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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sabbat

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
An Imbolc Message from the Ancestors

We are living in what the Goddess calls the Great Turning: an evolutionary/revolutionary transition where the future of humanity and our Earth home will be decided. The Great Turning is here, now. We’re in the midst of the muck and mess of world-shattering change.

My dreams and ritual work have been preparing me for the Great Turning for many years. As the pressures build, and the outer world gets noisier and more chaotic, I find myself digging through these magical experiences, seeking the deep vision and guidance of the Mysteries.

Imbolc has arrived — a between time when light and shadow dance together, and the darkness and death of Winter give way to the light and life of Spring  —  and a memory of a previous Imbolc ritual comes to me.  

In this ritual, the priestesses guided the participants to return to their moment of conception to reclaim the passion and purpose that drew each of them from the realm of spirit into this world of matter. My priestess task was tending the Sacred Witness, a veiled, silent observer, to keep her grounded and protected while she opened herself to the deepest roots of our magic.

The Sacred Witness found herself in a place where the spirits of the dead and the souls yet to be born gather between the worlds. In sharing this ritual experience with the Sacred Witness, the ancestors came to me and spoke through me, and this is what they said:

“We have cut the cord. It is time for you to travel on your own. You are fully grown now, and we set you free in this world. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The world needs you. We believe in you. Shine bright. Make us proud.”

After the ritual was complete, a friend took me in her arms as waves of grief flooded through me, my whole body shaking as the ancestors cried through me and with me: for the pain of their stories; for the pain that they’ve passed on generation after generation; for the desperate need of this ending; for the sweet beauty of this world that they’re leaving behind; and for their forever love for us, their children, and this world’s greatest hope.

The ancestors are personal and archetypal; they’re the ones that have gone before us, both as part of our personal family and ethnic/cultural heritage, and our collective humanity. Their lived experiences and stories are woven into the fabric of our shared human reality, and the particulars of our family mythology and everyday lives. This world we live in, right now in 2017, is constructed of their stories where fear and the worst of our human instincts overrule love and our best qualities.

These stories of our ancestors are done. They’ve served their purpose of bringing us to this evolutionary/ revolutionary moment. Our ancestors have cut the cord, and seek an end to their pain and grief. And it’s each of us, their children, the waking ones, that must do the hard, messy, transformative work of putting our ancestors to rest.

This is happening right now, all around us, in the noise and chaos unfolding on the world stage. Our ancestors’ stories are unraveling before our eyes, and we’re being called to join in this work of disassembling the stories that trap us in a reality of fear and the worst of our humanity: stories on how to live and dream; stories that tell us who and what matter in our human society; stories that have passed on patterns of wounding and coping; stories that dim our light and hide our beauty; stories that hold the secrets and lessons that will ripen us into our true selves; stories that are the ancestors’ final gifts to us.

Imagine yourself as Sacred Witness in these Great Turning times. Let yourself sink deep between the worlds, and see the tumult on the world stage as the death process of our ancestors’ stories. Some of these stories will call to you; they’ll speak to your ancestral lineage, personal life experiences, and the very passion and purpose that drew your soul to this world of matter.  

Claim these stories as your own. Let them guide your healing and action taking, and transform you into your full maturity and power. Always, choose love over fear, and your best instincts over your worst. Make this your soul work and contribution to the great task of mending our human society. Do these momentous, world-shattering things and our ancestors’ stories will have served their sacred purpose. Endings will come, rest will come, and we, their grownup children, will dream and story the world afresh.

Though this work may seem overwhelming, perhaps even impossible, remember the ancestors love you, believe in you, and know you’re the world’s greatest hope. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The ancestors have passed this precious world onto you, onto each of us. Let’s make them proud. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Flight to the Sabbat

My Kemetic Reconstructionist friend was newly back from his long-awaited trip to Egypt.

He was furious.

“Damn those security guards!” he growled. “Any time I tried to do anything, they'd stop me! Rrr!”

While not uniquely a pagan problem, it is a distinctly pagan problem nonetheless. With our holy places in the hands of the jealous, what to do?

We discussed the situation. My suggestion was that next time, he make the offering in his head. On the astral, so to speak.

The security guard sees an American tourist standing there impassively.

Meanwhile, the old gods receive their due service.

Ideally, the inner offering should always accompany the outer. But better one than neither.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A few spokes shy of a wheel?

