Let’s Talk About Lammas

Lughnassadh/Lammas is probably one of my favorite holidays.  Well, they’re all favorites.  But this particular upcoming holiday has warm and fuzzy feelings associated with it.

Lammas is the height of summer.  A lot of times here in upstate New York, the last sabbat, Litha, gets rained out.  Or its freezing.  But this holiday – it usually actually feels like summer.

Lammas is all about Passion.  Passion for what you love and passion to try new things.  To me, it is about being and becoming yourself in the deepest possible ways.  It is about remembering to enjoy this life that you’re given.

It’s also the bread festival, and one of the festivals which can mark the death of the God, depending on which tradition you follow with.

In the tradition of Jesus(or perhaps, the other way around) – Lugh the sun god of the Celts gives his life too maintain life and sunlight on the earth.  Beyond that, in Wiccan and a lot of earth and goddess centered traditions, the Goddess is growing more and more pregnant.  At Yule, she will give birth, thereby completing the cycle of birth/death/rebirth.

Practically, it is the bread festival.  The wheat is harvested – if you hadn’t noticed – and bread is made and celebrated, signalling the first harvest.  For those of you that follow along a goal setting path, this is the first harvest – that time to harvest your physical gifts which you have worked so hard for.

So how do we celebrate?  For those of us completely in the closet – making your own bread(there is yeastless bread and easy-to-make bread for those inept in a kitchen, like myself) and maybe your own mead(alcoholic or non-alcoholic) are quiet ways to note the passing.

Incorporating those actions into ritual and dance, and perhaps taking time to drive down some country roads are other, equally respectable ways to celebrate the passing of this particular holiday.

However you celebrate on August 1st, may it be a safe and happy holiday.

Blessed Be!

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Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time

Today? I’m bicycling from Syracuse, NY, to Fort Stanwix in Rome, NY.

Number 4: Sometimes, Interruptions Are The Will Of The Gods

You lock the door, you turn off the phone’s ringer, you tell everyone that you will be out for the night, or that you’re sick and shouldn’t be disturbed. You’re in your ritual room, you’re skyclad, you’re casting, and suddenly, you’re overcome by a fit of sneezing and a case of violent diarrhea.

You make your partner promise to keep the kids out of the room so you can do some meditation. You close the windows, turn on your soft music, close your eyes. A few minutes go by and you finally begin to sink into your meditation, when suddenly your neighbors’ children begin practicing with their metal band.

Let’s face it – the actually perfect places are few and far between. The only time you may even have a chance of that is by being alone in the middle of nowhere on property that is yours. And even then, a wild boar may come racing through the middle of your circle, followed closely by a hunter decked out in camo, wondering what he just stumbled onto as you race for your robe.

But then again, what would life be without all of those little interruptions? That’s right. No fun.

Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Three of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Five of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Six of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Seven of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time

Welcome to my first day away! Here is number nine.

The Only Difference Between Skyclad and Not, Is What Burns First

Well, that one is pretty much…we’ve all been there. You knock over a candle or bring that incense a little too close to your skin, and suddenly you’re cursing the Charge of the Goddess, which boldly states that to be free, we must be skyclad in our rites.

For those visiting, I’d like to explain a bit. “Skyclad” is the witch-word for naked as the day you were born. We ideally practice skyclad. This is in part based on Gerald Gardner’s exclamation in Witchcraft Today that the energy from our rites functions better when it exudes off of our skin, instead of being trapped underneath clothes. A lot of public pagan rites tend to favor medieval dress, probably because it’s nice looking, obscure enough, and makes us feel pretty.

Skyclad is surprisingly hard to achieve when you’re a city witch, or not quite independent – in college, or living with other people who don’t share your views (parents, sexual partner, etc). The room you’re occupying always has a chance to be knocked upon, even if you tell them you’re trying to sleep, and nothing disturbs a good, bare ass naked meditation like cheering from the next room as the Yankees hit another home run.

But even beyond that, when a skyclad ritual is headed towards successful, there are infinite more dangers to be aware of. The dresser that sits behind you has corners that are a lot more painful on your bare skin than they are behind a padding of denim. And most importantly? The candles. I’ve usually got at least 7 going – three on the altar, and one in each direction. That’s a lot of heat, and in a small room, that’s a lot of chance for hair or skin to get caught on fire. Even hot wax can hit sensitive bits of your body, or burning ash from incense.

Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Three of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Five of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Six of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Seven of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Concepts of Home

First off, I apologize for leaving the last post at the top for so long.  I got involved in life, and its been putting me through a grinder as of late.  The stress is hitting me a tiny bit – only this morning, mind you – as I face a meeting with my professor that will either make or break our relationship.  No worries 🙂

So, this morning is the first time I’ve felt homesick, ish, the entire time I’ve been here in sunny Florida.  I think part of it is the weather – it has to be in the fifties here, and its reminding me of the spring at home.  Late spring, but spring.  And then I get to thinking.  Summer is the only time – that height of summer – where we don’t say goodbye.  In the spring there is high school or college graduation, in the autumn there is the start of the school year or college…Christmas is all about seeing those people you see once a year (my family celebrates Christmas culturally, not religiously) – and Easter is much the same.  So, the weather I’ve been feeling up until this point – summer – has not caused me to reflect at all on being away from home.

