Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Year and a Day

My poor, sweet neglected blog! 

About a year ago I was writing all the time and I was loving it.  For at least a few years, “We're All Made of Stars” was regularly updated.  In 2015 I was also very busy working on a book and pitching it to publishers and agents.  I was doing some really fun freelance writing as well contributing to a website and co-hosting a radio show.

And then life happened, and here I am, almost a year later.  At the end of last year I had queued up quite a few re-posts (or even re-re-posts) but the last real blog post I did was last November.  And even before that the last real-real blog post I did was last August!

So here I am, nearly a year later, and I find myself on the hazy, muggy edges of another strange, weird summer.  So I thought it was time to update my neglected blog, and write a bit about my wild, crazy, cosmic life...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Re-Post: "Signs of Love: Imbolc"

(Originally posted on the online religious news magazine, Creedible and on this blog, 2014)

Photo by Sonja Bannick
The energy of this time of year is hard to describe. Winter holiday festivities are long past, and it seems like there is nothing to look forward to for the next few months. It’s the end of winter and beginning of spring, but that doesn’t always make sense. Some cities haven’t even gotten cold yet and the bulbs are already popping up, while other places are still buried under many feet of snow with no hope for blooms or sunlight. 
Imbolc, celebrated on the second of February, is the ancient Irish holiday that commemorates this in-between time. Originally a festival celebrating ewes’ milk, this was the time of year that pregnant sheep started lactating, which meant it was a good time to make cheese. Most people, though, have never even seen a ewe, let alone any other type of lactating livestock. Although ancient Ireland is worlds away from the contemporary United States, Imbolc still holds important lessons for everyone.

It’s still cold outside, or if it’s not cold, it’s still grey and brown and dreary. Because of the blustery weather, this is a good festival to spend with the family, focusing on hearth and home. It is a good time of year to start working on spring cleaning and to start thinking of the tasks and projects that need to be done once spring is fully here. 

While Yule is a fire festival that is bright and dynamic and exciting, Imbolc, while still a festival of flames, is more quiet and reflective. It’s a good time to sit in front of the fireplace, or in front of a flickering candle, and focus on arts, crafts and other creative projects that you enjoy doing. 

Many of us have no idea how our food gets from the farm to our homes, but Imbolc might be a good time to honor livestock and crops even if we don’t have any of our own. Traditional holiday foods are milk and cheese, so treat your family to something local, organic, free range and delicious. 

Some Catholics may know this holiday as Candlemass, or perhaps St. Brigid’s Day. Brigid is a clear example of an ancient Pagan goddess who was reinterpreted by Christians and given a whole new life and story. Flames and creativity are sacred to Brigid, who may be related to a northern goddess who predicted winter by the length of the shadows. Bright, sunny weather on Candlemass meant she could gather lots of extra firewood for a prolonged winter. 

February for many is still the winter, but the tradition of Groundhog’s Day has its roots in the ancient Pagan world when people would look to nature for omens to see just how long winter would last. Maybe the groundhog isn’t afraid of his shadow on February second, but rather the cold weather the winter goddess promises to bring in February!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Re-Post: "Imbolc Oil"

9 drops sandalwood
13 drops vanilla extract
9 drops jasmine
13 drops cedar
Grape seed oil

This oil can be used for creative inspiration, change, cleansing, arts, crafts, work, Brigid, honoring Celtic ancestors, health, healing, Goddess worship, winter, spring, dark moon, new moon, black moon, initiation, newness, Imbolc, etc. or any other associations with late winter/early spring, Brigid, Imbolc, and the dark/new moon.

Comhn orm a Bhride!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Re-Post: "Nearer"

A post about NYE, 2013

Last night with a sparkler in each hand, I drew huge banishing spirals into the air, thinking about the year that had just passed.

“Out with the old” I whispered, over and over again.

When the time felt right, I reversed my spirals, spinning inward, with the hopes to bring luck and love to me in 2014.

“In with the new!”

As the sparklers began to burn out out I went crazy with my magic, dancing and looping large streaks of burning color into the air.

“Out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new!”

When the light finally died, I released my intentions into the cosmos with a cheer. “Happy New Year!” My friends, enjoying their own magical moment of sparklers and nighttime joy, shouted with me. “Happy New Year!”

That was my last bit of magic for 2013, and my first bit of magic for 2014. Not bad for a year of intense ritual experiences and divine revelations… I’m not much of a resolution type person, but I really hope 2014 has just as much magic as 2013, if not more. 13 is a witch’s number, and I’d really say that 2013 was the Year of the Witch for me, but 4 is my number, and I’m really hoping that 2014 is The Year of The Space Witch.

