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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ethics and Pagan Families

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Family is defined by a common sense of morals and traditions. I know that seems to be common sense but bear with me as I go on.

It has been my experience, that other then a vague sense of right and wrong and a belief in the Wiccan Rede, that many Pagans don't have a well defined list of Virtues. Although they have a personal code, they often can not say what that is. Now I am not saying that Pagans are unethical or that there is something wrong with them. But rather what I am saying is that many of us grew up in a strict religion and/or household that ranted about sin and hellfire. And when we left that religion we chose to stay as far away from anything remotely like what we came from before.

This is a problem because ethics and virtues are very important for the individual and even more so for the family as a whole, not to mention the community at large. But the question is, how do we mesh all our individual senses of right and wrong into a common one? This is a simple exercise for the adults of the family. I say the adults because kids are still too young, for the most part to have their own sense of morals. For the older kids I leave that up to your judgement. You know your children better then anyone else.

I have included a list of thirteen virtues and my thoughts on them at the bottom of today's article. But do not think that you are limited to just those. Compile a large list of virtues and ethics and then whittle it down to around thirteen. This will be a manageable list that you can implement in your family.

Just remember do not do this lightly. I know that this may seem like a common sense statement but you must be sure that each virtue fully reflects your visions for what a family is and should be. And how it governs itself with each other and the world around us.

Now after you have created this list you need to have a family meeting and share it with everyone. And, most importantly, hold them to it. How you enforce the breaking of these rules is up to you. I have been blessed with two great kids, who usually listen without any problem. So the question of punishment is one that hardly arises. Although when it has I have had problems with guilt, wondering if I have been to hard and should just relax the rules a bit. When these doubts come up, I silence them with the thought that these rules are a microcosm of the rules that we all have to follow as adults in society. Whether in our relationships, our jobs, or just in day to day interaction with others of our species. And as I have been saying for a long time, my job is not to raise kids but to create normal well-adjusted adults.

As promised here is a list of virtues and some of my thoughts on them. These were found originally through FWTI which cites the Unicorn Tradition as the source.
  • Tolerance - Webster defines as tolerance as 'sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.'So how does one, as a parent, teach this to their kids? It is my belief that children are born tolerant. The idea of bigotry and racism is, in my opinion, something that is taught. So the real question here is not what can be done to teach it, but what can be done to encourage it to stick around.The first step would be to examine yourself. Are you tolerant of all? Do you ever speak unkindly of people in a general manner? Children have few else to learn from other then their parents.Then you need to wipe these things out of your thoughts and vocabulary.If this doesn't apply or you are ready to move on then you can work to expose your kids to different cultures and (if they are old enough) different religions. I know that in the plans for homeschooling my youngest, that when she gets old enough that the religious books of other faiths will be required. Tolerance comes from true knowledge of others.
  • Charity - Webster defines this as benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
    The love I speak of is not just passionate love, or even brotherly love. The term for this love is Agape. Defined as the selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature).
    I know, its a mouthful, but what better lesson can you teach your kid then love?
    Children start off being obsessed with me and mine, so for them to not just be tolerant of others but to love them and to have goodwill towards, they must have good examples i.e. Parents.
    Teach your children to love others and to do nice things for others. It has been my experience that to make them do so, is a wrong choice. They will only rebel. Point out the world around them and step back to give them chances to develop a sense of Charity for their fellow man.
  • Humility - I think that humility is something that is missing in our culture. We are afraid of letting our kids lose, at anything. They have done away with keeping score and/or lowered the standards in school, so that no one's self-esteem is damaged. And what has been the result? We have a generation of children with no drive. They do not understand that they have limitations and so they can't understand why they fail in the real world.
  • Devotion - I define this as the following and worshiping of the Gods, and all that that entails. 
  • Patience - 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.
  • 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.
  • Forbearance - Forbearance 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
  • Sincerity - This 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.
  • 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 must not be confused with bravery. For fools are brave and rush into things with fear and thinking. But wise people are courageous and overcome adversity.
  • 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 lives.
  • Efficiency - This goes back to my post on cutting out the clutter in your lives. If we have to much then our energies are scattered and we cannot be efficient.
  • Discrimination - 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.
  • 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 also 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.
Blessed Be!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twas the Night of the Solstice and Ritual Ideas

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

by Suncat of Hearthfire, with apologies to Clement Moore

Twas the night of the Solstice, the party was done
Soon we would gather to call back the Sun
The season of Winter was half the way through
We called for the Mother to birth Him anew

The children were quiet or now fast asleep
The elders drew near, the solstice to keep
All were prepared and the circle was raised
In peace and in silence as deep as a cave

The Priestess then lifted the sword upon high
The Priest made the ancient call to the sky
So ancient. that cry that asks for rebirth
As Mother and Sun Child are called to the Earth

Then what to our wondering eyes did appear?
The Lord and the Lady our folk all revere
"What is your need that you call us this night?"
"Bring us," we chorused, "the Child of Light."

"Lady, Who art the season of birth
"Come to us, bless us, dear Mother Earth."
"We here you," She answered, "and so it shall be
"As Solstice is here, I return Him to thee."

"But remember your promise and cherish your land
"For He gives both the seed and death by His hand."
The silence was total, the Priestess bowed low
The priest gave salute, asking, "What do we owe?"

"You owe Us your laughter," He said, "and you your love
"And in all your magicks, respect for Her Grove
"Rape not Her body, nor pillage Her soil
"Labor with love and give free of your toil

"And follow the seasons of Moon and of Sun
"Do so with love and We always will come
"To comfort and guide you, to bring you rebirth
"So give of your love and your land, Mother Earth."

So saying, They faded, we wondering looked on
The Solstice rite done with morning birdsong
The message They gave was of love, not of pain
That the land that we cherish be fruitful again

The circle was ended, the peace yet abides
Through cycles of seasons and love we'll not hide.
Her children who met Them that night in the grove'
Still cherish the land and their message of love.

Happy Solstice to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Yule

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This is a delightful poem by Richard De Angelis, that I found again after hearing it years ago in ritual. Hope you all like it as much as I did.

'Twas the night before Yule, when all 'cross the heath,
not a being was stirring; Pagan, faerie, or beast.
Wassail was left out & the alter adorned,
to rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.

