Litha Playlist: 2 Hours of Music for the Summer Solstice

Ah, summer.  For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere (and in a place where, for at least half of the year, it is quite cold), summer is an especially sweet time.  It brings to mind bonfires, sunlight streaming through green leaves, flowers waving deliciously in a warm wind.  Sure, there are June bugs and mosquitoes (a LOT of mosquitoes), but these are small prices to pay for finally being able to go outside without wearing ten layers.

Despite the fact that the season of summer doesn’t officially start until the solstice, midsummer has become, for me, a slightly bittersweet celebration.  In the past, I didn’t start feeling melancholy at the fleeting nature of the season until probably mid-August.  After tuning into the Wheel of the Year, however, I realized that, in many traditions, the “light” half of the year actually ends at June 21st or 22nd.  At the summer solstice, the light king (sun god, Oak King, however you want to refer to this deity) actually dies, or at least gets defeated, by the dark king (Holly King).  This is just one tradition, of course.  I have also heard that some people consider the light half of the year to be from Ostara to Mabon, and the dark half to be from Mabon to Ostara.  This makes sense to me, too.  Perhaps I’d feel less of a pang of sadness at the summer solstice if I kept this in mind.

In any case, we do recognize the power of the sun, or the sun god, at this time of year.  This is the longest day, and the shortest night.  Where I live, this difference is quite pronounced.  For example, today the sun rose at about 5:30 in the morning, and won’t set until after 9:00 pm.  It’s not quite as obvious as when I lived even farther north in a foreign country for a year, but where I am now is my home.  I’ve always known warm, well-lit summer evenings.

It is only fitting that the music we listen to on a day like this is relatively sunny.  So, with a little inspiration from my favorite playlist lady, Ozark Pagan Mamma, I’ve come up with my own Litha playlist.  These aren’t in any particular order, and all songs are accessible on Spotify.  Explanations on why each song was chosen are below the list.

  1. Litha (Lisa Thiel)
  2. Dans ar keriadenn (Skarazula)
  3. Noon of the Solstice (Damh The Bard)
  4. Sun Arise (Rolf Harris)
  5. Three Drunken Maidens (Chris Hennessy)
  6. Rise With the Fire (Reclaiming)
  7. Sacred Fire (Deean)
  8. Summer Solstice (Libana)
  9. Firebird’s Child (S. J. Tucker)
  10. Sister Sunshine (OMNIA)
  11. Dancing At Whitsun (Tim Hart & Maddy Prior)
  12. The Oak (Spiral Dance)
  13. A Rosebud in June (Elizabeth Nicholson)
  14. The Hills They Are Hollow (Damh The Bard)
  15. Solsitce Call (Gaia Consort)
  16. Don’t Carry It All (The Decemberists)
  17. Trotto (Skarazula)
  18. I’ll Follow The Sun – Remastered (The Beatles)
  19. The Old Favourite (The Gloaming)
  20. Tolven Stone (Spiral Dance)
  21. English Country Dances: Newcastle (Musica Pacifica)
  22. Caluski Pastora (Beltaine)
  23. The Mystic’s Dream (Loreena McKennitt)
  24. Only Desire What You Have (Kate Rusby)
  25. The Willow Maid (Erutan)
  26. Fairy Nightsongs (Gary Stadler, Stephannie)
  27. Healing Power of the Green (Lisa Thiel)
  28. Fairy Dance (Erutan)
  29. Litha (Threefold)
  30. Celestial Soda Pop (Ray Lynch)
  31. Solringen (Wardruna)
  32. Oak, Ash and Thorn – Recorded for the Peter Bellamy Oak, Ash Thorn Project (The Unthanks)

 

Explanations for each song:

  1. Litha – Lisa Thiel has an album called “Circle of the Seasons” where she makes a tribute to each Sabbat.  Obviously I wanted to include this one.
  2. Dans ar keriadenn – Just a fun fiddle piece with some interesting instrumentals that reminded me of a great summer party.  The instrumentals bring to mind Australia, which I have noticed seems to be a running theme through many summer-style songs.  For some reason the digeridoo seems to be associated with the sun in music.
  3. Noon Of The Solstice – Damh The Bard is a massive gift to Pagan music.  I also heard he’s going to be making an appearance at Minnesota’s Paganicon next year (2019).  This song brings to mind the battle between the Oak and Holly kings, which I mentioned above.  But, as he points out, the wheel keeps turning, which means that summer will come again.
  4. Sun Arise – Now this artist is actually from Australia.  The song is about the sun rising (perfect for Litha), but with lots of digeridoo.  Personally knowing somebody from Australia makes me love this song even more.
  5. Three Drunken Maidens – I thought this song just particularly brought to mind the playfulness of summer.  Three drunken maidens came from the Isle of Wight, started to drink on a Sunday, didn’t stop til Saturday night…  Just classic.  There are many versions of this song out there, but I love this one.
  6. Rise With the Fire – This is a chant-style song that slowly seems to raise energy throughout.  It’s all about how fire can be for healing and truth, not necessarily for destruction.
  7. Sacred Fire – Another repetitive song that you can easily memorize, basically a prayer in song form.  Denean sings about fire illuminating her dreams, burning through the night.
  8. Summer Solstice – This is a pretty choral piece that, for me at least, evokes images of an English meadow and a bunch of kids playing in it.
  9. Firebird’s Child – So opposite from the previous song!  S. J. Tucker is a vocal powerhouse as she sings about a maiden who can dance in fire.  In the end, though, we’re all the Firebird’s children.  I also love this piece because the Firebird is a creature of Slavic mythology.
  10. Sister Sunshine – A dreamy song about the innocence and beauty of the sun shining sweetly, and the knowledge that she’ll always come back.  This is a great song if you associate the sun with a feminine deity, rather than a masculine one.
  11. Dancing At Whitsun – I’m not going to lie, I had to look up what “Whitsun” is.  Whitsuntide is apparently the seventh Sunday after Easter, which puts it usually somewhere in late May or early June.  I love that the song focuses around an elderly woman who has been dancing at Whitsun for the past fifty years.
  12. The Oak – If you love the Celtic mythology of trees, this song is a great, meditative piece on the parts of the mighty oak tree and its power.  According to the Celtic tree calendar, Oak rules over the period of time between June 10 and July 7, after which Holly rules for a little under a month.  There are thirteen trees in the Celtic tree calendar.
  13. A Rosebud in June – Does anybody remember Pirates of the Caribbean 4?  Where the pirates try to capture a mermaid, and the mermaids in turn sing the song “Bonny Sailor Bold” to the pirates?  If you like the haunting appeal of that song, you’ll love this little solitary tune about summertime.
  14. The Hills They Are Hollow – Damh The Bard loves to sing about the British Isles.  In this piece, he describes how the hills are home to the fae, which dance on Midsummer’s eve.  “Some people don’t understand when I say, these are the things I believe.”  Just for all you guys out there who sometimes feel like people think you’re crazy because you’re Pagan.
  15. Solstice Call – A super fun, jolly piece about gathering everyone for Solstice celebrations.
  16. Don’t Carry It All – I saw this song on another playlist, and it’s probably the least Pagan-sounding song on this list.  But, the very first line talks about the turning of the season toward the sun.  The album name is also “The King Is Dead,” which probably has nothing to do with the Oak King, but we can pretend.
  17. Trotto – Skarazula has all these festival-sounding dance pieces.  I think I just picked this one because I thought it fit, to be honest!
  18. I’ll Follow The Sun – You probably never thought you’d see The Beatles on one of these lists.  This song probably has more to do with a relationship than with the actual sun, but I can appreciate the point of the lyrics.  “Tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.”
  19. The Old Favourite – Another instrumental piece that I just absolutely love and wanted to put in this list.  I think it just feels like rolling meadows and hills, maybe going down a dirt road on a bicycle.
  20. Tolven Stone – I assume that this is a reference to the Tolvan/Tolven Holed Stone, which is in Cornwall county, England.  The song talks about how on Midsummer Eve, the girls go to the Tolven Stone.  This is just a nice, upbeat song in general.
  21. English Country Dances: Newcastle – Exactly what its name implies, this is a nice little country dance with violin, drums, and harpsichord.  I definitely picture a fun solstice dance in the meadow.
  22. Caluski Pastora – A different kind of dance, this song by the awesome band Beltaine includes a lot of jazzy flute, violin, and finger snaps.  Just a great, cheerful number that brings to mind the sunny days of June.
  23. The Mystic’s Deam – This song is another fantastic piece performed by Loreena McKennitt.  It’s hazy, dark, and mysterious.  It turns those sunny days of June into the humid evenings with fireflies.
  24. Only Desire What You Have – One artist that I’ve found in the past year and really appreciate is Kate Rusby.  She records a lot of British folk songs and her voice is really unique.  This one is a great piece about appreciating what you have when you have it.
  25. The Willow Maid – This is actually a rather sad piece, and I guess I’m not sure why I ended up including it.  It’s about a forest sprite who cannot leave her willow tree, but a covetous man comes to chop down her tree and take her as a wife.  She becomes a flower because she can’t leave.
  26. Fairy Nightsongs – Beltane is supposedly the time when the veil between the Fae and the mundane world is thinnest, but Midsummer is also a classic time for honoring Faeries.  This dreamy piece is just a good addition to this list.
  27. Healing Power of the Green – Lisa Thiel knocks another piece out of the park with this devoted piece that lauds the healing that we experience when we return to the earth.  And, at no time is the earth quite as green and stunning as during Midsummer.
  28. Fairy Dance – I’m not going to lie, I love this song.  It’s just a beautiful, flute-y piece that sounds like an actual fairy party.  This is just one beautiful piece on the whole album “Court of Leaves” by Erutan.  She’s known for recording in her coat closet, which is neat.
  29. Litha – Threefold does a song for every Sabbat.  They’re actually quite nice for meditative purposes, because they’re very repetitive.  I love the battle motif in this one, since Litha is a time when the Oak King and the Holly King fight.
  30. Celestial Soda Pop – When I was a kid, my dad and I used to listen to many of his favorite artists in the car, and I realized that my musical taste was really influenced by his.  Ray Lynch was one of our favorite artists, and I used to make my dad play this song on repeat.  I guess I’m not sure what it has to do with Litha, but it seemed to fit this playlist more than any other.
  31. Solringen – Just like with Fairy Dance, I absolutely LOVE this song.  It’s in Norwegian, and it translates to “Sun Ring.”  You can look up the translated lyrics to this online, but I could just listen to the Norwegian all day.
  32. Oak, Ash and Thorn – This is based on Peter Bellamy’s song version of Rudyard Kipling’s “Oak, Ash and Thorn” poem.  The poem itself is beautiful, the song ads a fun medieval/renaissance style flair, and this version is a darker, lovelier version.  I definitely love it.  The last verse has to do with conjuring summer in, and every chorus talks about midsummer’s morning.  Just a classic.
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Ostara Altar

