Committing to a Better Me

Happy Autumn Equinox everyone.

I’ve taken a bit of a forced break for the last week and it’s put me behind on both the writing and blogging 101 courses. I’m going to be playing catch up this week on all of those.

Going ‘radio silent’ on my media and blogging gave me much-needed time to reconnect to those most important to me. It’s far to easy to get caught up in the moment and bend when one should not. And I have learned that I truly know better and ignoring myself has massive consequences but honestly it’s always been for the best.

So this day, one of my Most Holy of Days I reflect on what has been and what is past as I prepare and lay up stocks for the future. Autumn is a season of gathering the plenty of Summer as I look forward to the quiet contemplation of Winter.

I have gathered many lessons this Summer. I have much to contemplate and much more to learn. The biggest lesson is that I am loved, by family and friends and myself.

This is also the season of pruning for me. And I am pruning away the deadwood in my life and in myself. I am pruning away thoughts that lead me to places I should not go. I am pruning way those things that do not enrich my life. I am pruning hard, cutting out all the bad, negativity energy that has filled my life. I am opening myself up so come Spring I have room to grow once more.

I am burning away all that served me no good. From those ashes, good will come and I will be become more than I am, that I was. I am in the process of being restored to health.

Later tonight I am going to hold a personal ritual. I am going to write down all the things I am burning away from my soul and my life. I am going to write down all the phrases that filter in and out of my head that serve me no good and I am going to burn those scraps of paper. And I am going to be thankful for the pruning.

May your Mabon be one of Joy!

Dude, Where’s My Altar?

You won’t find any pictures of the various altars I’ve had over the years here. Sorry. It’s not because I feel that it’s too private, it’s not. I’ve only once taken a picture of my altar and that was back when I was starting daily practice. I remember taking the picture for sharing on the web, so I know it’s out there somewhere floating in cyberspace as bits of data freezing that moment in time. Over the years I’ve become more relaxed about keeping an altar; partly from necessity and partly from intentional laziness.

I’ve moved many times in the years that I’ve been Pagan. And I found that packing up what became an essential focus in my life very depressing. Too often it would be months before I would see those cherished items again. I become too attached to my altar.  My practice vanished the moment it was packed away.

I felt that I had packed up my heart with it and that hurt. I knew that my practice and faith wasn’t bound in physical items, that it was what is in my heart that matters most. Teaching that to my heart was not easy.

I’ve been in a stable place for the last five or six years now and I still don’t have an altar set-up. I now have an altar box that houses my prized possessions and it’s fairly portable as well. I still set up a full altar when the need arises but mostly it’s packed away. My children are still young and this place is too small to devote the amount of space I’d prefer to keeping my altar out in the open.

Some things I don’t want to deal with; “No running with the athame in the house.” or “No, spit that out! Charcoal is not for eating. ”  Yes, I would have to say these things to my children. Going out in the garden has already taught me this.  How does mulch look yummy? That’s not how I want them to commune with an Earth Goddess. Perhaps when they are older and in more control of their impulses, I’ll start again if the spirit moves me.

But I’ve learned a lot being an altar-less Pagan. The Divine isn’t sitting somewhere I can see, reminding me everyday where my thoughts need to be. I had to double my efforts at first to stay on that spiritual level. Then I’ve found the Divine lurking in every corner of the house and then outside and down the road and in friends homes. The Divine is everywhere.  Somehow I had misplaced that little fact when I set up my altar. My mind knew it but my heart had not learned it.

I’m learning the value of letting go. I’m possessive naturally and this is a bit of shadow work that still needs attending. When I become attached it’s hard to undo it without abandoning the whole; no matter what it is. (grins) Got to love early childhood traumas.

I’m learning my practice isn’t dependent on an altar at all. When and where and how I choose to worship and honor the Divine does not need to follow a set formula. I move with the spirit when it calls me. I have the freedom of being a solitary, of being an eclectic   Hellenic Pagan. I am free to accept the guidance of the Divine without trying to shove Their direction in square holes because I’m too rigid. One Divine smack-down is enough in one lifetime, thank you very much.

I believe. I pray. I worship. I give thanks. Some days I work a little magic. Some days I don’t. I do my best to live right, to do right, to find meaning every day. I see the Divine everywhere. The whole world has become my altar.

Inspired by: A is for AltarPagan Blog Prompts & Pagan Blog Project 2013

Tigger’s Full Moon Ritual, Grove of the Hundred Acre Wood

Almost every parent knows Tigger and Poo and the life lessons they teach. The topic of how Winnie the Poo came up recently and I remembered this gem I received this in an email years ago. I don’t know who wrote it so if you do, please let me know. Enjoy.

Under the bright full moon, in the grove at the center of the Hundred Acre Wood, the celebrants come together. Pooh, as summoner, bids them to enter into the sacred pace.     One by one, they file in and take their places around the fire. And  they wait, and wait and wait, and wait.

