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Yearly Archives: 2011

The Importance of Meditations

 

In this world, there are people who lack the conviction of belief. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps there is hardship in finances, or hardship at home. The reasons why people lack in this area are not so much the concern, but rather the fact they lack the conviction of self-belief. That is where everything starts. People must be able to believe in themselves.

There are many ways of developing belief in yourself. One of these ways is meditation.

As pagans, most of us believe that the power flows from within and without, through us, not on us. But the fact remains, if you do not believe in yourself, nothing else is possible. You may forever be trapped in patterns of self-defacing, and base behaviour. Please keep this in mind.

Because of this lack of belief, many people have what I call ‘bendable’ ethics. You do not have to believe as I do, but you have to have a concrete set of rules. Meditation allows you to deprogram the negative thought processes. This is a kind of spring cleaning for the mind.

Lets face the facts, negativity surrounds us daily. The cardinal rule being ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, but today it seems to be ‘Do unto others before they do unto you’.

The purpose of meditation is to bring balance, harmony, and peace into you. Yet, by meditating, one opens themselves to higher energy patterns. One learns to ‘see’, ‘feel’, ‘hear’, and many other things. A word of warning however, the hardest thing you will have to face is yourself.

This is perfectly natural. All your fears, hatreds, anxieties lurk within the deep recesses of your own mind. Issues exist that must be put to rest. Take the time to become your true self. This is not an easy task, and for many it takes a life-time or in some cases life-times. Yet at the same time, you become able to liberate yourself from the chains that keep you tied to the dungeon wall. The task becomes to be your true-self, and not what others expect.

Whether the light comes from the sky, or the earth, or even the air around you is of no consequence, for this is a manifold path. Remember to take only what is necessary, and to always give back something in return. Always close the meditation and give thanks in accordance with your belief structure. Know that the spark of divinity is within us all, as well as from outside of us.

 

Nathaniel Ash a.k.a. Craftmaster

Antifungal Salve

 1 cup garlic oil,
1/2 cup calendula oil,
1 ts black walnut tincture or
1/2 cup oil made from black walnut hulls,
2oz beeswax,
40 drops tea tree essential oil.
Grate the beeswax. Heat the oils, and add the beeswax. When the beeswax is melted, add the tea tree oil and black walnut tincture. Stir well. Pour intosalve containers immediately.

Hot N” Honey Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

17 chicken wings

3/4 cup Picante Sauce

2/3 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dijon-style mustard

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. ginger, finely shredded

1-1/2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel

Directions:
Cut off and discard wing tips; cut each wing in half at joint. Place in 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour over chicken wings. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Place chicken wings and sauce in a single layer on foil-lined 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees 40 to 45 minutes or until well browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with additional Picante Sauce.
Yield: 34 Appetizers
Category: Appetizers, Chicken

Blackberry

Botanical: Rubus fructicosus
Family: N.O. Rosacea
—Synonyms—Bramble. Bumble-Kite. Bramble-Kite. Bly. Brummel. Brameberry. Scaldhead. Brambleberry.
—Parts Used—Root, leaves.
—Habitat—In Australia, the Blackberry grows more luxuriantly than in any other part of the world, though it is common everywhere.

——————————————————————————–
The Blackberry, or Bramble, growing in every English hedge-row, is too well known to need description. Its blossoms, as well as its fruits, both green and ripe, may be seen on the bush: at the same time, a somewhat unusual feature, not often met with in other plants.
—History—The name of the bush is derived from brambel, or brymbyl, signifying prickly. We read of it as far back as the days of Jonathan, when he upbraided the men of Shechem for their ingratitude to his father’s house, relating to them the parable of the trees choosing a king, the humble bramble being finally elected, after the olive, fig-tree and vine had refused the dignity. The ancient Greeks knew Blackberries well, and considered them a remedy for gout.

Opinions differ as to whether there is one true Blackberry with many aberrant forms; or many distinct types. Professor Babington divides the British Rubi into forty-one species, or more.

Rubus rhamnifolius and R. coryfolius furnish the Blackberries of the hedges, in which the calyx of the fruit is reflexed; has also a reflexed calyx, but the leaves are hoary underneath. R. coesius furnishes Dewberries, distinguished by the large size of the grains, which are covered with bloom and few in number, the whole being closely clasped by the calyx. R. saxatilis, the Roebuck-berry, and the badge of the McNabs, is an herbaceous species found in mountainous places in the North, and distinguished by its ternate leaves and fruit of few red large grains.

