Yearly Archives: 2011

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Summer Solstice

 

If you’ve been keeping up with me for a while you all know that my favorite sabbat is Midsummer, the Summer Solstice. I have wonderful summer memories from my childhood as well as always having had a bang-up Litha (the other name for the sabbat). This is the first summer in several years that I truly feel the significance of the holiday since so much has changed in my life recently. I will be conducting a special ritual and spell on June 21st. You can read more about it at mysticspells.com.

 

Here is some information on the Summer Solstice written by Sarah Todd:

Summer Solstice is also called Litha or St. John’s Day, and in Pagan times it was an important religious event. Tribes would gather to celebrate the longest day of the year. Whole communities would participate in the celebration, paying homage to nature and the planets. Mother Earth was commemorated as “The Goddess”, while “The God” was represented as the Sun King. The festivities were filled with color – yellow for the harvest, green representing nature and blue for the sky. Some of the rituals that took place during Summer Solstice are kept alive today by modern Pagan faiths. They include:

1. Staying up all night to welcome the rising sun at dawn.

2. Keeping a sacred fire burning all night.

3. Dancing around the sacred fire to the beat of drums.

4. Burning a Yule wreath in the sacred fire.

5. Making a promise to Mother Nature to do something to improve the environment.

6. Exchanging magical gifts with fellow Pagans.

7. Exchanging songs, stories and poems with other people.

Summer Solstice was celebrated by the Slavs, the Celts and many Germanic tribes, with massive bonfires a main feature of the festivities. The Druids celebrated it as the marriage of Heaven and Earth. Customs and rituals were performed all over Europe, and over time Summer Solstice evolved into a night of fire festivals and love magic. Oracles were consulted, predictions were made and spells were cast. Midsummer Night became focused on lovers and fortune telling, commemorating the magic of the year’s shortest night, nature and the woods. A maiden could learn the identity of her future husband, a pair of lovers could leap through the bonfire flames to bring them luck and spirits and demons would be banished. Other leapt over the flames in the belief that the higher the leap the taller the crops that year! Customs to ensure the health and fertility of the land, domestic animals and humans were performed, and the church, the nobility and the peasants would join in the celebrations. Cities and towns marked the occasion with parades, plays and festivals in the market place, the town green and nearby forests.

Adding to the celebration of nature and her gifts was the inclusion of herbal potions, water and brooks that were supposed to contain healing attributes. Water customs conducted during the Summer Solstice, such as cleaning and decorating fountains and wells persist in many European cultures to this day. The Germanic tribes called this festival “Johannisnacht”, and tell of the healing powers of a magical pool and a fern that blooms only at Midsummer. Herbs gathered at this time and specific foods like baked elder flower blossoms were also believed to be able to heal and bring health.

 

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the 13th is this Friday May 13, 2011. This is a great day for witches because of the significance of the number 13. Traditionally a coven had twelve members with the 13th member being the Goddess or God – or in more modern circumstances the High Priestess or High Priest. Nowadays covens usually have many more members than thirteen but here is some witchy folklore (and general superstitions regarding the number thirteen) on the  number and how it applies to witchcraft.

Why is the number thirteen so sacred in Wicca? The number has quite a few correspondences and meanings.

First, there are thirteen lunar months in a year, give or take. (A “year and a day” is thirteen canonical months of 28 days, and one day, which works out to 365 days.) Second, by Qabalistic gematria, thirteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew words for love and unity. Love is the force which draws individuals together into one unified whole.

In Pythagorean analysis, one way of understanding the meaning of prime numbers (thirteen is the seventh prime, though mathematicians tend not to count one as a prime) is to regard them as transcending by one the composite number immediately preceding them. Thus, thirteen is one greater than twelve, and therefore transcends the concepts inherent in the number twelve. Twelve is often held to represent the completeness of the world.

There are twelve signs of the zodiac, representing a balanced structure of aspects. There are twelve solar months in the year, one for each sign. Twelve is the product of four – representing the establishment of a permanent structure, and three – representing the synthesis new truth from two polar opposites. Thus, twelve, the establishment of a structure which reconciles opposites, represents the worldþ the realm which is rich enough and large enough to encompass everything under the sun, even if they are opposed to each other. It also represents the world as the realm where entities do not exist in pure states, but must contend with and somehow adjust to the presence of their opposites. Thirteen is the prime which transcends this concept. It contains the resonances of twelve within it, yet there is the unit which remains above and outside the concept.

