October’s brilliant foliage is but a memory, the bright leaves of autumn lie brown and damp on the ground. The view from my window is bare tree and grey sky most days, the earth damp and brown.
Days are long (and mostly wet here in Ohio) and nights come early. The chill outside makes the nights perfect for curling up with a great book or snuggling with your furry friends. Nosey loves to perch on the arm of my chair and as soon as I start petting him, Vato puts his head on my lap and wants attention given to his ears. It’s also perfect weather for a warm fire if you are lucky enough to have a fireplace and for twinkling candles. It’s the quiet time between wiccan festivals, a time of turning within. It’s also perfect for fire magic. Whether warm fireplace embers or candle burning, flames have always been powerfully magical. Fire enhances visualizations, meditations, divination and spellwork.
I like to get my candles ready after Samhain. They need to be “dressed” (with the appropriate oil) and stored wrapped in white linen cloth until I want to use them. I like to make house blessing candles and healing candles for winter “blahs” and negativity and maybe a money or prosperity candle just for that extra increase I need for the season. A great gift for a friend is a tranquility candle to help with the stresses of the holiday season. Use a light blue candle and put it on a white dish surrounded by blue chalcedony stones.
Even if you are not pagan, you can empower candles with magical energy. Magic, after all, is simply enhancing the possibilities. Choose the right color candle for what you want.
White = purity, truth, spirituality
Red = strength, love, energy, courage, passion
Blue = peace, tranquility, understanding, patience, health
Natural = all purpose, purification
Green = prosperity, fertility, luck
Yellow/Gold = mental clarity, success, concentration
Brown = grounding, centering, neutrality
Pink = affection, romance, friendship
Black = protection, ward off negativity
Purple = meditation, clairvoyance, power
Silver/Gray = cancellation, neutrality, stalemate
Orange = encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction
To “dress” a candle, take olive oil between your thumb and forefinger and rub it on the candle from the middle to the tip, then from the middle to the bottom, visualizing the energy that you want to happen. Pagans will certainly have natural oils or herbs to add to the olive oil to increase the energy.
When you burn it, be alone, have soft music playing if you want, visualize what you want to happen. If you want a tranquility candle, for instance, visualize peaceful scenes, a harmonious home, serene scenes. If you want, you can make up your own little rhyme or mantra, it does not have to be elaborate. When you have done this once, the candle is “charged” and each time you burn it, the energy radiates outward. Oh, and don’t toss away your candle stubs into the trash. You can reuse them to make new candles.
The end of November brings the Thanksgiving celebration. No matter what your religion, you can take one day to gather with friends and family to celebrate the blessings in your life. For some, this is the start of their shopping season, the mad search for gifts. For me, it is the end of the gift search. Mine have been set aside and are ready to be wrapped.
With luck, we may get a soft dusting of snow on Thanksgiving Day. Where I grew up, in New York, Thanksgiving Day was considered especially blessed if we got an inch of snow. Hunting season had started and the men would hunt until noon while the women cooked. The snow made it easier to track. For those of you who think hunting is but a cruel sport, you have never spent a long winter with very little food except what was brought in from the woods, the gardens and the streams we fished in summer. There were plenty of times when that venison in the freezer made the difference between something and nothing on our plates. Winter is sometimes the time of layoffs for people. Back then, Food Stamps were not an option. People made do with what they had, what they could hunt and fish and grow.
November is a good time for counting blessings, relaxing and rejuvenating as the Wheel of the Year turns. Enjoy!
Most pagans live their lives by the turning of the year. We pay attention to nature and attune our bodies and minds to the cycles of the seasons. I’ll be adding blogs posts all year about the seasonal celebrations we observe. Some, like Mabon, are lesser observances. You know Mabon as a solstice or equinox. Most folk pay no attention at all. September is the time when kids go back to school. Stores are full of Halloween and Christmas decorations in an attempt to lure people into spending money.
Pagan “holidays” or celebrations are called esbats and sabbats. Esbats are the lesser observances, sabbats, the greater celebration.
This is our wheel of the year.
