Friday, July 18, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 29 – O#1 – Offerings

cranberry juice and incense on our household altar

Pagan Blog Project – week 29 – O#1 – Offerings

A Note - There are lots of possibilities when it comes to talking about offerings. We could talk about why to give or why not to give offerings, who to give offerings to, what offerings are best for which Deity or which spirits. We could talk about offering etiquette, offering options, offering techniques, and offering methods.

All of this stuff is very important and each of those points are worth their own blog post. This post, however, is just a short survey of offerings – how to give them and what to do after you’ve given them. I don’t intend to leave anything out on purpose, so please just consider this as just presenting a few quick options and points to consider. I’d also encourage any readers to leave their own thoughts and comments in regards to offerings. I’d love to hear more!

A food or drink offering can be left on an altar or at a shrine or in a special spot inside or outside. It’s generally thought offering only the best and most fresh food or drink is acceptable.  (We don’t want to insult the Shining Ones by giving them or leaving them moldy food).  Though there are appropriate times to offer less-than-desirable offerings (such as Hecate’s Deipnon.)

It’s nice to find a space outside that you can leave food offerings when they are ready to be taken away. You can find a space in your yard, or if you are in a city, find a large flower box or other public area with lots of earth and plants to dispose of your offerings.

I have two Druid friends who dispose of offerings like wine and water down the sink with a special prayer to the Roman goddess of the sewers, Cloacina. Or, keep offerings plant and food friendly, like fresh water, bird seeds, grains, etc. These can be sprinkled outside with no harm to nature or animals that might ingest them.

Incense, oils, or other scents can be used as offering as well. I personally love burning incense. Incense is said to carry our prayers to the Gods and spirits. Burning incense is affordable, easy, and long-lasting. It might be good to include a thought or a special prayer, but this isn’t always necessary.

Or burn a candle. Make sure it’s in a safe place so it won’t fall over or an animal can’t get to it. Again, a prayer or nice thought is appropriate.

For those who can’t use fire or incense because you are in a dorm or similar setting, you can still pray at a special place! Or sprinkle potpourri or loose incense or dust, just without burning it.  

Actions and deeds can also be given as offerings. Volunteering, spending time with people in need, being generous with your love or money - there are very few limits when it comes to the possibilities of giving offerings.

One of the keys to giving offerings is to do them with intention. Any act can be an act of loving devotion if the intention is there. And also, trust your intuition! This can be very powerful and endlessly important.

An example - I recently did a ritual to a Deity who I hadn’t really formally worked with before. I felt as if the gifts I gave were not enough, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. So I spoke this concern out loud and asked that She be kind and help guide me so I could properly offer to her.

the Omen from our July 4th ritual
I asked my Druid friends their opinions, and they said that in their tradition, Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), oracles are conducted as part of the ritual structure to see if an offering is well received. Offerings are given, and then an oracle is consulted. If the oracle is unfavorable they offer more offerings, then ask another oracle (tarot cards, runes, etc). 

They have three times with in the ritual to offer an offering, and after three unfavorable oracles, they stop the ritual. This seems very useful to me to see, right away, if an offering is well received. Though honestly, I don’t think it’s appropriate for every ritual or situation. Intuition really goes a long way, and trusting your intuition is a skill we all should develop.

After my ritual, I went back a few days later and did another one. I offered some more prayers and incense, and I felt as if it was well received. It just felt different. I believe that this is because I wasn’t “cold calling” upon this specific deity. I was taking steps to develop more of a relationship, out of love and respect and trust.

Sometimes we make mistakes, and that’s okay. Just like with any other mis-step or mistake, admit it, apologize, and then move on, while taking steps to rectify or change the mistake so it doesn’t happen again. It’s a learning process!

So go, make offerings. Abundant offerings be upon our Shining Ones! Think outside the box, be kind, be intentional, and trust your instinct and intuition. Our Gods and Spirits and Ancestors and Guides are much deserving of our love and respect, and they appreciate our gifts, no matter how large or small.