Thirteen is the traditional complement of a coven. This worked out to six working couples and one leader. The leader-plus-twelve unit is a very old tradition. We see it in the story of Jesus and the Disciples, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, even Judge and Jury in American and British law. So thirteen is the number of leadership in the world. Yet, it must be understood that this is not leadership by force. Thirteen is the concept of striking out in a new direction and leading by example. In olden days, among Europeans, it was possible to count as high as twelve without taking off one’s shoes. Ten fingers, two feet. Thirteen represented uncharted territory, that which was outside the area made safe and secure. This is one reason why thirteen has been regarded with some trepidation.

Thirteen can also be regarded as the sum of various numbers. In Wicca, the five fold salute is actually comprised of eight kisses, since there are two feet, two knees, and two breasts. Eight and five is thirteen. Eight is also important in Wicca, since there are eight paths to the center, eight festivals in the Wheel of the Year, and eight ways of raising power in circle. There are five things one must have before one can practice the magical Art. These are: Intention, preparation, invocation, consecration and purification. There are five elements, each given to one point of the pentagram. Five also represents the four elements plus spirit, or the four directions plus the Holy Center.  (credit: Karl Lembke)

  • The human menstrual period occurs in a typical woman every 28 days, and this in many ancient cultures suggested a connection between thirteen and women. The association of thirteen with bad luck may be a vilification of the “female” number.
  • According to another interpretation, the number 13 is unlucky because it is the number of full moons in a contemporary year, but two full moons in a single calendar month (mistakenly referred to as a blue moon in a magazine article of the 1940s) only happens about every 5 years.
  • Early nursery rhymes stated there were thirteen months in a year because of the natural moon cycle that was used to count the lunar year. In England, a calendar of thirteen months of 28 days each, plus one extra day, known as “a year and a day” was still in use up to Tudor times.
  • It was suggested by Charles A. Platt writing in 1925 that the reason 13 is considered unlucky is that a person can count from 1-12 with their 8 fingers, two thumbs and 2 feet, but not beyond that, so the number 13 is unknown, hence frightening, hence unlucky. This idea discounts the use of toes or other body parts in counting.
  • In Scotland, there is no gate 13 in any airport, instead there is a gate 12B.
  • Inside of a Lufthansa plane with row numbers going straight from 12 to 14.
  • Some airplanes skip a row 13, going straight from 12 to 14.
  • Some tall buildings have resorted to skipping the “thirteenth floor”, either by numbering it “14” or as “12a”.
  • Some streets do not contain a house number 13.
  • In some forms of motor sport, for example Formula One, there is no number 13 car.
  • In many cultures, getting married on any day of the week that falls under number 13 is highly discouraged.
  • There is a superstition that should thirteen sit at a table to dine, one will die in the next year. This prompted the formation of The Thirteen Club to debunk it.
  • The legion with which Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon was the Legio XIII Gemina or the 13th legion.
  • The Code of Hammurabi, a collection of laws created ca. 1760 BC, does not contain a thirteenth law.
  • The College of William and Mary claims 13 priorities, or achievements of the academic world, which they accomplished before any other university or college in the United States. For example, William and Mary was the first college in the US to establish an honor code. A marble plaque commemorating these 13 priorities hangs on the exterior wall of the Wren Building, the nation’s oldest academic building still in continuous use. Today, the Wren Building houses the college’s Religious Studies department.
  • The Apollo 13 spacecraft malfunctioned after being launched on April 11th at 13:13 CST, forcing it to return to Earth without a landing on the moon and imperiling its crew.
  • After 13 years of being the richest man in the world, Microsoft Corporation chairman Bill Gates lost this title, according to Forbes magazine’s 2008 list of the world’s billionaires.

 

Osama bin Laden killed on Beltane

Beltane 2011 is not one I will soon forget with the death of Osama bin Laden. That was long from the start of the day however, when we decided to do things early since I had planned on casting that night. I was somewhat disappointed that some of the more prurient features of the holiday would have to be put off but actually I really had so much work to do that this ended up being a rather annotated Beltane celebration.

No maypole dancing this year – actually no dancing at all. Some candles on the altar and then sitting outside have a great picnic and just kicking back with sangria and enjoying the beautiful weather. I figured on doing my annual Beltane ritual that night when I was casting so it was a very mellow and easy going afternoon.

I was exhausted from being outside though so once we came in I lay down on my bed and napped for a few hours before I got ready to do the casting that night. I was slightly delayed however since news broke about Osama bin Laden and in the US at least for most of us – everything just halted. I watched CNN for a while, saw the President give his speech then went outside and lit the Beltane bonfire.

