Magic In Your Living Room

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I have decided to blog about our rituals as we celebrate each holiday. They have great significance and I think, power.

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Welcoming back the Colors on Ostara

Posted on April 1, 2018 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Last week we celebrated Ostara by welcoming back the colors of spring. As fall progresses, the green leaves change from green to red to brown. The grass changes to green to brown to white as it becomes covered with snow. The trees lose their green leaves and become grey and black silhouettes against the snow. Brown and black, grey and white... all neutrals, nothing bright and colorful. During last Mabon's ritual, we took down colorful flags, one for each color, and ceremonially packed them away, one-by-one, into a box. They rested in that box all winter. A single white flag stayed on the altar all winter.

 

Now, as the winter is finally receding...slowly this year...and we begin to see robins, snowdrops and crocuses. Tiny pale pink and green leaves are unfolding. Bright yellow flowers bloom on the witchhazels and the forsythia.

 

To honor this change, we ceremonially opened the box from last fall. Inside we found the bright flags of each color. We honored each color, one at a time, and welcomed them back. One-by-one, we unfolded them and flew them on their flagpoles. First was the violet flag, the color of violets and crocus. Then the indigo flag, for the starry nights of spring and the blue flag, for the bluebells and blue robin's eggs. Next we re-flew the most symbolic color of spring, green, to represent the greening earth and the yellow flag for the brightening sun of spring. Finally, we re-introduced the warm colors, the orange of primroses and the red of the warming earth, sky and sea.

 

We also did a meditation on the beauty of the earth and raised power to heal her. At the very end, we took down the flag of winter and welcomes spring. It was all inspiring and uplifting.



No Imbolc Ritual?

Posted on March 10, 2018 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I haven’t blogged about our rituals lately. January and February were not good months for me and the members of my circle, healthwise, so our planned Imbolc rituals has been rescheduled. I had planned a ritual involving meditations on the solar system, but it didn’t happen. We’ll probably do it for Beltane, since none of us is up for a Maypole dance anymore.

The reason that we are not doing it for Ostara is that the Mabon ritual we did last fall is actually a 2-part ritual. Last fall, we said farewell to the colors, since Winter brings us only neutrals - white, grey and black. Even winter evergreens seem drab as the winter goes on. The farewell to colors involved a discussion of each individual color. We placed a flag representing each color in a box. The box was tied shut and stored for the winter.

Come Ostara, we will open the box and welcome the colors back! We’ll greet each as it is unpacked: The yellow sunshine, the green of the new leaves, the red of the tulips, the purple of crocuses!

I am looking forward to it and I will blog about the ritual afterwards.

Here's the box, waiting to be opened:




 

Yule Wishes

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, here is it, the middle of January and I have not blogged about our Yule celebration. I can only plead illness... a long, long bout of the common cold and a shorter run-in with a rota virus.


Yule was one of the prettiest rituals we have done. The idea of ritual is to move the participant to a different place. A visual display can move folks to that place and that is what we tried to do. Music is also moving and I am blessed in that (apart from me) my circle includes some wonderful singers.


First, about the music. We sang several traditional Christmas songs, with the words updated, when necessary, to make them more Pagan. Some songs predate the Christian Christmas and we lean toward those songs, but familiar carols make the singer feel as though the singer is "coming home" and part of the Yule spirit.


The theme of the ritual was "Yule Wishes". I set up a small Yule tree. The one I purchased was of wire twisted and bent into curlicues. I chose this because it seems symbolic of the idea of "tree". It was also like the tree of life as depicted in old Celtic art. And it would allow the ornaments to stand out.

 

The ornaments were clear glass. We drew symbols on them and wrote words on them to express our wishes for ourselves, our families or the world. We dropped a tiny light into each on after turning it on before hanging it on the tree. If I were to do this ritual again, I think I would break it into 2 parts, one for creating the ornaments and then one for hanging them. This would allow the ink to dry. We had some smearing issues, which didn't affect the overall look of the tree, but would have been tidier.


Once all the ornaments were hung, we added a string of tiny tree lights and star shaped tinsel. We raised the power and send it out to all who could use it and who could accept it.


And of course, ended with a last carol, because, after all, it was Yule.



Yule Wishes

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, here is it, the middle of January and I have not blogged about our Yule celebration. I can only plead illness... a long, long bout of the common cold and a shorter run-in with a rota virus.

 

Yule was one of the prettiest rituals we have done. The idea of ritual is to move the participant to a different place. A visual display can move folks to that place and that is what we tried to do. Music is also moving and I am blessed in that (apart from me) my circle includes some wonderful singers.

