Spirit: The Humpback Whale in the Forest

Early December 2013, I was writing a ritual. In this ritual, I wanted to write in a Journey. I knew what the goal would be. I wanted people to journey and find what they should be focusing on RIGHT NOW, what their priority or goal should be. I wanted them to then find out two things: what they had to stop/leave behind and what they actually need to do/obtain. At the end I would have them put on this animal like winter hat one by one and write down the answers to those final two things. We would then burn it, releasing though things to be manifested or banished. The animal hat was to get that animal single-mindedness so no other thoughts invaded the intention. The wearing of animal skins, though the hat was completely fake everything, is what hunters used to do before they went on the hunt. I always have a hunter/warrior theme in my rituals. As part of the hunter theme, I wanted the journey to be like everyone was going to hike through the woods and find their answers that way.

I also had planned a big purification, one that I asked some friends to help me out with. They also wanted to know about the rest of the ritual as well and they loved the idea of the Journey. I hadn’t written any of the guided part of the Journey, that’s pretty much what I thought I would have to do to take a room full of people on a Journey. I knew something about that concept felt wrong though. I was very stuck. I had chosen a hike, like I said at the end of the previous paragraph; because that’s one of the ways I would find answers in the otherworld. As I started to talk to my friends about this, one said that instead of doing a lot of guiding, why not just tell them to travel to their safe place in nature and let them find their helping spirit there, be it an animal spirit or otherwise. When she said “their safe place in nature” she added “be it the ocean, or…” she listed a few other spots but when she said “ocean” my mind flew wide open.

The OCEAN. Imagine if you’re safe space in nature were the ocean. Maybe you’re animal spirit is humpback whale. This is what I imagined. I then saw how silly it would be to send a group of people into a guided mediation, Journeying through the mountains, and low and behold, the person whose animal spirit is a humpback whale is stuck in the woods where her humpback whale break a few trees and gets stuck between two giant old trees. I nearly busted out laughing when I pictured this, but it awakened me to a real conundrum.

You’re going to perform a Journey to a room full of people, and in this room there are people who find power, safety, and their animal spirit in all kinds of places. Imagine trying to fit their tundra, ocean, tropical rainforest, and desert animals in your lushly forested mountains. What do you do?

Well, my friends figured it out quickly enough while wondering about what music to play instead of talking.

Why not just tell everyone that they are going to travel to their safe space in nature and there they will seek out their spirit and find out what you want them to find out? You tell them this and then put on music specifically for Journey and trance work. The music eases you into the required state of mind, keeps you there, and then brings you out with a certain beat. Of course, let them know the length of the song and that the music will bring them out. It’s maybe best if you tell them specifically what the song will do to bring you out too. But, that’s it. You tell them where they will be going, something that they can specify to their own ways and tell them what they are looking for. We made up specific questions and key words that we repeated three times so that they wouldn’t forget them once they were in the trance.

From feedback, it worked perfectly, though the rattles in the song made a shy and harmless little snake appear randomly in several people’s visions. For me, it highlighted a contrast in my otherworld sanctuaries. My place of power is a desert scene where my safe place in nature or Journeying space is a mixture of mountainous landscapes. So, in the first part of my Journey, whenever the rattle would sound in the song flashes of a desert landscape would invade. It did not take away from my Journey just as the little shy snake did not take away from the several people who saw it slither across their Journey.

So, this could be a valuable take away for anyone who wants to include Journey’s or trance work in their rituals. I am from a Celtic background though I practice aspects of other traditions as well. There is a lot of beautiful poetry in meditations from the Celtic path, but sometimes when you start to delve into the guided meditations and Journey’s where they send you somewhere to find answers, you reach an area that can be uncomfortable.

Journeying is a time to go to the otherworld, somewhere you feel safe, someplace your own, and discover. Someone dictating every part of this Journey goes against the basic concept in a real way. Think about what it would mean in the everyday world for you to go on a journey. Does this include someone other than yourself creating an itinerary scheduling out every moment of what you’re going to do and how you will spend your time?