R. chamaenorus, the Cloudberry, and badge of the McFarlanes, is also herbaceous, with an erect stem, 6 to 8 inches high, lobed leaves and a single flower which is succeeded by a large orange-red fruit of an agreeable flavour. The double-flowering Rubus of gardens is a variety of R. fructicosus. R. lancinatus, of which the native country is unknown, is a rampant species with deeplycut leaves and large black fruit, which are highly ornamental in autumn.

R. odoratus, the American Bramble, is an erect, unbranched shrub, with large fivelobed leaves and rose-coloured flowers.

R. occidentalis, the Virginian raspberry, has pinnate and ternate leaves, white flowers and black fruit. It is well known that the barren shoots of most of our British Rubi from being too flexile to keep upright, bend downwards even from the hedges and thickets, and root their ends in the soil, thus following that mode of increase which in the strawberry is effected by the scion. The loop thus formed was formerly an object of occasional search, being reputed in some counties (and we have known it so in Gloucestershire) as capable of curing hernia or rupture when used aright, to which end the afflicted child is passed backwards and forwards through the arching bramble. The origin of this custom is difficult to trace; but quoting from Notes and Queries, the passing of children through holes in the earth, rocks, and trees, once an established rite, is still practised in various parts of Cornwall. Children affected with hernia are still passed through a slit in an ash sapling before sunrise, fasting; after which the slit portions are bound up, and as they unite so the malady is cured.

It would appear that in Cornwall the bramble-cure is only employed for boils, the sufferer being either dragged or made to crawl beneath the rooted shoot. We have heard of cows that were said to be ‘mousecrope,’ or to have been walked over by a shrew-mouse (an ancient way of accounting for paralysis), being dragged through the bramble-loop, in which case, if the creature could wait the time of finding a loop large enough, and suffer the dragging process at the end, we should say the case would not be so hopeless as that of our friend’s fat pig, who, when she was ailing, ‘had a mind to kill her to make sure on her!’ (LINDLEY S Treasury of Botany.)

The Blackberry is known in some parts of the country as ‘Scaldhead,’ either from producing the eruption known as scaldhead in children who eat the fruit to excess – the over-ripe fruit being indigestible – or from the curative effects of the leaves and berries in this malady of the scalp, or from the remedial effects of the leaves, when applied externally to scalds. The leaves are said to be still in use in England as a remedy for burns and scalds; formerly their operation was helped by a spoken charm. Creeping under a Bramble-bush was itself a charm against rheumatism, boils, blackheads, etc. Blackberries were in olden days supposed to give protection against all ‘evil runes,’ if gathered at the right time of the moon. The whole plant had once a considerable popular reputation both as a medicine and as a charm for various disorders. The flowers and fruit were from very ancient times used to remedy venomous bites; the young shoots, eaten as a salad, were thought – though Gerard cautiously suggests the addition of a little alum – to fasten loose teeth. Gerard and other herbalists regard the bramble as a valuable astringent, whether eaten or applied: its leaves ‘heal the eies that hang out,’ and are a most useful application for piles, its fruit stops looseness of the bowels and is good for stone, and for soreness in mouth and throat.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The bark of the root and the leaves contain much tannin, and have long been esteemed as a capital astringent and tonic, proving a valuable remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea, etc. The root is the more astringent.

—Preparations—Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, root, U.S.P., 15 drops. Syrup, U.S.P., 1 drachm.

The fruit contains malic and citric acids, pectin and albumen. If desiccated in a moderately hot oven and then reduced to a powder, it is a reliable remedy for dysentery.

The root-bark, as used medicinally, should appear in thin tough, flexible bands, inodorous, strongly astringent and somewhat bitter. It should be peeled off the root and dried by artificial heat or in strong sun. One ounce, boiled in 1 1/2 pint water or milk down to a pint, makes a good decoction. Half a teacupful should be taken every hour or two for diarrhoea. One ounce of the bruised root, likewise boiled in water, may also be used, the dose being larger, however. The same decoction is said to be useful against whooping-cough in the spasmodic stage.

The leaves are also employed for the same purpose. One ounce of the dried leaves, infused in one pint of boiling water, and the infusion taken cold, a teacupful at a time, makes a serviceable remedy for dysentery, etc.