 

First, about the music. We sang several traditional Christmas songs, with the words updated, when necessary, to make them more Pagan. Some songs predate the Christian Christmas and we lean toward those songs, but familiar carols make the singer feel as though the singer is "coming home" and part of the Yule spirit.

 

The theme of the ritual was "Yule Wishes". I set up a small Yule tree. The one I purchased was of wire twisted and bent into curlicues. I chose this because it seems symbolic of the idea of "tree". It was also like the tree of life as depicted in old Celtic art. And it would allow the ornaments to stand out.

 

The ornaments were clear glass. We drew symbols on them and wrote words on them to express our wishes for ourselves, our families or the world. We dropped a tiny light into each on after turning it on before hanging it on the tree. If I were to do this ritual again, I think I would break it into 2 parts, one for creating the ornaments and then one for hanging them. This would allow the ink to dry. We had some smearing issues, which didn't affect the overall look of the tree, but would have been tidier.

 

Once all the ornaments were hung, we added a string of tiny tree lights and star shaped tinsel. We raised the power and send it out to all who could use it and who could accept it.

 

And of course, ended with a last carol, because, after all, it was Yule.



Drawing Down the Moon

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

We celebrated Samhain on Saturday, the 4th, which was also a full moon. This co-occurrence inspired me to reproduce the traditional ritual of drawing down the moon. However, I decided on a self-empowering ritual in a more egalitarian ritual. Rather than have the priest draw down the moon into the priestess, we would each draw down the moon into ourselves. As already empowered beings, we can bring to ourselves the power of the moon.

The power of the moon brings us the understanding of the night. It brings us the wisdom of the hidden, the arcane. We become aware that we are just the dancers in the moonlight, but the moonlight itself.

You can’t see so well in the photo, but the Moon is an exact model of the moon. As above, so below! We first captured the moon in a cup to understand the levels of image and reality. Then we used the traditional invocation of the Goddess, attributed to Doreen Valiente, to bring the power and light of the moon to us

I call upon She who unveils the mystery,

Ancient Crone, Hecate, who reign

as darkness falls upon the unlit sky

Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld.

Hecate, this is your time,

Eternal Goddess, Lady of the Night.

I have prepared this sacred Circle for you,

O Wise One,

Come now into us, who honor you,

Fill us with your presence

O gracious Queen of Witches

As we do perform this Rite in your honor

It was a powerful and enlightening ritual.



A Farewell to Colors

Posted on October 1, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

Yesterday, we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox with “A Farewell to Color”. While these weeks of fall are arguably the most colorful weeks of the year, those colors are the bright farewell from nature as we move into a time of greys and browns and then to the white and black of winter.


To celebrate the change and to honor the gifts of the sun, including the gift of color, we formally said farewell to the colors of nature last night. I created a flag for each color of the rainbow so we could honor the each one separately.This change may make us sad, so the idea of the ritual was to create a memory of color to keep in mind though the dark and colorless days of winter.


We honored not only the colors, but the natural things of color - the red raspberries, the orange daylilies, yellow sweet corn, green leaves, blue skies, indigo blueberries and violet eggplants. We also look forward to the spring blooms – the redbud trees, the poppies, the dandelions, the hellebores, the bluebells, the irises and the violets. This will keep our hearts light during the days of white snow and bare, black trees.


One by one, each flag was taken down in honor and folded. Once it was honored, it was placed in a wooden box and we celebrated the next color by taking down its flag. Once all 7 flags were in the box, we raised the power and empowered the box. The priestess tied a bow around the box and the box was set aside for the winter. When Spring arrives, we will open the box and welcome the colors back into our lives.


Welcome, Autumn!



 

The Spirit of Corn

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We celebrated Lammas Saturday with a corn ceremony. Lammas is the festival of the first harvest, traditionally grains. In fact, the word Lammas is a short form of a Saxon name for the celebration “loaf-mass” when the first loaves of bread from the new wheat were presented and blessed in a harvest ceremony.


We decided to have a corn ritual, since we are new world people and we honor the original people of this continent, along with the riches this side of the world brings us. It is worth reading what Michael Pollan has to say about corn. Two of his salient points inspired this ceremony: 1. We are corn people because it is so much of what we each and 2. The interdependence of corn and people.


Pollan talks about corn’s domestication of the human race. It cannot grow on its’ own and must be planted, and at least in this hemisphere, people could not have existed without it. The history of people and corn is completely intertwined. It is the most planted and most eaten grain in the world. Even if you do not eat corn on the cob, corn is in almost everything produced, from the old-fashioned corn syrup in candy to corn meal on the bottom of the pizza. Pigs fed the corn cobs. Farm-grown salmon is fed corn pellets. The protein in our bodies can be analyzed to show that we eat a lot of corn.


