Jun 022012
 
As with most groups we have a basic ritual framework that we use on a regular basis. This does not mean, however, that we never use a different structure or try out new things! Having a fairly standard format does make it easier to design a ritual, because you aren’t always building it it “from the ground up.” Not included are the very necessary chants or dances that bring completeness to the ritual. These are added on a ritual-by-ritual basis and are determined by the type of moon or magickal working.

Basic Esbat Format

Grounding & Centering

Opening

  • Salt & Water Blessing
  • Individual Purification
  • Casting the Circle
  • Cleansing the Circle
  • Calling the Quarters
  • Invoking Deity

The Body of the Ritual

  • Magickal Working
  • Circle Sharing
  • Cakes & Wine

Ending

  • Thanking the Deities
  • Thanking the Quarters
  • Opening the Circle
  • Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again!

 Most often casting the circle at a full moon occurs with all of the participants already inside the circle. We have worked a wide-variety of castings and particularly enjoy the ones where we actually build the circle together. Because there is no circle challenge, we pass the salt & water from person to person as part of each individual’s purification. We don’t always do spellwork/magick, but instead journey, do a guided meditation, work on some specific skill or run energy. If we do a Drawing Down the Moon, it is usually after the invocations.

 Posted by at 6:24 pm
Dec 112011
 

Well, it has been quite some time since my last rant and although it is the holiday season of many religions, I do have to get something off my chest – so to speak.

Why the heck do I keep getting greetings from Pagans/Witches which say Merry Christmas???

Gee, when those religious righters put up signs saying “Keep the Christ in Christmas” they have a point. Although Christmas has roots in Paganism, as does every other religion, when a Pagan says to me “Merry Christmas” I really don’t know how to react. It’s one thing to hear it in the stores, from co-workers and Christian family members, and from folks who just assume that everyone is Christian, but when I get a message or am greeted by Pagans who say this to me, I am pretty astounded at the lack of thought that goes with uttering what has become a common catch phrase.

Bah, Humbug!

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment. Certainly, when confronted with such a greeting from well-meaning folks, I usually respond with a “Happy Holidays to you too” – although there are times when I will sneak in a “Happy Solstice” – and receive puzzled stares in return. What to do, though, about Pagan Merry Christmas’s I haven’t quite decided – although my first reaction of wanting to smack them upside the head has been firmly suppressed on many an occasion.

I think my favorite greeting this season came from a novice witch who wanted guidance. She sent us an electronic greeting card complete with the title “Merry Christmas” with a Christian picture AND a Christian song attached. I think she really needs to do a lot more basic work before she can make a decision about this path. But it’s not just newbies who do this, but seasoned veterans as well. Have we become so conditioned by the dominant culture, that we unthinkingly mouth these phrases by rote? What does it say about our being witches – connected and observing of our path? If witches/Wiccans/Pagans greet each other with “Merry Christmas” with this little thought, then the religious righters might have cause to be worried about the submergence of their holiday into the consumeristic mecca that it has become. And although I don’t believe that “Jesus is the reason for the season” (they need to take a simple astronomy course here), I do believe that this can become a time when ALL religions can come together to celebrate peace and joy and giving and hope.

So let’s think about the meaning of this season. We celebrate the returning sun, the growing light, rebirth and reflection. Greet the dawn with thanks for the returning warmth. And try greeting your Pagan friends with something more in line with your beliefs. Believe me, changing this takes thought and effort.

Wow – a little Yule magick in the making.

 

This essay was lovingly crafted on December 24, 2001.

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Aug 012011
 

We try to mix up how we celebrate the season. This is just one of the many celebrations we’ve done for Lughnassadh.

 

The Sacrifice of John Barleycorn

We take a loaf of bread and wrap it many times in heavy aluminum foil. Then using paper mache, we turn the loaf into a head. Add a stuffed body and you have John Barleycorn. Some of our most moving rituals have centered around passing John from person to person, as each expresses their thanks for the sacrifice being made. John is then thrown on the fire (while we sing “Hoof and Horn”). After the outer covering has burned away, we remove the head (bread), unwrap it and eat it as an offering from the Gods. We also sing the traditional song, ” John Barleycorn”.

