The power of scent

A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds
A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds

Have you ever had the experience where a scent wafts by and you are instantly transported back to an experience that you had when you were younger? The scent of mangoes brings me back to time on the beach, eating thin-skinned mangoes and having the juice drip down my arms – it’s a time of peace and presence for me. Sweet cigar tobacoo reminds me of sitting with my Grandfather watching TV or talking.

We can use these associations in our every day lives. Sage, frankensinse, dragonsblood, myrrh – all these scents bring back the experience of sacred space. So I can use them by carrying around a bit of perfume, hydrosol or oil to smell to put me back in the sacred mindset. Are there scents that are paritcularly calming for you? Carry those around to help you keep an even keel in times of stress.

Little bits of magic that you can bring into your lives every day.

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Experiencing Energy

You can feel the energy coming off of these Redwood Trees
You can feel the energy coming off of these Redwood Trees

You’ll often find people describing the way they “see” energy. There are the aura photos that are supposed to show the energy around someone, and I do know some individuals who describe energy in visual terms.

Not me though. I feel it. I know that there are at least some other people who experience energy through non-visual senses, but I don’t know how many. Certainly, the common descriptives are visual. When I was first learning what it was that I was experiencing, I found it odd that I didn’t use visual cues for energy because I tend to be very visual in trance work.

I feel energy, I don’t see it. The space that the energy is in may feel dense, or light, or spiky or like it’s pushing back on me. It could feel warm or cold, dry or wet, hard or soft or springy. And sometimes it just gives me goosebumps. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to these feelings and have personal translations for how to describe that energy to other people. I can “see” it if I focus now – but it’s more about being able to interpret the sensations that I’m actually getting into a visual mode (although it’s more about “energy here” than any definition of the energy by sight). I think that it’s more that I can visualize the sensations that I’m feeling rather than something that I actually see.

If you don’t see energy visually, the first step is to understand what you are sensing. Is it a smell? Or a taste? Or a touch? Or just a feeling that you have? Understand how those sensations make you feel. For example, there’s a range of temperatures of energy that feel “normal” to me, but too cold or too hot, and I know that something is wrong. Experiment, learn the sensations and come to understand them. If you have people to talk with about energy work, use the vocabulary for the sensations that you’re getting – don’t try to map it onto the visual cues yet. See how other people describe their sensations from different types of energy.

Experiment, experience, and see what you can come up with.

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Pagan Hotel-ing

Many times, my job requires me to travel, and that means hotels.  I currently do a (mostly) daily practice, and this becomes a lot more challenging when I’m in a hotel. I don’t have access to my altar, or my stash of offerings, or my space. I usually can’t light a candle or incense and am limited by the considerations of whatever space the hotel has.

Portable Altar
Portable Altar

I have a traveling altar that I bring with me – it’s small enough to be stored in a Korean rice bowl that has a lid. I usually put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and leave it there for the whole time – unless I’m there for more than a week and then I’d like clean sheets and towels – so I don’t have to worry about maids disturbing my altar.

My offerings and practice change too. Instead of making physical offerings, I will usually brew a cup of tea and share it with the Kindreds.  Sometimes I bring tea bags with me, and sometimes I will use the tea that is in the hotel. Because I don’t leverage the maid service, I usually end up having to buy some tea if I didn’t bring some. My choice of tea is because I’m not a fan of coffee.  Feel free to use your beverage of choice!

So, I brew a cup of tea and share it between 2 cups or mugs – whatever the hotel provides. The Kindreds’ cup gets placed next to my little portable altar as I say “Hail to the Kindreds” or something similar. I take my cup and stand by the window and connect with the city or space I’m in. I try to be present in the moment, feeling the energy of the city and of the hotel. I’ll usually also say a prayer, sometimes it’s pre-scripted, but often it’s ad-hoc.

If for some reason you can’t have an altar out – you’re sharing a room with someone who wouldn’t understand, you can still spend some time in the mornings in quiet contemplation of the world around you as you enjoy your cup of tea.

So if you’re ever stuck away from home, maybe this little ritual can help you stay connected.

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Counting up, or how I build habits

PianoI’ve been re-learning how to play the piano since November. I previously stopped playing when I was 12 or so, and it’s fascinating how much I remember. As part of learning a musical instrument, practice is involved.