For this reason, we decided to honor corn. We took roles as the Corn Maiden, Corn Mother, Corn Sage or the Spirit of Corn. In turn, the Corn Maiden celebrated the seed corn with a symbolic planting. The Corn Mother cut corn from an ear of corn and offered it as food to all the participants. The Corn Sage prepared the batter from corn bread, which was baked and eaten with dinner after the ritual. The Spirit of the Corn created a corn dolly, which we all dressed in a skirt, a hat, a sash and a corsage.


We raised the power over the corn and set it out for healing. We finished with a wonderful poem about the corn and sunflowers from Amy Lowell.


I don’t have a picture of the altar (I so often forget in the excitement of the ritual), but I do have a picture of the Corn Dolly.



 

A Mandala at the Shore

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Here’s an update on our recent Litha or Midsummer ritual. Last year, we did a ritual during which we created a mandala of flowers. It was well-liked, but due to the date, we had a poor turnout. I wanted to do something like that this year for Litha. I like the idea of a circle to represent Litha. I like a ritual centered on activity, but one that also includes meditation. And I like the idea of something beautiful for high summer. So, the mandala was a perfect choice.


A member of our circle has a house at the Jersey Shore, which she offered as a setting for the ritual. Most of the New Jersey Shore line is composed of barrier islands. This means that the ocean is on one side of the island, with a white sand shore and the bay is on the other side of the island, with a marshy shore. This is a beautiful setting for a ritual. Just being there is like a ritual.


The location made me think of seashells as a material for the mandala. I bought a lot of seashells of varying sizes and brought a black tablecloth with me. The ritual was beautiful and moving. We created our mandala and did a meditation.


As we ended the ritual and opened the circle, a tremendous clap of thunder was heard and a summer storm pounded the island. It ended and cleared off in time for us to walk to the bay and watch the sun set over the water.



A Ritual for Mature Witches

Posted on May 28, 2017 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I decided to go with a ritual honoring age and wisdom, since we are all over 55 now.

My circle includes folks no longer able to dance around a maypole… but this also means that they are old enough to be considered elders of the community and as such, sages. For Beltane, we did a ritual where we discovered our sagehood and honored our status.


This ritual is ideal for handicapped folks. Not only is it non-active, but factors that might cause issues for some older people have been minimized. We sat around a pool of water (made from horse watering trough). You could use a firepit for this, but we have a member with lung issues, for whom fire is a problem. This is a substitution that you could use in other rituals if you anticipate participants with asthma or allergies, particularly for Beltane or Lammas, when there is a lot of pollen in the air. I also used electronic candles for the corners to minimize irritants.


Some folks thought “perhaps I have not achieved wisdom… I keep making mistakes and sometimes the same mistakes... this is not an appropriate ritual for me.” I think we have all achieved some wisdom. Wehave figured out, to some extent, what works for us. We have found a spiritual path to walk. We have learned whose ideas make sense to us and whose ideas don’t. And we have made it this far in life. Just that is an accomplishment!


We told each other what behavior or idea we were changing as a result of becoming sages. Not to stop being angry, but to channel that anger into action on behalf of civil injustice, for example. Not to look backwards with regret, but forwards with joy. Not to count what was lost as we grew older, but to rejoice in what was gained. For each idea we abandoned, we threw a sage leaf in the water. For each idea we took on, we tucked a leaf into a small fabric bag.


We each received a “staff of sagehood”, a walking stick to symbolize our new status. Together we blessed the staves and honored ourselves. And walked the walk of the sage.

Beltane is close

Posted on April 18, 2017 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Beltane is my favorite Wiccan holiday. I love its joyous sensuality and its celebration of nature. It seems to evoke the idea of beauty.

The holiday is close now and I am deciding on a ritual for my circle of older witches. It may be that dancing around the maypole is not the best idea for those of us with arthritic knees and breathing issues. Maybe a Belfire, built by the participants or a belfire to sacrifice our flower crowns to?

 

Perhaps a walking meditation is appropriate? In past rituals, we've used both a spiral and a labyrinth as devices for mindfullness. I could incorporate flowers into the meditation.


I once did an elaborate ritual involving phases of life. We built altars to youth, to the warrior within, to the nurturer within, to the wise elder and to the transcended spirit. I am considering this ritual if enough people are interested. This is fun and comtemplative at the same time. It had lots of music, too!


Once I get to a decision, I will blog it.


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