I’ve got to say, around this time of year, altars can get very fancy.

They’ve got loads of cool and intriguing items on them — flowers, antiques, incredible athames, and homemade wands.

My altar, on the other hand, tends to be pretty chill.  I have the same items that I switch out time and time again, and many of the same items stay on the altar all year round.  For example, my candle of feminine energy (goddess candle) and my candle of masculine energy (god candle) stay there all year.  The grapevine circle behind them is also a staple.  And the tree branch that I found outside some time last spring has made it through the whole year as well.  I might have to rethink it soon since it’s incredibly brittle by this point, but at the moment I’m still enjoying it.  Plus it’s a great place to hang my Witchy necklaces and other jewelry.IMG_20180314_085025

For my Ostara altar, we have some of the typical symbols of springtime, along with some fun little touches.  Honestly, though, I don’t know if this is the final product or the epitome of an Ostara altar.  If I had the time and the resources to really get an amazing altar going (and if it were a slightly bigger table), I’d love to make something really impressive.  As it is right now — well, this is what I’m working with.

I’m sure all of you frugal Witches will understand.

As you can see, my altar cloth is pink and stripey, bringing to mind the pastels of the springtime.  Unfortunately, where I live, there is still a boatload of snow on the ground…but the Sabbat represents the ideal, in a way.  Next,

 

img_20180314_085034.jpg

My own image, but the classic Marseilles Tarot.

we’ve got some of my other lovely staples: an incense burner, a myriad of candles, the central cauldron, and a

 

displayed Tarot card.  The Tarot card I wanted to display for Ostara is Temperance, which is, for me, a symbol of balance.

Balance is actually a very important part of Ostara (it being the vernal equinox, and therefore the time when daylight hours and nighttime hours are roughly equal).  I tried to show balance and contrast a few different ways with my altar.  Of course, the goddess and god candles are balanced on their own.  However, we’ve also got a small white tealight candle and a small black tealight candle in the forefront, with some crystals that represent Ostara, divided by their light and dark counterparts.  (I was supposed to have two on each side but my moonstone is somewhere in the jumble of everything in my room.)

IMG_20180314_085042 Then, of course, we have the rabbit.  Rabbits are, as most of us know from years of Easter decorations, a symbol of this time of year — as are eggs.  This little rabbit started its life as an Easter decoration in the home of my great aunt.  When I was a kid, we made plans to visit my grandparents for Easter and my great aunt (who lived in the same town) was invited to come to Easter services with us.  On Easter morning, she said she didn’t feel well and stayed home.  When my grandparents went to check on her later, she had passed away in her bed.  It seems strange now, but we all gathered at her home after she had been taken out and ended up taking mementos with us.  One thing I chose was this little rabbit snow globe, since she had her Easter decorations out.  I’ve kept it all these years and now he has his place on my altar — a symbol of fertility, life, hope, and new beginnings, even though the woman who once owned him is no longer here.

Among the other things on my altar are spring-scented and brightly-colored candles, my full moon candle that is standing in place of an egg-shaped one, dried roses, and feathers.  These are just things that seem to bring to mind the inevitable brightness of the season.

Lastly, I can’t forget the little Irish touches that I have on my tree branch.  IMG_20180314_085123Although I’m not Irish (that I know about), I love the history of the British Isles, and I obviously celebrate the Celtic Sabbats.  That means I also look forward to St. Patrick’s Day.  I know that it’s a very controversial day for Pagans — St. Patrick drove the “snakes,” in other words the pagans, out of Ireland, after all — but I can’t help but enjoy the way that, for a day, everyone appreciates the mystery and myth of the Emerald Isle as much as I do all the time.  This year, we plan to host our neighbors for a traditional dinner (I’ll be eating a vegan version), and I made a playlist of Irish traditional music that’s nearly two hours long.  I do love Spotify.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my Ostara altar.  It’s been such a blessing to be able to expand my path and make it more open as time goes on.  My mom even jokingly called me a “Wiccan” the other day (I don’t identify as a Wiccan specifically…but it’s a start).

