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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



The little girl was heartbroken.

They killed him! she sobbed. They killed him!

And him so tall and shining, and his antlers reaching up, up, up to the trees, and his velvet muzzle that you wanted to stroke.

And he called you his bonny wee bird, and his daughter.

And he came down from the altar and danced, danced with everyone.

And him so shining and full of life, and now he's dead. He's dead.

The mother takes the child into her arms and holds her head against her shoulder.

Oh, but only see, she says into her ear, turning her around again to face the altar.

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Sagittarius Soul Stones & Heart Crystals

First Half: November 22-December 5

Tourmaline—specifically the multihued specimen known as melonstone, which is pinkish red with a blue-green stripe—is the precious soul stone for the Jupiter-ruled Sagittarians. Individuals under this fire sign are lively and very action-oriented, and tourmaline, which readily gives off an electrical charge when warmed, can match and propel their energy. Tourmaline is the stone for adventurers and explorers. Get some today and hit the road, dear Sag.

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The bonfire is a universal symbol of human celebration.

The flaming cauldron is a distinctive symbol (in the English-speaking world at least) of the new paganisms.

Here's the story that marries these two divergent facts.


Bonfires are really pretty impractical things. For one, they're a waste of wood. They're of no use for cooking; a bed of coals is much better for that purpose. Likewise, a small fire is a much better means of keeping warm. You can't really get close enough to a big fire for long enough to warm yourself through.

That's why, universally, a bonfire means: something special, out-of-the-ordinary, spendthrift. That's why a bonfire means: celebration.


In the normal way of things, cauldrons have fire on the outside, not the inside. Generally, fire in a cauldron means a burned dinner.

Yet, by virtue of this very unusualness, the flaming cauldron has become a distinctive symbol of Wicca: so much so that, from within the movement, its self-contradictory nature has gone largely unremarked.



Here's the story. In the beginning, modern revival witchcraft insisted on skyclad ritual. For practical reasons, both meteorological and sociological, this mostly meant indoor ritual.

But you can't have a bonfire indoors.

Enter the flaming cauldron.

At this remove of time, we no longer know who lit modern paganism's first flaming cauldron. A likely candidate would be “Aunt” Doreen Valiente who, as a novice, was tasked with creating Wicca's first Yule ritual. (“Emeth, dear, write us up a nice Yule for tonight, would you? There's a good girl.”) The rite that she crafted on the fly that afternoon in December 1953, with the flaming cauldron at its very heart, has become the Book of Shadows' quintessential rite of Yule.

The cauldron-as-indoor-firepit is a brilliant use of available resources. Though historically an intimate attribute of the witch—being shorthand for potion-brewing—the cauldron otherwise has (with one exception) little presence in classic Wiccan ritual, an odd fact directly attributable to Wicca's rootedness in Ceremonial Magic. (Few, if any, historic witches would have had even the slightest idea what a "pentacle" was.) Most lists of Wicca's sacred tools don't even include the cauldron.


Modern Paganism has an Indoor Problem. “Nature religion aside,” as Bast observes in Rosemary Edghill's Bowl of Night, “most pagans are indoor people.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

                                        Sweet or tart, cherries are the bomb | Health Beat | Spectrum Health

I don't own a cherry tree myself, but I've got the next best thing: picking rights on a neighborhood tree.

(“Hi, I'm the guy that's been stealing your cherries,” I said when I finally met the couple that “own” the tree. They laughed. “You're the third person that's told us that,” they said. “Take all you want.”)

This year I harvested about two gallons of cherries. Some became jam; most went into the freezer to be baked into pies in the deep pit of Winter when you're starting to think that Summertime is just a dream, and eating the fruit of July becomes an act of sympathetic magic.

Meanwhile, there's the cherry vodka.

As a neutral spirit, vodka absorbs flavors beautifully. The color, the fragrance, the flavor on the tongue: cherry vodka is Essence of Cherry, Summertime in a glass.

As we do every Yule, this year the Mother Berhta Guerrilla Wassailers will once again be making our annual rounds to do some socially-distanced, doorstep wassailing to deserving households. This year, as one does, we'll be wassailing the cherry tree as well.

We'll gather around the Tree and sing to it, thanking it and asking for more of the same next year.

We'll pour a libation of cherry vodka from the tree's own cherries.

Then we'll toast the tree in its own vodka.

(In the Old Ways, this is what passes for religion. What's not to like?)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This is one in a series of posts about finding the MMP deities in Minoan art. Find the whole series here.

Today we're going to focus on the Melissae. In MMP, we view them as bee-spirit goddesses who care for the spirits of the dead. As such, the bee and beehive are the most obvious symbols we associate with them. For instance, there's the famous Malia bee pendant:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tarot and the Gratitude Game

Hi there!

Just recorded and published a new episode for my Say It With Tarot Podcast: Tarot and the Gratitude Game.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A very lovely friend gifted me with a jar full of eucalyptus bark.  A neighbour of hers had been clearing away some branches taken down in the wind and she rescued the bark from them.


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