Something to think about. Perhaps, when writing your next ritual.

Spirit: December 13th, 2013 Ritual

The following ritual was performed on the 13th of last December. It went spectacularly well. I recommend this to anyone who finds it interesting. I hope you enjoy it as much as I, and the Circle that I performed it for, did.

Pre-ritual:

– prepare the room with dragon’s blood incense
– set the bowls of water with pine leaves
– set the altar
– prepare the rosemary water

Ritual:

First- talk about the ritual. What you’re going to do different, why, and just give a summary of what you’re going to do in general

Second- Take a platter and go around the room, stopping at each quarter to lay out symbols for each element. Ring the bells on the dance stick or the bell as you walk from one quarter to the next.

Third- Have people separate into three groups and wait by the outskirts while the room is being prepared (making space for dancing around the groups)

Fourth- Purification

Remind people of the way the purification will go. Two rotations by the people purifying with the group facing outward, then two rotations with the group facing inward. Then the purificants dip their hands in the rosemary water.

One group at a time goes into the purification space (on the deep purple sheet). (Person 1), (Person 2), and I go around the group twice when they face outward, then twice as they face inward, then I ring a bell to signify when they dip their hands in the water.

Fifth- Journey

We set the area back up for journeying, i.e. the normal circle of chairs.
We give everyone a moment to relax and settle.

I explain to them about what we will be doing: We are going on a journey. This journey is to our safe space in nature. The beat of drums will take us on our journey where we will seek and meet our animal spirit. When you meet your animal spirit ask it three questions: What should be my primary focus or priority RIGHT NOW? What do I need to GET RID OF, LEAVE BEHIND , or STOP RIGHT NOW for this focus/priority? What do I NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW for this focus/priority? When you get you answers, remember them. We will be writing them down afterwards and burning them.

Have them repeat the three questions three times: What should be my priority RIGHT NOW? X 3, What do I need to stop or get rid of RIGHT NOW? X 3, What do I need to do RIGHT NOW? X 3

Tell them that the song will change at the end and bring you out just like the soothing beat will bring you in.

Start the song; tell them to relax and to breathe deeply.

Sixth- The Hat

The song has ended and the journey is over.

Remind them now that we will be passing around the hat, one by one, and when you have the hat, you go up to the alter. You go first to the right side where you write on a slip of paper what you found that you should leave behind, get rid of, or stop doing. You take the paper and burn it in the bowl. Then you move to the left and write that which you found that you should be doing to further your priority. You then take the paper and burn it in the bowl.

As the first song (Misty Mountains) starts, I hand over the hat to the first person.

As Misty Mountains goes off, other music is turned on.

Seventh – (Person 2) leads a grounding song and dance once everyone has burned their paper.

Eighth- I go around the circle counterclockwise, picking up the elemental symbols, silently thanking the elements. As I go around, I ring a bell.

Ninth- We gather around, hands held, and say “The Circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! Hazzah!

FIN

Spirit: Balticon 2013

Balticon was great for many reasons, but I will talk exclusively about the three great pagan-ish things that happened, the ones I went to at least.

The first: TECHNO-PAGAN RITUAL!

I wrote about this ritual recently actually and here is the link for more technical information on the rite: https://rosesrocksandredfoxes.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/spirit-techno-pagan-rite-by-pheonix/

I actually came to this years ritual and I HAD SO MUCH FUN! There were bubbles, bells, rattles, glowsticks, a squishy neon ball with lights on the inside, and cool music.

Those who wished to process from outside to get more people to join us played our bells and rattles and drums, blew our bubbles, and paraded around a section of the convention area and made our way back to the sanctuary.

We had two members greet us upon entering. One sprinkled glow water (water with a glowstick inside) on us saying “blessings”. Another member in a robe with a lightsaber blessed people saying “In perfect love and perfect trust” making the knighting motion over each shoulder.

