I can’t believe it, but it’s already May! The month of May (the 5th month) holds the numerological vibration of the number five. Jupiter rules the number five offering abundance, fortune and excitement. Combined with the influence of Leo and Taurus and guided by the element air, May ushers in vast amounts of positive energy with which to work with. Live the journey in May, let your hair down, lift off the ground, dare to do things differently. May poses the question: am I living or waiting to die?
I, myself, am living. I am usually bad at taking my own advice, but I seem to be embracing the energies of May rather well this time. With Spring in full swing, my own desires to get out, do, be and create are running high. And I am going to use this surge of energy to get things done. I am excited to try yoga for this first time this month. I have been really invested in my tarot studies, and I will be starting up tarot classes again at The Broom Closet towards the end of May. And perhaps my favorite new May activity is exploring the old growth forest at Overton Park with one of my best friends.
May brings enchantment with its seasonal changes, ushering movement of the metaphysical kind. Through the breeze and tides, May carries with it an opportunity for a second chance. The month of May has the energy to help us reach our goals and hearts desires again. Utilize May’s energies by going the extra mile with your projects, and watch them succeed!
These are all create things to do. They are physical, so they make me feel like I’ve gotten out and done something good. They also all affect and are influenced by my spiritual path. For me, that is what makes these activities so fulfilling. Spring, and the energies of May, are about embracing the outdoors, becoming more active and finding those activities that feed not only your physical body but your spirit.
So come get busy with me, either in the spirit of May, or by joining me on these quests for physical and spiritual fulfilment. Sometimes the most profound experiences come from unexpected places or from uncomfortable situations. So grow, expand, learn, and take yourself to new heights. The blessings of May are ripe for the picking and I encourage you all to reach high and aim for the Sun!
Reflections in the Well: Musings of a High Priestess of The Fellowship of Avalon
Sitting here outside on an unusually warm February day (thanks global warming) I think to spring and this fills me with joy. I suppose the sunny skies, the chirping birdsong, the gentle breeze and the delicate aromas from the flowering trees and daffodils put me in a good mood. It’s this time of year when I feel the interconnection to nature. As winter winds down, it’s such a dramatic turn of the wheel to see spring here. In the south, it doesn’t last long before the unbearable heat is upon us and this witch either needs to hang out in water or view the great outdoors from a window. So, let’s be present in this moment. With joy filling our hearts for these beautiful days, I wonder how you can celebrate this moment by being more present in your practice and spiritual devotions?
I generally have a super busy life, with a career, volunteer work, housekeeping, educating, along with being a wife, and mom (and chauffer) to my lovely children. It is rather easy for me to push aside my practice and myself as the least important item on my daily list. But I know that this is faulty thinking. For too long, I put the care of myself last. I’m not saying that I want to put myself above others or that the rest doesn’t matter, it just means I have to be intentional about myself. How can I be a good high priestess if I’m neglecting myself? As they say on the air planes, in case of emergency, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then on your child. Being in service to others and my deities means I take care of me and you both.
So being present in my practice means that I wake up each morning with gratitude on my lips. I thank the Goddess for the new day, grateful that I am alive. I drag myself out of bed, quickly dress and throw on my sneakers. My faithful companion, Rocco the Schnauzer, sees me getting ready and eager waits by the door. He knows adventure is upon us. I attach his leash, open the door, and he zooms out. Our walk commences. In the beginning of this practice, I could barely get down the street before I was winded. Now, I can go a couple of blocks. While I walk, I chant and sing (mostly too silently for the neighbors to hear). My favorite is “My body is a living temple of love.” I especially start singing that one when I feel like I can’t go further. I also pray, and sometimes I close my eyes and just try to feel all that I’m feeling. Thankfully, I’m on a leash and Rocco leads the way.
Some days, I don’t want to get up early to walk. I’m a night owl after all. But there’s something to be said for sacrifice. When it was super cold and windy, it was hard to get out of my warm bed. But I did. I bundled up and went to it. And surprisingly, my day seems to be much better because of this devotional practice. And it brings me a sense of satisfaction and grounding. Walking as a spiritual practice is what works for me right now. But I wonder what daily practice works for you? What bring you joy?
