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!

 

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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 #37: June 5th, 2016

Well, here I am again, kind of wondering what to write about.  Why is there no full and complete list of 366 journal prompts somewhere on the Internet?  Somebody needs to make that happen.  I mean, I guess I’m doing it, but…somebody else should be in charge of this.  I can barely make toast some days.  As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m out of soy milk, too.

Anyway, no one should be surprised, I suppose, that I’m again taking some inspiration from the Pagan Perspective!  Seriously, if you haven’t checked them out, you need to do that pronto.   They have some really great information for pagans, whatever level of experience you have.

This week’s prompt is also taken from my own life, really, because this is it: How does food play into your path? 

Now, if you have the chance, go back and read my previous post, which was Food-for the Soul?  I don’t know why exactly, but it got a lot of hits, and I have the suspicion that it’s because that topic speaks to a lot of us.  Or maybe because it had a proper title unlike most of my posts, but that’s neither here nor there.  Anyway, probably 90% of the population has a weird relationship with food at best.  But, as I said in the end of that post, we have to try to mend this relationship in order to be at our spiritual best (or something to that effect).  Perhaps there’s no better way to mend this relationship than to make food into something spiritual in itself.

I’m leaving this prompt wide open, so if you ever use my prompts as inspiration, you can take it however you’d like.  Maybe you want to think about some recipes you make for the different sabbats.  Maybe you want to talk about how eating everyday is some kind of spiritual experience for you.  Maybe you want to talk about how your food choices are tied to your beliefs.  Now that I’ve suggested these things, I’m going to do all three.

Firstly–recipes for the sabbats.  I don’t freely celebrate the sabbats due to still being firmly located in the broom closet, but a lot of these recipes are just seasonable dishes that you can make without raising too much suspicion.  For example, for Yule I made wassail, which is a drink utilizing apple juice and spices.  There’s nothing inherently magickal about this particular recipe or anything, but the spices in your nose and wafting through the kitchen can help to warm your spirits.  I even used it as an offering for my Yule ritual.  I think the most important thing about sabbat recipes is to bring the essence of the sabbat into your cooking.  Why not make recipes with flowers for Beltane, or lots of wheat bread for Lammas?  Make stuff with pumpkins for Samhain, and stuff with eggs for Ostara (if you eat eggs).  For inspiration, I really enjoy the book The Kitchen Witch, by Soraya.  I have the Kindle version.  The author compiled lots of recipes for each sabbat and even has some extra tips.  The only frustrating thing about it is that the majority of the recipes including meat and dairy, which I tend not to eat.  But the book is really interesting and helpful, nevertheless.

Secondly–making food spiritual in itself.  It might be helpful here to insert the beautiful phrase, “Self love is synonymous with self care.”  I heard that once on YouTube (I’m so enlightened).  Regardless of the source, though, I think that the message is really important: if you want to love yourself, you have to take care of yourself.  If you want to take care of yourself, you have to love yourself.  So when you’re cooking, you’re (hopefully) caring for yourself.  You need food to live, to survive, to thrive.  The act of making your sustenance is the act of caring for yourself.  It is, perhaps, a very personal thing.  A ritual in itself.  Some people choose to treat it as any other ritual, with the lighting of a candle and the use of special utensils.  Sometimes I’m not that focused.  But once in awhile, if I’m making something that feels especially witchy (like homemade soup), I’ll actually set an intention for the food and I’ll put energy into the spices and herbs.  I’ll stir the thing deosil or widdershins.  Usually I make this soup for the purpose of healing and health, so it’s packed with tons of vegetables and good intentions.  I’ve eaten it myself when I had a cold to help me recover, and I’ve given it to friends who were sick.  I even told my friends that it was “special healing soup” and that it would make them better, because mentality is sometimes half the battle.

