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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food and Ritual

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The sacrifice of the first of the harvest to the Gods. The laying out of milk, honey and bread for the faeries. The mute supper laid out to honor the dead on Samhain. The partaking of Cakes and Ale in circle to ground us after ritual.
These are just a few of the rituals that we as Pagans may celebrate with food. Throughout the centuries our ancestors celebrated many more. So what is it about food that allows it to serve such an important role in so much?

Well my theory is that when we do anything with intent it becomes charged with energy. And food is one of the few items with the huge potential to store energy. Food by itself holds much energy, that is how we can live off of food. So if you ritually prepare food as an offering to the Gods or to any spirits then it becomes a hyper charged vessel of energy.

And to prepare our own food is to become more in tune with the energies of the Earth around us. I also think that, as a modern culture, with all of our processed foods, we have forgotten the wonders of wholesome food. They have stripped our food of all that was good for us and added sugars and preservatives. This is convenient for us, so we don't complain. Yet this disconnect has also served as another way we have been divorced from nature.

So the next time you cook your food or sit down to eat spend time to savor each bite and morsel. There is a Zen saying, "When walking, walk; when eating, eat". So eat with intent and in thankfullness for the bounty we have received.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God of the Week - Plutus

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The son of Demeter, he was worshipped at first as the God of bountiful harvests and then later as the God of general wealth. Born to Demeter of the hero Iasion, and blinded by Zeus so that he would distribute wealth without bias.

But as often is the case with the Greek and Roman Gods, he was portrayed with many parents. One such set was Hades and Persephone.

Plutus was described as lame and winged. 'So that he was slow in coming and left faster then he came.' Much like money today.

Two of his other mothers were Eirene, the embodiment of Peace and Tyche, the fortune of cities. Both of which are rich in symbolism. The first that prosperity and wealth comes only in peace. And the second that wealth and prosperity is only possible with civilization or cities.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Lessons of Spring

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Spring is nearly here, the cold weather is beginning to wane and the showers of Spring will soon begin to fall. A short time after all that the plants will begin to bloom and the trees to turn green again. The animals will awaken and go out to forage and look for new food to fill their bellies empty from a long winter hibernating.

For me and my family this month has also been a time of rest and renewal. With nearly two months between Sabbats, we can take a break and turn our focus onto resting and preparing for the work of the coming season.

Soon we will be planting our garden and we will take this opportunity to teach our children about the importance of hard work, perseverance and patience.

Hard work because planting and digging is not always easy to do. Although my youngest seems to enjoy it. I think it is the playing in the dirt thing.

Perseverance because they have to take it on faith that the work that they are doing now will show rewards in the coming months. Plus, here in Florida, the heat comes early so they get hot quick and tend to want to quit almost as soon as they started.

The final lesson is patience. There is a process to gardening. From preparing the soil and planting the seeds. To the waiting for sprouting and then the cutting back. My children want to do it all right away and at the same time. So I have to hold them back and make them wait for the right time. They get tired of hearing the words, 'Seeds don't sprout overnight'.

These lessons are important and are sorely lacking from the rest of the world. We rush and rush in our society. We want it all and we want it yesterday. If we were a little more hardworking and patience and stuck it out to the end, than we would all be better off.

This is also the season of burgeoning fertility. We celebrate, like so many others, by painting eggs. In our Family Coven's tradition this small act is an act of magick that will aid the Goddess and God in their bringing back the warmth and growth of the Spring. I also tell my kids that Coyote, the trickster steals the eggs and hides them. And so the egg hunt begins.

Of course the hunt also helps to spread the magick around. So my children learn from this that even though things may not always go according to plan and that bad things happen, that in the end they will work out for the best.

So as we go forward from here into Spring and the warmer weather comes take some time to go outside with your children and watch the world begin to waken from their long Winter slumber. Here in Florida one of the most common animals we see are cows with horses being a close second, and I know that in the next few months I will be able to point out the foals and calfs to my children.

And maybe you can pass on some of these lessons of Spring to your kids as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ostara Bunny

Monday, March 8, 2010
Yesterday I talked about one of the most iconic symbols of Ostara, the painted egg. Today I wanted to talk about one of the other iconic symbols of this Sabbat, the Ostara Bunny.
The sacredness of hares and eggs at this time of the year lead back to second century C.E. (Common Era) in Europe. Where there was a raucous fertility festival celebrated by the Saxons in honor of the Goddess Eostre. Lost to history is the knowledge of this Goddess. But there are some references to her from that time period. That she was a Pagan fertility Goddess; That her sacred symbols were the hare and the egg.
The egg, and the hare for that matter, also go back much further to different Goddesses throughout history. The hare with different moon Goddesses and the egg with fertility and also as a solar symbol.
Now that we have established the origin of the sacredness of the symbols, how did we go from Eostre to the Easter Bunny? Well for that answer we must go forward from the Saxons almost 1500 years to Germany.
It was here and when that children looked forward to a visit from Oschter Haws, a rabbit that laid colored eggs in nests of grass for children to find. This then came to America via the Pennsylvania Dutch, who were actually the Deutsch, or Germans.
So if you had any doubts about the Easter Bunny, or rather the Ostara Bunny, I hope that they are all gone. Tell your children about Oschter Haws and have them expecting colored eggs and maybe some chocolate come Ostara morning.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Deity of the Week - Eostre

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
There is a theory that the Christian holiday of Easter is named after this Saxon Goddess. This theory springing from the Venerable Bede's Temporum Ratione. In which Bede tells us that April as known as Eostre Month and sacred to Eostre.

So who exactly was Eostre? While little remains to us, since so much of the oral tradition was lost, is that she was a fertility Goddess and a Goddess of Spring. I found the following story out in the internet while I was researching this article and I think it sums her up quite well. Link here.

Once, when the Goddess was late in coming, a little girl found a bird close to death from the cold and turned to Eostre for help. A rainbow bridge appreared and Eostre came, clothed in her red robe of warm, vibrant sunlight which melted the snows. Spring arrived. Because the little bird was wonded beyond repair, Eostre changed it into a snow hare who then brought rainbow eggs. As a sign of spring, Eostre instructed the little girl to watch for the snow hare to come to the woods.
 So as you go forward and celebrate Ostara this year you may want to say a small prayer to this nearly forgotten Goddess of the Old World.

Blessed Be!