Last night, home and slightly tipsy from champagne, I drew a card from my new deck, gifted to me from a dear witch friend. For this first reading of a brand new deck, Le Tarot des Femmes Erotiques, I drew the seven of pentacles. “Wait for the Moment” it tells me. Whereas 2013 Space Witch would have been annoyed and impatient, 2014 Space Witch is wise and understanding. I recognize the advice to wait wait wait as the current theme in my life.

Wait. The Cosmos have been telling me for months. For years. Wait. Now is not the time.

So I get my seeds and soil ready and I wait and do all the work I can for when the time is right, because I know when the time comes I need to be ready.


So I started the day of 2014 with some more magic, making monkey bread and bacon and drinking champagne. (The Space Witch is a classy witch, for sure.) As I roll balls of dough I whisper into the food “Out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new, out with the old, in with the new!” I add a pinch of nutmeg for divine inspiration, cloves for a spicy kick, and cinnamon for an extra oomph. I can’t wait for this hot, goey, breakfast treat. So of course I take it out of the oven too quickly. The inside is still raw. “Wait!” the Cosmos remind me with my uncooked breakfast.

Oh yeah. Right. Maybe I still have some work to do on this whole patience thing, after all...

And later we get to enjoy pork loin, cabbage, and black eyed peas. I do live in the South, after all, and I can use all the luck I can get, and black eyed peas are lucky indeed. I’ll probably give some to the nature and land spirits later, or to the house wights.

But today isn’t just the New Year. No! It’s the new moon as well! How fortuitous! So I’m thinking about making some incense or oil later today, too. Maybe tonight with the darkness is deep and the night is cold.

The oil will be a mix of lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, cypress, and myrrh. The incense perhaps a bit complicated as I work out the perfect recipe. But I’m hopefully for the magic of this day to carry me through the next year, to capture it into a little jar of scent and energy.

2013 was rough for many people, and 2014 won’t be without its challenges. But aren’t you so excited?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Re-post: "When It's Cold"

repost from December 2013, December 2014

Since the Summer Solstice, the Holly King has reigned over the half-year of waning light, yet on this night the renewed Oak King will return, and rule on his throne until it is time for him to step down for the reigning Holly King. And through the ages this dance shall repeat again, and then again and again.
Each year, we tell this story of cleansing and gratitude, of death and rebirth
This is a story older than old, of a rivalry that has been repeated year after year, since ancient times and the dawn of myth.
The tales are told of two great kings, one dark, and one light, who twice a year, at Midsummer and Yule, engage in a heroic fight.
The Holly King, the darker one, rules the winter and the dimming sun.
While the King of Oak, who is vibrant and bright, reigns over summer and the sun’s growing light. 
At Yule they battle in an inspiring scene and the victory always goes to the mighty Oak King.
But at Midsummer’s time, when the sun is at its peak, the Holly King will win as the Oak King grows weak.
And so it goes, year after year, and the story is told to all who can hear.
So we show our gratitude to the Oak King in the summer, when the sun’s light is warm. 
And we show our gratitude to the Holly King in winter when all must die and be reborn.
As the Holly King dies and the Oak King reigns, we honor the sacrifices that are made by ourselves and others. We honor death and the gloom of winter nights. In the starlight darkness we are given visions of a world that could be different. In the quiet of the midnight blue, as the white moon glistens with clarity beyond the stark black trees, we are shown that the old must die in order to make space for the new. We honor the coming New Year and the opportunities of renewal and rebirth within ourselves, within nature, and within the cosmos. We share our gratitude for the shining of the winter stars as the longer and warmer days draw near. And we sing our song of hope on this triumphant season as the Holly King steps aside and Oak King is renewed.

