Nobody is unaffected by tragedy

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May the Goddess bless and watch over us. Keep us safe so we may begin to heal our wounds.

I feel that I should say something about the tragedy that occurred just after midnight in Aurora, Colorado. I am heart sick for the people who lost loved ones because of one sick minded individual.

Because we are all connected by the web of life we are all affected by his actions, however distant we may be from the actual events. A part of that web has been torn away and the ripple has been felt by everyone world wide.

The pain most people feel is real. Empathy is a powerful thing. Even if you didn’t know any of the victims, you can still feel the pain of those who did.

Healing will take time, but rest assured we will heal. The web of life has a way of repairing itself by creating new connections. The families of the victims, through their shared grief, will form bonds that will help begin the healing process. These bonds will eventually reach the rest of us. Time also helps. Through time the awfulness of what happen will fade and life will continue with only a small memory of what used to be.

May the Goddess bless everyone, and I do mean everyone for we are all hurt by what happened.

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Lughnasadh – First harvest of the season

Plucked from Wiki Commons. Corn Dolly made in the image of Lugh by someone simply known as Mountainash333.

Late summer/early fall is a great time to hold outdoor fairs and festivals. My small town of 33,000 just celebrated Jubilee Days. The festivities included, among other things, a fairway, street dances, rodeos, a chili cookoff, and a farmer’s market. On August 4th, the town will host a fair called Arts in the Park where artists will be able to display and sell their creations. There will also be food vendors and live music.

Who cares?

Most Pagans would get the connection right away.

Lughnasadh is celebrated on August 1st/2nd in the northern hemisphere. It’s the first of three harvest celebrations. Apples are ripe and ready for picking. Corn and other grains are ready to be harvested. In many homes the smell of fresh baked bread fills the air. The days are slowly getting shorter and the nights are growing cooler.

When I first started practicing, I learned that we honor the god Lugh during the festival of Lughnasadh. Lugh is the Celtic god of craftsmen and artists. He was also called the “Shining One” and was associated with the sun.

Because of his association with the sun without which crops wouldn’t grow, it isn’t inappropriate to honor him during this time of year. However, after I did a little more research, I think including a nod toward his foster mother, Tailtiu, should also be included.

Tailtiu was the last queen of the Fir Bolg and a goddess of the land. Her people suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Tuatha de Danaan and she was taken captive. Tailtiu died from exhaustion after she was forced to clear a large swath of forest so grain could be planted to feed her people.

Lugh was so distraught by these events that he buried his foster mother beneath a great mound and enacted a day of celebration to honor her life and the sacrifice she made to feed her people.  A great festival complete with feasts, artists and craftsmen selling their wares, and games was held, during which the first crops of the season were dedicated in her honor.

Without even realizing it, the little town I live in has been participating in a traditionally Pagan celebration for years. Nobody said there had to be a ritual involved in every Pagan celebration. In fact, apparently there doesn’t even have to be Pagans.

Setting up a basic altar the “right” way

A couple days ago, someone new to the Pagan path asked me about setting up an altar. I told her there was no wrong way to set one up. How the Witch chooses to represent herself (or himself) is totally up to her.

One of the main things to consider is where the altar will be set up. For example, I have one dedicated to the Santisima Muerte in my hallway. Santisima Muerte is the pre-Hispanic goddess of death. I put her in the hallway because I pass by her regularly going from one room to the next which allows me to interact with her.

Saint Death, as some people call her, is a bit jealous of other deities which is the other reason her home is an entire bookshelf in my hallway. It keeps her separated from the Buddhas and other effigies I have around the house.

Setting up a permanent altar doesn’t have to be done right away. Santisima Muerte’s altar is the only permanent one I have set up for the time being. I just moved into my house a month ago and I’m still trying to sort rooms out. For now, I have things for another altar set up on my dresser in my bedroom.

Once the altar is in place, it’s time to consider accessories. In reality, the only thing a Witch needs to perform a ritual or magic is herself or himself. The tools and other paraphernalia simply help with visualization. Plus, it adds a coolness factor to the mystery of making magic.

For the most basic altar, I recommend two things to get you started:

* Representations of the God and Goddess – This can be as simple as candles or as complex as a statue created by the Witches own hands. I use candles because I still haven’t discovered the perfect (to me) images that say God and Goddess.

* Representations of the four elements (some people say five, but the Witch would represent the fifth element) – Candles in colors associated with each of the elements would be a good place to start. I have candles and other representations for each element. I am most proud of the earth quadrant of my altar. I have a green five day candle surrounded by various stones I have picked up here and there.

That’s all there is to a basic altar. How and where a Witch chooses to set up her or his altar is purely a matter of personal preference. My only suggestion is to have fun. Create an altar that speaks to the Witch inside.

 

 

Where in the World is the God and Goddess of Witchcraft?

Shiva and Pravati – God and Goddess. Each one is half of a whole.

I was reading through some of the material for something I am studying, and I came across an interesting discussion. The professor teaching the course was talking about  where God lives according to people of different religions. Most Hindus, for example, believe that each of their 3000 gods is actually an aspect of a single god, Brahma, and that Brahma lives in some outer place somewhere.