And lastly, be open to their gifts as well. Our lives are full of blessings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pagan Square - Melancholia, Moon Dreams and the Goddess

Please check out my latest post over at Pagan Square! 

"I recently received some particularly hurtful and insulting comments from a family member concerning Paganism.  These comments came as a great surprise to me, and also served as a wake-up call.  Being a Space Witch isn’t all moonshine and glitter, unfortunately."

read my post here!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July Announcement: "Magical Musings and Memories"

Already tired of the heat of the summer?  Tired of long days and short nights, sweltering sun and unpredictable and humid summer storms?  Already looking forward to the cooler months, to crisp evenings and warm scarves?  Delicious gifts of joy and cheer?

So am I!  So that's why I'm so excited to announce a winter writing project that is int he works - Magical Musings and Memories: a joint compilation of holiday cheer."

My good friend Vickie over at Aoibheal's Lair invited me, as well as a group of her wonderful lady friends to contribute to Magical Musings. Her idea is for all of us to include holiday memories, crafts, recipes, poetry, and other fun, exciting, and jolly articles and art projects.  What a great idea!

I'm excited to be invited to contribute to a fun project like this, and I'm excited for the friendships and connections that will be made throughout this process.  The holiday season might be just under six months away, but there's no reason to not get started now! 

So check out "Magical Musings and Memories: a joint compilation of holiday cheer" on these various media platforms, spread the good tidings, and see you over there in December!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Pagan Blog Project - week 28 - N - New Moon Oil

Pagan Blog Project - week 28 - N - New Moon Oil

Here is the recipe for a new moon/new year oil I made in January:

14 drops of sandalwood essential oil
14 drops of jasmine essential oil
14 drops of lavender essential oil
14 drops of myrrh essential oil (I always try to use myrrh when doing moon-focused spells and charms)

Top it all off with a base/carrier oil of your choice. (I used grape seed oil).

Shake it 14 times while thinking of newness and change and beginnings. Or chant and sing or dance. What ever works for you!

Leave it outside during the new moon to charge up.

Adjust and specialize according to your needs and desires - change the oils, change the number of drops, etc. There are no limits!

If you have any questions about essential oils, please read my post here!

also check out my Imbolc oil recipe. Perfect for Brigid and transitions!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 26 – M#2 – Mugwort

Pagan Blog Project – week 26 – M#2 – Mugwort

Just like moldavite is one of my all-time-favorite crystals, mugwort is one of my all-time-favorite herbs! It was first introduced to me when one of the amazing and talented witches from my alma-mater coven started leading herbal workshops, once a month, for a year. She taught us from the book Herbal Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living by Judith Berger. While I missed the workshop on mugwort (oops!), everyone else in the group couldn’t stop talking about the greatness of mugwort. This, naturally, grabbed my attention!  

I worked with this herb a few times over the years, using it mostly in dreaming or sleepy charms or spells. A few years ago, one of the girls I was mentoring asked me to do a workshop on mugwort. That’s really when I fully gave myself over to my love-affair with this amazing and magical herb.

Artemisia vulgaris is also known as mugwort, common wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, Old Uncle Henry, sailor’s tobacco, naughty man, Old Man, St. John’s plant, cronewort, hag-weed, and muggons. Aren’t all of those folk names just hilarious and awesome?

When working with an herb for the first time, I like to experience it in as many ways as I possibly can. For the mugwort workshop we burned the herb on a little piece of charcoal, as well as tasting and rubbing the dried leaves. We smelled the smoke, drank the tea, and let the hot steam from the tea wash over her faces. This herb can also be used in infusions, smoking, candles, food, oils, dream pillows, and tinctures. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any fresh mugwort locally, though I hear it grows everywhere! I really should just grow some for myself, but needing some gives me an excuse to stop by our local occult supply shop (like I need an excuse!)

This herb can be very bitter. Usually I don’t mind the taste when I drink it as an infusion, but the last time I used it I was using a different tea pot and guessed at the amount I should have used. Ew! It was so bitter it was almost undrinkable. But should this happen, just add more hot water to dilute the brew.