In September, the harvest is our focus. The abundance of food is slowing down and the focus is on crops of the vine. Days are warm and nights cool off. There is plenty of work to do outside during the warm and often windy days. Brush must be cut and stacked in and around the firepit. It will be nice and dry and ready for the Halloween bonfires.
Weeds will be pulled a final time and stacked in the compost heap. My strawberry patch is finally weed free for the runners to grow unencumbered and I have circles the plants with oyster shell for extra calcium to enter the ground over winter. Clothes can be hung on the line and the winds whip the wrinkle free. Bed linens are washed and the warmer blankets come out of the cedar chest, filling the house with that subtle scent. Tomato vines are pulled and the green tomatoes left to ripen in a sunny window. Herbs are gathered and hung to dry. The parsley is cut back and the sage, the chives and lemon balm. Russian sage is cut and put into a glass vase to spread its scent. Potting soil is mixed with vermiculite and put into a tub for easy reach when starting seeds in the spring. The rest of the garden is cleared.
It’s also a time for planting. root vegetable can have a second plating. Carrots and beets and kale can be planted in early September and grow until the snow flies. This year I read about “fairy carrots”. I’m going to try it. You can plant 3 or 4 carrot seeds in mason jars. By thanksgiving, you will have baby carrots for your dinner. This will be great to show the little kids how root vegetables grow. Some herbs are actually better for having cold winter months to germinate before they pop up in the spring. This year, I am adding aconite to my plants. Aconite is better known as wolfsbane, a deterrent to werewolves and I thought the grandboys would get a kick out of planting this. We whall see what comes up in the spring.
I’ve spent a lazy summer sitting in the shade reading books. The heat just tires me OUT! This weather energizes me. I still read outside in the cool evening, enjoying the crickets songs. The hens will be ready to lay eggs in about 4 weeks. They go to bed earlier now. By 7:30, they are in the roost. My bird friends also go to bed earlier. Now they are flocking and I can hear so many of them in the trees at night. They are getting ready tor their long journeys. Geese fly overhead in formation in the evening hours. They have practice runs now, also getting ready to fly south. Their cries mark the official end of summer and the readiness for the cold changes to come.
Yes, I have been incredibly lazy this summer in the stifling heat and humidity. With the changes, I become energized. I begin to make links and jumpring rosettes for projects I will work on this winter.
I begin to craft some fall jewelry. Here are some beads I won in a giveaway from Terra Rustica Designs. Perfect fall colors. I made them into such a pretty necklace! Her sandblasted pendants are gorgeous and these beautiful beads with terra cotta color, green and amber remind me of fall’s gorgeous color palette!
today, I took some of my new ripe tomatoes and made a big pot of chili. Every September, when I do this, I think it is the best chili I EVER made! I can almost taste the sunshine. I put it in the freezer. It will be my Mabon feast meal along with home made bread. And the wheel turns.
Man, seems like I’ve had a bunch of blog hops this month!
Marybeth Rich, of Forest of Jewels challenged us to this one. We all got the same exact beads. Each of us has their own style so it’s going to be fun to see what all come up with. Of course, I forgot to take pictures of the beads when I got them, well DUH……that’s how I rolled this month, what can I say? The beads were shades of greens and browns, really pretty, looking lots like that last hangers on of summer, you know, when the grass and plants and pods are that muted green? We have to design a piece about what we are thankful for…..family? friends? money? fame? world peace? So let’s get to it.
I am most thankful for my faith, my spiritual connection. My life has been like a B movie, one thing after another. Believe me when I say, in the Great Tarot that is Life, The Tower (a card of catastrophe and chaos) has been prominent.
I am Wiccan. I became pagan when my firstborn died at 2 weeks old. I had a hard time accepting phrases like “it’s God’s will” and “she’s an angel now” or “god needed an angel so he took her home”. I searched for some help and I found it in earth based religion. Many of you don’t know about pagan religions. We have a dual god/goddess and are closely connected to earth. I’m going to focus on the Mother for this hop.
You all know I cannot do a post without some mood music to listen to as you scroll. This is Wendy Rule’s Circle Song, honoring the Four Directions, the four seasons, the four sections of the Circle of Life.