The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
their dreams filled with visions of belov'd Mother Earth.
M'lady & I beneath blankets piled deep,
had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.

Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!

On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.

From the south came a comet more bright than the moon,
And we knew that Lucia would be with us soon.
As these spirits sailed earthward o'er hilltops & trees,
Frau Holda serenaded her feathery steeds:

"Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin & Freya!
Fly Morgaine! Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus & Gaea!
"May the God & the Goddess inside you soar,
From the clouds in the heavens to yon cottage door."

As soft & silent as snowflakes they fell:
Their arrival announced by a faint chiming bell.
They landed like angels, their bodies aglow.
Their feet left no marks in the new fallen snow.

Before we could ponder what next lay in store,
There came a slow creaking from our threshold door.
We crept from our bedroom & were spellbound to see
...There in our parlor stood the Yule Trinity!

Lucia, the Maiden, with her head wreathed in flame,
Shown with the radiance for which she was named.
The Lightbringer' s eyes held the joy of a child,
And she spoke with a voice that was gentle, yet wild:

"May the warmth of this household ne'er fade away."
Then she lit our Yule log which still burns to this day.
Frau Holda in her down cloak stood regal & tall;
The Matron of Solstice, the Mother of all.

Under her gaze we felt safe & secure.
Her voice was commanding, yet almost demure:
"May the love of this family enrich young & old."
And from the folds of her cloak showered coins of pure gold.

Le Befana wore a kerchief on her silvery hair;
The veil of the Crone who has secrets to share.
In her eyes gleamed a wisdom only gained by spent youth.
Her voice was a whisper but her words rung with truth:

"May health, glad tidings, and peace fill these rooms."
And she banished misfortune with a sweep of her broom.
They then left a gift by each sleeping child's head,
Took a drink of our wassail, and away they sped.

While we watched them fly off through the night sky we laughed,
At the wondrous magick we had found in the Craft
As they departed, the spirits decreed
Merry Yule To You All & May All Blessed Be!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Children's Yule Ritual

Monday, December 19, 2011
Yes I know that Yule is technically this coming Thursday. But I wanted to give you all some time to prepare. I will be posting some stories I have posted in the past this weekend, so stay tuned.

  • 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

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. Read to them the Children's Story I posted for Yule.

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!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pagans and Santa

Sunday, December 18, 2011
Woodland Santa
We live in a world that is often very unfriendly to Paganism, which is ironic because many of the commonly practiced traditions are typically co-opted from ancient Pagan traditions. Now let me say that I am not saying that any of our religious systems go back much further then the 1950's with only a few possible exceptions. Rather what I am saying is that Christianity took many of the traditions from the "Pagans" of their time and made them their own.

This article comes out of a question posed on Facebook Page the other day. This questions was pretty much about the confusion between Christmas and Yule. Mainly because she had decided to not include Santa in her holiday tradition. The reason being because he says Merry Christmas. I can understand this even though we include Santa in our traditions.

My household is a multi-faith one, in a sense. My oldest daughter, from my first marriage, is being raised Christian and of course her mother has no issue with Santa, so if I had made the decision to cut out Santa then there would be some confused children. But how does one, if they make this decision, reconcile Santa's very Christian image with one's own Pagan traditions?

Where He Comes From?

One of the Gods that Santa bears the most striking resemblance to is Odin and his eight legged horse Sleipnir. Many traditions had him leading a night time hunt around this time of the year. And in other traditions children would leave out their boots, filled with carrots or straw or sugar (all for Sleipnir). In exchange for this kindness Papa Odin would leave gifts for the children.

While not necessarily a God, their is an archetype from modern Paganism that Santa bears a similarity to as well, the Holly King. Dressed in a long flowing robe, sometimes red, and surrounded by the animals of the forest he was the God of the Dark Half of the year. Rising to power between Litha and Lughnasadh (depending on your tradition) and leaving us at Yule. Replaced by the Oak/Sun King.

So as you can see, as the song says Santa Claus is Pagan Too. But this doesn't really answer the question. Santa is still portrayed as Christian and still is all about Christmas, so what is a Pagan to do? Well either teach and portray him as really Pagan, telling the truth of where he comes from. Or skip him entirely and replace him with the Holly King or Odin, if you lend more towards the Norse/Germanic side of things.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Santa or No?

And oh yeah the picture was found on Flikr, check out the other photos.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Desserts

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I figured I would post my carrot cake recipe. It may take a little bit of work but it does make a truly fantastic carrot cake. I promise.

  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups flour - all purpose is fine
  • 1 2/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl mix the grated carrots and brown sugar and set aside for 30 minutes
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans
  3. Beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in white sugar, oil and vanilla. 
  4. Stir in the pineapple
  5. Combine dry ingredients and then mix them into wet mixture until absorbed
  6. Stir in carrots and pour into pans
  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until toothpick tests clean
  8. Let cool and then frost
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar - minimum
  1. Mix first three ingredients until well blended
  2. Then slowly mix in powdered sugar. You can add more sugar to your personal taste and consistency

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yule Cookies

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yule Wreaths 

  • 3 Tablespoons butter 
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring 
  • 4 cups crispy rice cereal 

Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring. Stir. Fold in rice crispies. On wax paper, with buttered hands, shape into wreaths. Add red hot candies, raisins, or chocolate chips to decorate. Let cool.

Magical Molasses Cookies 

  • 2/3 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup molasses 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Mix together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the molasses and the egg and stir until creamy. Sift together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice in a seperate bowl. Add to molasses mixture a little at a time while stirring. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll the dough balls in some sugar on a plate. Bake 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute, sprinkle more sugar on top.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Two Kings

Sunday, December 11, 2011

As we draw closer to Yule, there will be a shift in power. The Holly King, who began his rule at Lughnasadh is going to be struck down and replaced by Sun King. By this is the year measured and marked. So with this in mind I wanted to talk about the two Kings in some more detail.

First I wanted to talk about the Holly King for the season of Yule is really 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 exactly 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.