We then started the ritual calling in landmark areas for our directions: Chesapeake Bay was East, Susquehanna River was North, the Catoctin Mountains was West, and Belt Woods was South. We also called in Earth Mother, Cybernata, and Logos.

We raised energy by passing/throwing around the squishy neon ball that lit up with movement and we played fun dance music in the background.

We then shared with each other how technology and the internet has changed our lives. Mostly we shared how it had changed our lives for the better.

Afterwards, we blessed any technology we had on us in incense. I blessed my phone and USB.

Lastly we shared cakes and ale. At this ritual we had iced sandwich cookies for cakes and mountain dew for ale. THe mountain dew was in a giant neon green alien cup.

After the ritual was over we had a smaller dance party in the courtyard/sanctuary for an hour! WHOOO!

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second: Viking Wire Weaving

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I loved learning this. It’s beautiful in the process and turns into a lightweight beautiful chain when you finish. Our lesson ran overtime so I never learned how to finish it, though our teacher said we could look it up on youtube, plenty of videos there apparently.

third: Sewing a “Viking” pouch

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Okay, so the class was called making a Viking pouch but pretty much it’s just a pouch. Our teacher, having been booked for teaching a few too many classes in such a short period of time, accidently gave us the wrong directions for the pouch we were supposed to make and didn’t have the string for the drawstring pouch she accidently started teaching us how to make. SO, I got creative and made this. I added embroidery later and still need to add extra fabric so I can attach it to any belt.

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

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

Spirit: Mini Fertility Ritual

This is a picture of a working I did to increase the financial aid (or ensure that I got enough aid for school) I got this year. When I got the letter, it didn’t tell me how much I had recieved and I had been trying to work out issues with recieving any this year so, as blessed as I was to even get the news that I had recieved financial aid, I wanted to do a spell to ensure I was getting enough to actually go to school.

So, the night I got the letter it was too late for me to come here to the library to check out how much I had recieved, so I did the following ritual that night.

First, let me say that I did this to Dagda and Danu in their Great Helper/Deity of Justice aspect. It was very spontaneous so I had to work with what I had. Dark Blue and Deep Purple are associated with Deities of Justice and it just so happened that the mat on my altar that I use for an altar cloth is purple so that was helpful. Unicorns (as well as Eagles) are also associated with Deities of Justice and I happened to have this little plaque art with a unicorn and a baby unicorn on it so I put my letter on top. Amethyst is associated with the Deities as well and so I placed the two Amethyst stones I had on top of the letter. I lit my God and Goddess candles, inviting Dagda and Danu and stating which aspect I was inviting. I prayed and called upon the properties of both the amethyst and the associations and spirit of the unicorn to help. I don’t own a wand (which is associated with the Deities of Justice) but I do own a staff which is practically the same thing and I held that as I sat before my altar. I rocked a little back and forth, twirling the staff a little as I focused on my intent to raise energy. I raised the energy and then released it as I ended my ritual saying how I believed that everything and anything and all was possible with and in the God and Goddess, said that I would let it sit there overnight so that as midnight came (the time of North and Earth which is associated with Deities of Justice) the Earth would soak and saturate my spell with it’s energies through my open window. I said “So mote it be”, thanked the God and Goddess and gave a departing, and ended my ritual.

This was this past weekend where we had a crap ton of rain starting the night I did the ritual. Talk about a sign of prosperity and fertilization.

I checked the financial aid the next day and low and behold, X), I had received more than enough money for this coming Fall semester AND next Spring semester. How awesome is that? Very.

I used Celtic Deities of Justice but I hope this inspires you to do impromptu rituals with whoever and for whatever (as long as it is ethical) reasons you need. Blessings and Love to you all!

P.S. – I know it’s a very dark image but it was rainy and cloudy and nothing I could do would get me a brighter image in my room, with my phone. Smh, crappy camera phone. lol.