(I was asked to write this piece for a friend of mine who hosted this year's 2013 Yule ritual for our Circle. Pieces were taken from the book The Celtic Wheel of the Year: Celtic and Christian Seasonal Prayers by Tess Ward. The bulk of the poem was used from the blog The Raven and the Oak by Brenna Adaira.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Re-re-post: "Slow Light"

(this post first ran in the online news magazine Creedible)

reposted from December 2013 & 2014

A few weeks ago it began to get cold, and it’s only getting colder. Animals are hoarding food and their pelts are growing thick and warm. Plants and trees that once grew so brightly have turned brittle and brown. Only the faithful evergreen remains decorated with bright red berries and heavy boughs.
Even the cosmos seem to be responding to the change in the seasons. Orion the Hunter sits more prominently in the sky, and the moon that once rose so orange and round is now silver and sharp enough to cut through the night itself. The air smells like snow, wood smoke, the decay of leaves and the promise of mortality.
Most alarming of all, the sun seems to be leaving. It sits lower on the horizon. The air is not as warm. The light is not as bright. The days are getting shorter and night is getting longer.
Every year is the same. The sun seems to grow weaker and weaker until that one dark, terrifying night when the day is the shortest it will ever be. It gives way to the endless, black, eternal night, and it seems as if the sun has died.
The Solstice is not just a matter of light and dark, day and night, but a matter of life and death. Before science and mathematics, how were people to know that this short and fleeting day wouldn’t be the day to mark the final death throes of a dying sun? Even the memory of the previous Solstice may not have been enough to calm the heart. The sun had returned the previous year and life returned to nature, only to die again the next winter. So in this season of death, in the deepest and darkest of winters, our ancestors held their breath and hoped and prayed for the return of the Sun with its promise of rebirth and triumph over darkness.
This year, on the Solstice, when the day is short and the night is long, think about the sun. Have a moment of gratitude for the season. Celebration of the Solstice may be one of mankind’s oldest rituals. Whether it manifests in feasts, the decorating of evergreens, gift exchanges or simple prayer, there is no denying the magic of the Winter Solstice.
Most of all, there is no one way, and no wrong way, to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. The traditions have changed over the millennia, and they will change again as the needs, hopes and fears of human society shift and evolve. All that matters is that deep down, in our heart of hearts, we stand in awe of the rising sun, which will return to us again and again, no matter how deeply penetrating is the darkness of night.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Re-Post: "In My Heart"

A post about the holidays, from 2013

It’s been a long time since I’ve had either the interest or energy to send holiday cards. When I managed the coffee shop I was just too busy and tired and crabby to even consider it. And of course being in school is also a valid excuse to be lazy, right? But this year I decided I’d try to put forth more of an effort to get into the holiday spirit, so I’m sending holiday cards.

I’m already ahead of the game (slightly) because at some point a few years ago my husband and I bought boxes and boxes of cards so we have a lot to use. That means I didn’t have to go shopping for cards, which is great because who has time for that?

I did have to go through my address list (still the same list that we used when we sent out wedding announcements in 2007). So I had to edit the list some, changing some last names because of divorces or marriages, adding some names and addresses as my friends and family continue to grow, and sadly deleting some addresses because I’ve lost touch with a few people or because of deaths over the years

Then I sat down this morning and turned on my “White Christmas” playlist on Pandora (told you I was putting forth extra effort) and I addressed each envelope and added our return address. (Which has prompted me to buy some address labels because this is ridiculous.) Of course I spent too much time matching the perfect cards with the perfect people, paying attention to flashiness, glitter, modesty, religious content, potential political messages, etc.

As I wrote a message in each and every card, I realized that this shouldn’t be a mechanical process. When I write “Hope you all have a magical holiday season and many blessings in the new year”, I really mean that. After all, I’m a minister and a priestess. When I write or wish “blessings”, it’s not just a random word I’m throwing around. I really do wish these people (and others!) blessings for the new year. 2013 was very hard on many people, and I hope 2014 is better. You all could use all the blessings you can get!
As a witch, wishing someone Christmas Magic might have the potential to be something special. I’m not really casting spells or charms on my Christmas cards in a traditional sense, but regardless of one’s background and current practices, this holiday season holds special meaning for many people. Even when I was conducting group therapy up at the state psyche hospital, one of the girls said rather dreamily “Christmas is just so magical.” And she is right, I think. It is magical.

Christmas Magic is a special type of magic, so when I write “I hope you have a magical Christmas” perhaps maybe I’m adding just a little bit of magic into the world. Some of my cards are going to family members I haven’t seen in years and years, and others are going to friends I see every day. But that doesn’t mean that they all can’t enjoy some extra magic this holiday season, or that they won’t benefit from some extra blessings in 2014.

So quiet unexpectedly, writing holiday cards became an act of magic and intention for me this morning. I turned on the lights on my tree. I lit some candles. I turned up the Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. I got comfortable with a cozy sweater and I wrote holiday cards, sending out a little bit of magic and a few little blessings to those I love and those I have loved.

Because regardless of one’s practices and beliefs, we could all use a little something something extra this season.