• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sabbats

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It seems to me that the Witches Ladder is one of those unique and valuable, yet greatly under-appreciated bits of craft lore that has fallen to the wayside of contemporary Witchcraft. If you're not familiar with the term, there's a good article you can read here on Wikipedia that will give you the background and basic gist on the ladder. And if you Google it (images) you'll find a wide variety of ladders, made in many different ways and used for many different types of craftwork. Like much of modern day Witchcraft, people have taken an old idea and done something new it, and so have I.

But there are certain challenges that arise from this type of new growth within the Craft. There are so many of us taking old bits like the Witches Ladder, reclaiming it, remodeling it or recreating it. But we're not renaming it. As a result, all these neat new and original creations like prayer beads are being labeled  as "Witches Ladders" and sold on Etsy. Make no mistake, I'm not criticizing the idea of "Witch Ladder Prayer Beads," in fact, I love the idea. I am however, trying to point out the confusion this form of appropriation and re-association can create.

For this reason, among others, we call our Witches Ladder a "Scala," which is Latin for ladder or staircase. We have several different kinds of Scala in our tradition, and today I'd like to share with you the Rota Scala or the "Wheel [of the year] Ladder." Much like the traditional Witches Ladder, the Rota Scala is a length of rope or cord. We prefer twisted manila rope, it's made from an organic fiber and usually consists of three strands woven together. While organic over synthetic is a common Pagan preference, there is a special significance to the three strand braid within our tradition. It represents Tela, the inherent spiritual interconnection between all things. Like an umbilical cord, Tela is our connection to the world and all things therein contained. This interconnection forms a "web," the very definition of the Latin word, Tela.

...
Last modified on
1

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Season's Greetings from the Geekomancer's desk, everyone! 

Now, I know this season is not always holly-jolly for everyone, sometimes thanks to religious issues or philosophical differences, sometimes due to more practical or emotional concerns.  That's why I thought it might be helpful to show you how this pop culture witch celebrates the Winter Solstice, in hopes that it will assist you in finding new and innovative ways to deal with this, the most (expletive) time of the year.

As some of you may know, I am a former Grinch/Scrooge/whatever.  I used to have a very hard time with the holidays, and only by the grace of a very persistent friend with diabolical cookie powers am I able to now enjoy the Holiday Spirit without flinching.  That being said, I'm still a very non-standard pagan, and my witchcraft is unorthodox even to other witches.  So, it took me quite a while to find (really, build from semi-scratch) a way for me to relate to and celebrate the season.

...
Last modified on
2

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Wow, it's been over a month since I last blogged.  *chuckles*  Whoops!

Truthfully, most of my activity has been over at my Tumblr, but even so... lots of life interruptus.  But hey, a busy life means plenty to write about when you have time.

For example, today's focus is on Samhain and Sabbats in general, but also on the concept of Darkness and what it means to people in the magical world.

...
Last modified on
4

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Grain of My Life

Lughnassadh is to me a celebration of legacy. The grain falls and we remember what is important; life, love, survival, and memory. The grain is the blessing of the gods to their people, a chance for the future. On this day, I look at my impact and my legacy. What is the grain of my life? Will my actions sustain my generation and future generations to come?

Although many celebrate the First Harvest as the darkening time of looking back and giving thanks, I like to keep the focus on the work that must still be done. Gratitude is something I weave into my daily practice every day of the year so what is seen as "harvest" is more about looking forward than back, in my work. In western Europe, this is quite a busy time for farmers rushing to get as much done as possible to stretch the crop as long as possible. It is a mad dash to create a legacy of abundance that will last through the truly dark winter months. Nothing "stops."

As a Pagan and spiritual activist, it's important to me that I make an impact with the precious time I have while blessed with this physical body. Lughnassadh reminds me of this. Time is slipping away, but there is still enough to do something, to change something. The average age of death for the majority of men in the United States is currently 75 years old. I just turned 26 which means that if I am to be a statistic, I would be past one-third of my life already! I believe that the work I do right now matters just as much as the work I will do when I am 50 years old or 74 and a half years old. And who knows, I could walk out my door for lunch and get hit by a bus. A witch bows to no one, including time itself. But with that power comes the responsibility of knowing that the time we do have echoes forever onward.

