Red Foxes: Marmoset

“Marmosets’ tails are roughly twice as long as their bodies.
The baby monkey may still be much smaller than a squirrel, but this delicate tot won’t stay pint-sized forever. One of the smallest primates, most marmosets end up 7 to 8 inches long when they’ve reached maturity after about 15 months.” *

The Marmosets /ˈmɑrmɵsɛt/ are 22 New World monkey species of the genera Callithrix, Cebuella, Callibella, and Mico. All four genera are part of the biological family Callitrichidae. The term marmoset is also used in reference to the Goeldi’s marmoset, Callimico goeldii, which is closely related.

Most marmosets are about 20 centimetres (8 in) long. Relative to other monkeys, they show some apparently primitive features: they have claws rather than nails, and tactile hairs on their wrists. They lack wisdom teeth, and their brain layout seems to be relatively primitive. Their body temperature is unusually variable, changing by up to 4 °C (7 °F) in a day.[3] Marmosets are native to South America and have been found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.[4]

According to recent research, marmosets exhibit germline chimerism, which is not known to occur in nature in any other primate.[5]

Marmosets are highly active, living in the upper canopy of forest trees, and feeding on insects, fruit and leaves. They have long lower incisors, which allow them to chew holes in tree trunks and branches to harvest the gum inside; some species are specialised feeders on gum.

Marmosets live in family groups of three to 15, consisting of one to two breeding females, an unrelated male, their offspring and occasionally extended family members and unrelated individuals. Their mating systems are highly variable and can include monogamy, polygyny and occasionally polyandry. In most species, fraternal twins are usually born, but triplets are not unknown. Like other callitrichines, marmosets are characterized by a high degree of cooperative care of the young and some food sharing and tolerated theft. Adult males, females other than the mother, and older offspring participate in carrying infants. Most groups scent mark and defend the edges of their ranges, but it is unclear if they are truly territorial, as group home ranges greatly overlap.” **

The marmoset and other New World Monkeys are found in Central and South America.

* Source: http://earthandanimals.tumblr.com/post/28317248559

** Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmoset

Photo by: Bernd Settnik /Getty Images (I found the image with the tumblr post listed as the first source)

Things I Want to Try: Ritual Ointment

I first got the idea for this when I was reading the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books by Laurell K. Hamilton. In the books, Anita Blake, who is a animator/necromancer, uses an ointment during her zombie raisings for focus and other things. Of course, I realized an ointment would be perfect for ritual use in the real world. It would help you focus, incorporate herbs that relate to your ritual or deity, and put your sense of smell into play which can be a very powerful tool in ritual. Also, you can incorporate your chakras into the mix with the placing of the ointment. Here is the information on the ointment, and the normal tools for doing a zombie raising(for fun), that Anita uses in the books, then we’ll discuss alternatives.

Standard raising kit

  • A sacrifice (Usually a chicken, sometimes a goat, or even the animators own blood)
  • A ceremonial knife (Any type, from hunting knife to machete – but not one used in just day-to-day life)
  • Ointment, each raiser has their own formula that they like, but most have similar ingredients
  • Salt

The ointment used is a blend of herbs and graveyard mold. To look at, it is a pale, off-white in colour with flecks of greenish light. It has a waxy and thick feel on the skin, but is quickly absorbed. The mixture usually includes varying amounts of:

  • Rosemary: for memory
  • Cinnamon: for preservation
  • Cloves: also for preservation
  • Sage: for wisdom
  • Thyme: to bind it all together”

For an alternative, I would suggest the simplest way to go would be using petroleum jelly and mix in whole, dry, or the essential oils of the herbs you want to incorporate. The herbs above have, of course, many other properties, some probably more a prevalent property of the herb than those listed above.

This is a great resource for herbal properties: http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Herbs/herbs2.html

If you want to look up the meanings and properties within a certain pantheon or for a certain deity, then I would check out a book on the specific pantheon.

Rosemary is a great choice for an ointment as well as Lavender. Both have many properties including protection and purification. Rosemary is on the left, though you usually will find only those top green parts, not the flowers. Lavender is on the right.

As for the graveyard mold, I wouldn’t use it, because it sounds toxic and gross. It also sounds like, from reading the books myself, that the above section on the ointment Anita Blake uses is incorrect. I believe I remember Anita saying in the books that she incorporates the graveyard mold into a petroleum jelly. Anita describes it looking like squished lightning bugs (that are still “lighting”, though dead, I presume from the sparkling comment she used) in the ointment. If you want something sparkling or glittery, I would suggest that exactly, glitter. It would look pretty cool.