“Oh Bother!” says Pooh.
“Our High Priest is not here. However can we hold our ritual tonight?”

And they wait some more.

Then they hear a crash, and a crash and a crash and a crash, and out of the brush explodes the High Priest.

“Wooohooohooohooo! !! Never fear! The night is clear, and Tigger’s here! Tiggers run on Pagan Standard time you know! Now let the ritual  begin!!!”

He looks to his left, and takes rabbits hand. “Hand to hand this  circle is cast” Rabbit turns to his left, to Owl. “Hand to hand, this circle is cast” Owl turns, and reaches down to Piglet. “Ahem. Now from hand to hand, in a most wonderous way, a way that has a history that stretches back into  the dawn of time, to when …”     (series of coughs from the group)    “Oh yes. To you Piglet, hand to hand the circle is cast”.     Piglet turns to Eyore. “Hand to…uh….er. ..em.”     Eyore: “I don’t have any hands. I guesss I’m messing things up once again” he pouts     Piglet, tho he is a little fellow, feels up to any challenge. “W w w w w well then, hand to ear the circle is cast my friend”.     And so, on it goes.

“Woohoohoohoo” says Tigger. “The circle is cast, our sacred space is whole. So Mote it Be!! Woohoo!!”     “So Mote it Be” reply the others.  “And now, why don’t we invite the elements to join us in our  celebration tonight? Rabbit?”

Rabbit: Guardians of the North, Element of Earth, wonderful earth  that gives forth carrots, oh beautious, joyous, wonderful carrots, I invite  you to join us in our celebration tonight. Hail, and Welcome”     “Hail and Welcome” repeats the group.

Owl: “Ahem!!!Guardians of the East, Element of Air, the spirit of  our intelligence and wisdom, of which I of course am a prime example, well  read and studious as I am, a font of knowledge as it were, the source for any information you may need, the…”     (coughing from the group once more)     “Ahem, er, yes, Element of Air, we invite you to join us tonight.  Hail and Welcome”.     “Hail and Welcome” repeats the group.

Piglet: “G g g guardians of the South, Element of Fire, I invite you to join us tonight. I know I’m a little Piglet, but I have a b b b big  voice, and an even b b b bigger heart, s s so I know you’ will hear m m m me. H h h h hail and Welcome”    “Hail and Welcome” repeats the group.

Eyore: ” Oh. I guess it’s my turn. Not that anyone would really  listen to me, but it’s my job so I’ll do it. Guardians of the West, Element of Water, I suppose I should ask you to join us tonight. And I’ll probably  get all wet, and have to walk around all night, smelling like wet fur. Oh  well, Hail and Welcome I suppose”.     “Hail and Welccome repeats the group.     “Woohoohoohoo! !! Now, if our sister Kanga can call upon the lady?”

Kanga: “Blessed Lady, Goddess of the moonlight, Mother of us all who keeps us as Joeys in the pouch of her world. Oh, now Roo, you musn’t do that. You musn’t play with the cleansing oil like that.     “But Mama……”     “Now roo, behave. Thank you. Now, Blessed Mother, you know what  children are like, so I’ll just go ahead and invite you to join with us and lend  your spirit to this joyous night. Hail and Welcome”.     “Woohoohoohoo! !!. The circle is cast. The Lady is with us. Aint it  just grand?”

Tigger raises his arms to the sky, and starts to twirl, and starts  to bounce, and twirls and bounces, twirls and bounces, deosil around the circle.     “Woohoohoohoo. The wonderful thing about witches, is witches is wonderful things. They dance, they prance, they clap and sing. They live a life of joy, peace and fun. But, the most wonderful thing about witches is…I AiINT the only one.

The wonderful thing about witches, is witches is wonderful folks. They’re serious when needed, but always quick with jokes. They honor the Lord, they honor the lady. They love to lay in a field and bask in the  sun, or under a tree where it’s shady. But, the most wonderful thing about witches is, I AINT the only one.  The wonderful thing about Witches, is Witches have wonderful souls.  Their hearts will swell, they make folks well, and around campfires, stories  tell. They’re happy, clappy, sometimes sappy, and when they don’t ground  right, they’re often zappy, but the most wonderful thing about Witches is……..I. …AINT.. ..The…..Only…..One. Woohoohoohoohoo.  Blessed Be!”

“Blessed Be” repeats the group.     “Oh, bother” says Pooh. “That is so silly. This is a ritual. I don’t think we’re supposed to be silly, are we?”

“Au contraire my dear Pooh. Woohoohoo!!!  We are willy nilly, and silly, but we are celebrating the joy in our hearts, the zest for life that we have, the energy that we share. We heal our souls with happy fun, we set our spirits free to run, we live the beauty of the moon and sun. We’re  Witches you know. hehehehe. Now, please bring forth the bread, wine and honey so we can complete our blessed night”.

