Weekly Card w/b Monday 28 July 2014

Fairy Festival OstaraThis week’s card (drawn today) is one of the Fairy Festival cards (of which there are eight following the Celtic Wheel of the Year) – OSTARA. Ostara (Spring Equinox) there is a balance and night and day are of equal length, the festival that heralds the Spring and new growth and fertility. I wouldn’t equate this card with new beginnings as such (I associate Imbolc with that) but definitely new growth and blossoming forth. Birds begin to find mates and make nests and often have their first clutch of young ones, buds on trees burst forth with a fresh new greenness, spring flowers blossom and young animals are born. There is definitely a vivaciousness about nature at this time of the year; a new creativity and fertility. The momentum is forward and outward looking.

In this card, which is predominantly fresh shades of green, you can see a Fairy Isle, a magical place that appears and disappears in less than a blink of an eye. Humans who are taken to a fairy isle have the fortune or misfortune of never coming back to normal reality again – they stay forever in the fair isle with the Fae. You can also see a group of the Fae (who are actually characters from other cards – the Changeling, Woodwose, the Lady Tryamour amongst others. You can also see those quintessential harbingers of spring – daffodils, with their bright yellow trumpets heralding a new phase of the wheel of the year.

Divinatory meaning

I drew this card upright so I haven’t included reversed information here.

When the festival card of Ostara appears it heralds dawning creativity, emergence, an inpouring of energy and ideas, versatility, dexterity, idealism and individuality. An idea or situation begins to crystallise and take form.

Well, this is an appropriate card for me this week seeing as I am moving out of slump city hopefully. I wouldn’t say I feel an inpouring of energy but I am starting to feel more inspired to ‘do’ creative things. I also feel I am emerging but slowly – that’s ok. Emerging slowly from whatever is holding you back is ok; I always remember the story of the tortoise and the hare…slowly does it! Although it doesn’t feel like springtime to me I do feel a little more get up and go, despite having a most awful tooth infection and being in a great deal of pain. I can either wallow or move through this and I choose to do the latter. This card reminds me that I’m not alone in doing this, I do have support from unseen forces that are all around me – just look at that card, the Fae abound.

 

Daily Om ~ Squirrel Medicine

Eastern_Grey_SquirrelSquirrel medicine reminds us to set aside a portion of our most precious resources as an investment in the future. Native Americans considered all living beings as brothers and sisters that had much to teach including squirrels. These small creatures taught them to work in harmony with the cycles of nature by conserving for the winter months during times when food was plentiful. In our modern world, squirrels remind us to set aside a portion of our most precious resources as an investment in the future. Though food and money certainly fall into this category, they are only some of the ways our energy is manifested. We can conserve this most valuable asset by being aware of the choices we make and choosing only those that nurture and sustain us. This extends to the natural resources of our planet as well, using what we need wisely with the future in mind.

Saving and conservation are not acts of fear but rather affirmations of abundance yet to come. Squirrels accept life’s cycles, allowing them to face winters with the faith that spring will come again. Knowing that change is part of life, we can create a safe space, both spiritually and physically, that will support us in the present and sustain us in the future. This means not filling our space with things, or thoughts, that don’t serve us. Without hoarding more than we need, we keep ourselves in the cyclical flow of life when we donate our unwanted items to someone who can use them best. This allows for more abundance to enter our lives, because even squirrels know a life of abundance involves more than just survival.

Squirrels use their quick, nervous energy to enjoy life’s adventure. They are great communicators, and by helping each other watch for danger, they do not allow worry to drain them. Instead, they allow their curious nature to lead the way, staying alert to opportunities and learning as they play. Following the example set by our squirrel friends, we are reminded to enjoy the journey of life’s cycles as we plan and prepare for a wonderful future, taking time to learn and play along the way.

Source: Daily Om

An Offerenda

On the last Full Moon, I performed an *offerenda*. This is something used by
Peruvian and South American shamans to give thanks to the plant spirits that
help them to heal others. Of course it is also performed on The Day of The Dead,
to thank the ancestors. In essence it is a rite of thanksgiving and
gratitude.

