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, July 25, 2010

God Myths -- Lugh

Sunday, July 25, 2010
The festival of Lughnassadh to the ancient Celts was the Funeral Feast of Lugh. But who exactly was Lugh? Lugh was the God of many skills. He was skilled in as different things as healing, the craft of the warrior, and music, among other things. There is a story below that I found at thaylann's sanctuary, that talks about his many skills.
It was a rainy and miserable day when Lugh arrived at the gates of Tara, the not-so-stong-anymore-hold of the Tuatha De Dannan. The Formorians had the Dannans under their oppressive force for some time now. Nuada, the King, had lost his hand in battle and, even though a silver one had been put in its place, that worked just as well, he was forced to step down from his throne. (Celtic law forbade any to be ruler who had any form of blemish on his/her self). In his place, ruled Bres: a half Formorian, half Dannan> He was a good looking man but he had the countenance of a boor (not a boar).

Lugh appraoched the gate and knocked. His knock was soon answered by a sour-faced gatekeeper.

"What do you want?" Asked the gatekeeper.

"I have come to offer my skills to your people" Replied Lugh.

"What skills could you have to offer us?"

"I am a warrior"

"We already have warriors"

"I am a healer"

"We have many"

"I am a smith"

"We already have one"

This went on and on for quite a while. The gatekeeper was about to slam the door in his face when Lugh asked one final question:

"If you already have someone who can do ALL of these things, then I shall walk away and bother you no more"

The gatekeeper went to check. When he came back, he allowed Lugh entry. They had no one who could do all those things.

Not only did Lugh "get the job", but he even became King for a year and a day with Nuada as his advisor. During his "reign", he led the Tuatha De Dannan against the Formorians in the second Battle of Mag Tuiriedh. During the battle, he finally met up with the Formorian leader, Balor (who was also his grandfather). A joyous family reunion, it was not! While Balor's men prepared to open his evil eye that when opened would kill all within its sight, Lugh prepared his slingshot. As the eye was opened, Lugh made his shot. It went through the eye, making it look in upon Balor and Balor was killed. The Formorian threat was defeated and the De Dannans were victorious.

During his reign, his father Cian was killed by the sons of Uisnach. Lugh ruled that the sons would pay a very hefty honour price, which at the very end cost them their lives...but not at Lugh's hands. His foster mother, Tailtu died as well and Lugh held a massive funeral feast in her honour complete with warrior "games" (kind of like the Olympic games). He stated that this feast would be celebrated along with the harvest every year at the same time...hence the festival of Lughnassadh that is celebrated on August 1 to this day.
As this Sabbat comes closer think on this story and what it means for you. If he had given up after the first or second question then Lugh would have never made it into the castle and never been made King. Now while you may not have as many talents as Lugh, your talents are just as important, so stick with whatever choice you make and you will eventually persevere.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teaching Children Herbs and Scents

Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have talked in the past about how I don't use tools. But I don't think I have mentioned that in place of these tools I use many different herbs and incense. So today I thought I might share some of these with you. While I don't use them for medicine or for magick, so to speak, I do use them to start most of my circle casting.

Tobacco is one of the most widely useful herbs that I use. In some Native traditions it is used to welcome the good spirits to your sacred space, this is how I use it most often. But it can also be used to offer up thanksgivings and to carry prayers to the Heavens. On the other end is lavender, which can be used to chase away any negative spirits that may be present.

One of the standard herbs, often used in Pagan practice, is white sage. This can be used to bless an area and make it sacred and pure. I have also found that copal or amber is useful for this purpose.

Now I have brought this up because it is an example of something that we can teach our children at any age. Just because they may be too small to handle athames or to call the Quarters, they are never really too young to learn things like this.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you use herbs in your ritual practice? If so what kinds and have you taught them to your children?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Family Altars - Your Family Needs a Place to Gather

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
As some of you may know a while back I ran a newsletter on the topic of Building a Stronger and More Spiritual Family. I wanted to share an article from that series since we are coming into the dark half of the year, a time that I feel should be more about family gatherings.

We have talked about many things up to today. About building traditions, about worshiping and praying together. But family needs a place to gather together. I know that many of you are thinking that is what the Home is for, and you would be right. But inside the Home a Spiritual family needs a gathering place for their spiritual purposes.