Ostara Blessings!

 

Imbolc Playlist: Music for the First Hints of Spring

 

 

Here we are at another Sabbat; and I must confess that this one is just as difficult for me to place as Mabon was. As someone who was not raised Pagan (in fact, I was raised Catholic), I have all the experience in the world with the common secular holidays and religious ones. I can tell you all about Ash Wednesday and what you should and shouldn’t do during Lent (the roughly 40 days leading up to Easter). Groundhog’s Day is an underwhelming, yet present, part of February for Americans. Then there’s the saccharine Valentine’s Day, which I actually have a great fondness for (I love pink and hearts). As for Imbolc, however – this holiday has no obvious equivalent in modern Christian or secular culture. At least with Yule, Ostara, and Samhain, I have some kind of basis for the traditions and how to celebrate. Imbolc is a bit of an enigma.

Therefore, I’ve tried to make it my duty to look up ways to celebrate this Sabbat, especially since it is, actually, one of the four greater Sabbats. That includes the playlist I’ve taken it upon myself to build for each Sabbat – with lots of input from other Pagans (I’ve been heavily inspired by Ozark Pagan Mamma). I started back at Beltane, and so far, I’ve created playlist for each holiday. Now we’re at Imbolc, and then there’s just Ostara left to do.

So, whether you enjoy this playlist or not, I think that it speaks to the feeling of the season. Some hopefulness, some dreariness, a lot of Brighid, and light-filled themes. As usual, I’ll put the full list, and then below, the list plus reasons why I chose each piece.

I hope you enjoy. Again, these are no particular order (other that what I find pleasing), and they are all currently available on Spotify.

  1. Dante’s Prayer (Loreena McKennitt)
  2. The Wild Song (Anuna)
  3. Shepherd Moons (Enya)
  4. Candlemas Song (Lisa Thiel)
  5. Return to The Mother (Reclaiming)
  6. Banish Misfortune (Erutan)
  7. The Quickening (Spiral Dance)
  8. Song to Brighid (Lisa Thiel)
  9. Born of Water (Lila)
  10. Eiri na Greine/Sunrise ( Eamonn Cagney)
  11. Imbolc (Lisa Thiel)
  12. The Dove’s Return (Aine Minogue)
  13. Deeper Well (The Wailin’ Jennys)
  14. Brighid’s Kiss (La Lugh)
  15. No One But You (Erutan)
  16. Brighid (Damh the Bard)
  17. Maiden, Mother, Crone (Kellianna)
  18. Siochain Shuthain (Lukasz Kapuscinski, Adrian Von Ziegler)
  19. Hearth Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
  20. Imbolc (Threefold)
  21. Have you seen but a white lily grow? (Evelyn Tubb, Michael Fields, David Hatcher)
  22. Brighid (Kellianna)
  23. Triple Goddess Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
  24. Tiny Geometries (Ray Lynch)

Here’s the breakdown why I included each song:

  1. Dante’s Prayer – This song is a really great opener for any playlist. I’ve talked about how much I love putting instrumental music at the beginning of a playlist, and while this isn’t instrumental all the way through, it starts with some really great choral singing, as if from a deep, quiet cathedral, or maybe slowly stealing through the still, wintry woods. Loreena is gorgeous here, as always. This song is about finding the light, sometimes in other people, when everything seems lost in the darkness.
  2. The Wild Song – An equally complex and simple song, this number brings to mind the first few sounds of springtime after the winter starts to thaw. The lyrics of this piece will bring you to beautiful places, and the vocalizations are quite something.
  3. Shepherd Moons – When I was a kid, my dad and I used to listen to Enya in the car. So, when I saw that this song was on Ozark Pagan Mamma’s list, I couldn’t NOT put it on mine. The quiet hesitations of the melodic piano line are so in-tune with the way that spring slowly winds into being, awakening from under the snow.
  4. Candlemas Song – Always the thoughtful lyricist, Lisa Thiel reaches out with a simple chant/song to Birgita, an aspect of Brighid. She asks Birgita to awaken the flame within each of us, to relight and rekindle that which has been lost in the darkness of the winter.
  5. Return to the Mother – The great thing about this song is that another song by this group, Sun King, was on my Lammas playlist. The solid beat underneath this song matches up perfectly with either song. It’s a great mirror between the death of the father sun and the reawakening and returning to the moon mother. Almost as though it’s all a circle, isn’t it?
  6. Banish Misfortune – Although I absolutely love Erutan, hers is not the old rendition of this popular, dance-y strings number. I just love the idea behind even the name “Banish Misfortune,” since it calls to mind dancing through the brutally cold winter and still dancing as the springtime peaks out and the first birds start singing.
  7. The Quickening – Spiral Dance has quite a few interesting pieces on their various albums. This one starts out as a fast-paced dance number, then the vibrant vocals come in, celebrating Brighid and the spring being born from the winter Crone.
  8. Song to Brighid – I realized that I put an awful lot of Lisa Thiel on this playlist, and that tells me that she might have a special thing for Brighid. In this piece, Lisa calls Brighid a “blessed woman” and asks her to guide her. It’s such an authentic invocation of the goddess, and you can almost hear the pleading in her voice. I’m pretty much a soft polytheist, but I’m not immune to the devotion some of these musicians have to their spirituality.
  9. Born of Water – There is no way that you won’t sing along to this song. It starts off with some simple birds chirping, a rain stick, a flute…and the chant comes in, simple and memorable, empowering women and anyone who associates with the element of water. “Born of water, cleansing, powerful, healing, changing, I am.”
  10. Eiri na Greine/Sunrise – Just some lovely instrumental music. I looked up the first part of the name before realizing that it was already translated: “Sunrise,” in Irish. This is the time of the year that we celebrate the sun coming up earlier and earlier, and bringing back its warmth with it.
  11. Imbolc – More Lisa Thiel! This song was part of her Circle of the Seasons album, in which she did a song for each Sabbat. However, this piece is again, a dedication to Brighid, as the keeper of the home.
  12. The Dove’s Return – I think this is meant to be a Christmas song, to be honest, considering the album that it falls under on Spotify is “Celtic Christmas II,” but the ethereal sounds of the harp and the vocals bring this bright melody right into the first touches of springtime.
  13. Deeper Well – I am a big fan of The Wailin’ Jennys. They’re actually Canadian, which you can tell on this song due to the lack of a British accent. This isn’t my favorite song of theirs, but I can appreciate the message of looking for something more – instead of “drinking” shallowly in life, you need to “drink” from a deeper well.
  14. Brighid’s Kiss – It’s not too often that I have something from a Celtic Woman album on here. But, there can’t be any doubt that their voices blend so well that they deserve a spot on any playlist. This song isn’t entirely in English, but the parts that are talk about nourishing the people with the sunrise and the epiphany.
  15. No One But You – Here’s another piece by Erutan. Fun fact about this musician – she has recorded in her closet before, using the coats as acoustic dampeners. Anyway, her clear voice is oddly haunting, and I feel like in this playlist it gives us a reminder of the sweetness of springtime, but the iciness that can still overtake the land at this part of the year. Where I’m from, spring is still dragging its feet as Ostara and sometimes even Beltane. So, Imbolc is only the tip of the iceberg.
  16. Brighid – This playlist reminds me of all the songs that were called “Mabon” around that Sabbat. Brighid is everywhere on this playlist! Damh, of course, treats us to some guitar and introduces us to Brighid as the Triple Goddess of fire, healing, and spring.
  17. Maiden, Mother, Crone – I hadn’t previously had Kellianna on one of my lists, but looking back, I have heard about her. In this gorgeous song, lined by some simple piano, she sings about the Triple Goddess in her three aspects. Her voice also gets fuller as the song progresses, going from the Maiden onward.
  18. Siochain Shuthain – I think this song is about a lot of ducks floating on the water (as far as I could tell by the translation…or it’s about peace? Help me out, Google translate). Anyway, it’s a gorgeous instrumental piece using Celtic guitar.
  19. Hearth Blessings – Even more Lisa! Brighid is the goddess of the hearth, and while Lisa doesn’t mention Brighid in this piece, she does talk about the blessings of the house and the home. Since Imbolc is a time of spring cleaning and purifying our space, this blessing for the home seems like a perfect addition to this list.
  20. Imbolc – Threefold is a really curiously awesome group that has very instrumental pieces that incorporate vocals as though they’re chanting instruments, kind of in the background. This song is quite lovely but has almost rock-genre beats to it. It will definitely get you in the mood for spring.
  21. Have you seen but a white lily grow? – The interesting background to my choice of this piece is that I sang it back when I was in voice lessons as a kid. Sometimes I still sing it in the car when I don’t put any music in. Somehow, this song seemed perfect for Imbolc, hinting at the purity of the flower, its comparison to snow before anyone has walked on it. There’s something about the white softness, the sweetness of the imagery, that made it a shoe-in for the Imbolc playlist.
  22. Brighid – Yet another piece of Brighid! This one is by Kellianna again. In this song, Kellianna almost likens the Triple Goddess to an actual flame herself, leading the people out of darkness and into Love and Light.
  23. Triple Goddess Blessings – Here’s the last Lisa Thiel piece for this playlist. In the past I’ve had some hit-or-miss moments with Lisa, so I was pleased that her soft vocals made it onto this list so much. Again, with this piece, you can tell Lisa’s dedication to the Triple Goddess and the ebb and flow of the circular progression, going from Maiden, to Mother, to Crone, and back again.
  24. Tiny Geometries – Just like my father and I listened to a lot of Enya in my youth, we also listened to Ray Lynch. This is the first time I’ve included Ray on a playlist, but I can’t believe it’s taken me so long. The beautiful thing about Tiny Geometries is that you can imagine anything with the pulsing, tender, electric-sounding energy that this music creates. It could be a sunrise. It could be ice crystals melting. Perhaps it’s the birth of a lamb. Anything is possible at this wondrous time.