For a few months, I would set a timer for a certain amount of time and try to practice that much. I found that I would begin to resent that timer and would avoid practice because I didn’t want to deal with the timer counting down. Recently, I started counting up. I started using a stopwatch app instead of the timer.

Now, instead of struggling to practice for enough time, I find that I’m happy to practice and see how much time it takes. Each individual practice isn’t as long, but I practice much more often, and I enjoy the practice more.

This made me think about how I build other habits. Maybe, if instead of going for devotional work 5 times a week, I see how many times I can do devotional work … don’t aim for a number, see how high the number can get. Maybe it’ll start a streak!

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Wizarding up your world

Recently, I journeyed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter series since the first book came out. We’ve read all the books and watched all the movies – more than a few times!

It was a lot of fun. We got wands, tried out a few of the spells, consumed much frozen butterbeer, and generally enjoyed immersing ourselves in a fantasy world for a couple of days. I got a break from the world of work, and instead just had fun for a few days.

Aside from giving me a break from the stress of work, the immersing me in an alternate world of magic and mystery. The time away helped to bring back my sense of wonder.

We so often get tied down in the mundane realities of work that we forget to stop and look around .. to really connect to the world. We forget that there is magic in life. Not the fireball and lightning bolt type of magic, but the subtle, shifting modern magic. This is the magic that we can tap into, the magic of connection and creation.

This is the relationship that is critical that we retain, and work to maintain. This relationship to connection, to creation, to each other, and the world at large.

If you are lost in the minutia of daily living, take some time to read a book, immerse yourself in a bit of fantasy, and remember that magic is alive!

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It’s about the challenge

So it looks like I’m done with work travel for a little bit .. at least for the insane amounts of travel that I’ve been doing lately (4 weeks of travel in the last 6 weeks).

To celebrate the “Yay I’m home” I’m going to attempt a couple of challenges.  I noticed these challenges this weekend and they happen to go along with what I was planning on doing *anyway* so hopefully these challenges will help me to get a bit of motivation 🙂

Back to School Pagan Reading Challenge

I’ve got a bunch of books that are on my “list of stuff to read!” so I’m going to use this challenge to help out with that. I’m not sure I can get through more than one book as we do have a “big thing” going on at work this week, but I’m going to try to finish one book! My book of choice is The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton

Fall into Fitness Challenge

After all the travel and not paying attention to what I’m eating, I’m at my highest weight in a long time .. so time to do something about that! In the Fall into Fitness Challenge, we are challenged to have goals for each of the elements.
My goals are:

  • Earth: Lose weight!  Get back down to my usual weight (not going to mention it here =P )
  • Air: Breathe!  Find a way through exercise or medicine to make my sinuses behave better
  • Fire: Exercise, move!  Do something significant for exercise (more than just strolling down the street) at least twice a week!
  • Water: Drink more water!  At least 3 of my 24oz water bottles a day
  • Spirit: Daily practice!  Do a least one round of sun salutations during my daily practice 5x a week
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Ostara 2012

My first ADF ritual that I’ve created.

The following rituals were used for inspiration:

  • http://www.adf.org/rituals/norse/gleichennacht/shunity.html
  • http://www.adf.org/rituals/norse/gleichennacht/gleichennacht.html

Spring Equinox 2012

Protogrove of the Valley Oak

 

[Initiation & Purification]

Folk process to Nemeton singing “Come we Now as a People” (words & music by Ian Corrigan) as participants are purified with smoke and water.

Come we now as a people?To gather at the sacred well.?Come we now as a people?Together in the warmth and the light of the flame.

Sacrificer: Let us pray with a good fire as our Ancestors did before us.

Meditation.

[Honor the Earth Mother]

D1: Nerthus, earthmother, mother of blessed Frey and Freya, join with us this day as you awaken from your long winter’s nap. (offering of eggs and grain)

The folk kneel and kiss the Earth. All stand and sing.

Earth Mother, we honor your body
Earth Mother, we honor your bones
Earth Mother, we sing to your spirit
Earth Mother, we sing to your stones

(Author unknown)

D1: Nerthus, accept our sacrifice

[Statement of Purpose]

D1 recites the historical precedent:

We come together on the Equinox to honor Eostre. The Venerable Bede tells us that the upcoming month was called, by our Anglo-Saxon Ancestors, Eostrmonath and that offerings, sacrifices, processionals, and rituals were held for Eostre in that month. Her name is connected to the word for East—She comes to us in the Dawn, She comes to us as the Dawn. She is the rising light, She is the rising life. Light and dark today are balanced, but soon the light will lengthen and hold sway. Let us keep the rites of our Ancestors! Hail Eostre!

