep sea-caves where the fishes live and the red coral grows, and whenever he was angry the waves would rise mountain high, and the storm-winds would howl fearfully, and the sea would try to break over the land.

The other brother was a sad, pale-faced being, whose kingdom was underneath the earth, where the sun never shone and where there was darkness and weeping and sorrow all the time. His name was Hades, and his country was called the Lower World, or the Land of Shadows. Men said that whenever any one died, Hades would send his messenger to carry him down into his cheerless kingdom; and for that reason they never spoke well of Hades, but were scared of him and thought of him as the enemy of life.

A great number of other gods lived with Zeus amid the clouds on the mountain top - so many that I can name only a few. There was Aphrodite, the queen of love and beauty, who was fairer by far than any woman that you or I have ever seen. There was Athena, the queen of the air, who gave people wisdom and taught them how to do many useful things. HeraThere was Hera, the queen of earth and sky, who sat at the right hand of Zeus and gave him all kinds of advice. There was Ares, the great warrior, who delighted in battle. There was Hermes, the swift messenger, who had wings on his cap and shoes, and who flew from place to place like the summer clouds when they are driven before the wind. And besides these, there were many others about whom you will learn soon enough, and about whom are told strange and beautiful stories.

They lived in glittering, golden mansions, high up among the clouds - so high that the eyes of humans could never see them. But they could look down and see what humans were doing, and often they were said to leave their lofty homes and wander unknown across the land or over the sea.

And of all these mighty folk, Zeus was by far the mightiest.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Litha!

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Happy Litha to All!

Supplies:


A Solar Cross for each of the children participating
Five Candles -- two 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 a little further out. 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 Litha. How it is a time for the marriage of the Gods and the height of the sun. With this light the yellow candle.
Now have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.
When you feel the time is right, ring the bell and have the children hold up their solar cross and say:

Sacred Father and Blessed Mother
We ask you to bless this Cross, made in your name
Let it hang in our house and bring us blessings
So Mote It Be!

When you are finished you can hang the Solar Crosses in your homes to bring those blessings.



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

13 Goals of the Witch -- Conclusion

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We have at last made it to the end of this list. And I wanted to put forward a few thoughts.

I have put these items forward as a thing to do for ourselves. But they as much if not more apply to our kids as well. In some cases we may not have to help them discover the aspect, but rather help to assure that they don't lose it.

Children tend to know themselves as well as they have a passion for celebrating life. Don't believe me, watch children at play.

As Pagan parents we are there to teach them their Craft as well as more mundane topics. We are also there to teach them how to eat well and to be healthy.

When they get older then we can teach them about meditation and more ways to Honor the Goddess and God.

So I hope that you all enjoyed these posts. Either way I would love to hear some comments. 

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grilling Dessert

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Anytime I broach this topic with anyone they act very confused. How exactly do you grill up a dessert? My answer has always been fruit. Most fruit can work really well on the grill.

One of my favorite recipes involves peaches. The recipe is simple and requires only five things. Peaches, butter, sugar (white and brown), and cinnamon.

First you pit the peaches. Then you brush them with melted butter. Next you roll them in the sugar and cinnamon mix. Lastly you put them on the grill. Medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Everything should caramelize together.

Another great and easy recipe is to chop up apples and sweet potatoes. Mix these in foil packets with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Then cook on grill for 40 minutes. Flipping every 5 to 10 minutes.

Blessed Be!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Ra the Sun God

Monday, June 15, 2009
According to E. A. Wallis Budge he was the one god of Egyptian monotheism, of which all other deities were aspects, manifestations, phases, or forms. Ra itself, however, was also a monotheistic god. A Hymn to Rah (approx. 1370s BC) was written to stress the pantheistic nature of Rah to combat encroaching polytheism. In it, several deities are described, not as beings in their own right, but certain forms of Rah. For example:

"Praise be unto thee, O Ra, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the habitations of Ament, behold [thy] body is Atum."
"Praise be unto thee, O Ra, thou exalted Power, who dost enter into the hidden palace of Anubis, behold [thy] body is Khepera." courtesy of wikipedia.com

As Litha comes upon us think about the story of Ra overcoming Apep, the darkness. Apep was represented as a giant snake that laid below the horizon and lied in wait for Ra to set so that he could overcome him. This according to the ancient Egyptians led to earthquakes and thunderstorms. And if Apep was bold enough then there would be a solar eclipse. Because the snake would eat the sun.
See in this the story of the epic battle between the Oak King and the Holly King.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Crafts-- Pinwheels

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Pinwheels are a great activity for kids to make during the summers. The bright colors and spinning of the spiked disc is representative of the sun.

Materials Needed:
  • A square piece of construction paper
  • Thin wooden dowel
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Push pin
Instructions:

  1. Fold your square corner to corner and then unfold.
  2. Make a pencil mark about 1/3 of the way from center
  3. Cut along fold lines stopping at pencil mark
  4. Bring every other point into the center and stick a pin through all four points.
  5. Stick the pin in the wood dowel.
These are abridged instructions for the full text of the instructions go to leslietryon.com.
Take the time to do these crafts and spend the time with your kids.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

13 Goals of the Witch -- Honor the Goddess and God

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The last item on this list, but not the last post, is about Honoring the Goddess and God. Now this may seem easy and simple on the surface and in part it is. What I mean to say is that we do this when we do ritual. But it should not be all that we do.

One of the first things that we should do is to find the Gods within us. This means loving ourselves. Next we need to look for the Gods within the people around us. In the Far East they use the word 'Namaste', which means "The Goddess within me recognizes the Goddess within you. "

And we should also see the Gods in the world around us, through little events that pull back the shroud just a little to let us see the mysteries behind the mundane.