Mugwort comes with a few warnings – it’s toxic in large amounts and under prolonged intake, so be careful and use in moderation! It might irritate those with asthma, hay fever, or other allergies, and it is not safe for pregnant mommas or babies!

This herb is said to be unpleasant to mugs and insects, and is often used in protection or banishing charms. Mugwort and iris leaves together outside of homes in Japan to keep evil spirits away (because the spirits don’t like the smell.)

Some use mugwort to get more energy, and some use it for relaxation. Roman soldiers put the herb in their shoes to keep their feet from getting tired, and it is said that taking a mugwort bath helps with achy joints, inflamed herbs, and even emotional tension.

Magically, mugwort is said to give visions, to allow one to live in many worlds at once, and to help with having or remembering dreams. Others use it for lucid dreaming, astral projection, heavy meditation, to open up ancient memories, to open intuition, or to aid in powerful rituals.

Traditionally, incorporating mugwort into a floral crown at midsummer is said to help call to the fairies and to assist vision quests. Store the dried herb with divination tools, or anoint your crystal balls or magic mirrors with an herbal infusion. The oil is also very effective to use on the third eye. The dried herbs can be burned on a piece of charcoal, or burned in a Smudge Stick.

When I want to do some heavy divination or oracular work, I’ll drink a pot of mugwort tea. It tends to make me feel a bit buzzy – like I’m vibrating at a higher or different frequency. I also love to use a mugwort “flying salve” that I got from a witch up in Rhode Island. I tend to put this on my third eye, on my wrists, behind my ears, and at my in-bows – pretty much anywhere where the skin is thin or sensitive. This helps me with dreams sometimes, or to be more intuitive and sensitive to energy within ritual space. The salve isn’t as powerful to me as the tea, however. Aside from sage, mugwort is my favorite herb to burn. It’s a scent and sensation that has become very comfortable and familiar to me, and it’s nice to know that I’ve developed such a good relationship with this herb. Inspiration and intuition comes easier to me when using mugwort, though I usually don’t have wild or crazy dreams. I also sleep very heavily after a pot of mugwort tea, and I wake up feeling very groggy and hung-over, so I don’t use it very often.

The magical properties of mugwort might not work for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that awesome third-eye opening tingly feeling! Try it out a few times, and if it doesn’t work, keep on looking for a magical herb that will work for you. Exploring and trying new things is half the fun! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fireworks: Midsummer
originally posted on the on-line religion magazine, Creedible, 2012

Though this year’s calendar says June 21st is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year might more appropriately be known as the middle of the summer season. The sun is at its height and the days have been increasing in length, only to climax at the longest day and shortest night during the Summer Solstice. Twilight and dawn stretch out longer than any other time of the year, but after this week, the nighttime and darkness will slowly creep back upon the day.

Celebrated from June 19-June 24, the exact date of this holiday changes depending on the position of the earth to the sun. Midsummer, also known as Litha, marks the Summer Solstice and a time of great warmth, fertility and energy. Scandinavian and Northern European countries still celebrate this holiday that can trace its roots back to ancient celebrations of fire and abundance. In some places it is almost as popular as Christmas, which sits exactly opposite of this day on the calendar.

Medieval Christianity celebrated the birth of Saint John the Baptist on this day, and huge Saint John’s fires are still a major part of European celebrations, and often enjoyed by Neo-Pagans and other new age groups around the world. A good way to observe the fire and heat of this holiday is to light your own balefire, or even a bright red candle. Others capture the spark of the longest day of the year with a delicious barbeque, which is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors, nature and heat.

For those who are familiar with Shakespeare, Midsummer is also said to be a wonderful night to enjoy the charms of the fairies. The magic of a summer night is something we all remember from our childhood. When enjoying the cool air, the moon, fireflies and the scent of flowers and fresh grass, remember the pleasure of summer.