Old Woman of the Sea

 
Themes: Water, recreation, rest & art.
Symbols: Sand, saltwater & sea creatures.
 
About the Old Woman of the Sea: Among the Native Americans of
California, this simple designation says it all. This goddess is a
primordial being whose essence and power is linked with the ocean and
all that dwells within. Old Woman of the Sea washes into our lives
today with waves of refreshment and relaxation. She is also a powerful
helpmate for all water related magick.
 
To Do Today: Sandcastle building competitions began in Imperial Beach,
California in 1981. Many of the artistically crafted sculptures
feature sea creatures and other water themes. Alongside the festival,
all manner of community activities take place, including children’s
competitions, feasting and live music. So, stop by a gardening store and
get yourself a little sand! Mix up some saltwater to mold and shape
it. As you do, listen to some watery music and focus on the Old Woman
of the Sea. Try to capture her magickal power in your heart.
 
If you live anywhere near a beach, today’s a perfect time to practice
sand and water magick. Write a symbol in the sand describing what you
hope to achieve, then let the tide carry it to the Old Woman for an
answer. Or, step into the surf and let the goddess draw away your
tension and anxiety into her watery depths.

from 365 Goddess – A Daily Guide of the Magick and Inspiration of the
Goddess
by Patricia Telesco

Goddess Meditation

I will not fear change, I will trust that it brings the knowledge I
want.
Come in, come up the ladder,
spirits of rain, spirits of rain.
Come in, come and sit down,
spirits of cloud, spirits of cloud.
Listen: long ago, we were poor,
but we came out of that poor place.
We passed through that poor place
with your help, with your help.
Now come, help us again,
spirits of rain, spirits of cloud.
Come bring your showers,
come bring the heavy rain.
Come in, come up the ladder
spirits of cloud, spirits of rain.
~ Invocation From The Sia People
 
Even in the midst of what appears to be plenty, we still have needs.
Winter’s chill is gone, the harvest is burgeoning in the fields, the
time of hunger seems past. Yet too much wind, too little rain, too
little sun, too much rain – any of these can endanger the growth that
seems so strong. A happy harvest is never inevitable.
 
Similarly, even when we seem to have much, we may still want more. It is
possible, as a result, to become ungrateful for what we have, to spit in
Fortune’s face. But, even if we look thankfully at all the good things
life brings us, we will still find needs and wants unmet. This is life.
Even those you are at the top of life’s mountain will still have unmet
needs., thwarted desires. Acknowledge them, seek to satisfy them, but
never forget to be thankful for what you have.

from The Goddess Companion – Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit
by Patricia Monaghan

Praise Demeter

Praise Demeter full of life
I am always with thee
Honored and humbled
By life’s seasons
Sacred is the fruit
Of thy womb
Earth
Holy Demeter
Mother of Life
Guide our paths
Now and through strife
into peace
~ Abby Willowroot © 1999

Lavender Cream

1oz hydrous lanolin (at pharmacies), 1oz grated beeswax, 2oz comfrey
oil,
2oz calendula oil, 2oz fresh calendula juice, 1/16oz borax powder, 100
drops
lavender oil.
Mix and heat oils. Melt lanolin and beeswax in the warm oil. In another
pot,
gently warm calendula juice and dissolve borax into it. Remove both
mixtures
from heat. Mix both while constantly whisking. Stir in lavender oil.
Spoon
into jars and seal.
Cream made from fresh plant juices tend to go bad after 6 to 12 months.
Store in the refrigerator.

Cinnamon Ornaments

Makes: 10

Note: These are NOT edible! I am sharing this recipe because they make wonderful gifts. They also would make your house smell heavenly if you make these for your tree.

Amount  Measure       Ingredient — Preparation    Method
1       c                     Applesauce
1       oz                   Cinnamon
1       oz                   Ground cloves
1       oz                   Ground nutmeg
1       oz                   Ground ginger
Cinnamon for cutting board

Combine ingredients to make a stiff dough.  Roll out on board dusted with ground cinnamon.  Cut with
cookie cutters of your choice. Put hole in top for string.   Lay out flat to dry. Turn over every 12 hours until completely dry.