My faith has seen me through terrible times. Lisa’s death. An abusive husband and breakup that left me alone with two little kids. A new relationship with my soul mate, Alfredo. That didn’t last long. We moved to Ohio so he could find work and when times got rough here, he got mixed up with serious drugs. Years ago, heroin addicts were almost unheard of in the Midwest. He was one of the first. I had to ask my soulmate to leave and I was alone in a strange city with the Dope Man knocking on my door wanting money that my husband owed him. I had no job. My husband had taken the car that was in my name so I had no transportation. Most days, the only way we had food was because I roamed the river banks and found enough pop bottles to cash in and buy milk, bread and eggs. I was scared and shaky but I prayed and out of this mess came light. The Dope Man brought me groceries (some light spilled over into his life I guess). He helped me find a job.
I struggled with 4 kids but we were never hungry again and we had fun together. Then my oldest boy was in an accident while I was at work. He suffered head trauma and was in a coma. I prayed harder than ever. He lived but at age 13, now had the mental capabilities of an infant who had to be fed, could not talk, and could barely walk. My child, who could read before he ever went to school, could not put enough words together to make a sentence. Through faith, things were sent to me, wonderful teachers who helped me learn how to help him, steadfast friends, and always my faith that it would not be like the doctors said, that he would forever and always be 13 years old. Now he is in his 40’s, has a job he loves and kids who are smart and good.
Years went by. We have a great family. All of us help each other. My daughter has finished police academy and is doing her internship. In two weeks, she will be a full fledged peace officer after finishing high school and the academy with two young children. In two weeks, I will be taking 3 finals toward my Bachelor’s degree. My middle son will be graduating and going into the Marine Corps to start working on his dream to be a marine and an MP. Ben was found 8 days later, murdered and tossed into the Miami River. The Tower again, utter and complete chaos, our whole world turned upside down. Our whole circle of friends crushed Our family broken and scarred. Standing in the ashes of our dreams, we begin again.
We survived this. I never finished my degree. Believe it or not, I’d still like to do it. I needed only 9 hours of electives, but I had PTSD and for a long time, could not even remember people’s names, people I had known for years. It’s been a few years. Another murder. The “son of my heart”, my daughter’s husband Tim, robbed and shot to death by five guys who jacked him up at the chicken place where he went to pick up some friend chicken for supper. Unbelievable! And we thought we were safe, had paid our dues. Again, the feelings only homicide survivors can know. BUT through faith and prayers, our family got stronger, we kept on going.
Time goes by. My middle son, who never did go into the Marines, was helping a friend when the parking block they were moving fell off the truck and crushed his foot. Unable to work, 3 little kids, unable to get any public assistance, do you believe that crap and they took his foot.
I am struggling now with excruciating pain from 4 bulging discs and degenerative disc disorder. Every day is pain.
All these things, life changing things, hard times and what do I have to be thankful for? I am so thankful that I have had an abiding faith that helped me be strong, overcome and grow. Of all my friends, I am the one who has the least, a rackety old falling down house, a beat up car, a crappy job that pays minimum wage BUT I am the richest person I know and probably the happiest. This is not a pity party people. Nobody here say “sorry” for your luck. I am strong, I am happy and surrounded by the most awesome family that knows how to stick together, that loves strongly and deeply. I have friends. I have respect. I have so much love in my life and I am blessed.
Okay. Now you know why I am thankful. Let me show you what I made. I took that goddess piece from Bead Freaky and changed up the color just a tad because it was all green. I used a bit of pinotage Gilder’s Paste and a touch of Inca gold and now it looks richer and matches those earthy green beads. This piece wanted to be LONG. I’ve been watching the Borgias and the Tudors and all the old religious pieces from way back in the day seemed to be long and ornate. I used gold which has always been a symbol of richness, of wealth. This meant I could not use the copper clasp that was sent as part of the bead kit. It’s a great clasp, but just not large enough for the heavy hammered bronze chain I forged.
It just would not work with these links. I saved it to use next time I make copper links.
I call this piece, Root and Stem, Leaf and Bud. It’s from a prayer.