In mirth and reverence,
The word February is born from the Latin word Februarius, from Latin februare meaning to "purify" or "expiate." In ancient Rome, Februarius was the "Month of Purification" and great festivities were held to reestablish the empire's focus on righteous living. February was the month of purification to the Romans because in their early calendar it was the last month of the year, and so considered an appropriate time to get rid of the bad, stale, or unclean in preparation for the new year. In the early days of the Roman lunar calendar, March, as the month when spring takes hold, had been thought of as the first month of the year; and so many holidays in the last half of February centered around the theme of endings, including the Terminalia on the 23rd, honoring Terminus, the God of boundary stones. The 23rd for whatever reason had a ritual significance as the last day of the year, even though the month (mostly) held 28 days
To me, the idea of devoting a month to the process of purification is invigorating. The hustle-bustle of the holidays are left behind - February finally sees many of us getting our first breath of fresh air. And, by this time of year, the pressure of New Year's resolutions is either incorporated itself into healthy habits or dropped by the wayside.
Imbolc is the Sabbat that occurs in February. While Imbolc is centered on the return of the Sun, and the first hopes of spring, it is also a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. Imbolc is also seen by many Pagans as one of the periods of renewal. Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and birthdays are viewed by some as opportunities to begin a new year or cycle. Some embrace all of these occasions as new starts, and some of us feel that one or the other is the most appropriate time to consider a new cycle’s beginning.
For me, February and Imbolc is a time of rededication. The chaos that is the secular holidays has passed, however I’m still riding the need to buckle down for the year, and seriously start working on my goals. So every Imbolc, I dedicate myself to working with one God and one Goddess for the year. Sometimes I promise to spend more time with my Matron and Patron (Sekhmet and Anubis), but other years I dedicate to other deities who have been showing up in my life, or deities that I want to work with for a specific reason.
This February, I ask you all to join me in giving your life a little new year’s purification and dedication. When you celebrate Imbolc, as you light your candles, take a moment to consider who, or what, lights you up. Don’t be afraid to recommit to those things in your life that are important to you, and don’t be afraid of showing or expressing your commitment to that. Tell your partner or family how much you love them, and share your gratitude. Spend some time with your Deities, and share your love and devotion with Them. Find something that lights your own inner candle, and promise yourself that you will honor that light with love, gratitude, and devotion.
With wisdom and empowerment,
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. As I grow in my practice, I’ve come to love winter almost as much. I enjoy the darkness, the forced isolation the weather brings. I look forward to having more free time and less responsibilities. I can get back into making sacred art, and meditating – things I think I don’t usually have time for.
In Wicca, the winter is associated with death. Nature is hibernating, and it can look like the world around us is dead. Everything takes on a gray, monotone hue. The trees are the barest of skeletons. The Crone has taken her seat at the cauldron, and it is time for some introspection.
Although I do appreciate the changes that winter brings to both myself and my environment (the skies are never as clear as a crisp winter’s night), my new fascination with winter has more to do with its association with death than anything.
I’ve been researching death doulas. It’s an amazing new concept that calls to me, and to some of my friends as well. Death doulas are there when people are at the end of their life, and the doulas offer help to both the families and the dying. Very similar to a regular doula, except instead of ushering in new life, death doulas help people meet the last phase of their life.
To some of you, that may sound a bit strange or uncomfortable. And that’s okay, it’s not for everyone. And keep in mind, I’m the weird one in our little group. But being bombarded with articles, emails, and other advertisements for death doulas, during this particular season, cannot be a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences anymore.
We have just passed Samhain. Many of us view Samhain as the end of a cycle, and Samhain has become known as the Celtic New Year. Which makes this a great time to put things to rest in our lives. Because the weather makes staying home and indoors so appealing, this is the time of year when we spend more time alone. This is the time of year when there’s not much else to do except think.
I encourage you all to embrace winter, and spend some time with yourself. Be the Hermit from the Tarot; ruminate, re-evaluate, ask yourself the hard questions. How have you grown? Are there areas in your life that you’ve been stagnant in? What is important to you? There is a chance that your answer may different this time from the last time you considered these things. As we grow, our lives change, our priorities change, and we need to be aware of that so that we can steer our life in the appropriate direction.
