Litha – “Summertime is always the best of what might be”

(Quote in title attributed to Charles Bowden)

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“Helios” sculpture

“The festival of fire is upon us…”

With these words, we welcome Litha, or Mid-Summer, or the Summer solstice.  Whatever way you call the day, traditionally beginning the night of June 21st, and lasting through June 22nd, the celebration of the Sun God, horned one, Oak King, Lightbringer, Helios, Sol, Ra, Apollo, Magec, Nanauatzin, Belenos, Yuyi, Aryaman, Hors – whichever name you chose, is at the forefront of the day.

It is a day that we celebrate the Sun God in the fury of his strength; he has reached full maturity in the day and has gained dominion over the night.  But, like all things on this year wheel, the strongest sheaf of wheat must also pass, and as we celebrate the glory of the Oak King, we recognize that we now turn toward the darker part of the year and the reign of the Holly King, his brother and darker half.

If possible, like Beltaine, there should be a fire lit – at the very least, a candle, for the day recognizing the strength of the sun.  Litha is a fire festival celebrating both heat and light.

Adorn yourself in Golds, yellows, oranges, reds – anything evoking the emotion of heat, fire, passion and the God.  These colors venerate the Sun God and recognize his time.

sunflowerIf you have a home altar, in addition to the candle burning, place summer flowers and decorations upon it; sunflowers, symbols of gold like coins and the like.  If available in your area, boughs of oak or oak leaves are highly appropriate.

Most herbs are reaching full maturity and peak by this time; if they have not been harvested, now is a proper time to do so.  Give gifts of herbs to friends and family from your garden during Litha.

meadDrink mead or honey wine as honey has long been a symbol of the sun and the Sun God and mead is known as a divine solar drink.  Honor the bees at mid-summer with sweet nectar in your garden.

Now is the best time for magic that invokes the power of the God; spells around passion, prosperity, earthly things are all very applicable.

Whichever way you chose to celebrate Litha, try to do it with friends.  Laugh, dance, sing in the mountains.  Giver reverence to the Old Ones, but remember them with a smile on your face as you work your tradition this season.

ICS Litha
via the Inner Circle Sanctuary website

Blessed be.

7 Things About Ostara

I was doing some light reading and there is a lot of information out there about Ostata, some good, some kind of stupid.  I found seven of my favorite things, spiritual and mundane, that I wanted to share with you about Ostara (spring, or vernal, equinox).  Enjoy!
Eostre

  1.  The name Ostara comes from the derivative of the name of a Teutonic, Eostre.  She is the Goddess of dawn and fertility.  Eostre is alternatively and cross—culturally associated if not inferred to represent Ishtar and Astarte, but there is much back and forth on that.  The animal we identify with Eostre, most commonly is, wait for it, the rabbit (Easter is starting to make sense now, eh?)
  2. The egg has long been a symbol of life, fertility and the world.  In days past, druids would color the egg scarlet; this was to represent the sun, and its life giving nature.  You can lightly dye an egg today in turmeric to get a yellow tint to the egg, and then soak in the remnants of red beets that have been boiled down.  The turmeric base cuts down on the violet shade that is common to beet dying.  Or, Paas sells a pretty good egg dying kit I have used since my youth.
    Equilox (via metservice blog)
  3. At the Spring Equinox, the day and night are equal.  Gotcha, this is actually an inaccurate myth.  The term for the date when the day and night are exactly equal is called the equilux from and is usually a few days before the equinox, depending on where you are on Earth.  The equilux, due to the nature of the light and the universe bending light, is the day where day truly equals night.  Science, kids!
  4. You can make a shadow disappear in the middle of the day, if you prepare and have a compass, protractor, stick and GPS handy.  Find an empty space, and search out the latitude of that space, then subtract that number from 90.  This will give you the degrees at which you will set your stick into the earth.  We here in the Northern Hemisphere use our compass to find south, and then place the stick into the earth at the correct angle from above, facing south.  If you did this right, at noon, the stick will have no shadow.  This is the only one of two days this will work each year, can you guess the other?
  5. It is the only day that you can stand an egg on end.  OK, fooled you again.  I know, you don’t believe me, we all grew up having fun with gravity and this experiment, but with the right egg you can do this any time of year.
  6. In Wicca, Ostara was not originally celebrated as a holiday, or sabbat, this came later.  It is based on early pagan spring and fertility rights, but as a Wiccan holiday it was invited a little later to the party.
  7. Ostara, in some form, is celebrated by most people through religious or philosophical deed.  A lot of public works, volunteer and fund raising happen at this time of year (not as much as Yule, but enough to notice), it is a time to celebrate the fecundity of the world; new beginnings and time to sow your seed.  Take that for what it is.  It can be found in Christian, Hindu, Jewish and other major religious holidays.