By root and stem, by leaf and bud, by flower and fruit, by all the Earth, I call to you Great Mother. I ask for guidance, to live and reflect your generous wisdom, to enrich the lives of all I touch as you have enriched mine. I ask that I never forget the bounty you provide, that I never be afraid that my needs will go unfulfilled, that I ever be thankful and that I walk on this earth with footsteps as gentle as the spring rains you send. So mote it be.
Please stop by my friend’s blogs and see what they are thankful for. And may you have as many blessings as I
Gina Hockett of Freestyle Elements
Carolyn Lawson of Carolyn’s Creations
Shaiha Williams of Shaiha’s Ramblings
Lisa Knappenberger of LiRaysa Designs
Bianca Medina of Medibeads
Lee Koopman of Strega Jewellry’s Blog
Mowse Doyle of Mowse Made This
Linda Anderson of From the Bead Board
and, of course, our hostess, Marybeth Rich, of Forest of Jewels who also has a giveaway on her blog. Be sure to check her out.
Since I could not use the copper clasp, I would like to mention Cobalt and Copper. Check out her Facebook Page. I’ll be posting a shot of that clasp as soon as I get my design finished.
Important note: All these great graphics I used are from Graphic Stock. If you are in need of great graphics for your blog, web page or crafts, check them out. Check out their free trial offer.
Oh, one more thing. I got a really pretty lampwork bead as part of my kit. It seemed too big with all the smaller beads. My daughter fell in love with it so I hammered out a bronze neck ring to showcase it all by itself. She took it home yesterday. I’m thankful I have such a good daughter and could make her happy with this bead.
One tool I find invaluable in practicing my faith is imagination. I could not do active visualization without it. When I want to work on healing, I visualize a walk through a field, climb a hill and discover a hidden cave full of healing crystals.
One of my favorite exercise in visualization was to create an “inner sanctum” in my higher mind, a veritable workshop where I could relax and do spiritual work. This is an exercise in autohypnosis. Anyone with imagination and visualization skills can create this inner sanctum, breathing, sitting still, relaxing and relaxing some more. Use all of your sense to visualize, hear, see, touch, taste and smell.
One must first think of their mind as a very tall building, or mountain or house at the top of a mountain. You want to get as high spiritually as you can go. Once inside the building/mountain, whatever, you enter an elevator. Mine is an old fashioned Otis elevator.
Inside this elevator are only 2 buttons. One for UP and one for DOWN. You will use the “down” button only once. Take it to the lower corridor where all your baser instincts reside, where greed, revenge, envy, sloth, the 7 deadly sins, if you will. Don’t get off the elevator, just let the door open and look down the hallway…..
this is where you do NOT want to be, at the lowest level of your mind. Hurry and close the elevator doors, tape over that button or smash it with a hammer and vow you will not go back. Push the UP button. Go as far up as you need, relaxing your body as you go. When you feel calm and ready, let the elevator door open. You will enter a hallway that is clean and smells of wood polish. There is a sign that says……to Theta. (Theta is the deep area of your mind where hypnosis or autohypnosis takes place, where you go when you dream) Count 10 steps down this hallway, relaxing more and more as you take each step. At the end of this hallway is a door. Relax as you stand there.
Once you open the door, you will be inside your highest mind. The room where you work will be available any time you want to relax. You can decorate it any way you want to. With practice, you can go here any time you wish. I’ll tell you about my room. Just inside the door is a comfy leather chair that faces a large gothic fireplace.
To the right of my chair is an old rolltop desk where I can write messages if I want. Sometimes, I like to write a letter to someone who has crossed over to the Otherside, like my dad or my son. I use a quill pen and parchment paper, then put that message in a bottle and toss it into the Sea of Universal Consciousness. Sometimes, I write down a blessing or a wish.
There is a curio cabinet, right full of medicines, herbal cures for any and every illness. There are powders and potions for all kinds of things.
And to my left are glass doors that open on a beautiful beach where there is shining sand and a gorgeous sea…..the Sea of Universal Consciousness. I can walk down that beach any time that I wish. Sometimes I write in the sand…..maybe I write to a friend who is far away, just a quick, I love you. Maybe I write to a sleeping child or a child who is far from my physical realm. I write in the sand and watch the waves take my message out into the sea. Somewhere, it is received in the mind of the person to which it is sent.