As a holiday, Midsummer recaptures the magic and joy of youthfulness. Re-read your favorite fairytales, watch your favorite version of Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, go out and catch glowbugs or butterflies, or find a fountain and make a wish! Fill the longest day of the year with all of the things you love, and those games that make you feel like a kid again.

The summer is a special time of year, even for those who are well past their youth and fully engrossed in their 9-5 schedule. The sun is at its full power this week, so think of the sun to give your projects a little spark. Have lunch outside or take a short walk, no matter how hot it is. Summertime is in full swing, so enjoy the beauty of your neighborhood and community while the flowers and trees are thriving. Buy local produce and engage in town beautification projects. Take some time out for the kids in your life, and make a point to dance with the fairies. This is a good time of year to push your boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone, but also to return to those things that inspired us when we were children.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 25 – M#1 – Moldavite

Moldavite is the perfect stone for a Space Witch like me, and it’s become one of my all-time favorites. It is a magical blend of both heaven and of earth, and isn’t that what being a Space Witch is all about? A Space Witch is of the Earth but dreams of the cosmos, and moldavite encompasses that celestial dream and this earthly realm.

Ranging in colors from dark olive to bright green, moldavite is a special type of glass that resulted from the impact of a meteor in Eastern Europe, probably around 15-million years ago. The giant meteor was so hot that it melted the earth upon impact, shooting big globs of molten stuff in the air. When that stuff cooled, it created a lovely green glass that is a combination of space material and earthly substances. It’s a lot like obsidian, which is also glass created from the super-hot, molten crust of the earth. Moldavite, however, is what was created when the meteor melted the earth and melted into the earth, creating a lovely blend of both realms.
The higher quality pieces of moldavite are known for their “fern-like” patterns. When I think of ferns I think of dinosaurs and a time before humans or mammals, a time unlike any of us will ever know.  Moldavite comes from this ancient time, but also holds within it a promise of the future, of outer space, and of our destiny as the human race as we hold Earth to be our home but look to the stars for possibilities.

I have read that one of the Roman Sibyls used a giant slab of moldavite in her rituals. She would perform her rites in a cave sacred to Hecate, and part of the ritual would include a processional presentation of the slab of moldavite. It is said that this meteorite glass represented the Goddess Cybele or Rhea, or a similar Earth Mother/Queen of Heaven. It is also said that the Holy Grail from Christian lore was carved from a piece of moldavite. A very late Gnostic sect, the Cathars, believed that the Holy Grail wasn’t a grail at all, but a mysterious stone from outer space.

Magically, moldavite is said to vibrate at an incredibly high frequency. This is said to aid those who want to be in contact with the heavenly realms, though I feel as if it connects one to more than just heaven, but earth as well. It is used in lucid dreaming, astral travel, to connected with one’s angel or spirit guides, and trance work.

Unfortunately I do not have many pieces of moldavite. When it comes to a stone or crystal I really, really want, I shop around forever until the “perfect” piece comes around, which is almost never! I do have a tiny pair of moldavite earrings I splurged on, though, and I wear them when I want a little extra energy and openness to my life - whether I am just running errands or engaging in a powerful ritual. And for special occasions I use some special moldavite incense (Moldavite Incense Sticks - With Real Moldavite Essence) or moldavite oil I have, but I tend to hoard these, saving them only for super special occasions.
Artificial oldavite can be made in a lab, so be careful when buying this stone online! Lab-created moldavite is pretty easy to spot – the pock marks are too uniform in placement and shape, the size way too large, and the color not quite right. It looks pretty fake, like plastic, and holds none of the magical properties of the genuine, ancient glass.  

Created over 15-million years ago from a unique meteor impact, moldavite is naturally a very rare glass. I’ve seen it increase in popularity over the years, with pieces being smaller and with more imperfections. Like many of Earth’s precious stones, once moldavite is gone, it’s gone for good.

I find moldavite to be the perfect combination of heaven and earth, the terrestrial and the celestial, the rare and the beautiful. This rare beauty is a perfect addition to any Space Witch treasure chest!

(Interested in buying some moldavite? Message me for a super special coupon code at Healing Crystals!)