red egg

Get Back to Where you Once Belong

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I had to make a decision yesterday.  To some it may have seemed like a snap decision or a rash decision, but much thought went into it.  If you follow my bog as frequently as infrequent I post in it, you will know I am cuckoo in love with the coven I have found, and I know they love me too.  I decided to ask my leave of the group yesterday.

Life sucks sometimes, and that is the hardest thing to take.  The universal bell will toll for different lengths of time, more loudly for some and resonate more deeply for others.  I made this decision for multiple reasons including health, family, my desire to begin a fresh start in some areas of my life, and start in others.

I swallowed the bitter truth and asked my leave from my elder.  I chickened out, and did it via email.  I could not even bring the strength to do it in person or over the phone; that is how much I knew that with the right word, my Lady would be able to change my mind.  We did end up talking by text, and her response was classic Lady Atheona

Um, No…

We talked briefly about my reasons, and she understood and gave me the comfort I desperately needed that it was OK to ask for out leave, and that I was always welcome back.  I could physically feel the weight off my shoulder.  The one thing we agreed to though, is that I would stay a member of the group but not attend class for some time, but as always, was invited and encouraged to attend our meets and Sabbats, though with no active role.

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http://www.InnerCircleSanctuary.com

 

This is going to be a difficult time, I kept telling myself and speaking to my wife on it, that I would evaluate in 90 days or 180 days and I am not going to be surprised if in four weeks, I call and ask to come back.  She has been super supportive; I know this commitment over the past year and a half has been hard and we both have had to sacrifice.  She has had to bare the fact that we are not ashamed at the sexual nature of our religion (we do not practice sex magic as much as gender magic) in our rites.  She told me to stop thinking of the end game.

She gave me great advice and told me to not think of a goal line (she knows me) but to return when it feels right, even if that is next week.  She is amazing in her understanding of my needs.

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http://www.InnerCircleSanctuary.com

I have stepped back from the group at this point and I am not going to squander the lessons this phase is going to teach me.  I plan on celebrating the Sabbats the ICS way, the esbats the ICS way and the meditations and lessons the ICS way while I am gone; but I am going to explore myself and my own magic.  I am going to get my health in order so that I can come back and in time be the High Priest within the group that they all see in me and that I know is there.

More to come on this trip into solitary practice over the next, who knows how long.

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http://www.InnerCircleSanctuary.com

 

Woden’s Day

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220px-georg_von_rosen_-_oden_som_vandringsman_1886_odin_the_wandererToday is Wednesday.

Named for Odin (From Norse; see also Anglo-Saxon and German Woden or Wotan), “Odin’s (or Woden’s) Day”

Associated with the planet Mercury

Associated with the color yellow

A good day for magic involving communication, study, mental acuity, travel, writing, communication and for any spell craft surrounding your electronic or mechanical devices.

Today would be a great day for some rune work as well, for divination or other means.

Honor Odin today with a libation of mead, ale or whiskey.  Perhaps some tobacco or coin, as Odin is known to also favor luck.  Share a story of your deeds or ancestors with a friend over a drink, if you wish to celebrate in the mundane world.  The Gods love stories of the things man does, but never forget, they love stories of their own deeds as much if not more.

08ba2d194acd72f45336993566af0675Honor Mercury (see also Hermes from the Greek pantheon) today by remembering those of yours that have passed from this world and thank him for ushering them to the afterlife.  Write a letter or send a message to someone you miss or are thinking of.

Unintended Lessons (or, HOCUS FOCUS!)

I have started the next path in my “Year and a Day”, and I am currently composing my thoughts in more detail on my first or so with Inner Circle Sanctuary.  I began my Second Degree classes yesterday and learned an ever important and unintended lesson in magic last night.

15977434_1283443138389540_8713835769263113005_nIt has always been part of my study, but taking my test last night (yes, we take weekly tests, see my earlier blog post about this being an intensive, in-depth, collegiate style curriculum), and I felt confident as I answered question after question.  I even went back through to make sure I was satisfied with my answers; I was.

