Archive for the ‘Pagan Lifestyles’ Category
Mankind has always had a special relationship with the stars. In the modern world we explore them scientifically: searching for the answers to the Big Questions regarding the origins of life and the extent of the wider universe around us. We look up at the stars through veils of ambient electric lights and smog, wishing upon them still. We escape to the countryside to truly see the stars as best we may, watching them in place of the television sets which usually fill our nightly vision.
And in so doing we are continuing a bond man and womankind has had with the stars from the very beginning. For much of the time mankind has walked the earth, we did not know the stars as we know them to be today: huge balls of plasma energy strung out in space billions of light years away. Instead, we held them on high as something else, something magickal. In ancient societies, when the sun went down, there was the vast illuminated landscape of a starry sky lurking above them: mysterious and constant. It was a distinct part of their cultural worldview; its placement in the heavens and its occasional idiosyncrasies explained as part of ancient mythologies and religions. Imagine their wonder looking up at the night sky and imagining it looking right back at them.
And bear in mind, that without electric lights to dim the view, the night sky would have been distinctly brighter and filled with finer textures and gradients of colors and lights. The Milky Way not a slightly filmier band across the sky but a broad avenue of swirling colors stretching across an upside down starscape: a fitting pathway for the gods or divine river among the cosmos.
Shooting stars in particular hold a special place with the cosmic mythologies of most ancient civilizations. For the falling star represents an interaction between man and the divine. It represents something moving from a heavenly cosmic plain to the mortal, earthly world. It was probably with some surprise that upon tracking the falling place of a “star” to earth, they would discover a small crater filled with a glassy rock, which, today of course, we call a meteorite. Many cultures venerated meteor rocks as powerful magickal talisman, sent from the sky gods to the denizens of earth. The ancient Greeks believed that finding one would bring you a year’s worth of good luck and a wish; and it is from them that we have ultimately inherited the idea of wishing upon a star. Native American medicine men have been known to wear them as protective amulets, passing them down through generation after generation of shaman as symbols of their power. And temples throughout the ancient Mediterranean were in possession of meteorites, likewise holding them as sacred objects. Even in the modern world, a meteorite is one of the most venerated objects in contemporary monotheistic religious practices: the Black Stone of the Ka’baa. Believed to have been sent from God to Abraham and then passed down to Mohammad, the Ka’baa stone is technically a relic of all three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and is the centerpiece of the holiest of holy Mosques in Mecca in modern Saudi Arabia, a former temple to the local Moon/Water God.
Falling stars have traditionally had a myriad of metaphysical and spiritual meanings behind them as well.
Stars are, in particular, frequently associated with the idea of the human soul. In the Teutonic mythology of central Europe, it was believed that every person was represented by a star which was attached to the ceiling of the sky by the threads of fate. And when Fate ended your story on earth, she would snip the thread attaching your star and it would fall, presaging your death. In Romania, there is a belief that the stars are candles lit by the gods (and later the saints) in honor of each person’s birth and that the brighter the star the greater the person. The falling star represents the soul’s final journey to the afterlife as it is being blown out and across the sky by the divine candle keepers. In these and other cultures, falling stars and meteor showers were celebrated ~ they honored the ancestors who had come before them, and in particular the newly deceased who were joining the ranks of the highly venerated generations who had come before.
Even in the Middle Ages after the triumph of Christianity, the pagan equation between shooting stars and the movement of souls could not be snuffed out entirely. And so it was vilified; the shooting stars were cast as the souls of evil and impious men being cast out of heaven and down into the bowels of the earth.
Shooting stars have and always will hold a special amazement to those viewing them. For their beauty alone they are worth staying up for. And if you’re ready for the long haul tonight or tomorrow night (August 12th and 13th respectively) and you live in the Northern Hemisphere~ you’re in luck! It’s the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Every year between August 9th and 14th, the Earth bumbles through the trail of rocky and icy debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle: creating one of the most dependable and spectacular arrays of shooting stars on earth. It has, undoubtedly, been witnessed by man for millennia; though the first recorded instance of it did not occur until 36 AD in China; with the first official scientific description of the shower occurring almost 2000 years later in Belgium in 1835.