“Oh, Bother says Pooh. “The honey jar seems to be empty. I know  there was some here, when I checked its taste before ritual. Where ever could  it have gone? I guess I’ve ruined the ritual now. Oh bother, Oh whoa”.

“Woohoohoohoo, Christopher Robin is right you know, you really ARE a silly old bear. We’re together, with each other and with the Lady. Honey would be nice I’m sure, but our ritual was good and lovely and pure.  Perhaps next time tho, you could bring two jars? woohoohoohoo! !! Now, take this  cup, and take this bread, and with all being done and said, we are sisters  and brothers, from last to first. May you never hunger, may you never  thirst. Woohoohoohoo! !!”

And so the cup is passed, and the bread to share, and not one thought given to a worldly care.    “Woohooohoohoo! !! And now, let us end our Full Moon Ritual. Kanga?”

Kanga: “Thank you Tigger, and for behaving yourself, thank you Roo”.     “Oh, Mama!!”    Kanga: “Blessed Lady, we thank you for your presence with us tonight, tho like the good Mother you are, you are always with us, at least in our hearts. Go if you must, stay if you will. Hail and Farewell”.    “Hail and Farewell” repeats the group.

Eyore: “Well, Water, I didn’t think you’d come, but I guess it’s nice that you did. Go if you must, and you probably will, stay if you want  to. Hail and Farewell”.     “Hail and Farewell” repeats the group.

Piglet: Element of Fire, I  kn kn knew you would listen to my c c c call. Thank you for c c c coming. Go if you must, stay if you will. Hail and Farewell”.    “Hail and Farewell” repeats the group.

Owl: “Ahem!! Element of Air, I knew that you would come, as I’m wont to know so many things, but I thank you none the less. Go if you must, stay if you will. Hail and Farewell”.    “Hail and Farewell” repeats the group.

Rabbit: “Element of Earth, provider or carrots and cabbages and many great thing, I thank you for coming tonight. Go if you must, stay if you will. Hail and Farewell”.     “Hail and Farewell” repeats the group.

“Woohoohoohoo. Just one more thing to do!! As hand to hand the  circle was cast, or hand to ear, or ear to hand, or from me to you and you to  me, it’s time from hand to hand the circle set free”.

Tigger turns to Pooh. “Hand to hand, the circle is opened”. And so  in widdershins, on it goes.     “Woohoohoohoo, and now we’re thru. Unlike my furniture, and many  other things as well, the circle is open, yet never broken. So Mote It Be!!!”

“So Mote It Be!!!” shouts the group.     Tigger starts to bounce, the others to smile and look about.     “Now, music laughter and dance, this is it, this is your chance.  Tiggers are excellent drummers you know. Wohoohoohoo! !!!”

And the sounds of drumbeats and laughter are heard all thru the  night and all thru the Hundred Acre Wood

CUUP’s Autumn Equinox Ritual.

Last Friday night I attended a CUUP’s ritual for the Autumn Equinox. I had totally missed out on the planning meeting so I had no idea what to expect. First it was re-scheduled due to Hanna and then then my daughter was rushed to the doctors the following Friday so I never made it. Which turned out to be a good thing as this time I got to see the magic without being a part of its creation. It’s a very different POV.

It was a great ritual. A bit Wiccanequess for my taste…casting circle, calling quarters, a little bit of theatrics, fire-fire; yeah all the good stuff. This time the Goddess was the focus. It was as if the Great Goddess came and walked circle praising us and admonished us for the harvest, both of the great table laden with the pot-luck dinner and of the harvest of the soul and our lives. We were praised, encouraged and blessed. It truly was a time of thanksgiving and of reflection.

It was an amazing night. The ritual started off with the traditional smudging of sage and the gifting of harvest gifts which consisted of a necklace of seeds and seed pods. We were led into the circle and sung (as we were able)the chant “She changes everything she touches. And Everything She touches Changes.” It became a very powerful meditative element. The lighting of the sacred fire was spectacular. There was an upright bundle of dried corn stalks in the middle of the fire pit. It went up very fast and died down to embers almost instantly. Afterwards there a good moment of self reflection while holding hands in the Great Circle.

The sky was overcast at the beginning of the ritual and by the time the ritual was over the sky had cleared. We sang, danced and feasted under the stars. I was moved unlike I had ever been moved before. When the Goddess entered the circle it really felt that the Great Lady was there standing before me and talking to all who was there. My response was so strong I had both the chills and the goosebumps.

Even though I had a great time, some things glaringly need more work. One of which was the outdoor pot-luck which was served by candle light and ate picnic style at around 9:30 at night. There wasn’t enough light at all to see what was there so it quickly became a game of mystery dinner. Very unpleasant. I need to bring a flash light from now on.

Even when it was over I didn’t want to leave. I can’t wait to see what the next ritual is going to be like.