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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Making Potions, Part 1

Merry meet! Welcome to The Burning Cauldron. I’ll be writing about how to make potions, elixirs, condensers, ritual incense and oils. From time to time I may post information about other items you can create for use in your practice and worship. For today I thought I’d start with how to make potions.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what is a potion? What does it do?” Glad you asked.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Back to Basics

As my family prepares for Lughnasadh by building a fire pit -- digging the area, laying a foundation of bricks and gravel -- I'm reminded in these tasks of returning to the foundation of my practice.  I mentioned in my last post how I reconnect when it's been a while since I honored the sacred: at times of reconnection or high stress, I go "back to basics," which for me involves simple steps in grounding and meditation. Whether these tools are foreign or familiar to you, I'd like to walk you through my process, using tools from a variety of traditions.

Step 1: Breathe

This is also my Rule #1 for all the challenges I meet in life, and I teach my children this as well.  Sit or lay in a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Let it fill your chest and abdomen, causing both to rise.  Inhale to a slow count of six, hold the breath to the count of two, and exhale to the count of eight. Repeat two more times, and then breathe normally, but remaining focused on the process. This mindful breathing has been scientifically verified to alter brain chemistry, which can ease stress, reduce cortisol, affect the heart, and improve certain medical conditions (see research by Herbert Benson for supportive studies).

Step 2: Ground

Sometimes I feel I could float away, at other times I feel disconnected from Source and Spirit.  If you have that head-in-the-clouds feeling either from distraction or stress, and need to focus, moving from the deep breathing exercise to this will help.  Imagine your legs and coccyx (tailbone) are the roots of a great tree. Inch them down into the soil, reaching for the bedrock below. Do this until you feel fully connected to earth energy (if you feel daring, you can even reach your tailbone root all the way to the core of the earth, drawing from the center and the molten rock between).  Draw energy up from the roots and feel it filling you from your toes up to your head.  While doing this, I combine grounding with ...

Step 3: Awakening the Chakras

As I draw energy up from the earth, I imagine it being guided by twin snakes.  They join and cross at each chakra.  So, first, it's the root chakra of security at the coccyx, often shown to be red.  As the snakes enter my field of energy, they break through any blocks I might have.  As it opens, I see the red glowing around me.

They move up to what the Japanese term "hara," the point two fingers' width below my navel. This is the sacral chakra, orange in color, and deals with sexuality and abundance. From there, I move the energy up, with guidance from the snakes through the rest: solar plexus (yellow, confidence), heart (green or pink, love and compassion), throat (blue, communication), third eye or pituitary (indigo, intuition, wisdom, decision-making), and then the crown (purple, spirit and bliss).

From there, I reach up my arms in a V, much like a tree's branches reach for sunlight, and I draw down white light from the stars through my crown, letting it blend with the earth energy flowing upward through me and sending star energy back to the Earth.

If I layered them all in my mind, I'd look a bit like a tree, a little like a  caduceus, and a bit like a glowing rainbow torch.  Silly though the images might seem, especially all together, these steps have gotten me through PTSD flashbacks, overwhelming challenges (which proved to be surmountable), and a host of minor episodes of disconnection over the last decade.  They've also helped me in gaining greater clarity and deeper insight during shamanic journey sessions.

Our fire pit still needs a lot of work before completion, but so long as we take each step with serious intent and give it the attention it needs, we're sure to have a lasting structure around which we can build memories that celebrate life and the people around us.

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PaganNewsBeagle Earthy Thursday July 31

Today, we've got seven stories about Earth, her people, and our spiritual paths. Enjoy!

An underground greenhouse promises year-round veggies. Have you heard of this? Would you try it?

In Britain, the couple who built the "hobbit house" are still fighting to keep their dream alive.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Time for a Corn Harvest Festival

Lughnasadh is all about the corn, and I am not referring to the effectively creepy Stephen King short story. You simply cannot celebrate without featuring this sweet juicy veggie in some way, shape, or form. Instead of reserving it as an afterthought or side dish, place it front and center and celebrate it! There are many local and small-town corn festivals that you can attend. That way everything is ready-made and ready-to-go. One of the oldest in Wisconsin makes its home in Sun Prairie. According to their Chamber of Commerce website, its humble origins date all the way back to 1953. I do have fond memories of munching the delectable cobs as a youngster there. You could douse them to your heart's content from salt shakers hanging from the tops of tents. The Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival has now extended to four days and serves some 100,000 corn enthusiasts. There is a craft fair, parade, tractor pull, music, contests, and all the corn your can eat. Make a road trip of it with your favorite corny companions, and spend the day in farm country. Even if you don't plan to attend them all, it's fun to peruse the different websites. You can view pictures of people dressed as scarecrows and enjoying the harvest activities offered in each locale. 

The Corn/Grain Moon will be making an appearance on Sunday the 10th, and this is indeed an ancient food honored by Aztec and American Indians. To get you in the mood, I have a healthy recipe to sample, since it is a Lammas classic combo of bread and corn:

PARMESAN-CORN BREAD MUFFINS

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I'd like to imagine that starting a coven is a completely organic process.  Perhaps a few friends get together and decide that it's time to form a coven or at least begin operating as one.  On the traditional side it's easy to imagine a Priestess and Priest recently elevated to Third Degree and hiving off to form a new coven, perhaps taking a few of their old coven mates with them in order to do so.  Both of those scenarios sound better then how our group started.  Our coven began with a question:  "who should we invite over for ritual?"  

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We started our circle by inviting the very few Pagans we knew who lived within eight miles of us, we then cast our net a little further extending an invitation to the small handful of people who had bent over backwards to help us adjust to life in Northern California.  The only real limitations we put on things was not inviting anyone we knew who was actively involved in another non-public circle or coven.  We weren't looking to lock those folks out, we just don't have a lot of space, and we were looking to pick up the folks who were currently circle-less.  

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PaganNewsBeagle: Watery Wednesday Community News July 27

In this installment of the PaganNewsBeagle (Watery Wednesday Community News) we have an interview with the Patheos Pagan blogmistress, musings on that most British Pagan institution: the pub moot; an interview with Hellenic polytheist author Tony Mierzwicki; and news on changes at Paganesque festival "FaerieWorld."

Meet Patheos Pagan blogmistress Christine Hoff Kraemer!

Explore that venerable (but waning?) institution the Pagan pub moot.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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This is next divinity from the Atheist’s graveyard (#20) is one that I really was not looking forward to researching, more less writing.  Add in my long and repeated bouts of insomnia just to make things more…interesting.  Lucifer.  The word means ‘bearer of light’, a Latin translation of the Hebrew and Greek words for ‘morning star’, otherwise known as the planet Venus.  He is the Devil of the Christians, a god of Venus to the Greeks and Romans and a deity of enlightenment to the Luciferians to only name a few.

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