The Perseid meteor shower is named after its seeming origination in the nightsky from the constellation Perseus, itself named after the Greek hero of the same name. The stars which make up the constellation of Perseus have their own elaborate mythologies. In particular the star Algol; which, due to its variable eclipsing nature and unpredictable level of brightness was known first as the Gorgon’s Head after Perseus’ arch-nemesis the Gorgon Medusa, and then the Demon’s Head until it was simply just the Demon Star or the Ghoul Star (algol= al-ghoul). The shower was also later referred to in a more saintly manner. In medieval times they were called the Tears of St.
Lawrence in consideration of the fact that they would fall around his feast day on August 10th.
So if you can ~ go out late tonight or tomorrow night and watch the Perseids. Watch them and remember all those who have come before you to watch them down through the millennia. Watch them in honor of the souls they were said to represent. Watch them simply for the thrill of watching something so beautiful and cosmic and so beyond the human ken. Make some wishes. Catch one in your mind’s eye and never let it go.
Burke, J.G. 1986. Cosmic Debris: Meteorites in History. University of California Press.
Today I’d like to share my horoscope with you and my thoughts on it afterwards and a little challenge to you that I intend on doing myself.
Aries Daily Horoscope
You might be open to new experiences and meeting new people today, which may make you seem more approachable. Your friendly demeanor could be the result of your desire to expand your circle of friends in order to infuse your social life with fresh energy. Perhaps you can consider finding different ways to meet people today. Joining a club, trying a sport, or taking a class are all ways to increase your social circle. If you notice any anxiety about meeting new people while engaged in one of these activities, take a deep breath and think about all the wonderful qualities you have. You might picture yourself from the other person’s perspective and see how unique and interesting you are. Knowing what you have to offer people may make it easier for you to make contact with others.
Going out on a limb and trying new things is a wonderful way to widen our social network. Unless we take a chance at doing something different, we will never increase our social contacts. It then becomes more difficult to expand our worldview since we stay within the confines of our comfortable social world. Meeting new people means that we engage in discussions and activities that are fresh and exciting and help us grow and evolve. We not only gain alternate perspectives through our new acquaintances, but we also learn more about who we truly are. By opening yourself to new experiences today, your social world will expand and you will uncover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed.
Onward to the challenge that I am undertaking. On facebook I have a very limited set of people I allow on my “friends list” usually people that are a part of Sacred Mists School, a few wonderful customers of the store but otherwise friends and family. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with it all but do OK. I have decided to open myself up on facebook to include more people even when connections to people I am already friends with are not present. I am also interacting more with people when I visit my favorite places locally. While I do hope to be moving West soon I am actively becoming better friends with those around me right now and finding amazing joys in that companionship.
In today’s world of activity and online networking, what can we do to always be true to ourselves while at the same time trying to make new friends?
ME? I don’t hide who I am in any of my posts or interactions. Right now I am on a short “vacation” from facebook but will be back on Monday. I hope to see you all then!
Wishing you the most beautiful weekend and the opportunity to make amazing connections both online and off.
Tuesday is ruled by Mars. The energies are perfect to work with male energies such as strength, endurance. With that in mind, today we celebrate the Warrior spirit. Many Gods and Goddesses carry within them the warrior spirit, as humans on a spiritual journey we see this. We walk with the warrior spirit deep inside and we carry within us the ancestral memories of fighting for our freedom, fighting against invaders, protecting our families and homes from those who would take them from us.
However, what marks the Wiccan Warrior different from warlike invaders is that we carefully weigh how our actions will be seen and taken after “the battle”, we battle to protect those who cannot protect themselves, we battle for justice and equality in a world filled with tragedy and hardship.competition and conflict. We also have the Moon entering Aries for a double whammy of that warrior energy.
Today, we will light a red candle and state our affirmation. My choices in materials for this are twofold. I use the Dance of Crystals Bloodstone Candle for it’s brilliant red color and because bloodstone represents courage and strength (as does the color red). I anoint this candle with Hekate – Keeper of the Crossroads Oil. The combination should move me with the conviction and strength to accomplish my goals and not be held in the past or present but passing through the crossroads into the future. While anointing my candle I will state the following in a chant:
“I fight for right. I defend myself and my family against the evildoer, I protect those who cannot protect themselves, I am involved with shaping the future of my world. Blessed Be!”