While you’re doing a sort of self-evaluation, you will likely find things that you don’t like, or that you know are unhealthy for you. Bring the winter into you thinking. Get rid of those things, bury them. Winter is the season of the Crone, and although She is wise, she can be harsh and unwavering in her knowledge. These things aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. Pruning helps the plant to be healthy, and we don’t want dead leaves and branches weighing us down.
So as the fall approaches (finally), and we look towards winter, don’t dread the cold and the bleakness. This is a time that can be empowering if you harness winter’s energy. Get to know yourself again, and clean out your metaphorical closet. Actually, go ahead and clean out your bedroom closet too. It’s a good time to donate unwanted clothing to local shelters or clothes closets that help the needy.
With wisdom and empowerment,
In Greek mythology, Alcyone (Al-sigh- ah-nee) and Ceyx (Sea-icks) were a happy couple. Ceyx went traveling over the ocean and due to bad storms, lost his life at sea, his wife so distraught, threw herself into the ocean. The Gods felt so sorry for them, that they turned Alcyone and Ceyx into halcyon birds, also associated kingfishers. The Roman poet Ovid in his writing explains the term “Halcyon Days”, as halcyon, would lay her eggs during the winter solstice, her father the God of winds, Aeolus would calm the seas and wind so that she could safely make her nest. Some say the legendary bird herself could calm the seas so she could lay her nest that would gently float upon the sea. The phrase has since come to mean a time of calm and peace. The dictionary defines halcyon as “peaceful, gentle, calm, happy, carefree, tranquil, and prosperous.”
My preferred version of the story is that the Halcyon birds themselves calmed the seas so they could lay their nests upon the water. It must have taken great strength, commitment, and personal power to do this. How might we be like the Halcyon? How do we calm our own seas so that we might thrive?
I believe the answer here is finding balance. If you’re stressed out, your magick won’t work well. You have to take care of yourself. It’s a good idea to do a self-assessment occasionally. Think about the elements within you? Are they harmonious? Are you resting and eating well? Are you communicating clearly and effectively with patience and kindness? Are you taking time to be creative? Are you nurturing yourself in a spiritual practice regularly?
As the Wheel of the Year turns and we face the busy holiday season, many of us are spending time with extended family. One of the things that can try to upset our Halcyon peace is extended family and outside folks who question how you are living your life. Sometimes family may not understand or appreciate our path, or worse, they have something negative to say about it. My thoughts on this are to be kind but firm in your response to them. Depending on the audience, I’m also careful to tell people about my spiritual path. Before these situations happen, I will do a quick spell for peace, place sigils in my home, and sage the place after folks leave to remove any negativity. Let your home and your mind be your sanctuary of tranquility.
With peace and harmony, our magick can thrive. We can transform ourselves. We can live joyfully and fully. May you be a Halcyon bird wherever you may go. As my Buddhist brothers and sisters may say in meditation, “May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be whole.”
In mirth and reverence,
Have you ever smelled the original green Palmolive dish soap? Or Ponds’ cold cream? Or maybe theperfume Knowing? Or the Bath and Body Works lotion Moonlight Path? All these smells remind me of my grandmother. She moved on to the Summerland about 3 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t
think about her. She was very special to me. She was an elegant lady, kind to everyone she met, but also strong and wise. She held a quiet dignity and she was a fabulous listener. She was so very different than me, and yet…I wish to be more like her. Interestingly, my daughter is quite like her, not only in personality but in style and grace. What a blessing to me that so many of the things that I valued in my grandmother have shown up in my daughter’s developing adult personality.
My grandmother’s love reminds me of the goddess Kuan Yin and her gentle unconditional love. She inspired me in my career and in my faith. She encouraged me to think critically and she loved me just the way I was. Having this kind of foundation gave me the freedom to explore and to be confident, even when I didn’t knowing where I was going.
In Wicca, we celebrate the stories and personalities of deities who can bring comfort, strength, and inspiration to our lives. We also honor our ancestors for the same reason. Those who came before laid a path that either we build upon or we bulldoze and make new. Ancestors of blood or spirit can aide us in our lives as we seek to live fully.