The other part of it is my dreams.  I had one of those dreams where you wake up and think you’re somewhere else – I thought I was home.  Then I realized I wasn’t.

But what is home, exactly?  This is a question which has plagued me most of my life.  I had a wonderful childhood, wonderful school, wonderful everything.  I’ve had a stable family and home all of my life.  But as a college student, I struggle with the concept of home.  When I am at college, I consider the place where my parents live “home” – but I refer to college as “home” when I am at the place where my parents live.  I feel most at peace and at home in the midst of a ritual or a moment of awareness where I realize that the Gods, the Ancestors – they’re all near.

If you don’t have a religion or a path that makes you feel at home – you should find one.  The feeling of being there – at peace – nirvana – is something most unconsciously strive for, for most of their lives.

I am a bit homesick, yes.  Homesick for my dogs and my cats, perhaps my parents (but I do talk to them) – for the northern woods and the northern snow, and the sights and the wind and the water.  But, it too shall pass 😉

Fetish, Gardner, and the Scourge

For some reason, I feel driven to write about sex – well, not sex.  Fetishes.  Fetishes are those feelings…those needs that you have, perhaps from a prepubescent age, that are sexual, but not related to a directly sexual act.  Depending on the type of fetish, it may become a lifestyle.

This post is being created because I people watch, and often, fetishes are the butt of everyone’s sexual jokes.  “I don’t do that” someone will say haughtily, when I know of an instance where someone engages in that behavior because they can’t help it.  But, those with fetishes and alternative desires are not diseased.  The engaging in the behavior is a choice.  They are not weak for having strange urges.  And that discrimination, less recognized than that against homosexuals, but no less hurtful – upsets me.

Because fetishes are of interest to me, I have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge over the years – as any exploratory teen would attest to.  Within that knowledge, I have found many ‘case studies’ of those people who, as mentioned before, had these urges from a prepubescent stage of their life, before they knew what “sex” was.  Are fetishes genetic?  Do they run through families or the father or the mother?  What spawns fetishes, if they’re not genetic, but present in prepubescent stages?  People with fetishes can’t *all* have screwed up childhoods or abuse stories.  Most don’t.

And those who have fetishes are not driven to those, and kept beyond their abilities to use their brains.  By this, I mean that, people with fetishes are intelligent!   Just because something drives them, doesn’t mean it controls them.  They can even go so far as to discuss their lifestyles with dignity and a fair amount of contemplation.

And this brings me to my next point.  The “Sacrifice” within a Gardnerian ritual involves the scourge.  You scourge the initiate as their test, and the act, itself, is very ritualized.  The act, though perhaps not intended to deal a massive amount of pain, is certainly not intended to deal pleasure.

How then, are those who follow the Gardnerian traditions expected to participate within the rituals, if they possess any sort of domination/submission, spanking, whipping, or other masochistic fetish?  For men, how are they supposed to kneel, skyclad, and receive their strokes without reacting to it as they have in the same instance, with their partner wielding a similar instrument?  How are women supposed to live out their ‘darkest’ fantasy of being whipped, while maintaining proper etiquette within the circle?

Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused in a circle that was not cast for sex or the Great Rite?  Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused during the scourging process?  How about the binding?

We value sex as pleasure, yet it has its place, too.  Should there be an alternate ritual process for those who enjoy the beating?  Or are we made – regardless of fetish – somewhere deep inside, to all get a little aroused from the scourging?  Was Gardner, from whom we receive the scourging rituals, himself a sadist or a masochist?

Does this bring into question the integrity of the rituals at hand?

I will try to tackle these questions at a better time than 2 o’clock in the morning; one by one.  Any comments?

Sacrifice, Blood, and Everything In Between

Using WordPress’s amazing stats features, I’ve been noticing that a lot of people have been coming to my site with search terms like “blood” and “sacrifice” along with some derivative of paganism.  I’ve decided to address the issue, perhaps to generate a little traffic, but also to explore the topic.  I realize that I spoke of the topic before.
If you’re not Wiccan, and perhaps are thinking about heading along the path, and you see this post and get kind of scared, you can put that fear to rest.  In one of our three pieces of classic literature, the Charge of the Goddess, our good lady tells us,

Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold: I am the Mother of All Living, and My Love is poured out upon the Earth.

Yes, that’s right.  She is the Mother.  She doesn’t need anything from us except our existence.  She asks for nothing, and gives all in return.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t work like that.

With any decision, any action, there is always a sacrifice.  The way I was taught with tarot was a 10 card spread.  And the four cards outside of the six card cross were: Overview of the situation, Action required, Sacrifice required, New Outcome.

As a woman, my monthly blood flow is a sacrifice representative of our lady – if we just bleed for seven days, experience bloating and cramping…for maybe 10 or 12 measely children in the future – imagine what our Lady must go through!