His pair, ruler of the light half of the year, is the Oak King. 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!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Decorations and Symbols of Yule -- Part Two - Crafty Edition

Thursday, December 8, 2011

There are many decorations for Yule, that you as a family can make. Take a nature walk with your kids and collect pine cones. We buy spray paint, the colors do not matter too much, but I would stay away from oranges and pinks. Reds, greens and silver and gold are all great colors for Yule.
Take gold foil paper and cut out sun and star symbols to use as ornaments and for decorations in the rest of your house.
Another great addition to your holiday planning is the wreath. There are different kinds of wreaths that you can make. Here is a link to one kind:
You can also use a grapevine wreath and decorate it for the holidays with either real or fake greenery and other symbols of the holiday. In fact this is a great addition to your house, because as one holiday goes you can then remove the decorations and replace them for the next holiday.
You can also make a pagan version of the Advent wreath. Traditionally the wreath is made of evergreens with four candles set within, and its rituals begins four weeks before Christmas. A candle is lit each Sunday and burns throughout the week to welcome the "light of the world." On the fourth Sunday, all four candles burn together in welcome. Although it is a little late to begin this year, next year you could make one of these and light the first candle four weeks before Yule, adding one candle each seven days. Leave the candles lit over night to battle the growing dark.
I will leave you with this link to a tutorial on making a wonderful 3d snowflake.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The First Yule

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I found this story floating around the internet a couple of years back and wanted to share it with you all again. Of course I can't find anyone to credit for this. So if you know who wrote it send me a link in the comments below. Hope you enjoy!

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a beautiful young woman lived on a blue and green island. She had many friends on the island, fairies, trees, flowers, rabbits, deer and birds... but she was the only person who lived there. She wanted to share her friends and her secrets with other people just like her, so she began to give birth. Every month when the moon was hiding, she gave birth. For the first six months, she gave birth to daughters with dark skin and eyes. For the last six moons of the year she gave birth to fair skinned daughters. On the seventh moon of every year the First Mother gave birth to a magickal, sacred oak.

As the years turned, many, many daughters were born, and quite a few oak trees as well. The daughters played games with the animals and each other, they climbed in the branches of the oak trees and gathered flowers with the fairies. One day the first born daughter of the First Mother gave birth herself. The First Mother was very proud and happy, her favorite friend Oak Tree(who was very wise) gave her a silver crown to wear and told her that she was now a Grandmother. Soon many of the daughters gave birth, and the island became an even happier place, full of babies and big girls and mommies who all played together with the animals, the trees and the fairies.

One winter night when the moon was hiding, one of the daughters gave birth to a baby that was different from anything they had ever known. It was not a daughter, it was not even an oak tree, it was a baby BOY! It was a very dark cold night, the longest winter's night of the year, so all the daughters and all the animals were snuggled up together to keep cozy and warm. After their excitement of seeing a brand new baby born passed, the daughters and the animals realized that the baby boy was not feeling well. He was not as strong or as warm as the babies and trees that were usually born on the island. They all began to worry about the new baby, and tried to help keep him warm. The animals with the furriest coats pushed up close to the mother and baby, the fairies sprinkled magick dust above him, and the little girls sang wonderful songs and danced around and around the room.

But the baby boy couldn't get warm enough and soon he was too cold and tired even to cry or to drink the healing milk from his mother. The First Grandmother was so afraid for the baby boy. She tried to hide her tears from her daughters and ran out into the forest. The snow was very deep and full of white glitter. She tried to walk but it was just to deep. So her friend the owl carried up above the snow filled clouds deep into the magick forest where her firstborn, most sacred wise friend Oak lived. The First Grandmother intended to ask Her friend for advise about the baby boy. When the owl reached the clearing where the sacred First Oak tree lived, the Grandmother gasped! There was no snow on the ground there, and in the middle of a perfect circle lay her friend the Oak. The tree had Fallen to the ground and broken into a pile of logs and branches. She rushed to kneel beside the broken tree, and her teardrops turned into sparkling icicles on her cheeks.

While she was trying to understand what had happened to her dear friend, a coyote entered the circle and brushed up beside her. First the coyote kissed her tears dry, and then whispered a secret in the First Grandmother's ear. The Grandmother nodded, and with the help of the coyote and the owl, she gathered some of the branches from her oldest friend Oak and they returned to her daughter and the baby boy.
Using the gifts from the Oak, and the secrets from the coyote, the Grandmother built the very first fire that anyone on the blue and green island had ever seen. The fairies were shocked, they had never seen anything dance like that without wings. The animals laughed, they had never seen colors so bright except on springtime flowers. The daughters didn't know WHAT to do, they had never felt anything as warm as the summer sand on the beach in the middle of winter.

The mother brought the baby boy close to the edge of the fire, closer than everyone else( they were still just a little bit scared of this new thing called fire). The baby boy opened his eyes just a little bit, and began to wiggle his fingers. Then he smiled and moved his toes too. When he was warm enough, he snuggled with his Mother and drank her milk, soon everyone was certain the baby boy would be okay. They were all so happy, they danced around the fire singing their favorite special songs and giving little gifts to the fire.

The baby boy grew up strong and happy because of the gift of the First Oak Tree. He had many sons of his own, and taught them all to plant acorns on the seventh dark moon of the year so that there would always be many, many oak trees on the island. Every winter, on the longest coldest darkest night of the year, all the people who lived on the blue and green island built a very special fire. They brought in a special tree and honored it with shiny ornaments and glittery fairy dust. They picked one very special branch or log and sang their favorite songs while they decorated it. Then they would give this beautiful log to the fore as a present... and all the children would hear the story of the gift of the First Oak tree.
On the longest night of the year, whenever you light a candle or build a fire, remember the story of the First Grandmother and the coyote who told her the secret. No matter how cold and dark it seems, The Sun will always be reborn and bring us warmth and light again.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yule Recipes- Meat

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ham is the most traditional dish for this holiday season. And while a ham is easy to cook, the glaze for it is sometimes tougher to make. Here is a recipe that I have used on several occasions to fantastic reviews.
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp Dark Rum
In a medium size saucepan whisk together and heat to just before boiling these ingredients. Pour over a fully cooked ham and bake for ten to fifteen minutes more. Now don't worry about the alcoholic content the cooking should cook out the alcohol. If you are still antsy then you can let the glaze simmer for about five minutes.

One more thing on hams, I think that ham tends to have to much salt for human consumption. So I boil some water and place the ham in it for about five to ten minutes. This will serve to bring out much of the salt.

This brings me to the other animal that I choose to cook at this season. The duck. While tasty it is very greasy. You can boil the duck, to get rid of the grease, in the same way as you did the ham to get rid of the salt.