Thank you, and Blessed Imbolc to you.

Mabon Playlist – Two Hours of Music for the Autumn Equinox

Winter is coming, as they say. Before the snow flies, however, there are some very important Sabbats to experience. Of course there’s Samhain, or Halloween, which is probably one of the most important holidays for Witches. We can’t neglect the minor Sabbat of Mabon, though. This quintessential autumn celebration gives us a moment to look around us and realize that summer is ending. Yet, we can appreciate that there is a lot to enjoy about the autumn, too. Even now as most of us aren’t directly connected to the harvesting and gathering of our food (at least not to the degree that we used to be), we can still enjoy the harvest through autumn activities, like apple picking, raking leaves, sipping cider…all the good things. Maybe you even like the occasional pumpkin spice latte.

I can’t lie, though. Making a playlist to get into the Mabon mindset was not an easy task. I only started creating Sabbat playlists back in April, when I started my Beltane playlist. I used a lot of music that didn’t even necessarily mention Beltane, but just seemed really enjoyable and Celtic-sounding, or by Pagan musicians. When I made a Litha playlist, I got some inspiration from Ozark Pagan Mamma, but had some of my own input. The same thing happened with the Lammas/Lughnasadh playlist, although I was able to add a lot of my own tracks, mostly because there’s just something really mysterious and somewhat sad about Lammas.

With Mabon, though, I’ve been pretty stuck. Ozark Pagan Mamma came through for me again with some inspiration, and I got the few tracks that literally had “Mabon” in the name from the old favorites (Damh the Bard, Lisa Thiel, et cetera). Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what feeling Mabon should have. To me, Mabon isn’t quite as melancholy as Lammas. At Mabon, the leaves are starting to change color, and the season is becoming that warm sweater weather that so many people enjoy. Lammas is just kind of hot and tired and feels like a sun-baked wheat field about to die. If you saw the BBC show “The Living and the Dead,” think of that sort of aesthetic.

Anyway, here’s my best shot at a good Mabon playlist. You may not enjoy every song, and I certainly don’t think this one works as cohesively as the Lammas playlist did, but at least you may get some inspiration for what you want to listen to as we cozy up to autumn.

Firstly, the list, secondly, the reasons why I chose each song.