Continuing on, with any spell or ritual where you set out specifically to accomplish something, there is a sacrifice.  No, it is not, most of the time, as romantic as a blood sacrifice – sometimes its time, or energy, or creating something, or destroying something.

But, sacrificing your own blood is a serious endeavor, and although not necessary by any means, is often a heavily symbolic gesture loaded with perhaps, enough power, to achieve your goal.  I’m assuming that, when blood is used, it is most often used as a way of binding yourself to something.  To another, to a concept, to an oath or promise, to an organization.  The theory behind blood oaths is that, we don’t break them.  Its sympathetic magic, representative of the idea that if we break this oath, this binding, we will die, or bleed, or something bad will happen.  Our life force is inherently tied into this act, this decision, this magic.

Now the question is  – should I, as a member of the ‘softer gender’, a woman, ever feel the need to take a blood oath?  After all, I can Draw Down The Moon.  Why should I, as an incarnate of our good lady, representative of the Goddess and life-giver in ritual, one who can speak with the power of the lady on a full moon or in my cycles – use my own blood as a binding?  I provide a blood sacrifice once a month.  A sacrifice to the existence of man, be what it may.  I, and my mother before I, and her mother before her, all providing for the sanctity of life.

I am not being sexist or even feminist by any means.  I am merely recognizing the roles that we must play in the cycles of life.  There are those who fall out of these roles – and that is fine, has happened for centuries, no problems – those who serve as go-betweens between the sexes – but in the end, in our religion, the woman is the embodiment of life, and man, her consort, not lesser or greater, but equal, and different.

Of course, other sacrifices can be just as symbolic.  In the end, it is not necessarily the sacrifice you make that is the catalyst – it is the preparation.  It is the action that you take after the sacrifice – your endeavors to accomplish your goal, complete your spell, follow through with your rituals – that will determine how successful you are.   The sacrifices, it seems, are for us to remind ourselves that something is important to us.  Always a good thing.
So, I’ve touched on blood oaths and sacrifice, and hope that will satisfy my Google browsers.   For the rest of you, I hope you keep coming back – I’ll probably be hitting some interesting topics with animals and exercise, as those seem to be the two things I’m focusing on at present.

Blessed Be!

Drinking and Drugs within Wicca

Interesting topic, right? I know in other religions, consumption of alcohol is generally frowned upon unless it’s drinking the blood of a dead person(no offense meant towards my wording to Christian readers).

Well, in ours, its okay! Sort of. We are told to drink wine or mead for our rituals, with the gods to honor them. We offer them the first and best of our fare, and then merrily go about our ritual.

We are also told as a general rule, to obey the laws of the land in which we live. This of course means that I, as under the age of twenty one, should not be consuming alcohol yet.

Although I’ve consumed alcohol in ritual once, I’d have to say that for the most part, I don’t drink at all outside of the circle – I don’t like the taste, and I don’t like not being in control of my own body and thoughts. But it is allowed. I mean, Dionysus/Bacchus, depending on your choice of pantheon is the god of wine and grapes and the frenzy.

You have to remember, that by most accounts, those who are healers and walk the path of a witch are not high class, stick-up-the-butt sort of people. They come from small towns, in history, in small villages, and lived and died there. At most they were upper middle class.

Wicca is a path of celebration and knowledge, not repentance. As long as you don’t drink in excess, and behave responsibly or relatively so (honor your path and your ancestors and your oaths) while drinking, there is no reason at all to feel guilty.

Some of us choose not to drink. Choosing not to drink does not necessarily make me a stronger person. I already stated my reasons for not consuming alcohol – I don’t like the taste, and I don’t like not being in control. If offered alcohol within ceremony, I would be much more willing to take it.

The general category of drugs is similar. We are told to obey the laws of the land. Yet, shamans, and those of the pagan sort from all walks of life have engaged in recreational and hard core drug use, for both appropriate and inappropriate reasons.

As the United States outlaws the use of marijuana, ecstasy, crack, mushrooms, belladonna and other hallucinogenic drugs, I will not be using them anytime soon. But, I wouldn’t necessarily look down on someone who, in a ritual context, took one of the above drugs to aid in vision questing. As long as it is not drug abuse, they understand the risks, and the occurrences are few and far between, I believe it is appropriate.

Tobacco, I have a serious issue with, that is just now beginning to lessen. Both of my parents smoke, and I despise anything to do with smoking. A few close friends smoke, and I am forever telling them to quit. And let’s face it, kissing a smoker tastes nasty.

However, my high priest smokes. When yelling at him for smoking, he responds to me that because he is Native American, he is worshiping the earth and receiving its gifts each time he smokes.

He worships the earth a lot.

If you’re addicted to the nicotine in any form of tobacco, remember: tar, lung cancer, emphysema, and death come along with it.

I guess that brings me to my final point. This entire time, we have been skirting around the edges of a very important concept: Personal Accountability. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you understand the risks and accept the consequences for your actions.

“An’ it harm none, do what ye will” applies to the self, too.