The Wiccan Wheel of the Year is a wonderful thing. The eight evenly-spaced sabbats provide a balanced, coherent view of the seasonal cycles over the course of a year. The Quarters and Cross-Quarters are a great way for modern pagans to connect with nature and to become more in tune with the shifts and changes of the natural world, particularly in temperate climates. But the Wheel of the Year is a recent invention, compiled from a wide variety of sources. Ancient cultures didn’t follow the Wheel, or at least, not all of it.

For instance, my Celtic reconstructionist friends tell me that their historical sources mention only the Cross-Quarters sabbats: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, often called Fire Festivals in their tradition. Hilda Ellis Davidson’s work on the ancient traditions of northern Europe suggests that some cultures celebrated the solstices but not necessarily the equinoxes, and harvest festivals fell whenever the crops were ready and not on a particular calendar date. The ancient Roman sacred calendar contained more festival dates than you can shake a stick at. So what about the ancient Minoans?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Man in Black

 

Know him

by the crow's feather

in his cap.

 

"I am the man in black,"

he will say.

“Do you know who I am?”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gluten-Free Gods

 Let us recall the kings who died for corn:

 red bread and red drink at Lúnasa of the harvest. 

We were discussing the previous night's old-style witches' sabbat. (“Old Style” as in “just like the woodcuts.”)

Of the housel*—the feasting on the god's flesh and blood—someone suggested provision of a gluten-free option next time around.

Sometimes, I think, we need to be wise enough to listen to the wisdom of other traditions.

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas poses the question: If the body of Christ is present in the consecrated host, just what part of Christ's body is present there? The head? The heart? The phallus?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A 14th Century French Witches' Dance

I can't remember who first told me that not only was this song sung and played at the witches' sabbat Back When, but that, in fact, it actually describes the uncanny goings-on there.

The reason for the song's witchy reputation is unclear. The sheer unreality of the scenario? The implied masquerade? The tune's leering allusion to the plainchant Dies Irae?

Well, whether witches capered to this tune in the old days or not, we certainly do now. In fact, we'll be singing and dancing it at the upcoming Midwest Grand Sabbat this year. With luck, the Devil's Piper himself will be there to play.

Of the many different versions of this song that exist, what follows is the oldest known to me, given in Medieval French, English translation, and singable English lyrics.

Grab your bagpipe and play along.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Frankel
    Deborah Frankel says #
    I agree with you about the importance of sacred dance. The dance is a ring dance using grapevine step and a variant of a Faroe Isl
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    On further reflection, Deborah: is the dance is simple enough that it could be communicated verbally to those who haven't seen it?
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm deeply convinced that there's nothing more important than rebuilding for ourselves a corpus of sacred dance. Please do drop a
  • Deborah Frankel
    Deborah Frankel says #
    Hello, Steven. When you gave a ritual workshop a few years ago in California (on the day before PantheaCon), I shared another Fren
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    600 years and still going strong. Now that's a song. Joie de printemps, Steven
Murray Revisited, or Throwing Out the Baby with the Broth Water

Yeah, yeah, I've read the books, I've heard the arguments, I know all about flawed methodology and bogus historiography. Who takes Murray seriously these days, anyway?

An important element is missing here. People believed Murray's theories for years because they're convincing. They have the ring of likeliness to them.

OK, here we are, medieval peasants. Life is hard. We work our butts off sun-up to sun-down nearly every day, and in a good year we raise enough to get us through to the next harvest. Often enough, we don't, and then we starve. Even in good years, the seigneur and the priest have automatic authority over pretty much every aspect of our lives.

We grew up hearing fireside stories, half-remembered, about the Old Ways and the Guy with the Horns. Yeah, I know Father Guillemet says he's bad, but the priest doesn't know everything, anyone can see that. He's a priest, what does he know about real life?

What is more likely than that on the old days you'd go off to the bonfire in the woods, get drunk, dance and screw your neighbor's wife (or husband) in the bushes? Pleasure is rare enough in life, and you have to take it when you can get it. And part of the fun is poking fun at Authority, especially Authority—like the church—about which you really can't help but feel a certain amount of ambivalence. Mix bits and pieces of decayed paganism with the only rituals that you know—those of the church—and voilà: spontaneous folk-diabolism.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Amen!
  • Sylvie Kaos
    Sylvie Kaos says #
    My sentiments exactly!

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