I always find peace here.
According to Wikipedia, a hex is “a magical spell, usually with a melevolent purpose, such as a curse”. We all know this. And, even if you are not pagan, you know some sort of way to offset a hex, you have a charm or amulet or lucky clover or you wear certain gemstones or your lucky shirt or carry a lucky penny. What fascinated me, when I started thinking about hexes, was a group of very seriously Christian folk who use pagan practices as part of their everyday life.
Early in the 20th century, these signs became a common sight on barns in Pennsylvania. Their simple folksy beauty became quite popular and their use spread. This type of art became well known all over the United States. I’m talking about the Hex Signs.
You’ve all seen them somewhere, particularly the distelfink. Distelfink is a German/Dutch word for goldfinch, a very common bird in this area. A distelfink in a hex sign is a symbol of good luck or good fortune.
So, who ARE the Pennsylvania Dutch? In the 19th century, and ending about 1863, a great influx of immigrants came to this country, not from Holland but from southwestern Germany, the Rhineland and Palatine areas, Baden-Wuttenberg, Alsatians, Swiss and even French Protestants. They came here seeking religious freedom. They spoke German or Deutsche and became known as the Plain Dutch (obviously a corruption of Deutsche. BTW, the German word for Germany is Deutschland). Plain Dutch differed from the more affluent Dutch (from Holland), who more easily assimilated themselves into mainstream America. Groups of these folk have become known as the Amish, Dunkers, Shakers and Mennnonites.
They live somewhat apart from others and have a closed society so not a whole lot is known about them.
Not much is known about their practices and beliefs outside of their own culture. They appear to be strict Christians who do not embrace “worldly” practices nor technology. If you look a bit closer, you will find that their folk magic is an integral part of their everyday lives. The tradition of Pow-wow goes back a long way into their past. Pow-wow is an Algonquin term and was borrowed from that native culture. For American natives, a pow-wow is a gathering of Indians and particularly medicie men.
For the Deutsche, the term pow-wow refers to a collection/study of European magic spells, folk remedies and recipes. The formulas mix Christian prayers, magic words and simple rituals to cure simple domestic ailments and rural troubles. The tradition is also called Speilwerk. (Hey, that looks suspiciously like “spellwork” to me) Its adepts are sometimes called hexenmeisters. The tradition of hex signs painted on Pennsylvania barns in rural areas is believed to relate to this tradition and some think the symbols for pentagrams were talismanic decorations.
The hex signs do have symbolic meanings. They were used to decorate indoors until the early 20th century Quilts and wooden household items were decorated with these designs to protect the home and hearth. When paint became more affordable, the decorations moved to the barns. After that, they became popular and now can be found even in jewelry items.
The nex daddy sign keeps away plague, famine and the evils of the world.
This hex sign uses both the distelfink and the Irish four leaf clover for luck and long life.
Pow-wow doctors use the Bible, the 6th and 7th books of Moses, a magical text which clams to be a sort of sequel to the biblical books of Moses, the Penteuch, and teh Egyptian Secrets of Albertus Magnus along with a book called the Long Lost Friend, (Der Lange Verborgene Freund, published 1820). An excerpt from the 6th and 7th books of Moses: ……….”.we must first become Christians before we can perform cures by Christian methods.” But some cures , expecially in the Urlasswe practice speak of deities such as Holle, Frost Giants, Wudan (Odin), Dunner (Thor), and Ewicher Yeeger (the Eternal Hunter).
Some cures, have a definite pagan resonance such as this charm for cataracts
Es Wassaer, des salz
Es Wasser,des salz
Des Salz iss am vergehne
glaarer binnich yetzs am sehne
Die Holle schteeht geeich yeder schaade
Kummt sie mir un heift mir graade
“the Water, the Salt
The Water, This Salt
The salt is ceasing to be
Clearer now do I see
Holle stands against every harm
she comes to me and helps me now
and pagan folk, how about this hex sign, the Eternal Oak which stands for strength in body and mind….remind you of the Oak King?
I know this isn’t strictly a pagan post but I did think it was interesting that folks we think are SO very different from us have roots in the very same pagan belief systems that we do.