Apr 242011
 

Gaia Invocation for Beltane

The scent of green leaves and blossoms float to us
on sweet breezes this Eve
The luxurious glow of growth and renewal
Reflecting both Brightness and Darkness
A night blessed by sacred joining

You have long been the watcher and guardian of life
Beginnings
And endings
A procession of children who call you home
Hail Gaia, Dance through us
Our souls are moved by Your breath
Our bodies flow with Your blood
Nurturing, Growing, Blooming

Plant Your seeds of knowing within us,
That we may move with confidence and courage

Fertilize our imaginations
Moving us to create our world anew with fresh vision

Sweep clean our doubts and fears
So that we can more fully embrace life and the wonders that it brings

Fill us with Your Love of life
So passion can more fully envelop our being

Be pleased to be with us in our circle
For Your very being is our being
Feeding each other throughout time and space
Blessing All who seek Your Love
So Mote It Be!

Thanking Gaia at Beltane

Hail Gaia

We thank You for Being here this Eve
And we are truly thankful and blessed
By planting us with your knowing seeds
By fertilizing us with imagination
By sweeping clean our doubts and fears
By filling us up with Your love of life
We are reminded daily of our connection to You
Be blessed and honored as we bid farewell

Blessed Be!

© 2003 Sabrae

 

 Posted by at 12:00 pm
Mar 272011
 

The grass is greener and warmer days full of sunshine fill our senses. I can’t help but think about the garden returning to life and the future garden that I will be planting. With that in mind, you might want to think about all of the possible uses of that future plant material. Think now what you will want in the coming year, so that you can plant wisely. Here is a brief list of all of the various types of ways to use herbs magickally around your house, home and ritual spaces.

One extra note: be careful when using oils and such that will go on your skin. While the scents of cinnamon and citrus can be uplifting, some of these oils can be highly irritating. When in doubt, leave it out – or at least make sure it’s highly diluted. Also, what is totally acceptable for one person may be really irritating to another.

Altar Decorations/Arrangements
Whether a simple vase of flowers and herbs or more elaborate wreaths, choosing plants for their energy can be rewarding. These can be made from fresh or dried plant material.

Amulets/Sachets/Talismans
Mixtures that are put together in a cloth, pouch, mini-bag, etc. for a very specific purpose. These are then left in an appropriate place.

Aspergers
Bundles of herbs that are used to sprinkle salt water in a ritual or around the home in purification.

Baths
Mixtures of fresh or dried herbs or oils to create magickal baths. Oils can be added to mixtures of epsom salts and baking soda to create wonderful bath salts. Don’t forget to use a tea ball, cheesecloth, or something else to keep your herbs from going everywhere!

Brews
Herbs steeped in water and breathed in for a particular purpose. These can also be sprinkled using aspergers or dispersed in a spray bottle. These are like teas except they generally are not ingested. While not really a “brew” because there is no steeping, a version of this is to put a few drops of essential oil into water, shake it really well, and use it in a spray bottle to bring wanted energies into your space.

Dream Pillows
Herbs stuffed into pillows for a particular purpose; better sleep, psychic dreams, vivid/lucid dreams, etc.

Food
Herbs and plants can bring specific energies into the food that we eat.

Healing
Is a broad catagory that encompasses many different techniques. Do not self-dose or self-medicate without being under the supervision of a professional!!! Also, don’t eat any plant unless you absolutely know that it is safe!

Incense
Burning plant materials for a specific purpose. People are most familiar with sticks and cones, but these can be time consuming and messy to make. Try getting incense burning charcoals and putting the plant materials/oils directly on the hot coal.

Inks
Especially potent if made specifically for certain spells. Locally, we use pokeberries (or ink berries) to make magickal ink. But it is poisonous, so don’t use it on any spells you plan on eating!

Ointments
Herbs/oils mixed into some kind of fat/lard/beeswax.

Perfumes/Oils
Used for anointing people, candles or objects. Usually a scented base oil. Please, use only essential, “authentic” oils. While synthetic ones are cheaper, they don’t actually contain the energies of the plant. If the oil is listed as a perfume oil, it’s probably not real.

Powders
Finely ground materials sprinkled on an altar or ritual space to add energy to the working. Be careful that your powders don’t contain ingredients that will stain!

Potpourri
Attractive mixtures of scented, usually dried, plant materials. Can be simmered to release scent or used as a dry mixture.

Soap
Herbs and oils can be either introduced in soap made from scratch or can be added to commercial Castile or other unscented soap that is “melted down”. Note: Castile soap can be very drying and a bit harsh – so you may want to add a cosmetic oil to the soap. Almond oil or Jojoba oil are good choices. You can also buy glycerin soap and add your own twist to it.

Teas
Steeped herbs/plant material that is then ingested.

Tinctures
Plant materials are soaked/infused in an alcohol base. The energies are released into the alcohol and the plant material is strained.