The other day, I was watching a video of the scientist Neil de Grasse Tyson and the philosopher Jason Silva as they discussed the scientific and spiritual nature of life and death. Tyson said, “Why should death be anything different than the absence of life before you are born?” Silva says, “As creatures of mind and meaning, we have angst of existing as temporary beings.” Tyson says, “What give meaning to the life that we will know only once? My knowledge that I will die gives focus to every day that I am alive. The way to rage against the dying of the light is to be as alive as possible while you are. Life gives meaning to life, and what we do with it, that gives meaning. Knowing you are going to die gives you focus to live more fully.”
As we near the sabbat Samhain, let us be mindful to not only honor the lives of our ancestors but to celebrate the life we are living now. Let us live fully. As Jason Silva says, “Let us be drunk on awe”. So, that we make each and every day of our lives matter more and that compassion and creativity fill each moment we are here. I think my grandmother would agree, it’s a good way to live.
In mirth and reverence,
As we approach the month of August, there are some powerful things happening in our world, and I hope you take time to experience them. On July 26, 2016, we entered a period of time that is considered the planetary or energetic new year. This is what is called the Lion’s Gate. The Lions Gate opens every year on August 8th and lasts until 12th, when the Sun is in Leo and is marked by the star Sirius moving closer to earth and aligning in Orion’s belt, which perfectly syncs up with the Pyramids in Giza.
Sirius’ energy is all about awakening to new frequencies, energetic potentials, and a higher consciousness at an accelerated rate. When Sirius is close, he bathes planet Earth with power, potential, and a new stream of consciousness which will allow us all to activate our third eye chakra and to tap into the limitless energy of our being. During this time we are all going to be reminded that we are connected to the Universe and that we hold an innate wisdom and power to create our own reality through our thoughts and perceptions. We may also feel a deeper sense of connectedness to the Universe and that we are not the only intelligent beings in this cosmic world. The ability to cross other dimensions and astral travel will also be strong at this time, as many believe that the activation of The Lion’s Gate can blur the lines across different dimensions and frequencies.
The Lion’s Gate phenomenon is a good time to consider an energetic cleanse, start a new project, or wrap some things that you have been working on this year. Schools are getting started around this time as well, so many of you may already be doing some of these things during this auspicious time and not even realize it.
Lammas or Lughnasadh falls close to this period as well. Depending on tradition or location, Lammas is celebrated anytime from July 31 to August 2. Lughnasadh is an Irish Gaelic name for the feast which commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun. In the mythological story of the Wheel of the Year, the Sun God transfers his power into the grain, and is sacrificed when the grain is harvested.
Many traditions celebrate Lammas as the first harvest festival of the year (the other two being Mabon and Samhain). Some celebrate the occasion with games in honor of Lugh’s funeral. Lammas is a festival celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the fruits of our labors, and seeing the desires that we had at the start of the year unfold. This is a time when many do an inventory of their year, or their goals, and see how much progress they have made. As August cools into September and October, we prepare more for the winter, the dark period, and a time of internal work, so taking stock of things at Lammas can be a good practice.
I encourage you to take advantage of this mid-year renewal. After-all, there are many types of new beginnings throughout a calendar year, and getting a chance to start over or renew your energy is usually not a bad thing.
So honor The Lion’s Gate and Lammas by doing something that makes you happy or makes you feel good. Pamper yourself, spend an evening lounging around instead of working, or spend some extra time outside (in the shade, please) feeling your connection to the Universe. And while you’re taking care of yourself, have fun! Play games in honor of Lugh’s sacrifice, take your dog to the park to play catch, or go chase all the Pokemon you want. Do something fun for yourself and embrace being renewed and supported by the Universe.
With wisdom and empowerment,
One of the many beautiful things about Paganism is that there is no universal “right or wrong” way to practice the religion. Another great thing about Paganism is that it recognizes the divine feminine alongside the divine masculine. Many Pagans, myself included, praise our religion because it recognizes both of these aspects and encourages balance.