The Wheel of The Year, A Guided Visualization

Julia Phillips & Rufus Harrington
 
     Make sure you are seated comfortably, and spend a few moments
quietly, allowing your mind and body to relax.  Now, close your eyes,
and allow these images to build in your imagination:
 
     It is dark, and a chill wind is blowing.  You are standing
within a mighty forest, and can feel the ground hard and cold beneath
your feet.  You look up, and see the stars, but there is no Moon.
Patiently, you wait.  You hear a sound behind you, and turn and look
over your shoulder.  You realize that you are standing upon the edge
of a clearing; at its center burns a fire, with an old man seated
before it.  He is wearing tattered animal skins, and has long ragged
hair which blows about in the wind.  On the far side of the clearing
you see the mouth of a cave, and standing before it is the mighty
figure of the Horned God.
 
     You turn back and look through the trees, looking towards the
eastern horizon.  For tonight is the longest night:  the dark time
before the Sun is reborn at the Winter Solstice, and you wait
patiently for the first rays of the new born Sun.  At last you see a
faint glimmer of light upon the eastern horizon, and as the rays of
the new born Sun rise in the morning sky, you hear the sound of a new
born babe crying.  You turn and look back across the clearing as an
old woman walks out of the cave carrying a new born child in her
arms.  The Horned God reaches forwards and caresses the child’s
cheek, and then the old woman takes the child, and sits by the side
of the old man at the camp fire.
 
     As the Sun continues to rise in the sky, you know that you have
witnessed a very great mystery – the mystery of birth – walk back
through the forest to your own cottage, where you warm yourself at
the fire, for you are chilled through after your long vigil
throughout the darkest night.
 
     Days pass, and although the ground is still hard and cold, and
the nights long and dark, you are aware of a change in the season,
and know that winter is drawing to its close.  One night as you are
about to go to bed, you hear a tinkling of bells from deep within the
forest, and are strangely drawn towards their sound.  As you make
your way through the night, a waxing Moon lights your path, and at
last you find yourself once more in the clearing.  You look towards
the cave, and see that a great red veil hangs across the mouth, and
that the old Crone, and another woman stand before it.  The other
woman is younger than the Crone, but obviously not a youth, and you
instinctively realize that this is the Crone’s own daughter.
 
     As you stand and watch you realize that the bells are being
shaken by the Crone, and that she and her daughter are softly singing
an ancient song:  a song which calls to the Virgin to awaken, and to
come forth as the herald of winter’s end, and spring’s beginning.
The two women reach up, and with a single movement, rend the veil,
tearing it away, revealing the Virgin standing poised upon the
threshold.  She is purity and innocence:  a young figure –
blindfolded, dressed in white, and carrying in her hands a posy of
bright yellow flowers, symbolic of the growing powers of the Sun.
 
     The Mother and Crone reach forward, and linking their hands
behind the Virgin, they pull her out of the cave.  They lead her
towards the fire, and then the Mother speaks quietly to her.  You see
the Virgin nod.  The Crone then seems to ask her a question, and
although you cannot hear the answer, it seems she has spoken truly,
for the Crone nods, and reaches up to remove the blindfold.  The
Virgin blinks her eyes, and stretches.  She begins to dance slowly
around the fire at the center of the clearing, full of the joy of her
awakening, and in the knowledge of her power and potential as a woman.
 
     Self-contained, she dances the dance of life; of blood and
waters flowing freely, no long frozen and still.  You turn and leave
the clearing, taking one last look at the Virgin dancing joyfully
around the fire.  As you walk back through the forest, you feel an
answering power moving through the land, and you are aware that the
Earth is beginning to come alive beneath your feet, and on the trees
you see the yellow blooms which are the promise of spring, and the
end of winter.
 
     Day by day the Sun now grows visibly stronger:  the land has
awakened from its sleep with the fire dance of the Virgin, and now
the Sun itself approaches the magical time of the Equinox:  the time
when day and night are equal, but when light is in the ascendant.
The day of the Equinox dawns bright and clear.  The wind is fresh,
and all around you are signs of spring.  From deep within the forest
you hear the sound of a horn, and deep within your innermost self you
are aware of a stirring response to its call.  You make your way
quickly through the forest; as you approach the clearing, you realize
that you are not alone, for all the creatures of the forest are
gathered upon the edge of the clearing.  They too have answered the
summons of the horn.
 