The last duck I cooked was on the BBQ grill. Hey I live in Florida, we can nearly BBQ all year down here. To do this I arranged coals around a drip pan in the center of the grill. And after dipping the duck in boiling water, I dried it off and placed in on the grill on a low heat and let it slowly cook. I didn't add anything else to the duck, but I enjoy the taste of the duck alone without any additions.

But you can make an orange glaze for the duck. Here is a recipe from recipecircus.com.
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  1. Combine orange juice, marmalade, honey, sugar and brandy in small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Spoon glaze over ducks and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  3. Watch to prevent scorching.
  4. Remove duck to platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decorate Cookies with Your Kids

Monday, December 5, 2011
Growing up one of my fondest memories from the Holidays was the night that my brothers and I would get to decorate cookies with Mom. Now we never had to bake them but we sure got to decorate them and of course eat them.

This may be a tradition that you want to start with your children this Holiday Season. Below are some recipes for cookies but first I wanted to talk about what you may need to decorate them. I would recommend buying a small tub of icing and then some smaller decorating tubes of colored icing. You can also get small candy to use. The type of candy will depend on the kids, just get what they like.

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Gradually stir in dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed
  4. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Pat down until about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  6. Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. When done transfer to wire rack to cool.
Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Additional sugar
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture.
  4. Shape into 1 inch balls.
  5. Roll in sugar and place on greased baking sheet; flatten with glass
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes
Blessed Be and Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Drinks

Sunday, December 4, 2011
This past year one of the recipes that I got the most feedback on was the non-alcoholic mead recipe. So I figured I would post it again along with a recipe on eggnog that I found in cyberspace. Hope that you enjoy.

Soft (non-alcoholic) Mead

  • 4 cups spring water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  1. Bring the water, honey, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to a boil in a non-metallic pan. 
  2. Stir until honey is dissolved; heaviness should disappear from bottom of the pan. 
  3. Use wooden spoon to skim off skin that forms at top of brew. 
  4. Add lemon and orange slices, squeezing as they are placed in the pan. 
  5. Cool completely; strain. 
  6. Store in bottle in refrigerator. courtesy of clannada.org
Indulgent Eggnog Recipe
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 + ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground or grated (fresh is best)
  1. Begin with pre-chilled ingredients for the greatest end result.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together hard until they're very frothy.
  3. Add sugar and continue beating.
  4. Sprinkle in nutmeg and vanilla.
  5. Continue beating.
  6. A little at a time, add in the whipping cream, continuing to beat.
  7. Again, only a little at a time, beat in the milk.
  8. Finally, beat in the rum and brandy.
  9. Give your arms a break from all that beating by putting the eggnog in the fridge to chill for 1 – 2 hours.
  10. Serve cold.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yuletide Crafts -- The Yule Log

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Traditionally at this time of the year one would burn an Yule log in their fireplace. But what is one to do if they don't have a Yule log? Or a fireplace? Substitute candles of course. 

It really is a simple idea that makes a great centerpiece. And can be used year after year. Just remember that candles can catch other things on fire so don't leave it unsupervised or let children play with it.

To make one of these you will need the following:
  • A log about 14 – 18” long
  • Pinecones
  • Dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers and cinnamon sticks
  • Some festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type
  • A hot glue gun
  • Three Candles
Use the ribbons, berries, cuttings and feather and cinnamon sticks to decorate the exterior of the log. Then drill or carve three small holes for the candle to set in. The colors of the candles don't really matter. But a suggestion would be to use; Red for the Holly King, Green for the newborn Oak King and White for the Goddess soon to become the Maiden.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Children's Yule Story

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
“Grandfather can you tell us a story?” the children asked in unison as they ran up to the old man reclining peacefully by the fire.
The old man sat up straighter in the chair, took a puff from his pipe and asked with a grin, “What story should I tell? What story do you want to know? You there,” he said pointing to one of the children, the smallest, “you haven't had a turn to ask for a story in quite a while. So you pick, tell me what you want to hear.”

In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”

With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.

“We all know that Yule is at the end of December. When the night and the day are equal to each other. But the story really starts much earlier. In fact over a month earlier. For you remember that in August the Harvest Lord laid down his sword of power and went away to Summerland to rest. Well the Goddess missed her husband so much that she began to grow old just with the grief alone and that is why we have Winter. The time when the Earth grows barren and cold.

“Well the Goddess because of her sadness after a time, left us also and went on a journey to Summerland to try and find him. Now she doesn't die now, she only goes on a vision quest. But she is gone so long that at Samhain her body passes on and when she is found frozen in the forest two weeks later a wake is held for her in the Holly King's drinking hall.

“It took over a week for all the faeries and other mourners to come.For they came from all corners of Creation. But there was one unexpected guest, an old woman. She was so old that she almost looked like a walking skeleton. So of course everyone there was mean to her out of fright and disgust.

“Yet when she greeted the Holly King, calling him her Son, everyone realized with much fright that this was the Goddess returned to them. The very Goddess whose death, they were there to mourn.

“So angry was she, that she was treated so poorly, the Goddess passed a prophecy to the Holly King. That she had within her the Oak King, soon to be reborn. And for rebuking her the Holly King would pass to Summerland upon the birth of that child.

“Now this scared the Holly King that he decided to lock the old Crone away in the top room of the tallest tower in all the world. Then he walled up the doors and all but one of the windows so that she is trapped within the room at the top of this tower. The window he left open so that he could have the birds fly food to her.

“Now he did this hoping that he could escape the doom that was foretold to him. But the Crone knew that the birth of her child was her only hope of escape. The Crone then wove magick and took the light and warmth from the Sun, and passed it to her son. So that in just four weeks, she gave birth to the Oak King. Who ever after was also given the name of the Sun King. For he was born fully grown and glowing with a golden light so bright that it caused the dying of the Sun to be reversed.

“Those four weeks of magick are why we light the candles for the four weeks before Yule. One candle for the first week and two for the second and so on until we have four candles lit on the night of Yule. This represents the growing light inside her as outside the Sun grew weaker.

“But the birth was hard on the old Crone, so hard that she slipped into a sleep very near to Death. So the Sun King in his anger thinking that his mother was dead, flew out the lone window as a large golden eagle. All across the Earth he hunted the Holly King, Lord of the Wintertime. Finally cornering him at the shores of a great ocean.