So, despite all the ups and downs I’ve been having I really
felt it necessary to perform an offerenda, and what better time to do it than on
the Full Moon and the one nearest to Lughnassadh, a time of thanksgiving
also.

In the first picture you can see some of the offerings I gave,
which have to be formally arranged in layers. You can’t see all of them but it
consisted of grains, chocolate, frankincense, herbs and flowers as well as oak
bark. In the picture you can also see my letter of thanksgiving to the
spirits.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here is my offerenda all wrapped up and placed on my
outside altar, covered with a sprinkling of calendula and rose petals.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time of burning. Whilst it was burning I gave thanks
to the Three Kindreds – the green clan, the ancestors and the shining
ones.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took a while to burn but while it was burning the
smoke smelled delicious – all that frankincense I’d given. When the flames had
completely died down and it had finished smoking I doused the whole thing with
water as it has been extremely hot here in England and we’ve had a lot of grass
fires and I didn’t want to start one in my own back yard!

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This offerenda gave me the opportunity to really thank
those who have helped and supported me and continue to do so, whether they are
humans or spirits. It gave me a chance to thank the Universe for all the
wonderful things I am given on a daily basis. And while I was physically alone
while doing this rite, I was definitely not spiritually alone because while I
might not have seen the spirits and some of my loved ones, I definitely sensed
them. It was a really special time and one I shall definitely be repeating in
the future.

 

Daily Om ~ The Day the Sun Stands Still

beautiful-sunriseSummer solstice represents a time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and look toward new growth. On the longest day of the year, the sun, which has on the days preceding seemed to rise higher and higher into the sky, reaches its zenith and rises no more. This day, which in the Northern Hemisphere can occur between the 20th and 23rd of June, marks the start of summer and is known as the summer solstice. From time immemorial, the coming of summer’s light and warmth has been a time of gladness and celebration. In June, the snows had long since melted, the ground had thawed, the first fruits were ripening on their vines, and Mother Nature had once again renewed herself. Though most of us have turned away from our agricultural heritage, the summer solstice remains a time of new beginnings and life-enriching endings. It is the day the sun reaches the peak of its power as well as the day that heralds the shorter days that eventually bring with them autumn’s chills.

For ancient people of the Americas and Europe, the summer solstice was a particularly joyous day—and one auspicious for those seeking year-long luck, fertility, abundance, and prosperity. Men and women on two continents would gather to pay tribute to the sun’s magnificence, to pray for a bountiful harvest, and to bolster the sun’s energy with bonfires and fireworks. Today, the summer solstice represents an optimal time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and visualize the new bounties we hope to receive in the season just beginning to flourish. At noon, when the sun is at its highest point, we can pay reverence to its incredible strength and its ability to create life while also musing on the impermanence of life as represented by the impermanence of the season. You can reestablish your innate connection to nature on the summer solstice by spending time outdoors; following the sun’s procession as the day passes; burning sun oils such as orange, benzoin, or juniper; or decorating an altar with solar images, summer greens, or colourful blossoms.

Just as the summer solstice is symbolic of agricultural growth, so is it symbolic of personal growth. It is a wonderful time to nurture your potential as you would nurture a tiny seedling and let your creative energy express itself fully. On the summer solstice, you may feel compelled to emulate the noontime sun and be at one with the world around you or to let your inner brilliance shine forth at full strength, if only for a single day. Your life, like the seasons, follows a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and summers, whether literal or figurative, can always be celebrated.

Source: Daily Om

From little acorns mighty oaks will grow

DSCF1501I have two baby oaks growing in my garden – what a sweet blessing! Have no idea how they got there but I have my suspicions. About three years ago I cast a handful of acorns around my garden as part of a ritual I was doing. Well I did forget I’d done this until now. Or maybe they are the children of the oaks that stand behind the boundary fence at the very back of the garden. Who knows but for the fact they are here. One is much small than the other and I’m not sure if they will both survive but I’m going to try to keep them safe. I’ve already cut away the tall grasses and thistle plants surrounding them so they both get access to sunlight.