     At the center of the clearing stands a naked young man, his skin
shining with reflected sunlight.  He is blindfold:  before him stands
the old man, and behind him, the mighty figure of the Horned God.  It
was he who blew the horn.  The old man dances around the youth –
slowly, a shambling kind of dance – shaking a rattle and chanting
softly.  He stops.  The Horned God whispers to the youth, who nods
his head in reply.  The old man then asks the youth a question, and
after listening to the reply, nods, and reaches up and removes the
blindfold.  The youth blinks, and stretches.  The Horned God hands
him the horn.  He puts this to his lips, and a single blast echoes
through the forest.  With a laugh the youth leaps away into the
forest, followed by all the birds and animals, for he is Lord of the
Forest.  You feel a stirring in your own blood, and before you
realize what has happened, you find yourself chasing the figure of
the youth on his mad dash through the forest.  It is a wild and
carefree dance, and you feel the answering echo from the trees, and
from the Earth, as they are warmed by the growing Sun.  The Land and
the Youth both awaken to their fertile potential.
 
     As you run through the trees, out of the corner of your eye you
see a flicker of white; you turn, and there hidden in the trees you
see the Virgin, watching and waiting.  She is looking curiously at
the Lord of the Forest, intrigued by his strength and drawn by his
beauty.  He sees her watching, but on this day, he is too full with
the joy of being in control of his own creative power to cease his
headlong chase through the forest.  Gradually you tire, and at last
you find yourself walking back through the forest to your own
cottage, where you find rest.
 
     All through the growing spring the Virgin and the Young Lord
watch each other through the forest.  Each aware of the other, but
both self-fulfilled with their own potential and power.  But the Sun
keeps getting stronger, and at last we come to that moment where the
Young Lord and the Virgin realize that they have a greater destiny to
fulfill, and driven by their natural desires, and the signs of the
burgeoning world all around them, they seek each other out, and in
celebration of the great mystery of the Land Marriage, they join as
one.
 
     It is the height of spring, and the signs of fertility are all
around.  As you make your own way towards the clearing, you feel the
warm Sun upon your face, and feel the life in the Earth beneath your
feet.  In the center of the clearing stands a great tree trunk,
crowned with a garland of spring flowers, with many red and white
ribbons fluttering in the breeze.  From far and wide people have
traveled to the clearing, for today is the day of celebrating the
growing Sun, and the fertile Earth.  Men and women take hold of the
ribbons, and enact their own celebration of Life as they dance the
pattern of the sacred spiral of creation around the tree.  You hold
your ribbon firmly, and watch the spiral form as you dance the
ancient steps that have been danced since first Man and Woman were
joined as one.
 
     You hear cheering and shouts of laughter, and there, walking
through the crowd hand in hand come the Young Lord and his wife –
Virgin no longer.  Together they have celebrated the sacred mystery
in accordance with the Old Laws:  for they have joined in love, and
so have become the King and Queen of the Land.
 
     And the weeks pass, and the Sun grows ever stronger in the sky,
and the King grows in strength and majesty.  The Queen begins to show
signs of her pregnancy, the mirror of the crops and fruits that the
Land begins to produce, for the Queen represents the Land, and is at
one with it.
 
     At last the day arrives when the Sun reaches its most powerful
time:  the Midsummer Solstice.  The King and Queen are at their peak
too, reflected in the majesty of the King, and the growing life in
the womb of the Queen.  To mark this day, the King and Queen host a
great celebration in the forest clearing:  a feast to mark the
Solstice day, and their own creative powers which have brought many
good things to the Land.  All day the feast and games continue, with
the King and Queen bestowing their blessings upon everyone.
 
     At long last the Sun begins to sink slowly towards the west; as
it falls you hear a disturbance upon the edge of the clearing.  You
see people running, and hear their screams.  And then into the
clearing stalks a dark figure, his black cloak swirling around him,
wearing a helmet which obscures his face from view – shadow of
darkness in the forest.  He strides towards the King, and in a loud
clear voice, challenges him for the right to rule the kingdom, and
for the Queen as his consort.
 
     The King must protect what he has striven so hard to create, and
must protect his wife and unborn child.  He accepts the challenge,
and a great battle ensues as the Sun slowly sinks in the west.  The
challenger lays the King’s thigh open with a sweep of his sword, but
is unbalanced, and despite his wound, the King manages to throw the
challenger to the ground and disarm him.  The challenger begs for
mercy, but the King fears this dark and threatening figure, and so
ignoring his cries for mercy, he plunges his sword deep into the
challenger’s heart.  And so in order to protect, the King destroys,
and a shadow of darkness is cast upon the Land.  The challenger’s
blood soaks into the Earth, and the Sun finally sinks beyond the
western horizon.
 