“And when he found him he threw his magickal spear at him and destroyed him. The spear hit the Holly King so hard that his body just vanished. But don't worry, for the Holly King simply reappeared in Summerland. When he got there he found the Crone in one of her other aspects, the Young Maiden.

“She spoke to him of prophecy and the Wheel of the Year. She spoke of the new cycle that had been made in the last year. That the events of the last year would repeat themselves forever and ever.

“And although the Holly King had passed away now, he now knew that he would return just past the height of Summer to take the Sun King's place again.

This is why the Holly King, as Santa Claus, brings us gifts every year to make up for the Winter that he brings with him. But he only brings presents to good little boys and girls because he wants us to learn to not be mean like he was to the Crone on that first night that he met her so long ago.

“Now back to the Sun King, when he returned to the Crone he saw that she wasn't really dead but only asleep. So he went out and found a large log, the first Yule Log, cut from the largest Oak he could find. In hopes that this would revive the Goddess. And for their lifegiving properties he decorated her room with evergreens. Even bringing in a tree and decorating it with his light.

“But all this magick did was to make her youthful again, so that now she was a beautiful youthful Maiden. Yet she still slept a deep sleep almost near death.

“So you see my grandchildren there are good reasons why we do the things that we do at Yule. They served a purpose long ago and it is good to recognize and honor that. “
“But Grandfather,” spoke up the eldest, “What happened next? I know the Goddess didn't stay asleep forever. Please tell us more.”
Shaking his head, the old man said, “Lunch is overdue and I'm hungry so let us go to eat and then I will tell you all another tale. I will tell you of what happened next to the Goddess and to the Sun King. I will tell you the story of the first Imbolc.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Vegan

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Yes it is that time again. Recipe time, I hope that you guys all enjoy these recipes, courtesy of veganfamily.co.uk. And Happy Cooking!

Sage and Onion Roast Potatoes

  • 4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 teaspoons of freshly chopped sage
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons of medium oatmeal
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut to desired size (this coating is enough for about 4 or 5 lbs/2 or 3 kilos.)
  • salt to taste

Par boil the potatoes then just when they are beginning to soften remove from heat and drain. Place in baking tray and rub the coating all over them (careful!) - roast in a hot oven until nice and crispy (30 minutes plus). You might want to baste with a little more oil half way through for extra crispiness!

Variation: sesame roast potatoes - coat the potatoes in sunflower oil and plenty sesame seeds before roasting - this has a lovely flavour too.

Cashew Nut Roast with Sage and onion stuffing

A sixth of a cup/30g/1oz of vegan margarine
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 and a half cups of hot water
1 teaspoon of yeast extract (marmite, vegemite etc.)
3 cups/550g/16oz of ground cashew nuts (or other nuts of your choice - almonds work well too)
2 Tablespoons of soya flour
2 teaspoons of fresh herbs - winter savoury is great (if using dried 1 teaspoon)
3 cups/160g/6oz of white bread crumbs
seasalt and pepper to taste
sage and onion stuffing (see recipe further down the page)

Melt the margarine (in a large pan for mixing) and cook the celery and leek in it for a few minutes. Mix the yeast extract into the hot water (alternatively you could use any stock you like) and add this to the leek and celery. Stir in the soya flour, nuts, herbs, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper and mix well. Allow to cool slightly while you grease a loaf tin. Place half the nut roast mixture in the tin and press down well - then add the sage and onion stuffing (pressing down well again) and place the rest of the nut roast mixture on top. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180/360 then turn out of the tin and slice. Nice served with all the traditional trimmings.

Variations:- you can substitute wine (red or white) or soya milk for the water and yeast extract. The sage and onion stuffing is optional - it works just as well without it and might actually slice up easier! A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is an alternative to the stuffing.

Sage and Onion stuffing

  • 6 slices of wholemeal bread
  • half a cup/85g/3oz of vegan margarine
  • 4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 of fresh, chopped sage
  • 1 finely chopped large onion
  • salt to taste
Melt the margarine in a saucepan and then cook the onion in it until soft. Break up the wholemeal bread with your hands (into fairly small pieces) and then mix into the onion and margarine with the sage and salt. This can be pressed into an oven-proof bowl for baking or if you like meat analogues it can be sandwiched between two Redwood Cheatin' Turkey Roasts (see below for turkey substitute links), wrapped in foil and baked in the oven!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Symbols of Yule

Monday, November 28, 2011
Yule is a major holiday to many pagans; to some it is the beginning of the year and the rebirth of the Pagan God of Light, to others it is the return of the sun as Frey. But many decorations, symbols and traditions are held in common, even with Christmas and Hanukkah.

When people think of Yule, they, in most cases, instantly think of evergreens and mistletoe. Evergreens have always symbolized power to conquer death and winter, since they stay green throughout the year. Mistletoe was called "All-Heal" by the Druids and represented their god. There is also an ancient Norse legend relates that Freya, the goddess of love, placed mistletoe in a tree between Heaven and earth, and decided that people who pass underneath it should kiss. The plant then became a sign of love and friendship.

But what else can you decorate with as a Pagan practicing Yule? Well staying within the plant family there is Holly and Ivy, and there is the Yule log. Holly long a symbol of protection, it is also an evergreen bush. Also Romans at one time would send the plant to friends and family at the new year as a symbol of good wishes.

The Yule log was used by the Celts to symbolize the story of Yule. This log, representing the Oak King, adored with traditions evergreens, representing the Holly King, signifies the death of darkness and the warmth of the Sun during the newly born solar year. According to ancient Celtic tradition, the log should burn continuously for twelve days, and a bit of wood should be saved to start the next year’s fire. The first day of Yule varies depending upon religious belief. Pagans usually light the Yule fire on the Winter Solstice. This may not be practical especially in these days, when many do not have fireplaces. What you can do is take a oak log and decorate it with holly and mount three candles within it. Light these candles to represent the returning light. The number of candles does not matter, I have seen three candles, representing the three faces of the Goddess, and I have heard of eight, like the menorah.

Speaking of candles, they are also an appropriate decorations. The tradition of lighting candles may have come from the ancient Romans, who gave them as gifts during the festival of Saturnalia. Their brightness was thought to chase away the dark and urge the sun back into the sky.