Folk: Hail Eostre!

The Bard offers prayers for the Inspiration of the Folk. (offering of eggs)

Bard: Listen to the music of the universe, the music of Saga and draw inspiration into your hearts.

The Bard will invoke Saga:

Saga… All hear the ancient one come…?Saga… Help us see the harvest…?Saga… Guide us to the table…?Saga…?Sing us tales of wonder?Remind us that we are able?To drain the cup yet drink again?Golden seer of eternal light?Fire us with your beloved presence?Your song is our own… Saga

D2: A cup of ale is poured, taken from the Nemeton: (offering of ale)

Dark and twisted, wights unhallowed-you who dwell beyond our stead; who look with malice and with spite upon the work we do. You walk ways shunned by us and yet we call you kin, to selfishness and thoughtlessness and all those parts of man that are less noble and are small and keep us in the dark. To you we make this offering, and at the same time set aside our thoughtlessness and our distractions for the duration of this rite.

[Creating the Cosmos]

The Folk sing the Portal Song as the Sacrificer makes the appropriate offerings.

 

D1: The fire, the well, the sacred tree,

Folk: Flame, flow and grow in me!

D1: In land, sea and sky

Folk: Below and on high!

D1: Thus is the sacred grove claimed and hallowed.

Folk: So be it!

D1: By the cleaning of water and fire let all ill turn away from me and mine. 

[Open the Gates]

Warrior offers ale to the Gatekeeper:

D1: Warder of Asgard, Heimdall, we hail you! Keen-eared, sharp-eyed, biding of Bifrost to you we call! Son of nine mothers, by Fire and by Water watch and ward us as we keep the Old Ways. Aid us now, Bridge-Ward, hold open the Gates! Carry our calling to the halls of the Aesir! By nine flames shining, by waters flowing, by Heimdall’s magic, may the Gates be open!

Folk chant as the gates are opened

Open the Gates!?Open the Gates!?Open the Gates!

D1: Let the Gates be open!

[Invite the Three Kindred & Key Offerings]

D1: Draw the strength of nature as we call the nature spirits.

D2: Nature spirits, wondrous wights, we invite you to join with us this day. Hallow these waters. Share with us lore and blessings.

D1: Remember the wisdom of our past kin as we call them.

D3: People of eld, honored dead, our kindred, we invite you to join with us today. Hallow these waters. Share with us lore and blessings.

D1: Feel the protections of the gods as we call them.

D4: Patrons, matrons, Shining Ones we invite you to join with us this high day. Hallow these waters. Share with us lore and blessings.

D1 pours the Blot to Eostre on behalf of the Folk.

[Omen]

Seer now takes the omen

[Prayer of Sacrifice]

D1: We gather this day to honor Eostre. Just as our Ancestors honored you, so do we turn to you, bringer of life, bringer of fertility to strengthen and renew our community (offers flowers to fire). As memebrs of the Folk of Ar nDraiocht Fein, we honr the unity and the diversity of our community. We are united in kinship with the Spirits of the Earth, with the Ancestors, with the Shining Ones, and we are united in service to all who likewise seek to honor the Kindreds. Eostre, we turn to you to bless the renewed commitment to our community, to its leaders, its fellowships, its members worshipping as individuals and all of our Brothers and Sister of the Pagan Paths. 

D1: For those in our community who honor the Kindreds as individuals and as families; for our fellowship with all who honor the Kindreds, whatever their path—we ask the blessing of Eostre. So May It Be!

D2: Accept our sacrifice in behalf of our fellowships (offers ale to cauldron).

[Calling/Hallowing/Affirming the Blessings]

D1 raises the cup:

D2: Of what does the Earth Mother give that we may know of the continual flow and renewal of life?

Folk: The Waters of Life.

D2: And from whence do these waters flow?

Folk: From the bosom of the Earth Mother. The ever-changing All Mother.

D2: And how do we honor this gift that causes life?

Folk: By partaking of the Waters of Life.