  1. English Country Dances: Irish Lamentation (Musica Pacifica)
  2. Mabon (Lisa Thiel)
  3. The Mabon (Damh the Bard)
  4. Persephone’s Descent (Autumn) (Marie Bruce, Llewellyn, Chris Conway, Juliana)
  5. The Mortal Boy King (The Paper Kites)
  6. Mabon (Threefold)
  7. Dance of the Darkness (Blackmore’s Night)
  8. Harvest Song (Beltane)
  9. Sabbat (Damh the Bard)
  10. Woodland (The Paper Kiss)
  11. The First Leaves of Autumn (The Fureys)
  12. Hope (Eluveitie)
  13. Meadowlarks (Fleet Foxes)
  14. Coinleach Glas An Fhomhair (Clannad)
  15. Harvest Chant (Reclaiming)
  16. Penelope’s Song (Loreena McKennitt)
  17. Tis Autumn – From “Beverly Kenny Sings for Johnny Smith” (Beverly Kenny)
  18. Health to the Company (Blackmore’s Night)
  19. Loreena McKennitt Trilogy: La Serenissima (Silverwood Quartet)
  20. Harvest (Jenna Greene)
  21. Autumn Time (Libana)
  22. Hunting Song (Pentangle)
  23. The Old Favourite (The Gloaming)
  24. Marigold/Harvest Home (Ariel)
  1. English Country Dances – So I chose this song first, and that may be because I absolutely love putting instrumental music at the beginning of a playlist. It can just really help get me into the mood of listening to music. This particular piece is a simple string number that sounds like a song the band would play at a harvest, as a farewell to summer.
  2. Mabon – I couldn’t leave out Lisa Thiel’s take on the autumn equinox. Again, this piece isn’t my favorite of her work, but she’s going to be on every one of my playlists, as she did a song for each Sabbat.
  3. The Mabon – On second thought, these song titles could get confusing. Damh the Bard croons his ode to the spirit of the autumn, especially to the Horned God (notable in his reference to wearing “the antlered crown”). I particularly enjoy the first person perspective of this song.
  4. Persephone’s Descent – If you are unfamiliar with Greek mythology, it’s time to brush up on it. This ode to Persephone as she makes her way to the Underworld for the winter is quietly calm and inevitable. At the same time, there is a hint of hope as Persephone sees the light of the Earth above her, which she yearns for even as she has the power of Death.
  5. The Mortal Boy King – I saw another song by this group on the Ozark Pagan Mamma playlist, and listened to a few more pieces by The Paper Kites. I was drawn in by the title of this song, since in celebrating the Wheel of the Year, many Witches recognize the death of the Oak King on the summer solstice and the death of the Holly King on the winter solstice. The indie vibe of this song rings through as The Paper Kites sing about the inevitability of night falling and yet holding on to hope.
  6. Mabon – Another song entitled “Mabon,” but this one is a lot more abstract than the others. Threefold is actually a very interesting group, which makes instrumental/vocal tracks that still sound entirely instrumental in nature. As the voices sing about “day and night,” it’s easy to feel pulled in by the constantly descending melody and recall the balance between the light and dark that is quickly shifting towards night.
  7. Dance of the Darkness – I thought about saving this bold piece for the Samhain playlist, and I can’t promise that it won’t show up there, too. Something about the hectic nature of this song just drew me in. The chaos of it seems to speak to the way that we head into the winter, hurrying to tie up loose ends as fast as we can.
  8. Harvest Song – This sweet piece cherishes the gift of the harvest given by the Sun, or by Lugh, as they mention in the lyrics. Everything comes from the Sun, and we wouldn’t have the harvest without the power of the warmth.
  9. Sabbat – This one didn’t need to go here in the Wheel of the Year, to be honest. I could have put Damh’s classic anywhere, since it talks about all the Sabbat. However, some of the lyrics suggest this piece could fit right in at Mabon. In any case, I think of Witches dancing around in the fallen leaves when I hear this song.
  10. Woodland – I saw this song on Ozark Pagan Mamma’s Mabon playlist, and while I like the aesthetic, I’m not sure that I like it here at Mabon. That being said, I’m not sure where else in the Wheel I would put it. So, here it remains. The lyrics do mention autumn, and running until you reach the sun, which feels cute and kitschy and like a high school movie. Hey, school is starting, in any case.
  11. The First Leaves of Autumn – I have to admit that I’m somewhat in love with this creaky voice. The Fureys sing about losing a love in the autumn, but it could just as easily be a metaphor for the loss of summertime.
  12. Hope – This is a song that I found on my older Renaissance/Pagan playlist that I came up with about six months ago on Spotify. As I was going through, I gave this one another listen and felt like it sounded both upbeat and ominous in the way that only autumn can.
  13. Meadowlarks – I love how this song goes between major and minor throughout. It feels like the tenuous balance between light and dark that Mabon represents. As the year continues to go on, darkness will continue to fall until Yule.
  14. Coinleach Glas An Fhomhair – If you like Enya, you’ll definitely enjoy this gorgeous voice layered over the jangly guitar. I found two translations for the title, either “Fierce Winter’s Eve” or “Green Stubble Autumn.” Either way, this song’s melody and (either) title are all about heading into the darker months.
  15. Harvest Chant – This album contains music written by Starhawk, one of the main people behind the Reclaiming tradition. In particular, this chant is an upbeat piece about working toward a better world and Earth, and partaking in that better world.
  16. Penelope’s Song – Loreena McKennitt, as you’ve probably figured out, is definitely one of my favorite singers at the moment. And this song is just as good as the rest of her music. A reverent piece about keeping memories and love for a particular person in her heart, this song brings to mind holding onto hope for the future summer to come.
  17. Tis Autumn – I’m not sure why, but whenever I hear an old-timey song like this, I always think of Christmas (maybe because of Bing Crosby or something). But this is a cute piece about all the great things that come with fall, and it’ll definitely get you in the mood for some pumpkin spice.
  18. Health to the Company – Unlike the other song by Blackmore’s Night, this song isn’t merely instrumental. It talks about celebrating the last good night before parting ways. While it’s a little on the melancholy side (it says “we may never meet here again”), it’s still a reminder to take advantage of the end of the summer before winter rolls in.
  19. Loreena McKennitt Trilogy: La Serenissima – A relatively short instrumental piece (string quartet) which brings to mind a medieval court and a stately feast. Definitely a lovely piece to play while you take an autumn soak or sit by the window with a cup of tea, watching the leaves fall.
  20. Harvest – So many songs with either “harvest” or “Mabon” in the title! Well, that’s what comes up when you search for good pieces for a Mabon playlist. Jenna Greene has a lovely voice and is one of the songs that certainly brings the magick element into her lyrics. She talks about the turning of the Wheel and the dark part of the year coming.
  21. Autumn Time – A quiet, short choral piece that brings to mind the cacophony of input we can get at autumn, yet the beauty that can emerge when it all comes together.
  22. Hunting Song – Now this is a long one. However, it’s a beautiful piece, with a sprightly female and male singing duo, and some quality percussion. You may not catch all the lyrics in this fast-paced piece, but the haunting melody will get you into the mood to enjoy the oncoming Sabbat.
  23. The Old Favourite – It’s no wonder that this is the name of this gorgeous instrumental piece. I could honestly just put this fiddle melody on repeat all day. But I think that The Old Favourite deserves a spot on this playlist because while it doesn’t really line up with any Sabbat, the melody brings me to late summer fields and dancing in the leaves.
  24. Marigold/Harvest Home – Just a really beautiful song about the changing of the season, and how that affects our lives and our homes. In the midst of autumn, we warm our hearts and homes. And this song ends with the beautiful “Harvest Home” chant that I had in my Lammas/Lughnasadh playlist. I thought this was a great way to end this playlist, with such a stripped chant about the end of the year. Perhaps, in my struggle to find a good Mabon aesthetic, this chant is just about as good as it gets.

Lammas/Lughnasadh Playlist: 1 Hour of Music for the August 1st Sabbat

As Witches, we all have different things that get us into the mood for a little Witchery.  Some people like to go outside and talk a long walk.  Others prefer to meditate in a dark room.  Let’s not forget that we all have our own ideas about what Witchery is, too.

The Sabbats are an interesting thing.  For many Witches, they are eight holidays that line the ring of the Wheel of the Year, mostly based on Celtic holidays.  If you’re unfamiliar, they tend to be called Samhain (Oct. 31st-Nov. 1st), Yule (winter solstice), Imbolc (Feb. 1st-2nd), Ostara (spring equinox), Beltane (May 1st), Litha (summer solstice), Lammas/Lughnasadh (Aug. 1st), and Mabon (fall equinox).  Perhaps the reason that these Sabbats are interesting is because, even if you’re a certain type of Witch –kitchen, ocean, natural…the list goes on — the Sabbats mostly have their own distinct flavor and feeling.  Everybody celebrates them differently, sure, but if you’re in the northern hemisphere, Mabon is a harvest holiday, Ostara is a fertility holiday…and there’s not always a lot of wiggle room in that regard.

So, how can we get ourselves into the mood for the Sabbats as they come around?  How can we integrate the distinct feeling of each of these holidays into our busy lives?  For me, one of the best ways is with music.  I can sit at my full-time job desk, do my work, and listen to Spotify.

Of course, not everyone likes the same styles of music, but there’s no denying there is something very, well, Lammas-y about the following songs.  (Some people say “Lughnasadh,” and that’s perfectly fine.  I personally haven’t had the opportunity to work with Lugh, and so I mostly use the term “Lammas” to refer to the grain harvest aspect of the Sabbat.)  The great thing about modern music streaming is that you can listen to a song you really like, and in one click you can find a whole slew of songs by the same artist.  Listening to Sabbat-specific music has introduced me to a number of pagan music groups that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Without further ado, let’s get into this list.  Rather than just ten songs as a lot of playlists are, I’ve given you over an hour of music to really get you into the spirit of the harvest.  They’re not in a particular order, but they’re all available on Spotify, so you can make your list however you want.  An explanation of why these songs are on this list follows.