...
Last modified on
1

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_cowslip.JPGUpon my first flush of dedicating myself as a witch, the very first sabbat I celebrated as a solitary practitioner, before I had found my coven, was Imbolc. I had done enough reading of neo-pagan literature after poaching the stacks in my local town library and I was keen to get my Wheel of the Year on. Bright eyed, and very bushy tailed.

It was most of a decade ago now, but I remember the little ceremony well; it involved a small paper clay boat with a ram's head that I had carved and fired, dipped in a golden butter-coloured glaze that seemed to perfectly suit my purposes. In the boat I placed some offerings for the sabbat; there were some white chocolate dipped raspberry licorice bullets, some sprigs of red geranium, and a splash of strawberry port from a berry farm in the south. I 'launched' my boat into my front garden which had been freshly planted with some baby rosemary and sage and protected with moonstone which glimmered in the early morning sunlight. I burned candles and meditated and felt a flicker of something that has stayed with me and returns every August. My practices ever since then have always been as eclectic, and sometimes just as elusive: but the whimsicality and solemnity of the ritual permeates my memory.

The return of Spring is not felt with obvious sign or herald in my home country as it is in other lands. The climate here is Mediterranean and warm most of the time, and the temperatures on a sunny August day could possibly be mistaken for a heatwave in some Northern Hemisphere climes. This year, thankfully, we have received some rain and Winter feels like she has finally 'arrived' after a long, and dark, wait. There is certainly a change to be felt in the air, though. A Quickening. The land stirs beneath my feet with a note of potential that was not there before, and the feelings of dormancy have been banished as the downhill push into warmth begins. Nights will be cold, if not the coldest, of the year, but there is still a sense of 'spring' under the earth and birds begin to be a little bit more noisy than usual. The rains have freshened the landscape and weeds and winter grasses are flourishing with abandon. Very soon, the land will burst forth with every colour of the rainbow as if the rainbow snake of ancient dreaming has pierced some crystal somewhere and has shattered into a million pieces and scattered across the land. The magic will sing again, but until then, we wait. And watch.

Photo credit: Cowslip orchard from Western Australia, retrieved from http://ournomadicways.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/wildflowers-of-wa-part-3.html

Further reading: Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere

...
Last modified on
1
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I appreciate the metaphors. Happy Imbolc to our Australian friends!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Harvest Some Fun For Lammas

Lammas, or Lughnassadh can easily be a forgotten Wiccan/Pagan holiday. It is not as showy as Samhain, or as lusty and festive as Beltane. But it remains one of the major sabbats, and should be recognized as such. The harvest is a time to gather: thoughts and blessings. It is about taking stock. We are getting ready for the next big seasonal shift. It is actually quite a powerful time, if you stop to ponder it. What better way to celebrate than to host an intimate gathering, simply to bake and break bread together; to just be? 

I would keep this one at four to five guests, tops. You know the old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen! Assign one person on each bread recipe– I have three that you could try. Have a fourth person on oven-tending and clean-up duty. If you have a fifth, let them set up serving plates and make sure everyone's glass stays filled with one of the following: sparkling apple juice, a hearty locally made craft ale, or a nice fruity barley wine. 

These recipes should provide variety for everyone, but please feel free to play with the flours or ingredients to make one vegan. Note that the Bacon Buttermilk Corn Bread should keep the gluten-free folks happy.

...
Last modified on
3
May Day, May Day: No Parking On The Dance Floor

Whether you refer to it as May Day or Beltane, it is often held as one of the most passionately beloved of all Pagan and Wiccan days. Here are some of the ways that I have enjoyed celebrating 

May 1: Early in the day, clean up your altar. Give it a good dust and polish and make it extra pretty. Then go out and pick some fresh wild or garden flowers or purchase some. Present them to your favorite lust Gods and Goddesses in a water-filled vase on the altar and tie some red and white ribbons at the base. 

For years, I have traditionally baked these yummy little scones from Patricia Telesco’s, “Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook.” 

...
Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

One of the first articles I ever wrote was for Witchvox way back in 2009. It was titled Kangaroo Magic, and I'm resurrecting the message of that article here because the need for it has returned.

