Kindling the Fire at Home & in the Community

Archive for June, 2012

Summer Solstice

Last year for Summer Solstice I made my way to Hillsboro, Texas to participate in a Summer Solstice festival being held on the property where Middlefaire Renaissance Faire is held. Initially it was going to be a girls retreat, but many of the women invited weren’t able to come… it ended up being a mother & daughter retreat for mom & I. That’s how I sort of think that it was supposed to be. We needed the time away to reconnect and let loose a little together. Believe me, we did! It was hot as Hades out, but we managed to have a good time and tried to keep cool. It was our 1st Pagan festival in Texas & we were determined to make it memorable!

Much of our time was spent chatting with merchants & patrons there. I quickly befriended a musical group called Dublin Doubles comprised of Teresa, Trey & Lala. For 2 days they were our surrogate family of sorts. They were very welcoming and friendly so it was easy to hang with them and get the lay of the land… plus I really enjoy their music and it gave me lots of time to listen to them play. Next to them were the lovely couple Denise & Mel, who felt like kindred spirits to me the moment they opened their mouths to speak. Something about them just felt very familiar and comforting. Mom & I both bought some fantastic loose incense & burners from the business they run called Practically Magick. When we weren’t buying stuff and mingling with the people… we were off by the stage finding our spiritual groove…. in drum circle with a really cool guy named El Lobo. This was obviously not his first rodeo because El Lobo brought a bunch of drums and noise makers for everyone to play with. We spent hours both days we were there getting lost in the rhythm of the drum beats… it was a lot of fun and very relaxing.

This Summer Solstice when Akasha & Indigo started talking about what we needed to bring with us for ritual, I was excited to find out that we’d be drumming. On our Litha craft day I made a little hand-held drum to bring with me for ritual since Jay was going to be playing my doumbek. I’m not sure how long we drummed, but it was a fantastically freeing sensation. I felt very tranquil drumming and swaying to the beat. Prior to that we were encouraged to dance with abandon, Akasha described it as “mad monkey dancing”… so we did. Danced, spinned & jumped the fire. It was a lot of fun. Probably the most free I’ve felt dancing in circle in a long time.

The tone of the ritual felt very playful & fun… like the sort of ritual a faery would want to attend. What with the flowers, fire, drums, poetry & dancing… who could resist?

Here’s the poem I wrote:

Blazing heat
Fairies dance
‘Round the wise oak
Spin & prance
Rhythmic beat of the drum
Twirl and whirl to the hum
Sacred earth
Summer’s warmed air
Flicker of fire
Cleansing water mists their hair
Energy grows with desire
Solstice sun high in the sky
Joy & merriment as they fly
Longest day has arrived
Blessed Litha they all cry!

We also went on a guided meditation to visit “Ancient Ones” who told us about whatever it was we were seeking. We were told to envision ourselves riding a white mare and when we came upon the opening in the rocks we spoke to the Ancient Ones who talked to us about perception. From our end it appeared to be an opening only large enough to peer through, but on their end it was an opening large enough for us to ride through on the mare. That meditation sat with me even after ritual was concluded, the concept of perception and the need to reevaluate how you look at things. I thought it was a really insightful meditation.

It has helped me focus some attention on some of the things I perceive in my life as “not right”… I have too little time, too little money, too many responsibilities, too many chores, etc. You know, when it comes right down to it, none of that is correct at all. Sure, I wish I had more time to do the things I enjoy, but with good time management I can do most of what I want with my leisure time. I wish I made more money, but who doesn’t? With good budgeting I can afford the things I truly need and even a few of the things I want. Responsibility is something I should welcome & appreciate because that means that I am trusted and counted on, things that only come to someone who is tried & true. I’d much rather spend my time visiting with friends, writing, crafting, reading… really anything other than doing chores, but they’re one of those evil necessities in life. What a drag to have to do laundry, dishes & vacuum the livingroom, but I’d much rather do that than live in a dirty, unkempt home. Perception is important. It helps you to look at the very same thing from a different vantage point to gain a broader view.

That’s what Summer Solstice was for me. Drumming until my hands hurt. Dancing with abandon like a “mad monkey”. Writing poetry. Leaping the fire. And reevaluating my perception. So, what was your Summer Solstice?

Blessings,

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Celebrating Our First Year Together

Earlier this month we celebrated a full year together as a circle. Since we started cooking up ideas in May of 2011, it seemed reasonable to have a get-together the beginning of June. Rowan and I weren’t real sure what to do to celebrate, but we knew we wanted to spend some quality time together just socializing and bonding with the members of our circle. Truth be told, this anniversary/birthday sorta snuck up on us. So all of the ideas we had brewing had to take a backburner to reality. What could we realistically put together that would be meaningful and fun with little time to plan? Not to mention that was affordable? We wound up deciding to have a group dinner & then head over to a local “paint-it-yourself” pottery place. It turned out to be a great time.

We all chose a piece of pottery, our paints & quickly got to work. Turns out the lady I made reservations with took off at 8pm, so as we all arrived to paint… they were “technically” closed. Nothing talks quite like money, so I let the manager know there was a group of at least 10 eager painters and we needed him to make an exception and allow us to paint since it was a mistake on their scheduling. He agreed since the rest of the facility was open for business until 10pm. We got to paint until 9:45pm. I looked around for awhile before I finally decided on what to paint. I wanted something I could get done in 2 hours and something I’d actually use… the trinket box won.