  1. Songs from “Friday Afternoons”, Op. 7: Cuckoo!  (Benjamin Britten, Choir Of Downside School)
  2. John Barleycorn (Must Die) – Remastered 2010  (Traffic)
  3. Lughnasadh  (Damh The Bard)
  4. Before The Twilight Falls  (Emerald Rose)
  5. Homegrown Tomatoes  (John Denver)
  6. The Scythe  (Gaia Consort)
  7. Lughnasadh Dance  (Damh The Bard)
  8. The Wind That Shakes The Barley  (Loreena McKennitt)
  9. Everything I Own  (Bread)
  10. Harvest Song  (Spiral Dance)
  11. English Country Dances: Scotch Cap  (Musica Pacifica)
  12. The Lammas Tide  (The Corries)
  13. Lammas  (Lisa Thiel)
  14. Scarborough Fair/Canticle  (Simon & Garfunkel)
  15. Benjamin Bowmaneer  (Kate Rusby)
  16. Harvest Season  (Heather Alexander)
  17. Sun King  (Reclaiming)
  18. Deora Ar Mo Chroi  (Enya)
  19. The Door  (Spiral Dance)
  20. Laddie Are Ya Working?  (Heather Alexander)
  21. In The Name Of the Dance  (S.J. Tucker)
  22. Fear No Darkness  (Adrian Von Ziegler)
  23. Burning of the Piper’s Hut/The Piper’s Lament  (Beltaine)

Why These Songs Are On The List

  1. Cuckoo! – Benjamin Britten was a great 20th century composer of children’s music, and this version is on the soundtrack for Moonrise Kingdom, a quirky Wes Anderson film that happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time.  This short gem explains the life of the cuckoo bird, with the following lyrics, “In April I open my bill.  In May I sing night and day.  In June I change my tune.  In July far far I fly.  In August away I must.”  The child-like innocence of the song combined with the melancholy melody of the cuckoo bird leaving in August seems to fit the bittersweet end of summer.
  2. John Barleycorn (Must Die) – This classic song follows the plight of John Barleycorn, the human personification of the grain, as he is taken from the field, stripped from his shell, crushed, and made into food and drink.  Nothing reminds us of the cycle of the Earth as well as knowing how intimately we must work with the land to reap its harvest.
  3. Lughnasadh – Damh the Bard is an awesome singer whose pagan-themed music is great for any Sabbat.  If you’re a trained musician, you may not love his voice, but the imperfection of it is kind of the appeal.  This song is another homage to the Earthiness of this Sabbat and the power of Lugh.
  4. Before The Twilight Falls – Emerald Rose had years of pagan music recordings, and while I don’t believe they’re producing music anymore, their work will be treasured for years to come.  “Before The Twilight Falls” reminds all of us that we have to seize the rest of the summer before winter sets in.
  5. Homegrown Tomatoes – If you’re a fan of the mysterious tone of a lot of pagan music, you may not like this country-style folk song.  But, we can learn a lot from the lyrics, especially in how great hard work tastes in the harvest of our produce.
  6. The Scythe – Gaia Consort uses all the jangly guitars in this song to evoke the image of a dusty country road and the end of the harvest time.  Just a beautiful classic for this time of year.
  7. Lughnasadh Dance – Another great song from Damh the Bard, very dance-y and exciting (as you could expect from the name).  Damh’s knowledge of folktales and legends really comes out in his songs, and this one is no exception.
  8. The Wind That Shakes The Barley – This song has all the nostalgia and sadness that may come with the dying days of summer.  If you’ve never heard music by Loreena before, you’re missing out.  Her voice will make you feel the melancholy of the end of the season.
  9. Everything I Own – This song is probably the least pagan of the music here, but the name of the group is Bread, so….  In all seriousness, this song is all about being grateful for protection and good times, and how to serve the — er, entity — that has served you in return.
  10. Harvest Song – The beginning of this song is a classic harvest rhyme that people may have been singing for hundreds of years (by the sound of it).  The rest of this piece is a little hectic and chaotic in its feeling, and perhaps gets at the root of the frantic approach some take to the end of the summer.
  11. English Country Dances: Scotch Cap – No beating around the bush here.  I just heard this song and thought it sounded like a good Lammas piece!  No words, just classical music with lots of flute and a dance-y melody.
  12. The Lammas Tide – The singers have such a lovely Irish lilt (I think, I’m an American, so what do I know?) that it just brings you to a pub that everybody goes to after they’ve been out in the fields.
  13. Lammas – Lisa Thiel’s take on Lammas (she does songs for each of the Sabbats) is all about gratitude for the harvest.  We could all stand to thank the Earth for everything she provides!
  14. Scarborough Fair/Canticle – Some people prefer this song at Beltane.  However, my Beltane playlist has the version by Damh the Bard, which is less soft and wispy.  Simon and Garfunkel’s version, which with most people are familiar, brings to mind fields of wheat waving in the wind.  The song does refer to the harvest, too.  And, I have to mention that this version does contain the background verses referring to war and soldiers far from home, which again brings in the melancholy of the season.
  15. Benjamin Bowmaneer – This song doesn’t really mention the harvest at all.  However, the somewhat mischievous guitar in the background just seemed to fit this Sabbat.  And, Kate Rusby’s voice is really beautiful, so if you don’t listen to her, you should check out some more of her music.
  16. Harvest Season – I discovered Heather Alexander very recently, but she almost sounds a little like Loreena McKennitt, which is exciting.  Her piece about the harvest is perfect, especially with its fast beat, like a race to finish picking produce before winter.
  17. Sun King – This chant is entirely an homage to Lugh the Sun King, who sacrifices his life for the harvest.  It’s extremely catchy, but I think captures the grief that can affect people at this time of year, as we watch the summer slip away.  (This melancholy starting in June, after the solstice, is something that I only started experiencing once I started studying Witchcraft and understanding the Wheel of the Year.  Still, I definitely feel it!)
  18. Deora Ar Mo Chroi – I picked this song for the playlist because someone had used this song in the background for a YouTube video talking about Lammas.  It seemed to fit well, so here it is on the list.
  19. The Door – Another piece by Spiral Dance, this song rock-esque song, I think, talks about the difference between the light and the dark, which is a huge theme for this time of year.
  20. Laddie Are Ya Working? – A great song by Heather Alexander which evokes the sense of working in the fields.  It definitely reminds us of all the work that needs to be done before the end of the harvest season.
  21. In The Name Of The Dance – S.J. Tucker is probably one of the classic pagan musicians.  She uses a bit of digeridoo in this piece, which is an instrument that is apparently associated with summer (I didn’t realize this until I started listening to pagan music).  This isn’t my favorite one of her pieces, but if this song introduces you to S.J. Tucker’s work, then I’ve done my job.
  22. Fear No Darkness – I actually have this song on my Beltane playlist for its sheer fun nature.  I absolutely love this song, and any of the Celtic Collection by Adrian Von Ziegler.  However, the title works so well with my Lammas playlist because a lot of the songs on this list are quite melancholy.  I think this song near the end is a great reminder that you don’t need to fear the winter (especially in this day and age, what with supermarkets and central heating), because the summer will always return.
  23. Burning of the Piper’s Hut/The Piper’s Lament – Similarly to the last song, I had another version of this piece (by the same group, “Beltaine”), on my Beltane playlist (fittingly enough).  However, that version was much faster and like a dance.  This one is certainly a lament, and I felt that having these two versions as bookends of the summer is about the best way to show how the Wheel continues turning.