In that article I mentioned that among my travels to numerous countries, by far my favorite was Australia. Mostly because I had spent my life as a student of indigenous Magical practices and has always been fascinated with aboriginal culture and the concept of the dreamtime.

Did you know that the Aboriginal Didgeridoo was the first musical instrument in human history?

...
Last modified on
6
4 Wands of Yew: The Four of Wands and Yule

Our open Yule ritual run by my coven never usually falls on Yule (December 21st this past year). We had ours on December 8th, and it was a beautiful ritual but I didn’t truly see/feel that until afterward. As a member of the ritual team, I had my “eye of the prize” of helping to lead a ritual that would be beautiful and potent for the attendees, which led to me not recognizing the beauty of the actual ritual during it. My natural tendency is to go into extreme planning and practical mode when being a helper bee.

Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Simple Samhain Rites

I love this time of year. Where I live, here in upstate New York, the summer’s heat has given way to autumn’s chill, the leaves are shifting into colorful hues of yellow, orange, and red, and the farmer’s markets are filled with pumpkins ready to be carved.

...
Last modified on
1
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    Thanks! It's a great idea...and then you get to eat it, too!
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Insightful... love cooking those ancestor dishes!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Leaves of Samhain

  Over the years I have noticed a natural rhythm, an ebb and flow of activity and attendance to annual celebrations of the Wheel of the Year. Many seem to skip Imbolc, perhaps it the weather or perhaps we're still shaking off the winter hibernation. Still some confess not really being sure how to celebrate Imbolc, regardless, we usually seem to warm up by Ostara and are always in full swing for the Maypole Dance at Beltane. We cruise along through the wheel at a steady even pace until Samhain when we turn up the juice full throttle for everyone's favorite holiday. 

   It's really no surprise the Samhain is arguably the most popular of the Sabbats, it perhaps one of the most fun and memorable social events of our childhood. It is not a far stretch to assume the positive experiences of dressing up like our favorite hero or villain and canvassing the neighborhood collecting candy found a comfortable place to nest in the psyche of our young minds. It can be a dream come true for many who grow up, come to Paganism and discover one of their favorite childhood holidays has deep cultural and spiritual roots which complements their religious beliefs and practices.

   I had a good childhood, great parents and a close, strong family ties. My childhood experiences have always had a significant influence on my personal spiritual beliefs and practices. The most significant influence was from my Grandmother, from whom I learned how to cast my Circles and how to celebrate Samhain.

...
Last modified on
1
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Editor B
    Editor B says #
    A very moving account. Your grandma sounds awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Two fascinating insights deepen our understanding of death and Samhain, which honors its sacred dimension.  In one of his essays on nature poet Gary Snyder made a point I have never forgotten. 

An ecosystem is a kind of mandala in which there are multiple relations that are all-powerful and instructive.  Each figure in the mandala – a little mouse or bird (or little god or demon figure) – has an important position and a role to play.  Though ecosystems can be described as hierarchical in terms of energy flow, from the standpoint of the whole all of its members are equal.

   . . . We are all guests at the feast, and we are also the meal!  All of biological nature can be seen as an enormous puja, a ceremony of offering and sharing.

As I was finishing a chapter in my forthcoming book, Faultlines, I encountered a compatible observation by Carl von Essen regarding what he called the “hunter’s trance.”  Von Essen wrote 

Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sabbats by the Stars

Many contemporary Pagans use some form of the Wheel of the Year to mark the Sabbats, the eight times of ritual celebration usually determined by the sun's procession, and the general seasons we experience. At least, that's what I was always led to believe during much of my training with different groups and traditions. Solstice and equinox mark the quarters of the wheel, and the midpoint between covers the "cross quarters". The odd thing is that we rarely actually do what we're saying we're doing here.

Last modified on
2
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Well said, Peter, and I couldn't agree more. As an astrologer, I have always celebrated the cross-quarters astronomically -- when
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    I understand where you're coming from, Joseph, and appreciate your viewpoint on it. I think we both make the point that the calend
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    It's always been something of a truism in my neck of the Heathen woods that our ancestors in northwestern Europe didn't really rel

Additional information