Also, when it comes to the herbs, I would definitely keep in mind what you know you’re allergic to and watch for signs if you don’t know you’re allergic to something. Some herbs and flowers and known to simply irritate the skin and I’ve heard that glitter can irritate some people’s skin too.

Hope it helps, and if you try or have tried something like it, please comment and let me know what you thought. I’ll be posting my own pictures when I make mine.

Picture Source #1 (Anita Blake): http://section244.blogspot.com/2011/10/marvelous-non-marvels.html

Picture Sources #2 (Rosemary): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary

Picture Source #3 (Lavender): http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=127

Red Foxes: White Bison born on a Connecticut Farm

“GOSHEN, Conn. — If one were asked to pick a typical home where the buffalo roam, the answer probably would not be Litchfield County amid the rolling hills and understated rural chic of Northwest Connecticut.

But when Bison No. 7 on Peter Fay’s farm gave birth to a white, 30-pound bull calf a month ago, it made the Fay farm below Mohawk Mountain, for the moment at least, the unlikely epicenter of the bison universe.

For Mr. Fay, what happened was an astoundingly unexpected oddity — white bison are so rare that each birth is viewed as akin to a historic event.

For Marian White Mouse of Wanblee, S.D., and other American Indians, it is a supremely auspicious message from the spirits. She will fly with her family to Connecticut for naming ceremonies at the end of the month that are expected to draw large crowds.

And for those to whom the bison is an iconic part of the American experience, the birth is, at the least, a remarkable coincidence, coming at a time that wildlife, tribal and producer groups are lobbying Congress to have the bison officially designated as the national mammal and a national symbol alongside the bald eagle. (The words buffalo and bison are often used interchangeably, but the North American version is properly called bison and its distant cousins in Asia and Africa are buffaloes).

Mr. Fay, who has an elaborate bison tattoo on his right shoulder and another above his heart, comes from four generations of dairy farmers and makes his living through an excavating and rock-crushing business. He began raising bison as a hobby four years ago, capitalizing on a growing appetite for bison as a leaner alternative to beef, and then became increasingly excited about the animals, building his herd to more than 40 until he sold off about half of them two months ago.

“They’re awesome animals, wild, not domesticated,” Mr. Fay said. “You think of them in South Dakota, where it’s a desert and hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. They don’t mind either one. And they don’t get sick. They’re not like a cow. They’re very hardy. They can deal with anything.”

Mr. Fay, 53, said he was watching a female preparing to give birth on June 16 when he realized a second one was about to give birth as well.

“I was watching and watching and when the second one hit the ground, it was white,” Mr. Fay said. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an animal born, but they’re wet. So you don’t see much until the mom dries it off, but once it stood up to nurse, and it was right next to the other one, it looked like a ghost.”

Mr. Fay said his Indian friends had told him that a white bison was considered the most sacred thing imaginable — its birth viewed as something like the Second Coming.

Mr. Fay said he carefully researched the bloodlines of the calf’s mother and father, and he is confident the animal is all bison without any intermingling with cattle. But to be certain, he has sent its DNA for testing. Keith Aune, senior conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said some white bison are albinos and have difficulty thriving in the wild because they lack the black skin that absorbs sunlight during harsh winters.

Mrs. White Mouse, a member of the Oglala Lakota people, said a white bison was believed to be a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi. She is revered as a prophet, who in a time of famine taught the Lakotas seven sacred rituals and gave them their most important symbol of worship, the sacred pipe.

“They are very rare, and when a white bison is born there is a reason for each one to be here,” Mrs. White Mouse said. “It’s such a blessing for someone to take care of a bison like Peter Fay will. I told him when it was born, ‘You don’t even know what you have on your hands here.’ ”

Mr. Fay said he was getting the idea, and being very careful. A white bison in Texas was slaughtered a year ago in what some believed could be an anti-Indian hate crime. Mr. Fay said either he or someone else watched the field day and night. He said that he was prepared for what could be four days of festivities, with the naming ceremony scheduled for July 28, and that he had no interest in selling the bison.

Experts have said one in 10 million bison are white, but a few other white bison births in recent years suggest the rate is somewhat higher.

There were once perhaps 40 million bison roaming wild in the United States. They were hunted to near extinction and have had something of a resurgence both because of conservation efforts in the West and commercial demand; there are now about 500,000 in the country.

Less than a month before this bison was born, the National Bison Legacy Act was introduced in the Senate. The act would designate the American bison as the “National Mammal of the United States.” (There has never been a national mammal.) It has 15 co-sponsors, including the two senators from Connecticut, and an upbeat Web site, votebison.org, though its prospects for passage are unclear.