I hope that this playlist helps you get into the mood for Lammas.  Sure, this is one of the less hopeful Sabbats in a way, but it’s no less important.  After all, the harvest is a feast time and in the past was a forecast of how well your winter was going to go.  So, don’t forget to get the joy out of this holiday, too, with a lot of feasting.

If you enjoyed this playlist, please follow my blog and feel free to look back at my older posts.  I’ve been a little MIA recently but I’m back and ready to overhaul this site to be more user-friendly to readers.  Thanks for reading!

Year and a Day Journal #43: August 26th, 2016

As the people who consistently read this blog know, I just finished living in a foreign country for almost eleven months.  Coming back was actually easier than I thought it was going to be, probably because, while the city I was temporarily living in did come to feel like my home, I have lived in my US city for my entire life, and you can’t replace it.  So coming home felt like coming to another familiar place.  Then, shortly after I came home, I got engaged, and got a part-time job, and things have been just flying around at the speed of light.  And maybe I never really got a chance to feel loss.

Now, though, I’ve been away from my foreign country and my foreign friends for a month and a half, and it’s starting to feel difficult.  I’ve been trying to keep in contact with them, but I’ll never carve out as much time here as I spent with them there.  I saw some of my friends maybe three or four times a week when I was there, and here I’m lucky if I get to call or text them once a week.

So, therein lies the question I’d like to pose today: How does loss impact your path?  How can you make it something constructive? 

I wish that loss was one of those things that made people really motivated to do stuff, but as I recall BBC’s Sherlock saying in A Study in Pink, sadness is a paralytic (therefore ruling out that the cabbie would kill people because he was also dying, but that’s neither here nor there).  So certainly for me, I’ve noticed that while I’ve been home, I haven’t done much with my path.  I’ve been trying to write on this blog, certainly, but my practice has dropped off sharply.  That probably has many reasons (one of them being that I’m now living in the same house with my mother, brother, and two long-term house guests) but who’s to say one of them isn’t that I’m kind of sad about leaving my friends behind?  I mean, they even made a video for me that had interviews with all of them, and pictures and videos, and it made me cry in the airport.  Now I’m trying to make a video compilation of my experience there, and it’s not helping me cope either.

So on to the more important question of the two: how can you make it something constructive?  Short of making an inevitably creepy shrine for my friends and burning incense for them or something, I have just one idea.  Rather than think about how the loss of friends affects my practice, I should think about how having those friends affected my practice.  And it should be a motivator for me to stay in contact with them (because I am the worst at keeping in touch with people).

I know it’s not very much for today, and perhaps not very much insight for any of you, but I’ve definitely got a lot on my plate (as you can probably tell).  Thank you to everyone who does read this blog.  (You rock.)

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #42: August 11th, 2016

*Because I couldn’t figure out how to gracefully work in this question later on in the post, I’ll start off with the spoiler: What is your concept of the afterlife?  How does it work on your path? 

When I got off work today in the evening, a big storm was just rolling in.  I looked out the windows of my job and realized it looked much, much too dark for 7:15, but I decided to dilly-dally anyway.  By the time I finally headed out to my car, a massive, ominous, tidal-wave-looking cloud had shrouded the whole sky, leaving only a thin strip of whitish sky that was quickly being overpowered by the front moving in.  Thankfully I managed to make it home just as the drops were starting, and within two minutes of getting inside, it started to rain in earnest.  There was lightning, thunder…a real dark and stormy night.

I currently have four adult housemates (all right, one is my mom and one is my brother, and the other two are a couple from my foreign country), and the foreign woman suggested that we watch a horror movie, since the weather was very fitting.  We ended up scrolling through Netflix for ages (it has a surprisingly good selection) and finally settled on The Awakening, a 2011 British film about a woman who is an avid non-believer in ghosts, until she is hired to investigate one at a boys’ boarding school.

The movie was pretty good, very touching, and although somewhat predictable in hindsight, I was certainly captivated by it in the moment.  The main character was a woman named Florence, a university-educated woman in 1921 England.  She didn’t believe in ghosts, she didn’t believe in the afterlife, and she didn’t believe in God.

Quite honestly, although I knew that Florence would eventually meet a ghost that couldn’t be scientifically explained, I was rooting for her in the beginning.  We all know I’m not a huge fan of the Christian God, and I don’t like to believe in Heaven or Hell.  (It seems awfully boring in Heaven, to be honest–I don’t particularly want to worship at God’s feet outside a gleaming Jerusalem for all eternity.)  The ideas of a perfect Heaven or a absolutely abhorrent Hell are difficult to imagine, certainly, especially in a logical sense.  After all, what is happiness without sadness, and what is torment without relief?

Because of my desire to refuse the Christian afterlife, I similarly have trouble recognizing or wanting to believe in any other kind of afterlife.  I know that a lot of Wiccans believe in reincarnation, something that I understand from Scott Cunningham’s books.  But obviously not every Pagan or Neo-Pagan or Witch believes the same thing.  For example, reincarnation seems a horrible thing to me right now, where I am in life.  Let me explain.

In college, when I was really in the throes of philosophical quandaries about my religion, and about God, and about the afterlife, I was also a terribly tired individual.  I wouldn’t sleep until projects were done; I did a lot of extracurricular activities and I worked a campus job on the side.  Sometimes I wanted to fall into bed and sleep for the rest of my life.  Severe exhaustion does weird things to a person’s mind, and it may have been around that time that I decided that “living” forever, no matter how perfect eternal life might be, would suck.  I was so tired that honestly, the idea of just dying and sleeping in the ground forever sounded pretty damn good.

While I’m not so depressingly bleak these days, I still think that, after living a good long life (which I hope I do), being faced with reincarnation would be the last thing I would want.  I’m still thinking that it would not be a bad thing to just die and be done with it.  My body would go into the earth.  Maybe a tree would grow where I was buried.  Maybe I’d have a legacy or maybe I’d be forgotten almost right away.  In any case, I lived while I lived, and I don’t need anything more than that.

Of course, I know that there is a huge possibility that things might not be that simple.  I’ve never personally seen a ghost, but I can imagine that they could exist.  It’s more plausible to me than Heaven is, at least.  And I know that as my path takes shape, I might change my mind about what I believe.  But for now, there isn’t necessarily a need for me to have an afterlife.  I think people, over thousands of years, created these religious afterlives to deal with facing death.  And while it always sucks when someone close to you dies (especially if you don’t believe in an afterlife), I’m not sure I’m afraid of dying if I live a long life and do the things I want to do (again, fingers crossed here).  I’m afraid of dying now, certainly–I haven’t done everything I want to do.  But an afterlife isn’t going to help me do those things either.  I’m not going to write a YA novel or get married or have children or travel the world while I’m sitting in Heaven or Hell.

I suppose that was the long answer to a very full question.  I’d be interested in hearing what some of your ideas are.  I’m always open to new ideas.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #41: August 8th, 2016

After being home about a month (and procrastinating for much of that time), I finally marched out to my living room yesterday and did some yoga.  It wasn’t much–really, it wasn’t–but it felt like a huge step in the right direction.  Certainly, getting over the hump of starting something for the first time can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.  (Maintaining it is similarly extremely difficult, but I’m hopeful.)

Today’s journal prompt is of my own creation, inspired by my blind optimism toward keeping up a yoga routine.  How do everyday physical activities help you on your path? 

