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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
Introduction to Birthstones and Astrogemology

Birthstones are very special stones that have traditionally been correlated with every month of the year. Hallmark didn’t invent the concept of birthstones, however; it came from the Bible! In Exodus chapters 28 and 39, there is much discussion about a burnished and stone-set breastplate of the High Priest of the Hebrews. Here is the biblical description of the breastplate: 

And he made the breastplate, artistically woven like the workmanship of the ephod, of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine woven linen. They made the breastplate square by doubling it; a span was its length and a span its width when doubled. And they set in it four rows of stones: a row with a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald was the first row; the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were enclosed in settings of gold in their mountings. There were twelve stones according to the names of the sons of Israel: according to their names, engraved like a signet, each one with its own name according to the twelve tribes. (NKJV, Exod. 39:8-14) 

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A Tale of Connory Mór

 

This is a tale of Connory Mór, the greatest of all Ireland's kings. Listen well, you.

 

Though he had not one gray hair in his beard, Bresal son of Brosnas was accounted the wisest Druid in all of Ireland, so that when King Eterscélae came to die, it was he who partook of the Bull Feast in order to divine his successor.

The Bull duly sacrificed, Bresal ate and drank his fill of the meat and broth and, wrapped in the bull's hide, lay down beneath the apple trees of the royal dún to dream of the next king. All night druids chanted over him incantations of truth.

In the morning, he arose and told the assembled men of Ireland: He who is to be king will come to Tara stark naked, at daybreak, bearing a stone in his sling.

Men were accordingly dispatched to each of the four roads that led into Tara to await his coming.

 

Young Connory—not yet called Mór, the great—was out hunting with his three foster-brothers when word came to them that the king had died, and that all men were to gather to Tara for the Bull Feast.

Come with us to Tara, his foster-brothers said to Connory, but Connory had spied a number of large, white-speckled birds, of unusual size and color, which he felt inclined to hunt, so he told them: Go on, and I will meet you there.

So they went, and he followed the birds in his chariot, sling in hand: but always the birds preceded him, out of range by the length of a spear cast. All day he followed them, until his horses began to tire. So he jumped from the chariot to follow on foot, and bade his charioteer return home when the horses were rested.

He followed the birds, always a spear-cast beyond him, until at sunset they came to the ocean. Here the birds turned, did off their bird-skins, and stood before him as warriors, with sword and spear.

I am Nemglan, said their chief, king of your father's bird-troops. I hereby lay upon you this geis: that henceforth you kill no birds, for they are your kin by birth.

This I did not know, said Connory. (His father, in fact, was a man of the West who had come in to his mother through the smoke hole in the shape of a bird; but Connory did not know this.) This geis I receive upon me.

This also I lay upon you, said Nemglan: that you lay aside all your clothing, and go this night to Tara, with a stone in your sling; for there your fate awaits you.

This also I receive, said Connory, and did as the man of the waves had bade.

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Tips 'n' Tricks: Mixing Crystals

Here are some tips about stones not mixing together in jewelry, as their energies cancel each other out:

  • Carnelian counteracts amethyst, as it connects more strongly with the body. 
  • Lapis lazuli stimulates the mind, and blue lace agate relaxes it. 
  • Lapis lazuli and turquoise are also opposites, although I can’t help but notice that this didn’t stop the Egyptians from using them together! 
  • Turquoise dampens the energy of malachite.
  • Diamonds and turquoise have such different energies that they conflict.
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 Flowers On Grave Images – Browse 45,736 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video |  Adobe Stock

 

On the Feast of the Dead, the old woman carefully laid out plates of food on the graves of her beloved dead.

Seeing her, the missionary sneered.

“When do you think your dead are going to come back to eat the food that you put on their graves?” he asked.

The old woman smiled.

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Forget-Me-Not: Sweet But With a Dark Side

Forget-me-not is a charming little plant with soft blue flowers that the Victorians regarded as a symbol of fidelity and love. It was given as a token of remembrance, a sweet request to not be forgotten.

I had never grown forget-me-not in my garden until last year when a little plant cropped up between the iris and daisies. With property surrounded by meadows and woods, wild flora and fauna turn up in my garden on a regular basis. I decided to let the little blue-flowered visitor stay. After all, it has been considered a lucky plant.

By early autumn, I began to change my opinion. One of the folk names for forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) is scorpion grass, which is also reflected in its species name. Prior to blooming, the flower stalks are tightly curled resembling a scorpion tail. This should be a warning that it wields a metaphorical sting. Forget-me-not doesn’t ask sweetly to be remembered, it clings like a vengeful lover who refuses to be set aside.

During autumn cleanup, I discovered that forget-me-not had made itself at home in the peripheral gardens. It won’t let go; the tiny seeds attach to anything (garden gloves, pant legs, sweatshirt sleeves) and stick like Velcro. This spring, it has turned up everywhere. It will not let you forget it.

Magically, the ancient Egyptians used forget-me-not to aid in receiving visions during the month of Thoth (approximately September 11 to October 10) by placing a few leaves over their eyes. As mentioned, it was considered a lucky plant and in Germany it was used as a talisman for finding hidden treasure, especially if it was guarded by the fae. Forget-me-not was often used for protection from faery mischief; however, judging by the plant’s behavior, I think it is faery mischief.

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 Wedding Besom Jumping Broom  in your choice of Natural image 1

 

I have a sacred word to teach you.

At a Jewish wedding, when the groom (or whoever) stomps the glass, everyone shouts: Mazel tov!

At a pagan wedding, when the couple jumps the broom everyone shouts: Hurrahya!

Hoo-RYE-yuh, it's pronounced—rye like the grain—and better it be if you rrroll the R. It's an old Witch word, an exclamation of joy. It's one of that odd class of words called vocables, words that connote but do not denote. It doesn't really “mean” anything, but through such words we enter into that archaic, pre-verbal state of mind that characterizes animal calls, infant sounds, and cultic cries such as Euoi!

The rubrics of the Rites of Handfasting don't specify a call as people jump the broom—the broom that represents, inter alia, the threshold of the new life into which the couple are entering together—but Hurrahya! is what you shout as someones leaps a bonfire, so it makes a deal of sense for handfasting as well. Hey, what's good for the witch is good for the warlock.

As to where the word comes from: Reply hazy, try again later. This amateur linguist's guess would be that it's related to hurrah, another common vocable used by cowan and pagan alike. Hurrahya, though, is the Witches-only version.

In my role as wise old sage (i.e. bullshitter) I should probably be telling you that Hurrahya was originally some ancient god-name. (With that explosive hur- at the beginning, and the nice open -ya at the end, I'll leave it to you to guess Who.) Well, you can believe that if you want to. When, at the handfasting later today, I pass along just that story, I plan to be wearing a wry twist of the lips as I do so. Caveat credente: let the believer beware.

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