Although your choice of tradition under the umbrella of Pagan can be personal and something some people don’t like to share, there are others who love to talk about their tradition or their gods. I enjoy sharing my gods with others, and trying to explain my flavor of Paganism. In talking with others, I have realized that many Pagans have a Goddess (or multiple Goddesses) but they do not have a God that they have a relationship with.
Many people convert to Paganism because it recognizes the Goddess, and they need to be able to honor, recognize, and celebrate this part of themselves. But what happens when we do that to the exclusion of our other half? Many people need a break from the patriarchy of Christianity or other Abrahamic faiths. And that’s okay. But if we are a culture that celebrates and demands balance, how can we walk our talk if we ignore the masculine?
I am probably one of the few people who converted to Paganism and immediately began to work with a God. Ironically enough, it was a God who is often wrongly compared with Jesus. That God was Horus – son of Isis from Ancient Egypt. I do not still have a working relationship with Horus. He was there to facilitate my conversion, helped introduce me to Ancient Egypt and its Gods and Goddesses, and got me on my feet.
I now work with multiple deities from different cultures. Most of them are Goddesses, I will give you that. I have grown to understand the attraction to the Goddess and the reason we need Her in our lives. But I also keep a working relationship with different Gods. Having a divine Father and guide is just as important to me as having a divine Mother.
I wonder if part of our avoidance of the God is due to our experiences with the Christian God. Some people may feel that all Gods are similar to the Christian God. Others may be overwhelmed by the various Gods and the many options. Whether or not we worship the faces of Deity or their archetypal roles, deities usually fit into the 12 archetypes coined by Carl Jung. So does the idea of having a God who is a lover scare us? We are familiar with a God who is both a Creator and Ruler. Many of us have not experienced a God in any other role. And while we may be superficially attracted to the idea of something that is unusual or exotic, it can also be scary deep down, and therefore we avoid it. And in the case of creating a relationship with a deity, it can be nerve-wracking regardless of gender. What if you do it wrong? How do you approach a God who doesn’t conform to any of your previous knowledge or experience? How important is cultivating a relationship with a God?
In the end, those are personal questions you’ll have to reflect on. The answers to them, and many other questions about working with the divine masculine, are individual in nature. I encourage you to work on your relationship with your God, or a God of your choosing. The God has so much to teach us about ourselves, the universe, and even others (especially other men). Walk your talk and embrace the balance.
I have found the meaning of life. Well, at least, the meaning of my life. Many people wonder what the purpose of life is. Why are we here? What is our job or purpose in this life? How did we end up existing? And why on this planet? Some of those questions I cannot answer. Scientists say that the evolution and development of humans was coincidental. I do not believe in coincidences. But I still have no answer as to why we are really here, or why here is this planet called Earth.
I have recently discovered the reason why I am here. And I suppose that is enough. I think that is a journey that we all must go on, alone. I cannot tell you why you are here or what your purpose is. As you seek to find this answer in yourself, let me give a bit of a warning. Don’t look for the answer to this mystery with expectations. Some people come into this life with an important job to do. Most of us are not going to change the world the way that Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa or political leaders have. Although that does not mean we cannot influence or make a different in the world. For the majority of us, our life’s purpose is something smaller and more personal.
Earlier this month, my good friend and fellow High Priestess, Sarah, led a women’s ritual that I attended. In this ritual, we went on a deep journey to meet Sarah’s matron Goddess Nehalennia. As we begin this meditative journey we greeted each element. In the South, I saw a snake twined around a pole. Now for me, snakes are a positive totem to have around. I have a strong connection to the energy of Snake, but it had been a while since I’d seen Snake anywhere. Although I do not fear snakes (I actually like them), seeing Snake in the South made me sit up and take notice. I knew that there was going to be a potent message in the journey.
As we continued through the meditation, we eventually reach the temple of Nehalennia where she greets us with a gift. Along with the gift that Nehalennia was giving to each of us, I also received a snake from her. As she stretched her hand out to me, there was a snake wrapped her arm that unwound itself, slithered over her hand onto mine, and settled itself around my arm.