Then came the answer and review, and sure enough, I missed a question and the following (I missed them both as they were what I call a Continuation Question, ‘if john has a red summer house and a blue winter house, what color is his summer house? ‘, followed by ‘What color is Johns non-summer house?’  Obviously not the real question, we don’t really care where John summers), which meant I missed more than I was allowed for the week, and have to retake the test.  Insult to injury the following question was also a CONTINUATION QUESTION THAT I GOT CORRECT (‘How many houses does John have?’).  Very frustrating.

Sadly, I know the answer to the quandary of what color John’s houses were, but I lost focus.  I have no other answer to why I missed the question except that my mind wandered and I erred.  Now I have lost a week of being with my sisters in the craft, or to spin it positively, I have gained an extra week of study as I cannot move forward until I pass the test.  And next week, I shall.

The lesson though, is about losing focus.  How often as we young witchlings plan our spell craft only to have it putter out, never come to fruition or just plain old backfire?  We ask ourselves why, and sometimes it is an easy answer, like using eye of newt as opposed to bat wing, but sometimes we are stumped.  I posit that maybe, just maybe, we lost focus.  We let our mind wander when it was supposed to be dialed in.

Ask yourself this, as you anoint a candle and put your intention into it, how long does it take you?  Do you start thinking about the next step or are you one-hundred percent in that moment?  I can say from my experience, yes, I probably have hurried through the “Tasks” of the spell craft at times, in order to get to the next step and yes, I was thinking two steps ahead at times, when I should have been envisioning the outcome.  It is one of my great weaknesses, which I work hard on daily to overcome.

I have found some things that have helped me to overcome this and I share with you now, as a young witchling

  • Do not underestimate the importance of meditative practice. Spend time in meditation exercises daily and learn to recognize when your mind wanders and to finish the thought, and come right back.  In time, you will have control over your thoughts and sometimes, truly, other people.
  • Whenever able, do your spell in a magic ring. Kitchen Witchery is good and has its place, but I have found that when I have taken the time to don my robe, call the quarters and invite the Lord and Lady into my ring, my mind is much more focused on the task at hand, as well as all of the benefits of the amplified energy of a magical ring
  • TAKE YOUR TIME. My biggest downfall.  Take the time while you area anointing your candle, feel the texture of the wax, smell the essence of the oil and think very hard about your outcome.  If you get lost, start over.  Magic is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Relax and enjoy the task of your craft
  • At the very least, limit the distractions. If you cannot perform a full ring then turn off your cellular phone, put the dog and kids outside.  Clothes the blinds, mellow the lights and spend a few minutes before hand really clearing your head of work, dinner, friends and then get into it

This of course is not the end all-beat all list, but these steps have really helped me.  As I progress more into group magic, the need for clear focus is even more amplified, but that is another story for another day.

I recommend The Spiral Dance as a great book, of ritual, as well as the nuggets of practice in the book which help you to develop your ability to meditate and focus on the work at hand.  There are many other sources; even on your iPhone or Android there are apps to help you still your mind.  Invest the time in yourself and you will reap the rewards in both the mundane world as well as your craft.

Blessed be.

Get in Touch


Take a moment today to feel your religion.  Notice the Gods in your life and meditate on how you interact with them.  Do you petition time after time, or do you pause to listen and reflect?  Are you taking the time to let them know you are grateful and reciprocate their love and attention?

Even if it is something as simple as sitting in the cool breeze, sun or moonlight on your face, offer a quick word of thanks and feel the touch of the divine.  It is helping ,e get through some rough times of doubt and fear, it will do wonders for you as well.

Connection is divine.

What I Learned

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I was not born into witchcraft, and neither of my parents shows any innate ability for clairvoyance, spell craft or really anything outside of being spectacularly good at watching reality television, but hey, they love it and I love them.  Unlike a lot of my contemporaries, I cannot trace my own private witch lineage back generations to an aunt who was burned at the stake.

14409474_10209461203019796_502259208091899317_oMy witchcraft had to be learned and earned.  Does that make it any worse than what some call a “hereditary witch”?  Not at all, it also makes it no better.  It just makes it different.  Any witch who realizes that they are in touch with the divine, celebrates the Goddess and the Gods in some way, follows the cycles of nature and uses spell work to better their own goals is my sister or brother in the craft, no matter what their tradition or lineage.