Like I said I never expected it to be so punctuated by such a historical event and yet I am glad it was because it was a moment long-awaited and prayed for by so many.

I don’t have much interest in politics. But I am a fairly patriotic American. I don’t mean that in a right-wing sense but more that I support our Military (and always have) and I am proud of what this country stands for. We are at our best when things are at the worst. I think I may actually be quoting a line from the movie “Starman” with Jeff Bridges, but you get what I mean.

I’m proud of the Team 6, the Navy SEALS who went in and got the job done as they will never have a parade, never get credit and no one will ever know who they are. But this grateful nation thanks them and I thank them too.

Blessed be to those who stand for what is right.

Hoppy Easter (from yesterday)

It was really nice to have company and make a traditional Easter dinner. Because not everyone present was pagan (only three of us) we didn’t force the Ostara bit on anyone but we celebrated in our own way by having plenty of candles lit.

I made a ham with brown sugar glaze, asparagus in a cream sauce with herbs de provence, orange and pineapple sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes and a blueberry pie. Oh I grilled the pineapple for the ham too and glazed that as well. Came out great. The only thing I forgot were the biscuits! No one noticed though because there was so much else.

My brother Raymond unfortunately was still at work, so no Easter for him. He misses a lot of holidays working in the Gulf of Mexico.

I worked hard yesterday and then was right back to witchy work today as well as writing and doing readings. More readings tomorrow and spells too. I love being so busy. This was the busiest April I’ve had in three years, so it’s been great.

Making plans next for Beltane, so stay tuned!

Pagan Easter (late for Ostara)

Better late than never – Ostara was on the Spring Equinox but I was otherwise occupied this year with plenty of relationship drama so I decided to celebrate it at Easter (which is this Sunday) rather than stress myself out trying to get it together on the equinox. I also had taken a nasty spill in my office and hit my head on one of my office cabinets and had to spend the night under observation in the hospital to make sure it wasn’t a concussion, so that put some limits on my celebratory zeal.

I usually celebrate both days so this Easter is going to be a combo-holiday, Christian and Pagan.

I don’t dye eggs (I buy them pre-dyed at Publix – hey they are really nice and make great egg salad later), but I do bake bread and make a lovely ham dinner. I’m having some family and friends to the house on Sunday which will be nice. I love to cook for a crowd (well it won’t be a crowd just eight people).

I thought I’d share some Ostara altars I found online that are gorgeous.

Love this altar with the Horned God statute and the Goddess.

Look at the gorgeous eggs in the cauldron!

I love the simplicty of this.

This is utterly charming.

This is my own Ostara altar right after the holiday so the eggs are missing.

See the Magick

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ”

 

Roald Dahl (1916-1990); British novelist
(He wrote Charlie & the Chocolate Factory)

Protected: Thinking about Beltane (May Day)

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I say a little prayer for you…

This is the Goddess Green Tara and she is my patron Goddess. I pray to her every day in a puja.

Her mantra is: OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA.

All workings I dedicate in her name.

It’s official!

All the posts from shaktiwitch.com have been migrated to this new blog – whew!

You will notice some password protected entries. Please just email me  to get the password. Posts about my personal life will usually be password protected.

I will now start on adding pages and links and other fun things to the site here as well as posting more often. I’m so happy to finally be using this domain name too – it’s much more appropriate than shaktiwitch.com was but I was going through my heavy yoga phase at the time (still do it every day but don’t consider it a lifestyle though I am quite flexible!)

Comments are turned on for all posts. I will not be migrating old comments – they can stay on shaktiwitch.com until the site is no longer there.

Almost There

I’ve been spending time updating this new blog and getting everything into the archives from shaktiwitch.com. Once I do shaktiwitch.com will be taken down but everything that was there will be here with a few new things too including resource pages, links and various and sundry materials that I think you may find interesting from my life as a witch.

I will also include a password protected area for those of you who would like to read more about my life as a witch that include stories that I would not feel comfortable revealing to the public on a blog. They are still part of my life, very personal about my journey and I will gladly share them with those who request a password from me. I will let you know when that area is set-up and how you can get the password.

I cannot believe it is almost Beltane and I look forward to celebrating that as I have not in a long time. It was always one of my favorite sabbats. Following that comes my favorite time of year: SUMMER! I am truly ready for summer at this point. Even though I live in Central Florida we had a pretty cold winter here and though it’s been warming up nicely (in the eighties and nineties) it doesn’t quite feel like summer yet.

I’ll post again once I am closer to completion of the changeover. Thanks for bearing with me!