So what is the meaning for me? Well the oak tree has been a symbol of strength, power and sacredness in a great many cultures and indigenous tribes across Europe. The Celts especially, and the Teutonic tribes, venerated oaks and considered them chieftain amongst trees. Oaks were associated with a great number of deities – Zeus, Jupiter, The Dagda and Thor amongst others. The Green Man is always most often seen surrounded by a partial mask of oak leaves. Because they live a long time (it takes an oak a very long time to grow so I won’t see these at their full glory during my present incarnation) they embody endurance too. And of course wisdom from the Gods.

The oak also stands for great protection, justice, honesty and bravery. Apparently its associated stone is Aventurine so I will lay one of these at each stone as a blessing for it – a gift! It’s position on the Wheel of the Year is at the Summer Solstice, when once again the Oak King will battle with his brother the Holly King. But this time it’s the Holly King that will win the bout and the waning year begins once more.

The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhoea and dysentery. Externally it can be used to treat haemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak can help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area.

It is tradition for the Litha fire to be oak wood representing the God, since this is the time of year when oak reaches its Zenith power.

The Oak trees essence helps boost energy levels and the ability to manifest our goals. The tree’s roots mirror its branches and stretch as far below ground as the branches do above  – this reminds me of the saying ‘As Above So Below’, which usually refers to the astral plane and the physical but I think it can also refer to the physical and the underground realms, the land of the dead.

Oak twigs bound together with red thread into a solar cross or a pentagram will make a greatly protective talisman for the home, car, or in your desk or at work.

LESSON OF THE Oak from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

The oak represents courage and endurance and the protective power of faith. The tree’s noble presence and nurturing habit reassured ancient people that, with the good will of their gods, their leader, and their warriors, they could prevail against all odds. As the Tree of the Dagda, the oak offers protection and hospitality without question, although its true rewards are only apparent to the honest and brave. The ancient Celts deplored lies and cowardice. To be judged mean-spirited could result in exclusion from the clan, which was one of the most shameful and most feared of all possible punishments. Like the oak, we would do well to receive without prejudice all those who seek our help, sharing what we have without resentment or reservation. The oak reminds us all that the strength to prevail, come what may, lies in an open mind and a generous spirit. Inflexibility, however, is the oak’s one weakness and the tree is prone to lose limbs in storms. The oak therefore carries the warning that stubborn strength that resists will not endure and may break under strain.

I honour the energy of oak, the doorway to the mysteries. I will call upon the strength of the Horned One when I feel in need of protection. So mote it be

G is for Green Witchcraft

5446_576954122314584_224581038_nThis week’s post for The Pagan Blog Project is about Green Witchcraft, or what I see it as. Green Witchcraft is actually many things to many people but there are some things in common – a deep love of nature and in particular plants and trees, a deep interest in the old ways (i.e. the myths and legends pre-christianity), and a yearning to live ones life in synchrony with the seasons and the cycles of the moon. Of course many would also add the environmentalist and eco-witch aspect in there too.

Much has been written about Green Witchcraft, there are many really lovely authors out there who have written some very informative books on this aspect of witchcraft. One in particular is Ann Moura whose many books on the subject are well worth reading.  Some people see green witchcraft as synonymous with hedge witchery or being a kitchen witch and I guess this is true, at least for the hedge witch. For me green witchcraft is everything I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph but I don’t think there are really any hard and fast definitions with this, like life itself, the Craft evolves and definitions have to be fluid rather than rigid.

My life as a Green Witch largely revolves around what used to be called wort cunning; the knowledge and use of plants for healing and magical purposes – I guess I’m a 21st Century cunning woman! Although I live on the edge of a small town in Kent, England, I immerse myself as much as possible in nature. Even nature can be found in back gardens and suburban places. However, I’m lucky in that I don’t live too far from the country and indeed my back garden backs on to a small woodland area and beyond that fields. Environmentalism and concern for the ecosystems of the world do concern me but I wouldn’t call myself an activist by any means. I just go about my business fairly quietly with not too much obviousness. I leave the activism for others and I’m sure they do a very good job of it too but that’s not to say I don’t care. I just do my part in other quieter ways.