Now we come to the Yule tree, itself. The Germans originally decorated their trees with fruit, candy, cookies, and flowers. These ornaments symbolized the abundance to come when the Sun shed His warmth. They decorated their trees with round, three-dimensional shaped ornaments replicating the shape of the Sun to honor it. You can also decorate the tree with tinsel and lights to represent the stars and put a star on the top to represent the sun and moon.

According to legend, the snowflake was formed from the tears that Demeter cried after Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. The microscopic flakes have six sides, and since six is the numerological digit associated with affection, the snowflake was used by Pagans as a winter symbol of love

So incorporate some of these things into your Yule traditions and make merry. Don't be afraid to take traditions of other religions, because in most cases a lot of these things have already been adopted from the Pagans of ancient Europe.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Yule Tree

Sunday, November 27, 2011
While we haven't gotten our Yule tree yet. Possibly this next upcoming weekend, I know that many people get a tree after Thanksgiving or at the beginning of December. So I wanted to talk about it now. To kick off this Yule season here at PaganDad.

But all this, begs the question, where does the Yule tree actually come from? Many stories are out there that talk about the Christian origins of decorating a tree. But I believe the tree was the replacement of the Yule log as fireplaces became less common.

It also serves as a symbol of rebirth and life everlasting, both things that are present in the pagan Yule ceremonies. Evergreens have always held a special place in the heart of men, the only tree that seems to conquer winter and all its harsh weather.

Some of you may be wondering what is the best way to pick a tree? Well for those is a list copied from commercialappeal.com.
  • Look for a tree with a healthy green appearance.
  • Run your hand along the branches to see if the needles are fresh and flexible. They should not come off in your hand.
  • Bump the trunk of the tree on the ground. If lots of needles fall off, the tree is not fresh. You can expect a few brown needles to fall off.
  • Make sure the base of the trunk is straight and 6 to 8 inches long so it can fit into a tree stand.
  • If you see splits in the trunk, the tree may have dried out previously.
  • Locally grown trees are usually fresher and less expensive than trees that have been shipped from a distance.
  • If possible, cover your tree with some type of tarp during transport to prevent it from drying out, particularly if it is going to be transported on top of your car.
  • If the tree is going to be kept outside several days before it goes into the house, place it out of direct sun and wind to keep it from drying out.
  • If the base of the tree has been cut within the last four to six hours, it will not need to be recut; if longer, the base should be recut so the tree can absorb water.
  • Cut straight across the trunk (not at an angle) and remove an inch or more from the bottom.
  • A cut tree will absorb a lot of water, particularly during the first week. It can use four to six quarts of water per day.
I recommend getting a real tree if you have the room, if for no other reason, at least because it is better for the environment. There are no readily accessible places at which to recycle a fake PVC tree (at least in my area). And a Yule tree farm, even if they use pesticides and herbicides, at least they replant what they cut and in the meantime the uncut trees are absorbing carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen.

And when the season is over, you have several options as what to do with the tree. You can compost for mulch, sometimes your local municipality may take it and use it themselves for mulch. My local municipality has a program in which they take the tree and sink it local ponds for fish habitats.

A third option is to buy a tree with roots and plant it in your yard, if you have the room. I'm not qualified to talk about finding the right species for your soil and climate. So seek advice from a qualified professional. But remember that this tree should only be indoors for about a week.

So good luck in your Yule tree hunting.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes -- part 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
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!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Should we, as Pagans, be concerned about Secular Holidays?

Sunday, November 20, 2011
In my personal experience the more holidays one has the better they feel. I personally like to cook and so any excuse I have to cook good food (and eat it also) I sieze it with both hands. But for me this doesn't apply to the holidays of other religions.

There are other reasons to celebrate as many holidays as possible. Some of these are family and friends, networking and a chance to recenter. All of these can be as equally important. So as we come up to Thanksgiving take some time for yourself, don't let the over-commercilization of our society drag you down and make you depressed. It isn't the gifts that should count but rather the thought and the power of family.

Also take some time to spend with your kids only, take them for a walk (head to the mall if it is to cold) or sit down by candlelight and talk about the year past. Remember that family is the most important thing we have in our spiritual, physical and emotional lives.

As always I am interested in your thoughts and reflections on this topic, so comment below.

Blessed Be!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes -- part 1

Monday, November 14, 2011
With Thanksgiving just a little over a week 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.
In a normal year I would have pulled my turkey out of the freezer this weekend so that it is thawed by tomorrow. (Because of a myriad of things I'm not cooking this year)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!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Raising up the Next Generation in Faith

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Yes that is my byline, right up there at the top of the site. But what exactly does that mean? Well if you are reading this article, then you are already or at the very least thinking of it. The children of the world are being lost in record numbers, they grow up without faith to bolster their spirituality. And as such they can be very apathetic about the Divine and their whole spirituality.

This month I am working on finally putting my book down on paper. Or is that screen? Either way one of the things I talked about was the garden of our soul that is found in each of us. In children this garden is of course new and not grown up. And as the child grows up their spirituality will grow and blossom. Continuing with the garden metaphor this spirituality is like a viny plant and without support it will grow out of control and eventually choke out this garden. This is why so many teenagers are just like, 'something is there just don't know what it is.' They have given up trying to get their spirituality, that vine, under control.

As parents it is our job to provide that support through faith or religion. Through giving our children a religion, in my case obviously it was Paganism, we provide a wall or trellis for that spirituality to grow on. Now of course as your children get older they can add onto this wall if they choose to change their faith. But we have provided that foundation that kept their spirituality vibrant and alive.

But like any wall that we build in the physical world, it has two parts; mortar and brick. This spiritual wall also has two parts; faith and family. So I hope that you join me over the next few weeks as I explore  these two different parts of this wall that the spirituality of our children grow on. And of course any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Blessed Be!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Families Support and Care for Each Other

Friday, November 11, 2011
I have seen many families that are content with just going through life not talking about the things that bother them. They ask their kids how their day went and their answer is? "Fine" or "OK". The parents never pursue it further, either not wanting to pry or just not taking the initiative to become active and engaged parents. Which is not an easy thing to do, by the way.

In these same families and in others the adults do not talk to each other either. They have problems with each other and with other things but for some reason fail to vocalize this. If they do vocalize it is usually in an argument that has been brewing for months. This is probably one of the biggest reasons for divorce in the West, lack of communication.