Of course, I am not saying that being proud of your magical lineage is a bad thing.  Not at all, by any means.  I have a damn fine magical lineage that stretches back some time and through multiple generations.  I hope that someday a fine witchling may count me in their magical heritage, but I am a bit off topic here.

Honestly, what makes a witch and how does one become a witch?  There are many paths to the craft, normally called traditions; British traditional, eclectic, solitary, faerie, Dianic to name a few of the more Wiccan oriented traditions.  You also have the druids, the heathens, and on and on.  I am not intending to leave out anyone but I think you will agree that there are too many to list.  One common item is that all of these groups are pagan.  A wise person told me once that:

“All Wiccans are pagan but not all pagans are Wiccan”

That holds one-hundred percent true.  The same could be said of any path.

For me, my journey began many years ago when I realized I did not feel the lure of the Christian God.  I loved the ceremony and the guilt that comes with Christianity, but I did not feel the God in prayer or in my life; I was faithless worshipper of a god I could not feel.  A young lady introduced me to Wicca and it made sense.  I immediately felt a kinship with the Goddess and the moon and the trees.  Here was a higher power that I could see, smell, hear and feel every moment of every day.  I conversed freely and with a whole heart.  I went about learning all I could from books, but too afraid and unknowing to seek out a spiritual guide or coven and eventually realized I was like a dangerous animal off of a leash when my first spell work went so right in so many wrong ways and I fell of the WiccanWagon.

Fast forward through many years of searching, reading and still hearing that still small voice in the sky calling me to 2015 when I ‘lucked’ into finding an advertisement on Facebook for Wicca classes by Inner Circle Sanctuary.  “Come take first degree classes” the ad said.  Sounds great!  I thought, no idea what that means, but sounds like a plan.

An interview and a little more than 16 months of intensive collegiate style study, I recently initiated as a first degree witch and priest in the craft.  I mentioned the intensive study, correct?  I was very fortunate that I found Inner Circle in many ways.  I went about the physical search wrong and have learned some things I’d like to share, but before I do, I cannot stress how much my path was guided by the Goddess to put me into the way of these outstanding and fine teachers and witches; unfortunately there are a lot of people who make their way in this world taking advantage of young witches-to-be like I was.  If you are searching to join classes or a group, I recommend some of the following steps:

  • Mediate and research what kind of pagan or witchcraft tradition you feel is right.  There are so many paths.  Get off Google and actually reach out to some local groups through your local occult shop or witchvox.com to name a few ideas and see if they allow visitors to their celebrations to see what speaks to you.  Go to the library and read about the traditions
  • The group in the tradition you have selected should demand a meeting and learning about you before they allow you to start classes or tutelage.  This process goes both ways, ask for a meeting and let them know you.  Be honest, magic without honesty is bullshit.  Ask questions of them, “How long have you been a group”, “How many members”, “Do I have to eat babies”.  Ask if you can meet a newer student for their thoughts.  They may or may not let you, but you can ask
  • Find out all you can about the group in advance.  Do they celebrate naked?  Is that an issue for you?  Do they use practices or craftwork you are uncomfortable with inherently?
  • Understand as much as you can about your tradition before you start.  For example, in my tradition – sex is holy. Now that doesn’t mean we run around boning each other, it means we celebrate both the physical duality of human/divinity (called polarity) and we totally understand that the physical act of sex can be an awesome celebration of that power
  • If you find you have issues, keep looking.  Do not “settle”.  You must feel relatively safe in order to perform magic and act in ritual
  • Ask questions, questions, questions
  • Ask if there are fees and what type of time commitment this is in reality
  • Ask if the group is active in the larger community both spiritual and mundane.  Witches and pagans should be involved locally as much as they are comfortable with

These are just some of the questions I wish I would have asked back in August 2015, but I didn’t and I really was fortunate to find the path I was made to walk.  I could go on for days about how wonderful this group and my tradition are.  In fact Inner Circle Sanctuary is currently holding interviews for potential students; click this link if you are interested.

The point is, you may or may not have been born into the craft, but the people you chose to work your tradition with (and yes, that means solitary), will become your family.  Like all family there will be tension, anger, resentment; but mostly there will be love, and laughter and outstanding joyous celebration of the craft and each other.

Make sure you do not forget that along the way.

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