     You make your way back to your cottage, as the King is carried
away to have his wound attended to.  The next day the Sun rises as
before, and seems as strong as it ever was, but you have seen and
felt the shadow of the dark, and now sense a change in the Land.
Instead of growing, things are ripening; the heat of the summer Sun
brings the crops and fruit to ripeness, but the growth is now over.
And just as the Land gives forth its fruits, so now does the Queen
give birth to her son.  The wheat is harvested; the barley made into
ale; and a great feast is held to give thanks for all the good things
of the Earth, and for the safe birth of the King and Queen’s son.
 
     But in giving birth, the Queen is no longer simply a wife; she
becomes the Mother.  She knows that her son is the hope for the Land,
for the King’s wound, taken at the Midsummer battle, is a wasting
wound, and will not heal.  He grows weaker by the day, a reflection
of the waning powers of the Sun.  The Queen knows this, and as her
son grows, she trains him in the ways of sovereignty.  The King sees
only that his son grows stronger, as he grows weaker.  He watches the
Sun wane day by day as summer slips towards the time of the Equinox,
when once again day and night are equal; but this time, the dark is
in the ascendant.
 
     At last the night of the Equinox arrives.  The King feels drawn
towards the clearing in the forest, and under a waning Moon, he makes
his way along the track.  He remembers his initiation at the Spring
Equinox; his love for the Virgin, and their joyful celebration of the
Land Marriage at Beltane; he remembers how proud he was of his
creative powers at the Midsummer Solstice, and with a pang of
sadness, he remembers how he had to face the dark challenger who
threatened his Kingdom and his Queen.  And finally, he remembers the
birth of his son – a joy now turned to sorrow, as the King finds
himself once more in the clearing, where waiting at the center is his
son, armed with a spear.
 
     Out of the corner of his eye, the King sees a movement in the
shadows, and remembers how he first saw his beloved wife, when she
was newly awakened, a young Virgin, and he was the Lord of the
Forest.  Now his wife hides in the shadows – she wears a black cloak,
and covers her face with its hood.  The King and his son face each
other, and then without a word being spoken, the King draws his sword
and they begin to fight.  Sword against spear, a mighty battle rages
in the clearing.  The powers of light and dark are equal, but the
powers of darkness are now in the ascendant, and as the night grows
on, the King begins to tire.  The wasting wound he suffered at the
Summer Solstice has never healed, and his powers – like those of the
Sun – are waning.
 
     There is a brief pause in the fight:  the King and his son look
deep into each others eyes.  There flashes between them recognition
of the mystery that light and dark are equal:  that they are not
fighting each other, but that each is fighting himself.  For the
light and the dark are one and the same, as are the King and his son,
and with this realization, the King joyfully lifts his guard, and is
impaled upon the spear as he drives his sword deep into his son’s
heart.  Together they fall dead to the ground, and their blood pours
out upon the Earth.
 
     At the edge of the clearing the Queen watches, and as she sees
her husband/son die, she sends a great wail echoing through the
forest.  There, standing in the cave mouth is the Lord of Death and
Resurrection, but she cannot see him.  For her husband/son/lover has
now become the Lord of the Otherworld, and she is still of this
world.  The waning Moon watches as she tears her hair, and as one
possessed, runs through the forest in an agony of grief.  For she too
saw the mystery, and now she understands that the light and dark are
but the same.  She knows that her husband/lover/son has passed beyond
the veil, and that her creative time is passed.  For the Queen is now
a Witch:  the ancient Hag Crone who knows the mysteries of life and
death and has walked the path of initiation.  In making her journey
she has truly found the gods, and knows that behind the wheel of the
seasons there is an ancient power.  By walking the wheel she has
joined with the mystery.  She has been a Virgin, a Wife, the Queen,
the Mother and the Crone.  She has walked the way of the seasons.
She has seen the spring, the summer, autumn and winter, and she
understands that an ancient truth lies hidden within it all.
 