For me, Green Witchcraft touches my soul and it feels like finally coming home to the place I’m meant to be. It’s different for everyone though – we each find this ‘coming come’ in different aspects of the Craft, or for many too even in different religions, although the Craft isn’t a religion. I don’t think it really matters what religion one is, or what aspect of the Craft one follows as long as it truly speaks to your soul and you are balanced. As long as balance and harmony is there then it is the true path for you; fundamentalism in any form is just not good for the spirit and is a sign of ego thinking, which doesn’t come from spirit but from the human mind.

The ironic thing is, I never expected to be a Green Witch, not at all, it just crept up on me slowly over the years although I’ve always had a love of nature and green things and have never been happier in green fields and woodlands. But I truly believe that if you just open your mind and heart, and are patient, your true path will appear. It might take many years, as it did for me, or might come in a few months. It doesn’t matter – when you’re on it you will know, not in your head but in your heart. That’s not to say you won’t have doubts because I certainly did. However, my true path kept pulling me back like a song you just cannot get out of your mind. Although I’m sure there are some who never have such doubts about their path.

I love this path – the greening of the land; the changing of the seasons; the waxing and waning of the moon and the effect this has on things; the plants and trees and the secrets they hold for the betterment of all. It’s not always an easy path but it’s the one my spirit has chosen for me at this time.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit ~ A ritual for spring

little choc rabbitOstara is a time to celebrate spirituality and the turning of the earth, but there’s no reason we can’t have a good time with it as well. If you’ve got kids — or even if you don’t — this simple rite is a great way to welcome the season using some things that are readily available at this time of year. Bear in mind, this is meant to be fun and a little bit silly. If you think the Universe has no sense of humor, click the back button on your browser immediately to exit this page.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 20 minutes

For this ritual, you’ll need the following: A bag of jellybeans Marshmallow Peeps — chicks, bunnies, etc. A chocolate rabbit for each particpant A glass of milk for each participant

Arrange your ritual supplies on your altar so they look pretty. Kids can do this — typically the chocolate rabbits end up in the center, surrounded by an army of Peeps and several rings of jellybeans. A quick note — you might want to perform this ritual well in advance of mealtime, or all the kids will be too full of candy to eat a real dinner.

First, give everyone present a handful of jellybeans. Point out the different colours in the jellybeans, and what they can represent. As you call out each one, eat the jellybeans in that colour. Feel free to be a bit goofy. Say:

Behold, little jelly eggs, small symbols of the season,

How we adore you!

Green is for the grass that springs from the land! (eat all the green jellybeans)

Yellow is for the sun shining above our heads! (eat all your yellow jellybeans)

Red is for the tulips that grow in the garden! (eat your red jellybeans)

Pink is for Aunt Martha’s new Easter hat! (eat your pink jellybeans)

Purple is for the crocuses that sprout in the wood (eat the purple ones)

Continue this until all the colours are gone — if you really want to have some fun, make the kids take turns naming off the colours and what they mean to them. When they’re all gone, call out:

Hail! Hail! to the mighty jelly bean of Spring!

Next, hand out the marshmallow Peeps. As you do, say:

Behold the Peep!

The Peep is life, brought back in the spring!

Little Peep chickens, we honour you! (bite the Peep chicks)

Little Peep bunnies, we honour you! (bite the Peep bunnies)

Continue this until the Peeps are all gone — it’s probably a good idea to limit each kid to just two or three Peeps at the most. When the Peeps have all vanished, call out:

Hail! Hail! to the mighty Peeps of Spring!

Finally, distribute the chocolate rabbits. Say:

Behold the great chocolate rabbit!

As he hops through the land, he spreads joy and happiness!

O, how we adore the chocolate rabbit and his great big chocolate ears! (eat the rabbit’s ears)

Praise the chocolate rabbit, and his delicious chocolate tail! (eat the rabbit’s tail)

Honor this chocolate rabbit, and his chocolate hoppity legs! (eat the rabbit’s legs)

He is a wonderful rabbit, and he is special indeed! (eat the rest of the rabbit)

When the rabbits are all gone, say:

Hail! Hail! to the mighty chocolate rabbit of Spring!

Give everyone a glass of milk, and raise your drinks in a toast to these three symbols of the season.

To the jelly beans! To the Peeps! To the chocolate rabbit! We drink in your honour!

Drink your milk, and sit back to enjoy the sensation of being stuffed with ritual candy.

Source: Patti Wigington