Fire lid & interior with  triple moon

Since the discussion of the flamekeepers cell had already started and I’d chosen a name for my cell, I decided creating a little trinket box in honor of it’s creation was appropriate. I thought about making something specific to our circle, but decided that I wanted to do what was really in the forefront of my mind. Besides, creating Circle of the Black Moon has given way to more inspiration and gumption to create other things, like Cill Willow. In a round-about way, making the little trinket box for Cill Willow IS honoring the creation of our teaching & ritual circle. When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to paint, all that came to mind was fire. So, I painted a little fire on the lid. It represents the fire of inspiration, the fire of the phoenix, the fire that cleanses… it represents the journey I’ve taken without & within our circle to get to where I was on that day. I plan to keep the matches & lighters that I use to tend Brighid’s flame stored in this little box.

In reflecting on how the last year has gone, it’s been an eye opening experience filled with a lot of growth for me as a witch & as a leader. It has been challenging in many ways, tried my patience, made me laugh, drawn people closer & tighter into my circle of friends and seen a few leave it, taught me new things about the path I walk, the people I’m experiencing this with and the topics we’ve covered. It has proven to me that it is possible for a group of people who come from different backgrounds, economic statuses, ethnic groups and walks of life can find common ground in a teaching circle like ours.We are a cohesive group who care for, trust and respect each other as individuals and as circlemates. This feeling of true community is what I was hoping for when I started talking about the possibility of creating my own teaching circle a little over a year ago. To have it come to fruition like it has is a blessing unlike any I’ve had on my path thus far. So, I’d say this past year has been a success! I’m not sure what I was afraid of before, because it has been more reward than challenge every step of the way.

Here’s to many more years of shared learning & ritual space with the people in my circle who have become an extension of my family! You are loved & appreciated more than you all may ever know. Thank you.

Blessings,


I is for Inviting the Dead

When some people hear the word dead” it makes them uneasy, nervous and maybe even a bit frightened. Our society sees death in a way that incites feelings of fear for most and others to envision their idea of the afterlife. While we are fully aware of the inevitability of death, we don’t like to think about, much less discuss what death means to us as individuals. Many cultures honor those who have gone before them, believe in showing respect to their ancestors, have altars for them & even pray to them. Very few actually call upon them and invoke them though. That is where the spiritual communities between Pagans and others diverge because many Pagans call directly upon specific ancestors for help, counsel and comfort without fear, apprehension or nervousness.

So, what does it mean to invite the dead? Inviting the dead is just that… an invitation to join us. Some choose to do this spoken aloud as an invocation. I do speak it aloud, but I don’t invoke my ancestors, I simply ask them to come be with me & invite them. With an invocation, I feel like it is more specific and almost demanding… I believe with my Gods & Goddesses that they don’t mind to be invoked. In fact, I believe they look forward to the times I call upon them specifically for their aid & counsel. With my ancestors though, I feel like they would not like so much to be invoked, so instead I call upon them and ask/invite them to join me.

How would someone go about inviting the dead? This is something that is most often associated with Samhain rites, but many Pagans choose to call upon or honor ancestors at other times. During Samhain, when the veil is thinnest, it’s common for Pagans to use divination tools such as scrying mirrors or crystal balls to gaze through the veil in order to receive messages from their ancestors. In order to create a tangible connection, many Pagans create an altar for their ancestors that consists of photos, small personal items & letters to the deceased to reach out to them. If you celebrate Sabbats with a coven or circle of Pagans, reaching through the veil and connecting with your ancestors becomes a relatively easy task if the energy of the group is raised together from my experience. It’s a really awesome experience to see, hear or feel the presence of someone you love and miss… and even more amazing when you are able to connect with a relative or ancestor you may have never met in life, but share a spiritual connection with in death.

Why would someone want to invite the dead? The same reasons we’d seek them in life… we appreciate their perspective, we trust their judgement, we feel close to them in a way we may not to someone on this side of the veil. The reasons someone would choose to invite the dead are as varied as the practitioners of the craft are. There are some questions you may feel only a mother can answer, but what do you do if your mother has crossed the veil? For those of us who practice magick, we would contact her and invite her to a rite. To have the feeling that despite the physical absence of a loved one you can still communicate with them is a comfort.

Is there a right way to go about inviting the dead? Absolutely. My first recommendation is to bring items of a personal nature to the person/people you intend to try and reach: clothing, photos, trinkets, a letter, etc. Next, create a cleansed & consecrated circle that is protected. Inviting the dead can arouse the interest of other spiritual entities. Then call on them specifically and invite them to join you. Tell them that you have questions, concerns or need their assistance. Lastly, choose your method in which to contact them and communicate.

Some ways that people may contact the dead:

  1. Scrying
  2. Crystal Gazing
  3. Dumb Supper
  4. Ouija Boards (I do not recommend this method, as it can result in unwanted spirits to be contacted. Although I did try this when I was younger with success.)
  5. Psychic medium (If you know and trust someone who has this ability personally, go for it, otherwise, I advise against paying for the services of a psychic medium who you cannot ensure is reputable.)

Whichever method you choose, it is wise to do some research on the method, understand the way to do it, use your own divination tools and ask the advice of experienced practitioners. Like any skill, contacting your ancestors is something you will have to work at. It may take you several tries without any results, but if you are persistent and pursue your efforts with an open mind and heart, chances are that you will eventually make contact. It may not be a lot of pomp & circumstance at all though. It may just be a whisper or the feeling of a cool touch on your hand or maybe it’ll be even less physical and just a sense that you are not alone. It may take you years before you ever actually see anything in the physical realm that we live in, but don’t get discouraged, your loved ones & ancestors may be a little shy to make contact in that way. I have been trying to contact someone for several years now, without success of ever seeing him, but I often feel his presence… and that has been enough for me.

The point in inviting the dead is to reaffirm our feelings of interconectedness,  honor our loved ones and our ancestors who have gone before us and to call upon their wisdom and knowledge. In doing so, they can witness our journey as we walk a path that they would be proud of. If you have not tapped into this spiritual resource, I encourage you to do so. The rewards you will reap will surprise you.

Blessings,