     At last the time of the dark Moon arrives, when the Sun’s powers
are low, and the veil between the worlds is thin.  Standing alone in
the forest she makes her way to the clearing.  She stands alone for
she is feared by those who have yet to walk the wheel.  For now she
must perform the supreme act of magic.  She kindles the ancient
Samhain fire, with woods of all the sacred trees.  One for each
season, one for each way, one for the night and one for the day, one
for her lover and one for her son, one for the serpent and one for
her song.
 
     As she raises her arms in invocation a great storm gathers.
With a final act of understanding she opens the veil between herself
and the gods.  She opens the veil of the Otherworld and calls back
the spirits of the dead.  For she knows now to fulfill the mystery
she must join with the Lord of the Otherworld; they must love and
join as one.  The storm breaks:  lightning and thunder tear and crack
at the ancient night as the trees creak and bend in the wind.  For
the wild hunt is now upon us as the spirits of the dead are led from
the Otherworld by the Horned God.  Chaos now reigns in the world for
the Mystery is upon us.
 
     But to join with this mystery the Crone must embrace the Lord of
Flame, the Lord of Death and Resurrection, and go with him back into
the Otherworld.  To join with him she must become the Goddess.  So of
her own free will, she dies the death of true initiation and enters
into the cave, and passes with the Horned Lord back into the depths
of the Otherworld.  There they join in love as one:  the supreme
moment of the true Great Rite in which all the mysteries of the male
and female; all the mysteries of the light and dark are married
together as one.  For love has always been the key.  It is love that
conquers our fear and shows the way to union.  For true love is true
death, as the individual sense of self is transcended by a vision of
the One.  As the gods fulfill the mystery of love, the seed of new
life is planted deep within the womb of the Great Mother.
 
     And the land sleeps, for the dark time is upon us once again,
and the God and Goddess lay in each others arms, deep within the
Land, hidden from sight.  The Sun quickly wanes day by day, the
nights growing longer, the days shorter.  Winter grips the land as a
cold wind blows through the forest.  The darkness seems complete, but
those of the Wicca are wise and weep not for they know that the Sun
will be reborn through the love of the God and Goddess.  Life will
not fail – the Sun will return again.  And at last the night of the
Midwinter Solstice arrives:  the longest night of the year, but we
know now it is only the darkness that comes before the dawn.
 
     As you stand upon the edge of the forest, you see the first
signs of the new born Sun rising upon the eastern horizon, and hear
the sound of a new born babe.  But this time, you walk away from the
clearing towards the rising Sun, and as you leave the forest, you
turn and see that it is no more than a shadow behind you.  Before you
is a world which you know well; it is the world in which you live,
and now it is time to return.  The Otherworld is real, and you may
return at any time, for the mysteries of the gods are there for all
to understand, if you have but eyes to see.  You continue to walk
into the everyday world, and become aware of the sounds around you,
and of the place in which you sit.  Spend a few moments quietly re-
attuning yourself to your normal state, and then open your eyes and
stretch.  (End of Guided Visualization)
 
     If you want to make any notes do, but please remember that the
Wheel of the Year is an emotional experience, not an academic
exercise!
 
     And finally, always have something to eat and drink after any
activity which uses an altered state of consciousness.  This is the
most effective and efficient way to “ground,” and is vital if
participants are traveling home after the working.

Ten Virtues of Incense – Wisdom from a Zen Monk

   
Adapted from The Essence of Incense, by Diana Rosen (Storey Books,
2001).
Incense has long been a traditional part of every culture.
 

It is most likely that with the discovery of fire, scraps of resinous
wood were tossed
upon the flames, causing a remarkable fragrance to climb up among a
mystic smoke.
Around the campfire, shoulders relaxed, voices softened, all was calm
and safe. Mankind
had discovered the power of fragrant smoke, or incense.

Incense is so revered in Japan that they have an incense ceremony that
elevates the
practice of burning incense into a spiritual act, just as they have a
tea ceremony.

Here is a thoughtful list of ten virtues of incense that were believed
to have been
written by an anonymous Zen monk of the sixth century. Discover some
benefits of
incense you may not know!

1. Incense brings communication and the transcendent.
2. It purifies mind and body.
3. It removes uncleanliness.
4. It brings alertness.
5. It is a companion to solitude.
6. In the midst of activity, it brings a moment of peace.
7. When there is plenty, one never tires of it.
8. When there is little, still one is satisfied.
9. Age does not change its efficacy.
10. Used every day, it does no harm.

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