Now on the other hand, imagine a family that actively addresses these issues and makes time for individuals to come together and air their differences, with the promise that all parties involved will work together to reach common ground. A family where there are none or only seldom an argument.

This is what I mean when I say to become a family that supports and cares for each other. Your kids have stress and problems with school, whether it is peer pressure, school work, body changes or just bullies.

They need someone to talk to, but are often times afraid of coming home and saying something to the parents because they don't want to get into trouble. Now do not think I am saying that your kids should escape punishment simply because they are being honest and open. What I am saying is that they should be free to say whatever (as long as it is respectful) without to much fear of recrimination.

This same thing should go for the adults as well. Just think, when was the last time that you and your partner sat down and aired your differences and/or talked about each other's and the family's long term goals?

If you are going to build a strong family then everyone in leadership needs to be on the same page, heading in the same direction, right?

But this goes beyond just listening. How many times do you tell your partner or your kids that you love them? We say it so many times in a day that my brother, at the house one day, felt like he had to say something about it. He was just amazed at the number of times that we say it on an hourly or daily basis.

On the other side of this, how much is your house filled with sharp and harsh words? Do you find yourself snapping at your kids or at your spouse? Maybe you are just cold and distant? The outside worlds requires us to be distant and professional and it is easy to carry this demeanor home with us. But we do not need to worry about punishment for fraternizing with our family, do we?

So as we all go forward from today, let's all try to show a little more love and openness in our families. Listen to their problems and help them if they need it or want it. If not then just be an ear and a shoulder. And remember to tell your kids and your partner that you love them and that they are important to you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Moon

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Hope you all have a Blessed Full Moon!

Circle Casting

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)

Quarter Callings

If you would like you can give the children bells and have them ring them after the invocations are spoken.

Start today in the East, the direction for new beginnings. Have a fan here and wave it at all present so that they can feel the presence of air.

In the East we call Air.
May it clear all obstacles that seek
To block us in our search.

Now move to South where you have a candle ready to be lit. Light it now. And have all focus on its flame. Carefully let them feel its heat.

In the South we call Fire.
May it light our way
To find wisdom tonight.

Come to the West. Have a cup of water there and have all take a small drink. Have all think about the water and how much we need it.

In the West we call Water.
May we have the vision tonight
To see inside its murky depths.

Finally we come to the North. In my practice I like to have a bowl of patchouli here so that we can smell it and be reminded about the Earth.

In the North we call Earth.
May it grant us the strength
To face the wisdom granted us.

Ritual Content

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. If you are outdoors then have them look up at the moon. Tell them that tonight is the night of the Mother Goddess, represented by the Full Moon. While you are doing this you can light the red candle to represent the mother aspect.

Read to them the Rede of the Mother. Or just tell them what the Mother means to your family. Let them know that they are loved always and that the Mother provides for all of her children. And if you wish check out at the top of this post for other ritual ideas for this night's moon.

Cakes and Juice

Touch the plate of cookies or cakes and say; Flesh of my Flesh
Then touch the juice in the goblet and say; Blood of my Blood

We are of Them as They are of us
Joined in Love and Light
Married in Strength and Truth
Showered in Power and Blessings
We Drink from Her womb
We Eat from His hand

Drink from the chalice and then eat from the plate of food feeling Their Love and Strength.
So that we always remember our Love for Them and Their Love for Us
Pour out a libation and leave some food for the Earth and for the Gods.

Bidding Farewell

Return to the North;

Element of Earth we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Water we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Fire we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Air we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

To close circle have all join hands. And the first to speak at the casting releases his grip on his left hand and says; We open the Circle.

Moving widdershins (counter-clockwise) have each member repeat until the chant moves back to the first person. Who says; But we remain a Circle. Family united in spirit. Circle open but unbroken.

Then have all have a group hug. Remembering that we are all one family. Not just those present but all those on the Earth.

And remember our giveaway, here at PaganDad, is still going on. Head here for details. Or to just enter click here and be sure to Like my Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Your Turn to Build a Spiritual and Strong Family

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
In this series on building a spiritual family I have talked about the two parts of the wall that a child's spirituality grows on; Faith and a Strong Family. I have talked about the Creed of my Family as well. So today I wanted to end this series with some questions to help you in the task of creating your own Family Creed.

  • What is a Family? Here you are looking for specifics, not a dictionary definition. Think more like what you what your family to look like. What is the ideal family? 
  • How do you want the members of your Family Coven to treat each other? What should their relationships be like? 
  • What are the responsibilities of the members of the Family? To each other and to those not in the family.
  • And finally what kind of parent(s) do you want to be?

I wanted to close today with a final bit of advice, remember to listen with respect and take everyone's opinion in mind when doing this. One person alone cannot create the Creed of his Family Coven, the whole family must be included in this. Even the young children (provided they are old enough to talk that is) should be included. I say this because all parts of the family help to makeup and define the Family at large.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prayer Builds Faith

Monday, November 7, 2011
Spirituality is inherent in children, they recognize the wonder of Deity and see it in so many things. Yet as we age we tend to lose this connection, especially since so many modern religions focus on faith rather then fostering that connection to the Divine. We don’t need to feel that God exists, rather we should just simple believe. I don’t know how many times I have heard that line. And I always disagree, in Paganism our belief in an immanent and ever present Deity is what sets us apart from other religions. It is in fact what led me to find Wicca.

So how can we as Pagans rediscover that feeling of the immanence of Deity? This answer, at least, is very simple. Prayer. I can almost hear the questions now. Prayer? Isn't that something that the other religion does?

Many Pagans I have met don’t pray. They have fled so far from their Christian roots that they have shed any thing that vaguely resembles Christianity. But there is really no better way to foster and strengthen that connection to Deity, other than ritual. And we can’t always do a ritual every day. Some of us still have to work. There is another benefit to prayer, creating Family mind. Like the old cliche I used for the title of this chapter, A Family that prays together . . . stays together.