Where do I, as a Witch, believe the God and Goddess reside? Are they eminent or immanent? Eminence being without and immanence being within.

I believe that the God and Goddess are immanent. They live within me because I allow them into my heart each and every day I am alive. I also believe that they are within the things around me. The rocks, trees, grass, birds, dogs, cats…everything I can see and touch has some of the essence of the God and Goddess within it.

This does not mean that I believe I am a goddess, or that I worship plants and animals and rocks thinking they are gods and goddesses. It does mean that if I practice my craft properly, I will treat myself  and the world around me with the same reverence I would show to the God and Goddess.

The fact that I believe in both the God and the Goddess comes from a belief that you can’t have one without the other, and much like the picture of Shiva and Parvati, each one is half of a whole. Whether they are joined, as in the picture, or separate figures as is most often depicted, they both have dark and light and they balance each other out.

Where I see the God and Goddess residing is a completely personal matter. One I don’t mind sharing of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this. The way I see things, whether the God and Goddess live within me or in some outside place, I know that they will be there when I need them because I have one thing in common with the rest of humanity. Faith.

Spell Casting: How important is timing?

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Image courtesy of National Geographic

There is a 75,000 acre fire burning about 28 miles from my home. I have been trying to write a spell to ask the gods for assistance as we really, REALLY need rain. All over the western US it is dry, dry, dry and there are fires burning from Alaska to Texas.

Our fire crews are stretched to the limit just fighting the biggest ones. The smoke is thick outside and the smell coming in the window is very strong.

The west needs help and we need it now which brings me to my point. How important is timing in creating a spell? We need rain, but if I wait until the Full Moon which in my mind is associated with the tides and therefore water, it could be too late for a lot of people. Some Pagan writers I have read say that timing is as important as the intent. Others have said that if the need is great, like it is now, then do the spell, but try to work it according to the time the spell is cast. Still others have said that if the intent and the need are great, timing isn’t going to matter because the emotion and need will be powerful enough to send your request through the universe to the gods.

Do the gods really care when you perform a spell? I don’t think so. What difference does it make to them what time it is when a witch casts a spell? I don’t think they have day planners in which they schedule days for spells.

I can see it now.  The Goddess opens her 7 Habits of Successful People planner and says, “Let’s see. Today is Thursday. It’s a full moon. That means only spells asking for love.” Again, I don’t think so.

Actually, that timing is perfect for a rain spell. It’s Thor’s day. Thor is a storm god. It’s the Full Moon (remember water and the tides). Perfect!

It still begs the question though. How important is timing? I might suggest to people interested in the timing of a spell to do what feels right. Go with your gut. Follow your heart and may the powers of the gods be with you.

Now, where did I put my Book of Shadows?

What do I want to say?

It comes down to this. What am I interested in and have the most to learn about? I have followed a witchy path for about 13 years now. I feel I still have loads to learn about the various aspects of Paganism and witchcraft.
Writing would help me understand what I am learning and may also lead me to other interests. As an extra added bonus, as a journalism major, I can use this blog to hone my writing skills. That means it won’t always be pretty, but at least I’m learning and applying what I learn to something that means something to me personally.
I want to write three of four entries each week. I think that should be plenty for now. As I progress, I may write everyday.
I spoke with the online editor at the Denver Post not too long ago and she told me that all of their writers have a blog and she expects them to interact with their blogs at least a half dozen times a day. That means they respond to comments, update their information and write about breaking stories. Wow! But I understand that it is part of their job. This is not a job for me (not yet, anyway), so I probably won’t be interacting that often. If I find that a lot of people are interested in what I have to say, I may change my mind, but I do have other things going on in my life. I have a job and classes at the university that take precedent. Or at least they should. Bills have to be paid, knowledge gained and all that.
So, this will be a witchy blog and I will post my first official entry tomorrow.

Hello world!

The saying goes something like this…”There are only two things that are certain in this world. Death and taxes.” Well, I can agree that death is a certainty for all of us. Taxes? I’m not so sure although avoiding them can lead to some nasty consequences.

I’m not sure what I want this blog to be about. You don’t want to hear about my life, at least not right now. That would be boring. I go to school, study, and work. That’s pretty much it. I’m a journalism student at the University of Wyoming. I was born and raised in Wyoming, although I left right out of high school with no intention of coming back. I left and came back and left and came back and left and came back again. When I’m finished with my degree, I don’t know where I will go. I would like to spend some time in Southeast Asia around India and places like that.

Wyoming is a beautiful place. There is a lot of wide open space around here. Of course what do you expect when there is an average of 4 people per square mile? You definitely don’t have to bump elbows with your neighbors if you don’t want to. Those wide open spaces can be a disadvantage as well. There are long stretches of highway where you don’t have cell service, so be careful if you get stranded. It may be awhile before someone comes to your rescue.

The mountains around here are breathtaking, quite literally. Where I live the elevation is about 7500 feet, so already we are over a mile above sea level. There are peaks all around us that are higher than that. The elevation makes sporting events interesting. At times it even seems to be the deciding factor as players from the other team are sitting on the sidelines sucking wind.

Let me think about this for a day or two. Let me decide what direction I want this blog to go. I have a million ideas, so one of them will have to work.