Snake’s medicine is all about transmutation, change, and growth. Because snakes shed their skin, they are associated with cycles, especially the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. As Snake sheds its skin so we too can shed our illusions and limitations. Then we are able to use our vitality and desires to achieve wholeness.
After our journey, the women who attended this ritual shared their experiences. I told the group about the snake and that I knew I was about to go through another shift in my life. I was either in the middle of or about to begin a period that would require me to grow, change, and become a better person. And in true fashion to myself, I had to make a joke about how it seems like that is all I ever do – grow, change, mature, adapt.
For days after the ritual, I kept thinking about my experience and what Snake wanted with me. And then suddenly, I knew. Snake was me. I am Snake. This is my purpose. My life’s purpose and meaning is for me to grow. That’s why I’m here; to learn, to gain wisdom, to mature, to change, to adapt, to experience and learn lessons. This was an amazing and humbling experience. To be gifted with the insight on to why you’re alive! You may have heard the idea that you cannot be responsible for others, but only yourself. You cannot control others, only yourself. Somehow knowing that my life’s purpose is to transform into the best me that I can be, put that old adage into a new perspective. I am here to work on me, not save the world. I cannot fix the world and fix me at the same time. I cannot help others until I have helped myself.
The longer I think about this, the more it feels right. It would be “right” if I was just going on off of my experience at the ritual. But do you know how when you stumble upon a Truth, you see how other things in your life point towards that Truth as well? All of my main deities are deities of destruction, death, and rebirth. This is the cycle of life, and the cycle of the snake as it sheds its skin. I am born under the sign of death and rebirth in Western Sun astrology. Most of my astrology associates me with snakes and water. And is water not the origin of all life, where things are born out of?
Spring is in the air (and the snakes are coming out) and now is a good time to start becoming more active, and doing all those things you kept thinking about over the Winter. So I encourage you all to go outside, embrace all the new signs of life, and take a few moments to ponder what your life’s purpose may be. Maybe it will be something big, important, and world changing. Maybe it will be something internal. Whatever it is, know that your life’s purpose is amazing and important, and no matter how big or how small it seems, it will change the world. It will certainly change your world.
With wisdom and empowerment,
Part of the practice of many witches and Wiccans is spell craft, the intentional focus of will to create change. There are many books and people who promote the use of incantations with items of corresponding colors, herbs, oils, among other ingredients. These bells and whistles can be useful when you are a beginner or need the stimuli to help you focus in spell crafting. However, they are not necessary to effect change. Having the will and the ability to focus, raise, and direct energy makes a spell productive. Spell casting is about the power within.
Sometimes, I hear people of the craft thinking of spell crafting in discrete, short term measures. Does this describe you? As an example, perhaps it’s the full moon, and you want to increase your finances, so you do a spell. You set your intention, perform a spell or ritual, and then you think you are done. Yes, the intention is out there in the universe, but what else are you doing to create change, to make the conditions favorable for the change and reward you wish to see? It is not enough to cast the spell and be done.
In her book Warrior Goddess Training, author Heatherash Amara says, “Transformation starts with how we use our words- how we speak our story to ourselves and others. Like body and mind, words are vessels. Each word we choose can hold the vibration of healing, peace, and love, or be brimming with fear, victimization, and judgment. Our words help to nourish or deplete our vessel.”
Spell crafting is literally about the words we use, either spoken aloud or held in our hearts. To create change, we must change our story. We must use impeccable words. If we wish to transform our lives, even in small moments of a simple spell, we must be aware of the bigger picture and story we are telling ourselves. What are you really trying to accomplish? Let this bigger goal imbue your working, your daily living. Looking forward, you can choose to live into the story you wish to see. Let your everyday words be a part of the spelling of a better world for yourself.
Of course, there will be set backs, or maybe things don’t move in the direction you want as quickly as you’d like. Take the time to see what else you can being doing to meet your goals. Are they worth goals? Are you swimming upstream? Are you committed to the long haul or do you need to shift directions? If you’ve had a set-back or you are in a slump, how can you reinvigorate your magick? Words matter. Intention matters.
In reflection, I ask you to consider: What story are you telling about your life-both magickal and mundane? Does your story need to change? Or are you satisfied in the spelling of it?
In mirth and reverence,