One of the things that you can use is the Family Altar. A small table that acts as the central location of spirituality in your house. The only thing to remember about the Family Altar is that there are no rules for how one of these should be built or look. They should each be as unique as the family is. But here are some suggestions to start with:

The family Deities should be represented. If you haven't found who those are then you can just have representations of the Goddess and God on there instead.
There should be a representation of the One. The principle that the Goddess and God are the two parts of. If this is not part of your mythos, then you can exclude this.
A spot for the Ancestors and Elders should be reserved as well. You can mark this with a candle or a small lamp and an offering plate. You can also include pictures of some of those that have passed on.
The family should have something to represent it. In FWTI they use the family light, which can be lit to bring the family together. But you could also use a symbol that everyone can touch as they pass by to remind them of the fact that they are connected to the rest of the family.
You may also want to have representations of the four elements as well. Whether you use colored candles or actual physical symbols of them.
Another suggestion is the Family Book of Shadows. Which should be a compilation of rituals and traditions of the family. You can also put photos of each member of the family (ancestors included) and photos of different rituals and trips that the family has taken.
You can also decorate the altar with symbols of each of the seasons and/or Sabbats.

Now as you go ahead with the building of your family altar. Just keep a few things in mind;
Put it where the most traffic is. It does no good if the family is not reminded of it.
Use it. Build your rituals around it. Pray at it. The more that you do these things, the more "spiritually charged" the Family Altar will become.
I have always found that simpler is better. The more on it, the easier it is to knock something over and the less "working" room there is.
Do not worry about getting it "wrong". If it "feels" right then it is "right".

So lets get out there and build our Family Altars. Your family is becoming Stronger and More Spiritual and they need a place to gather in your Home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lughnasadh - Recipes for the Meat Lovers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Yes, it is that time again. The weekly recipe series continues. This time with recipes that include meat. I hope that you all enjoy these recipes. Blessed Be!

Baked Polenta with Sausage and Mushrooms
courtesy of katiehodges.com

1 tb olive oil
1 sm Yellow onion; chopped
2 lg Garlic cloves; minced
1 md Red sweet pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 lb Mild Italian sausage, loose
1/2 lb Fresh mushrooms, (white or brown), trimmed and thinly sliced
2 1/2 c Milk, broth or water
3/4 c Yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tb Chopped fresh sage
1 tb Chopped Italian parsley
1/4 ts Ground cayenne pepper
1 c Ricotta cheese
1/2 c gruyere or swiss cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tb Butter or margarine; melted
4 tb Grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté onion, garlic, and sweet pepper until hot through. Add crumbled sausage and continue cooking just until meat changes color. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Drain excess fat and set mixture aside.

Place milk or other liquid in a large, heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring briskly with a wire whisk to prevent lumping. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until mixture is very thick and smooth while stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove pan from heat and stir in herbs, cayenne pepper, and ricotta and gruyere cheeses. Add sausage and sweet pepper mixture. Combine all parts well and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into two 9-inch pie plates lined with plastic wrap. Cool on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or as long as three days.

When ready to serve dish, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut polenta in wedges and place on an oiled shallow baking pan large enough to hold polenta in one layer without crowding. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until polenta is lightly browned and very hot when tested with a small knife in center of wedge. Serve with a topping of Tomato Sauce and sprinked with more parmesan cheese.

Game Hens with Rosemary and Garlic
courtesy of magickalmusings.net

3 Cornish Game Hens, halved
3/4 cup Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tablespoons Dry sherry
1 Tablespoon Fine chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Split each bird in half. Set aside.
Using a very large bowl mix the remaining ingredients together. Marinate the bird halves in this mixture for 1 hour, turning often. Broil in oven 7 or 8 minutes on a side, or on a charcoal barbecue. I prefer the charcoal, but be sure the coals are not too hot. Cook to your liking.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Making a Wand and Consecration Ritual for Children

Sunday, July 11, 2010
Last week I talked about ritual tools for children and, as promised, today I wanted to talk about making wands for children. This simple craft is something that will engage your child for at least a little while and give them a worthwhile tool to use for their early years in the Craft.