So as we go forward into the Sabbat next week, let us take a moment to reflect on this. Do we do enough to honor the Gods? Do we feel disconnected or do we know they are there walking with us?


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

13 Goals of the Witch -- Meditate

Wednesday, June 3, 2009
This is the one on this list that I have a problem following through on. In fact I just had a conversation with my mentor earlier this evening, on this very topic. I guess I need to just start and make it a habit. Wish me luck.

But in the meantime here are some tips on meditation and a small meditation ritual.

The best place to meditate is in a special room if you have it. Decorate the room with pictures or statues of deity. It should be quiet with minimum distractions. If you do not have the space then at the least have an altar that is reserved for meditation. But you should have an altar anyways if just as an aid to help with concentration. In the meditation ritual below there is a section on cleansing an area. If you cannot keep out traffic from your sacred space then it is recommended to cleanse your meditation area regularly.

During meditation, posture is important in only as far as the spine must be kept straight to allow for the free flow of energy down the kundalini road. Your head should be in a comfortable position slightly bent forward. Your teeth open with mouth closed and the tongue pressed against the upper pallete. Also to conserve your energy and keep it within, which is where we are trying to access, it is a good idea to keep your eyes closed. This will also help to keep out distratctions. Remember posture should not be an obstacle to meditation but should rather aid in the practice.

The mind should be relaxed but at the same time aware and attentive. Try to find the balance between the two. Meditation is not about stopping the flow of thoughts it is rather the observation of the thoughts and keeping attention on the self and the reaction to these thoughts.

Time spent is also important, for regularity is the key. You should begin with a total of 30 minutes a day, divided into two sessions. Slowly as the Spirit guides you can add a little more time to those sessions. When you have finished a session, slowly and gently open your eyes. If you feel a little 'spacey' or disconnected then feel free to eat something light and let yourself return slowly into your normal activities.

Meditation Ritual

If this is your first time entering into meditation for the day you need to tidy the area, sweep if necessary. If you are sitting in clutter how can you hope to arrange and clear away the mental clutter? If you wish you can have items corresponding to the five elements on your altar. Have ready a small bowl of water and use this to wash your face, neck, arms and hands before you sit to meditate. This will help to cleanse the body as well as the mind. Have a small fireproof bowl of sand or rocks as an incense holder. Have a candle lit to represent fire and also as an aid in concentration. The incense can represent air. Choose something that reminds you of family and friends to hold the place of the Ancestors.

After you have sat for a moment and cleansed yourself then say:
Blessed Mother Blessed Father
I come here in meditation
So that I may come closer to you
Help me to still my thoughts
So Mote it Be!
Now sit comfortably and with eyes closed focus on the mind and examine your thoughts. If there is too much mental distraction then just focus on your breath. Practice diaphragmic breathing and let your mind calm. Feel the worries and distractions leave on each exhale and light return into its place with each inhale.

When you feel that you have calmed the mind enough turn your attention to your thoughts. Say a mantra if you feel drawn to do so or speak the names of the Gods that you are drawn to.

You may find it to be a good practice to turn now to the Gods and ask for wisdom, or foresight, or any other things that you need in your life. Then turn your attention to them and wait for their whispers. This may help in building a personal relationship with them and aid in your spirituallity.

Cleansing

It is often times enough to burn some sage and smudge the area and even yourself before you begin your meditation. You can do this with loose leaves or even a bundle. Peppermint and cedar is also beneficial for this. Other times intention alone,whether spoken or not, is enough to cleanse an area. For first time cleansing a certain area you can add to the act of smudging with sage, some saltwater. Sprinkle the water around the area with the intent of cleaning out the area.

Incense and Candles

There are many types of incense that can be used for meditation. It is best to avoid heavy floral and musky scents for they tend to be strong and overpowering. But the choice is up to you. Choose something that is calming and pleasant to you. For in the end the only one that needs to be happy with the choice is you. Incense sticks or cones we have found to be the cheapest and easiest way to include incense in meditation. The powders and resins require charcoal and a larger fireproof container.

There are many incenses that you can use. Nag Champa is one of these which is primarily made of sandalwood. Used by many to promote spirituallity and meditation. Sandalwood is also used because it keeps alertness focused in meditation.

You can also use light floral incenses such as Rose and Lotus and Jasmine. But ultimately the scent you choose is up to you. The same as posture, incense should not be a hindrance only an aid.

It may be helpful to include this ritual as part of your daily devotions. If you want to have any hope of growing spiritually then you need to commune with the Divine and with Spirit on a regular basis. Whether you take a moment to enjoy a sunset and recognize Divinity in Their beauty, or you sit down in formal ritual and commune and talk with the Lady and Lord it is important. Meditation is also helpful for this because it clears and purifies the body and the channels within so that we more easily connect to the Gods.

It may be easiest for many of you to after one or both of your meditation practices to then turn your quiet attention towards the Lady and Lord and ask for their guidance on the day ahead or advice on the day past.

But do not think that this is a requirement. No angry and jealous Gods here ready to strike you down because you didn't pray today. If life is too busy and it often is, don't feel guilty that you didn't or couldn't take time out for prayer. Just know that they are always there watching over us and guiding us.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Grilling Pork

Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Many people tend to overcook pork, making it dry and almost unedible. This can be prevented to a certain point by either brining or using a marinade. But nothing beats just cooking to the right temperature (165) and no further.

If you don't feel like making a marinade, you can a dry rub. Here are some recipes for just that. Hope you enjoy.

Kansas City Rib Rub
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne 
Basic Pork Rub

  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
Preparation:
Mix all ingredients. Work 1/2 half mixture into meat 12-24 hours before cooking. Apply remaining rub before smoking. Makes enough for about 5 to 6 pounds of meat. 

All recipes are from about.com.