I’ll start by saying that physical activities here don’t necessarily mean “exercise.”  You don’t have to do Pilates to be doing good things for your body.  Sleeping, for example, is a great activity–one that I still have to get better at, despite doing it (almost) every day for the last twenty-three years–and getting enough sleep, for me, is a really important aspect of my path and the life that I want.  Not getting enough sleep is not healthy for me or my mind, and certainly not for my spirituality.

Yoga, of course, has to have a moment on this post.  Yoga was my first introduction into a different spirituality than the one I was raised in.  Before doing yoga, I had thought of it as just a dancer-like stretching activity.  After all, acro-style dance and yoga look pretty similar in photographs.  However, after one of my college friends introduced me to it and started taking me to a good studio in our college town, I realized that it was a lot more than what I had previously expected.  I started liking the idea of meditation, and I did yoga probably four times a week, at least.  Now I’m trying to get back into it, of course, because it fell off horribly while I was in my foreign country, but on the whole yoga still plays an important part in my life and my path.  The transcendental spiritual side of yoga was my inspiration.

Because I need to make this a short post, the last thing I’m going to talk about is walking/bicycling.  These are two things I try to do every day, especially in the summer.  Walking is great because you can do it with friends, chat easily, play Pokemon GO even….  It’s a very social activity, if you want it to be.  Or it can be entirely solitary, and you’re going slowly enough to enjoy every little thing that you see.  Bicycling, on the other hand, is also amazing, because though you can kind of make it a social activity, it tends toward the side of self-focus and even reflection.  You can’t really use a phone on a bike, and you’re going fast enough to cover a lot of ground, but you are small enough to go deep into nature.  And nature is one of my big facilitators.

Sorry that this was such a short post, but some days the thoughts just have to get put out quickly.  I also want to say that I was thrilled at my stats from last week–the Pagan Perspective video certainly gave me a big boost, and I’m grateful.

I hope that everyone has a spectacular day.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

Year and a Day Journal #40: August 4th, 2016

Forty and fine!  I have a feeling that this Year and a Day is going to last a lot longer than a year and a day….

First of all, I’d like to give another shout out to the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, and especially to cutewitch772, because they’re doing a topic inspired by my blog this week, and it’s brought a lot of traffic to my blog (relative to what I normally get–I mean, we’re talking like ten views compared to one or two), so thank you again.

Today’s topic comes from Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick.  On Day 6 he asks the reader to consider the following: Describe your own “calling” to the Witch’s path.  We all have characteristics of both the shaman and the madman.  In what ways are you a shaman?  In what ways are you a madman or madwoman?

The Day 6 section was about shamanism in Wicca, or rather how Wicca is a shamanistic religion.  Now, I don’t necessarily label myself as Wiccan, but I understand that it is the sort of more-widely-heard-of branch of magickal spirituality.  I also don’t know much about shamanism, like, at all.  It seems to me that considering myself to be shaman-like is a big stretch, because I’m, you know, just Chloe lying on my stomach on my bed right now, writing this thing, and maybe I’ll eat some spaghetti later.  “Shaman” is one of those titles that makes me sort of go, “Oh God, okay, this is getting serious.”

That being said, let me start with the first question.

My “calling” to this path is sort of a lifelong fascination with magic and the sort of magical time in history.  I love Renaissance festivals, for example, and literally every summer since I was a child, my parents have asked me, “Okay, this year–the State Fair, or the Renaissance Festival?” and I’ve been like, “Is that even a question…?”  Of course they’re not historically accurate or anything, but this sort of world where magic is real and wizards and fairies and mystical forests with bands of jugglers exist…it has always drawn me in.  By some extension of that, I love fantasy novels.

I suppose therein lies my “shaman” aspect.  I love reading and writing fantasy–the sort of ability to get lost in and control a non-physical world, something just inside my head where anything is probably possible.  When I write fantasy, I’m creating something no one else has ever experienced yet (unless I’m over-inspired and end up plagiarizing a bit and it just sits in my computer forever).  And of course my venture onto this path is an attempt to understand and interact with the non-physical world.

The “madwoman” aspect comes into play, according to Roderick, when you get completely lost in this otherworld and you can’t function in society.  While I obviously don’t want to consider myself a madwoman, I think that my desire to write fantasy for a living could indicate a desire to completely get lost in this fantasy world.  Or perhaps coming onto this path, instead of just cosplaying at festivals, is an attempt to consume my life with the fantastic.  But I think I balance it well (after spaghetti today I’m going to my part-time job tomorrow).

In any case, it was an intriguing question to think about this lovely August day.  Sometimes I don’t take the time to include my path in my every day life, but I’m trying to get better at it.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #39: August 3rd, 2016

I’m going to give a heads-up right now that this journal doesn’t have a question in it, per se, just some interesting news….

Things have been pretty intense since I got back from my foreign country.  If you regularly read my blog, you know about my dear boyfriend, who waited for a very long time for me while I was off in foreign places.  When I came back, he took me on a special trip and PROPOSED, which I did not see coming.  We have been together for a long time, so it’s not outlandish that we’d be engaged now, but it still seems weird (probably since we’ve been together for so long as boyfriend/girlfriend).  Also, somebody give this kid props because he picked out a gorgeous ring.  And he went for some pretty deep symbolism in it, and when he explained it, I realized again how much my significant other is the kind of ideal in many ways that a lot of women spend a long time searching for.  So I feel very lucky.

The interesting part about getting engaged was that, in the car on this trip, I was telling him about the full moon ritual I’d done (in a somewhat uncertain way, since honestly, I think he’s still getting used to this path I’m going on, and he doesn’t exactly know what to make of it), and yet, despite how strange it probably all sounded, he asked me to marry him later that day.

The high of the moment doesn’t last forever, though, and when we got home from our short trip, and we finished celebrating with my family, reality sort of crashed in.  Now I have to plan a wedding–a wedding that my mom, the Catholic who doesn’t know anything about my spirituality, will be overseeing and contributing to and helping finance.  I realized that now I have a finite amount of time either to tell her about my path or to just suck it up and keep it intensely secret.  My fiance thinks that there’s no reason to tell my mom if I don’t want to, but…I mean, guys, she wants me to have a Catholic wedding in a Catholic church with a Catholic priest.  And definitely–at the absolute least, like if I have an outdoor wedding–she wants a member of the clergy to officiate.  I think my family might combust if I don’t have the clergy involved.  (My aunt literally said to me, “But the clergy is going to be involved in some way, right?”)  And my fiance’s mom is even MORE staunchly Christian.

I’m not sure what I should do.  On one hand, I want to have a really classic wedding, with beautiful flower sprays and a gorgeous dress and everything.  It’s been my dream since I was a kid.  But now that it’s real, and I want to think about how my spirituality is involved in such a huge event, maybe I want some tradition that plays more into my path.  Maybe a handfasting, or something.

Or perhaps I should separate the two.  I’ve heard of people doing handfastings a year and a day before their scheduled wedding, as a sort of extra engagement.  Maybe I could have a very small, adorable little Pagan handfasting, and then my wedding will be for the people, Biblical rhetoric and all.  I mean, I still don’t think I could manage having it in a Catholic church (my fiance isn’t Catholic, either), but I understand compromising with my mom on this one.

If any of you guys have had a handfasting or been to a Pagan wedding, let me know what it was like or if you have any suggestions.

By the way, this week the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube is doing a video inspired by my blog (THANKS GUYS!).  Head on over to their channel to check them out.

 

I hope you’re all having a beautiful summer (and Lammas/Lughnasadh if you celebrate it!).

Blessed be!

)O(