Items Needed;
  • Hot Glue
  • Wooden Dowel (not to thick, but the size is up to you)
  • Quartz crystal point
  • Some things to decorate it with (ribbon is a good choice)

  1. To begin cut the dowel down to the length from the tip of your child's index finger to the inside of their elbow. 
  2. At one end glue on the quartz crystal point. 
  3. If you would like you can glue some ribbon underneath the crystal or at any point along the wand. 
Now that you have made one you are probably going to want to consecrate it.

Consecration Ritual

Items Needed
  • Blessed Water - This is basically just water with a pinch of salt that has been imbued with positive energy making it pure and clean
  • Sage or some other cleansing herb

Circle Casting

Start by casting circle in any way that is comfortable to you. I have included a circle casting to help with those who are new.

Have all join hands and still their thoughts. Let the first to speak say;

From Me to You; followed by the next person saying
From You to Me
and repeat until all have said both lines.
For the purpose of tonight's ritual have the chant move deosil (clockwise) around the circle of people.

Then when it gets back to the first let them say;

The Circle is Cast and the Temple is raised.
So Mote It Be! (All can repeat)

Ritual Content

Now that you have cast circle, lightly sprinkle the item to be consecrated with some of the blessed water And smudge it with smoke from the sacred herb.

Next have the child hold it and repeat after you:

I claim and bless this item
In the name of the Goddess (Lay it on the Earth below)
And the God (Hold it up to the sky)
So that it may serve me well in ritual

Have them focus on clearing the object of negative energy (you may have to help them in this step) and making it their own. 

If you try this out I would love to hear any feedback you have. 

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Children and Ritual Tools

Wednesday, July 7, 2010
While looking around for information on Lughnasadh I came across a reference to preparing one's tools for the season and that got me to thinking about children and ritual tools. And I wanted to put some thoughts out there and see what your thoughts are as well, on this topic.

Now let me preface this by saying that, while I own tools, I do not regularly use tools in my practice. I tend to be more organic and feel burdened by tools. But that being said I feel that it is important for all newcomers to the Craft, including children, to be introduced to the use and purposes of ritual tools. Now as I always say, the age of the child will determine when they are ready for the use of certain tools, but even the youngest (well almost) can be ready for some of the tools of the Craft. I have found that having these tools help the children to learn about ritual practice more easily. This is because they serve as focal points to keep their attention on the matter of hand.

The athame is probably the one tool that I worry most about with children. I mean it is sometimes sharp and normally has a point. My kids, like other kids, have a tendency to run and running with pointy things usually ends bad. But my youngest, she is six, has an athame and does quite well with it. Yet even still I usually put it up and only let her use it to cast circle. Better safe, then sorry, right?

Next we come to the wand. This tool is something that children can make as a fun activity. Look for that post in the following week as well as a consecration ritual for children. But a small stick fitted to their hand can help them when they are ready to call in the elements. Or to serve as a focus on raising energy for spell work.

I know that there are many other tools that I have not mentioned, but until they begin to do ritual on their own they can more readily use the family tools. This includes things like the besom and the chalice or cauldron and the pentacle disk. Although my daughter has these as well, since she has a small altar in her bedroom. So this depends on your own situation and space available and of course upon the child as well.

Like I said at the beginning I would love to hear your thoughts on children and ritual tools. Do your kids have them and if so what are their and your, experiences with them?

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Natural Candle Holders

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I talked last week about using the bounty of the Earth to make crafts in celebration of Lughnassadh. So today I wanted to post some instructions to make some natural candle holders that I found on about.com.

First, you’ll want to select some firm fruits. Red apples, early acorn squash, even eggplants work well -- apples seem to last the longest though. Rinse and dry the fruit or vegetable thoroughly. Polish the outside with a soft cloth until the apple is shiny. Stand the apple up on its bottom, and use a knife or a corer to make a hole in the top where the stem is located. Go about halfway down into the apple so that the candle will have a sturdy base. Widen the hole until it’s the same diameter as your candle.
Pour some lemon juice into the hole and allow it to sit for ten minutes. This will prevent the apple from browning and softening too quickly. Pour out the lemon juice, dry out the hole, and insert a sprig of rosemary, basil, or other fresh herb of your choice. Finally, add the taper candle. Use a little bit of dripped wax to secure the taper in place.