Lastly–food choices in relation to our beliefs.  As you can probably figure, I’m referring to certain lifestyles like vegetarianism and veganism.  For me, personally, my ideal lifestyle is vegan.  I was vegan for a few years, and while I’ve been abroad I’ve been vegetarian/pescatarian (the food culture here makes it very difficult to cut out dairy, eggs, and fish).  When I buy food to make for myself, it’s almost always vegan, but eating with friends or in restaurants is usually another story.  When I return to the United States, I hope to go back to being about 95% vegan.  Of course, people in the vegan community might tell you that there’s no such thing as being 95% vegan, and if you are truly vegan, you’re 100%.  But I’m kind of a believer that each time you make a positive choice is what matters, and doing something positive is better than nothing.  For me, veganism started out as a diet choice based on my weight and my obsession with food, but at least in the midst of my obsession I did get to learn a lot about the meat and dairy industries, and how veganism can impact these industries.  I don’t like to hurt animals.  I don’t really like to eat animals or animal products, at least not when I think about it.  I don’t want to harm anyone or anything.  Does that sound like a familiar lesson we Witches learn?

Food is such a complex thing sometimes, but I truly hope that someday I, and everyone else, can have a healthy relationship with food.  Regarding food as a spiritual tool may be one way to make that happen.  When I eat, I want to know that it is the best thing for me, and that it doesn’t conflict with my values.

If you’re interested in hearing more about other Pagans and their food choices, check out the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube from a few weeks ago.  They touched on veganism and had some pretty interesting things to say.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #25: March 3rd, 2016

Today I had only one student show up for one of my classes, so we spent about half of the time playing a knock-off version of the game Battleship.  Every time I got a “hit” on her board, I got to ask her a question, and every time she got a “hit” on my board, she got to ask me a question.  It’s a great tactic for teachers to get their students to talk while still having a pretty risk-free environment (unless, of course, you’re playing Risk).  On a combination of sheer luck and good strategy I pretty quickly got to the point where she had just discovered my third boat and I had almost sunk her fourth.  After sinking her fourth, I said, “Don’t worry, all you’ve got left is the little one, so I won’t be able to find it right away.”  I guessed two more spots and got a hit on the second time.

In response, she incredulously asked me, “You is witch?”

I mean, you can’t make that stuff up.  I laughed my head off and said, “No, no…” but on her next turn when she finished off my third boat, she got to ask me one more question.  Most of our questions had been along the lines of, “What’s your favorite band?” or “How long have you been playing guitar?” but hers was, “How old are you, witch?”

I said, “Five-hundred.  I look very, very good.”

There’s really no moral to that story or anything, I just thought it was pretty hilarious that my individual student accused me of witchcraft.  I mean, she’s not wrong.

Anyway, today’s journal is to Discuss Goal of the Witch #9: Attune with the cycles of the Earth. 

Before I started looking into this path, I noticed the cycles of the Earth, specifically the seasons, but I wasn’t really into them in the way that you might expect.  I loved summer, probably because I like warmth and my birthday, and I despised fall and winter, because fall meant school and obligations and an inevitable winter, which I hated too.  I would actually find myself getting depressed when I saw the first leaves changing color on the trees.  While this lessened a bit as I got older, and especially after I graduated high school and started going to college (and realized that the school year of college was WAY better than my crappy summer job doing fast food), I still don’t exactly LOVE winter.  However, I would say that my feelings towards all of the seasons have gotten far more complex, and, dare I say it, there are positives and negatives to all of them.

I think the best thing I could have done is to start attuning myself to the cycles of the Earth, which I began to focus on as I started studying this path.  By paying attention to the moon cycles, the sabbats, and even daily associations, I suddenly find myself appreciating every day as more beautiful.  I’ve started to see the way that the snow is just covering the green grass.  Living where I do currently, where there is a crazy small amount of sunshine in the winter, celebrating Yule as the winter solstice was actually refreshing and hope-inspiring, because in the darkness of winter I appreciated that the cycle was now moving again toward Midsummer, slowly but surely.  Because I had actually learned to pay attention to the way the seasons were changing, I stopped feeling lost and depressed during winter, but instead found the value of the coldness and the beauty of the frost.

This was a short little journal, but to me attuning to the cycles of the Earth is one of the more prominent things that has come forth from my study.  I know I have much more to learn, but I’m definitely enjoying seeing each season for what it is now, instead of just living for the summer because it meant I got time off from school.

Blessed be!

)O(