If you wish you can easily write this on parchment or Color Magick Sizzling Spell Paper to give this affirmation and spell a little extra oomph.
Ask yourself “how can I defend someone’s freedom today?” What have you battled for today?
This week I am presenting an archaeological paper at the Digital Heritage conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (excitingness!). And as I am in the birthplace of one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, it seemed apropos to share one of my favorite works with you: one which emphasizes the notion of utilizing one’s imagination and finding fantasy and magick in the mundane elements of life.
Dickinson’s A Murmur in the Trees subtly emphasizes the idea of seeing beyond the regular world into what I have always interpreted as a sort of faerie realm or different dimension which coexists with our own. It advocates for seeing the world as brightly techno-colored as we can, and holding that close to ourselves comfortably, without insisting that others must see it as well. Though it is not overtly a magickal bit of literature, it hints at the otherworlds magickal practices attempt to reach and at a calm understanding of the unity between those worlds and our own. I do hope you enjoy it (and wish me luck at the conference!):
A MURMUR in the trees to note,
Not loud enough for wind;
A star not far enough to seek,
Nor near enough to find;
A long, long yellow on the lawn,
A hubbub as of feet;
Not audible, as ours to us,
But dapperer, more sweet;
A hurrying home of little men
To houses unperceived, –
All this, and more, if I should tell,
Would never be believed.
Of robins in the trundle bed
How many I espy
Whose nightgowns could not hide the wings,
Although I heard them try!
But then I promised ne’er to tell;
How could I break my word?
So go your way and I’ll go mine, –
No fear you’ll miss the road.
Garlic and superstition have gone hand in hand for millennia. A tasty, natural curative –garlic’s power as a magickal protective charm and as a potent remedy has remained strong from ancient times through to the present day.
Worried about vampires? No problem. Carry some garlic and decorate your doors and windows with it. The use of garlic to protect against these pop culture prevalent denizens of the night is perhaps the most ubiquitous use of the aromatic bulb known today.
But its usage as a form of apotropaic or warding magick is far more ancient. The ancient Egyptians would utilize it to protect the sanctity of contracts and oaths. Medieval miners would carry it down to the mines with them to ward against evil spirits like the invisible and mischevious German kobolds. The pungent odor and easily portable bulb and cloves of the garlic plant ( allium sativum) made and, indeed, still make it, an ideal charm against evil in all of its multiple forms. Its Sanskrit name Rasona or Lasuona actually means ‘Slayer of Monsters.’ But not all of the monsters it protected against were of the fiendish variety. More often then not, it was the monstrous interior medical ills that garlic was utilized to protect against.
The second century AD Roman physician Galen of Pergamon labeled garlic as a ‘theriac’ or antidote which eventually translated into its widespread usage in imperial Roman medicine as a universal panacea or curative. In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the earliest ongoing systems of homeopathic curatives, garlic was utilized as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, and charm against virulent diseases like smallpox. Indeed, the sulfur and selenium components within the garlic bulb which presumably originated as a defense mechanism against hungry predatory animals result in garlic’s scientifically recognized properties as a valuable antiseptic, which does indeed aid in protecting against bacteria, inflammation, and viruses. Recent studies indicate that the consumption of garlic may help prevent against certain types of cancer. Garlic was recognized early on for its curative powers, but we are only just exploring the tip of the iceberg of what its wonderful biological magick can do for our own biological systems.
Biomagick aside, my particular favorite fact in the litany of garlic’s history (some of which is included above and others of which you will encounter in Sacred Mists fabulous Herbalist Course ) relates to its ritual usage. Garlic was once the primary offering to the great Greek goddess of magick herself: the mighty Hekate. The third century BCE philosopher Theophrastus recorded in his botanical texts Enquiry into Plants and On the Causes of Plants how garlic would be offered at crossroads and in front of the three-faced statues dedicated to Hekate found at such places.
SO the next time you throw a bit of delicious garlic into your cooking, take a second to speculate about the long legacy of interaction between garlic and humankind. For at least five thousand years men and women have consumed this tasty plant and utilized it in their magico-medicine practices. It is a tradition of tastiness and superstition predating biological scientific fact, one which you are continuing by adding it into your daily diet.