Mr. Fay said he believed the Indian teachings about the animals, though he found it hard to tie the birth to any one event.

Still, he said: “I think it’s not coincidence that all this stuff is happening. The more you get involved with Native Americans, the more you see it’s a good thing that it’s happening. The country is now in pretty sad shape, so you never know what can help. But for now, I’m just trying to learn about it.” ”

About PtesanWi and the White Buffalo:

The traditional story is that, long ago, there was a time of famine. The chief of the Lakotas sent out two scouts to hunt for food. As the scouts travelled they saw a figure in the distance. As they approached they saw that it was a beautiful young woman in white clothing. One of the scouts was filled with desire for the woman. He approached her, telling his companion he would attempt to embrace the woman, and if he found her pleasing, he would claim her as a wife. His companion warned him that she appeared to be a sacred woman, and to do anything sacrilegious would be folly. The scout ignored his advice.

The companion watched as the scout approached and embraced the woman, during which time a white cloud enveloped the pair. After a while, the cloud disappeared and only the mysterious woman and a pile of bones remained. The remaining scout was frightened, and began to draw his bow, but the woman beckoned him forward, telling him that no harm would come to him. As the woman spoke Lakota, the young man decided she was one of his people, and came forward. When he arrived, she pointed to a spot on the ground where the other scout’s bare bones lay. She explained that the Crazy Buffalo had compelled the man to desire her, and she had annihilated him.

The scout became even more frightened and again menaced her with his bow. At this time, the woman explained that she was Wakan/holy and his weapons could not harm her. She further explained that if he did as she instructed, no harm would befall him and that his tribe would become more prosperous. The scout promised to do what she instructed, and was told to return to his encampment, call the Council and prepare a feast for her arrival.

The woman’s name was PtesanWi which translated White Buffalo Calf Woman. She taught the Lakotas seven sacred rituals and gave them the chanunpa or sacred pipe which is the holiest of all worship symbols. After teaching the people and giving them her gifts, PtesanWi left them promising to return. Later, the story became attributed to the goddess Wohpe, also known as Whope, or Wope.

When Roman Catholic missionaries first came among the Lakota, their stories of the Virgin Mary and Jesus became associated with the legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman. The syncretic practice of identifying Mary with PtesanWi and Jesus with the chununpa continues among Lakota Christians to this day.

The story of PtesanWi is associated with the white buffalo.”

Source for the story on the White Bison being born: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/nyregion/sacred-white-bison-is-born-in-rural-connecticut.html?_r=1

Source for the information on Ptesan Wi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Buffalo_Calf_Woman

Spirit: Celebrating Lammas!

Though Lammas (aka Lughnasadh) is officially on August 1st, my circle and I celebrated it this last Friday since we meet twice a month on Fridays. An important member of the Circle, Indigo, led this Sabbat, and the above pictures are of his altar. As a token for the holiday, we made incense satchets with many summery herbs during the ritual and had some fun playing drums and tamborines to raise energy. Indigo also led a beautiful and powerful, guided meditation which he wrote himself. In the end, we shared a goblet of sparkling pomegranate (since we never bring alcohol), and a plate of cornbread (which was SO yummy) to unite and bond the circle more. It was a great ritual and we all had a very good time. Now for the History of Lammas/Lughnasadh.

Every introductory book on Wicca and on various other Pagan religions will tell you the basics on Lammas or Lughnasadh and there are books on the Sabbats themselves. The first Pagan book I read was Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy and it is a great book to read if you’re first studying the Sabbats and the crafts.

Here is a brief overview of the celebration so you get a good idea of the holiday.

The Beginning of the Harvest:

At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.

This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.

Celebrating Grain in the Ancient Cultures:

Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.

In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.

A Feast of Bread:

In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheafs of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.

The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

Honoring Lugh, The Skillful God:

In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.

Celebrating Lammas Today

Honoring the Past:

In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.

By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.

Symbols of the Season:

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.

    • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
    • Grapes and vines
    • Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
    • Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
    • Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
    • Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

Crafts, Song and Celebration:

Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!

      Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.”

Lugh (as defined in Celtic Magic by D. J. Conway) is The Shining One; Sun God, God of War, “many skilled”, “fair haired one”, “white or shining”, a hero god.

Picture #3 Source: http://craftychickscuppacoffee.blogspot.com/2009/07/lammastide-is-upon-us.html

Info source for Lammas history quote: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/lammas/p/History_Lammas.htm