Now of course using a Christian prayer may not work real well, so you will have to spend some time working something out that works for your family. To help here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Take a moment to ground everyone. You can have everyone visualize themselves as a tree. With their roots deep in the Earth and their arms and branches stretching far up into the sky. They can visualize the negativity and stress going down into the Earth and good, positive energy coming in through their branches, like sunlight on the leaves.
  • Turn everyone’s focus on their breath. Remember bad out on the exhale and goodness in on the inhale.
  • When you stary to speak remember to keep it simple. There are no extra points for being the most eloquent or long-winded. State your intent and your message clearly.
  • Keep the ages of your children in mind. The younger they are the less they will be able and wiling to sit through.
  • Make sure that you are not just saying the words. Mean what you are saying. Feel the Gods come to listen, just like when you do an invocation in Ritual.
  • Give everyone a chance to both lead and add input if they so desire.
  • This should be a two way street. Just like you can talk, they can also talk back. So make sure that you give yourself time to listen. Unless you are just saying thanks for the bounties that you have
  • received.
  • And remember don't just pray when you need help. This is about having a conversation. The Gods should be like an extended part of our families. Not so extended that we never talk to them, but more like best friends that are like brothers and/or sisters.
  • But most importantly is to just do it. Pray and pray often. The more you do it the easier it gets.

You can also think of this kind of prayer as an extended form of meditation. My prayer oftentimes can be described as prayerful meditation. I meditate on the wonders and mysteries of the Goddess and the God and along the way we start a conversation.

Here are a couple example of prayers that my family use

Simple Prayer for saying Grace

Lord and Lady, watch over us,
and bless us as we eat.
Bless this food, this bounty of earth,
we thank you, so mote it be.

Bedtime Prayer (written by my lovely wife)

Great Mother Great Father,
I pray to thee
Take care of my family
Day or Night
Give us the blessings
Of Love and Light

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And as We Receive Power and Blessings . . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011
So do we offer up Thanksgivings. These last few words of the Creed of my Family are, as all the others, reliant upon the other words that precede it. We do not seek power for power's sake, but rather understand that power comes from living a good life. The power to affect change, both in the world and in ones self. Also with living this Creed the Gods smile on you and shower you in blessings. But the most important part is those last few words. To offer up Thanksgivings. But that is in direct odds with the world around us.

As the holiday season draws nearer we will all undoubtedly witness many selfish children, maybe even face head-on this most undesirable trait in our own children. I have worked hard, and I am sure that you have done the same, to instill a sense of gratitude in both of my children. In my opinion there is nothing worse than a bratty, inconsolable, self-centered child. Refer back to my post on Selfishness vs. Self-responsibility for a more detailed description. I point these children out to mine, granted they are rather hard to miss. The red faces, the high pitched keening screams, you know, the screams that rattle your molars? They serve as a good example to my children of how not to act, ever, especially in a public place.

Some things I have found that work and (some things that I have not tried) are in the list below:
  1. Make a List
  2. Set the Example
  3. Try going without
  4. Say Thank You often
  5. Volunteer
  6. Give blessings before eating
Preferably you would gather together as a family to give thanks often, but at least do it once or twice a year, Mabon or Thanksgiving are good occasions for this activity. It may be helpful to work together to make a list of what you and your kids are thankful for. Go over this list and talk about each thing on it. Talk about why you and/or the children are grateful for the things on the list.

In my family I talk often about what other people in the world have to do without, at least with my oldest daughter. She responds with incredulous horror most of the time. Not understanding why people are so mean, and why people don't do anything about this obvious problem. I tell her that most of the time, people have made bad decisions to get to those points, I have been there and because of bad decisions. But in some cases, I tell her, that there are charities that do good things for those people that are really in dire need of help.

Next on the list is - Set the example. This is probably one of the easiest things on the list for you the parent to do. Let them see you show common courtesy to the people you meet in your everyday life. I often shock the young people on the other side of the intercom at the drive-thru of local restaurants. I say please and thank you, sometimes even responding to their greeting as I drive up, with a 'I'm doing fine, how are you doing?'

Right now I am not a rich man, although I hope to be. So doing without comes naturally to me and my family. Yet to many families, this is probably the hardest thing to do of anything that is on the above list. I and my oldest daughter, Juliet, have made bread or even hamburger buns, rather than go out and buy those products. Me and my wife, Danielle, don't buy much for ourselves or our children for Yule. But we do our best to make those gifts count for very much. I personally don't agree with the parents that buy their children the world and the moon and the stars. These are the children that don't appreciate what they have because there is nothing that they don't ever not have. We only have one car, so there have been times that my wife, when I am work, takes Lassair on a walk to the corner store. Something that is unheard in many families that I know. We as Americans, would rather be up to our eyeballs and beyond in debt, than be inconvenienced in any way.

This last tip sort of coincides with the second list item, but deserves a second mention. Say thank you often and mean it, really really mean it. To your kids, to your wife, to everyone else on the planet that ever does anything for you, no matter how small. Your kids are watching whether you think they are not. We may think that our kids never pay attention to anything, especially us parents, but they catch much if not all that we do. Just try to talk about Yule gifts in front of them, without them catching on.
I have not taken my children on volunteering trips. But I do encourage them to help out if we are out at a friend's house. They also help out a lot around my house. We have chore charts and small rewards when the kids manage to fill up the chart full of stars. People in general tend to be more grateful for things that they either have to pay for themselves, or that they had to work for. The harder they work, the more grateful that they usually wind up being.

To some Pagans this may be to Christian in nature but prayer does not necessarily have to be anti-pagan. I will cover different kinds of prayers tomorrow, but today I will talk about praying before meals. Teach the children to whom they need to be grateful to for the blessings that they receive in this life. Tell the Goddess and the God thank you. Sometimes they need to hear it as much as you need to say it. Below is a sample prayer, feel free to use it for your personal use or write your own.
Blessed Mother and Holy Father
We thank you for these blessings before us
For the food we eat, and for what we drink
May our blessings multiply under our hands
With your everlasting grace
So Mote It Be!
With the fast approach of Yule, it is a good time to express gratitude and to encourage this in our children. Gather together on Yule or the eve before it around a burning Yule log, if you have a fireplace, or in my case around the Yule tree, gaily decorated, and talk about the past year and the good things that you have received. It may be a good idea to do this before you open gifts, so that the kids don't just rattle off a list of what they just received. Talk also about what is coming up in the next year.
Hopefully these things help you in your quest to be a better Father. Be grateful for your kids and teach them to be grateful for the things that they receive. A person who is grateful, tends to receive much more in their lives than the bitter and resentful.

Blessed Be!