D2: Has the Earth Mother given forth of her bounty?

Folk: She has!

D1 takes the cups saying: Nerthus, we have praised you, hallow these waters and give to us of your power and inspiration and vitality. Behold the Waters of Life!

Folk: Behold the Waters of Life!

< Share the waters of life >

[Working]

D1: This is the time of new beginnings, and the start of new life and new endevors.  We have shared the waters of life with each other and with the gods, let us now share with each other what new beginnings we look forward to this year.

Please come forward, take an egg, and share with us something that you are looking forward to this year.

< each person should say something that they are looking forward to in the year and takes a chocolate egg. >

With these eggs, may we share the blessings of the season and the hope of a new season of growth.

< everyone eat their eggs >

[Thanking the Beings]

D1: The gods have blessed us. With joy in our hearts, let us return to the realm of mortals to do both their will and ours. Every time we invoke them, they become stronger and more alert to the needs of the folk . But now comes the time when we must prepare to depart. So let us give thanks to those whom we have invited here.

D2: Eostre, we thank you?Shining Ones, we thank you?Ancestors, we thank you?Nature Spirits, we thank you?Heimdall, we thank you

[Close the Gates]

Folk chant as the gates are closed

Close the Gates!?Close the Gates!?Close the Gates!

D1: By the keeper of the gates and by our magic we end what we began. Let the fire be flame and the well be water and the ways between be shut. Let the gates be closed.

Folk: Let the gates be closed.

[Thank the Earth Mother]

D1: Nerthus, earthmother, we thank you for supporting us today in our celebration of new beginnings.  Support us now, as we walk in virtue.

[Close the Rite]

D1: We have done as our ancestors did and as our children will do and the Gods have answered! Let us go out into the world secure in the knowledge that our sacrifices have pleased the gods and that we go forth under their protection. This ritual is at a close.

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“A” Pagan Blog Project

Over on One Witch’s Way, Rowan has started up the Pagan Blog Project where bloggers are prompted to post on a topic every Friday. The topics are defined by the letters of the alphabet, so this week we start with “A”.

I’d like to start of the year with a post on Altars.  I’ve already talked about setting up your own Sacred Space, so I’d like to share some of the altars that I’ve created over the last few years. Altars are very personal things and each altar will be different .. even when it’s the same person making the altar!

In each case I have collected items that are of importance to me at the time that I built the altar.  Candles tend to appear on all my altars, as does a number of crystals and some celebration of greenery.

Don’t be afraid to use items for a different purpose than they were created.  On the Druidic altar (above left) I use an oil diffuser as a bowl to hold water for my rites.  The little bowl sits on a box with celtic knotwork in it and it works for me 🙂  I also have a little silk and plastic tree to celebrate the World Tree, and a candle from the Sacred Mists Shoppe represents Fire.  The other items on the altar are a rock crystal candle holder to help set the mood, a bit of amber for Freya, and a beautiful piece of quarts for scrying.

The Wiccan altar (above right) has a few similar items .. a candle from Sacred Mists, the same oil-difuser-turned-bowl, silk flowers and leaves, a Sacred Mists Sigil and a backdrop of a green man face that I created and decorated with feathers.

Both altars were created by me in the last couple years, but they each have a different focus.

You can also make altars for specific purposes.  Above is my Wiccan Yule Altar and my little office altar.

The Wiccan Yule altar (above left) has an incense burner for air, a pentagram and my green man for earth, candles for fire, and a bowl for water.  The bowl didn’t make it into the picture.  I’ve also added poinsettia that I associate with this season, and my Holly King tree topper that I was thrilled to find one year.

The office altar has a collection of items that represent the different elements that I can safely have in my office without breaking any rules or attracting un-due notice.  The blue thing on top is a little flute, the ruby is for fire, the adventurine ball is for Earth and the bowl is for water.  There is also a copper pendulum in there for spirit.

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Yule Magic

Welcome to the members of the Yule Magic Blog Tour!

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, or someone new but don’t know about the Yule Magic Blog Tour, then please, take a tour through the blogs of Magic!

Please enjoy the party!  Have a glass of wassail, pull up a chair by the fire and enjoy the warmth of the burning yule log!

As a yule gift to you, please enjoy this special eCard!  Just click on the image to download a full sized copy and spread a little Yule Joy!

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