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  1. Yesterday
  2. Moonsmith

    Am I pagan?

    Whatever else you do please do not try to select a specific path at this stage. Just be yourself - that is Pagan enough and for many people that is enough for their whole lives. They are happy with their own thinking. Are you a Pagan? Well I have come to the conclusion that: - No two people believe exactly the same thing even if they share a group or path. May I recommend this book. - The only thing that Pagans really have in common is a desire to take responsibility for their own spirituality [no priests, gurus or saviours] and they choose to identify as Pagan. If after a while you find that your own thinking is sufficiently like one of the groups with a name then you might think of being one of those but even then you do not have to "join" anything. I am a Druid but I am the founder and sole member of my "order." I was just a Pagan for thirty years before I somewhat reluctantly called myself a Druid. I spent six years with a Druidic tribe before admitting that I thought sufficiently like them to adopt the name. Please just be yourself. It is hard to accept but your beliefs are just as valid as a Pope, a Mullah, A Rabbi or an Archbishop. That can be hard to accept but no one knows an absolute truth, there isn't one 🙂 . Have confidence in your own thinking. I would say "welcome to Paganism" but I also think you've been Pagan all your life. Come on in. [We aren't all Druids!!!!!!]
  3. Earthdragon

    Am I pagan?

    Hello 😁 You are in an interesting position. Perhaps you could ask what your affinities mean to you and try to express them before you look more deeply into particular paths which you may or may not choose to follow in the future. I'd say you began a long time ago given what you've already expressed on here 😃 As I mentioned above I would reflect on your feelings, the trees, the seasons. Try to formulate some expression of what you are seeking, how you intend to expand yourself, what you intend to connect with, what is important for you. Local pagan groups should there some and books are next potential steps. Paganism can be about belief or about a way of living, usually a combination. What are your beliefs? As for myself. I don't often refer to myself as pagan. I am a person who practises Druidism. Beliefs are fluid as their interpretation. Best of luck in your journey. Stick around and let us know how things go! ED
  4. Scrabble

    Am I pagan?

    It is such a wide ranging term, pagan, I have an affinity to nature and feel happiest amongst the trees. I am very aware of the changing seasons and would like to mark these changes in a meaningful way. Should I follow a certain path or does this not matter? How do I begin? What are my first steps? Am I pagan in my beliefs?
  5. Last week
  6. After taking a good long look at the why we follow this path, what we do to express our path, and the importance of the Mystic and the Magician, maybe it’s a good time to think about authenticity and validity. There was a time not so long ago, certainly in the late 80s and early 90s, when the story told by Margaret Murray in her book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe was almost desperately held on to. That the practices of modern Witchcraft were the end of an unbroken lineage of Witches that had survived since far-off ancient times. Even as a newcomer I could see that this couldn’t be true – our magic was created from folklore, mythology, ceremonial magic, herblore, astrology, the Kaballah, old Medieval Grimoires, and more recent New Age thinking. It seemed that people were clawing for authenticity by dreaming up great grandmothers who were Witches, but who might have only dabbled in reading tea leaves every now and then (my Nan did that, but she was certainly no Witch). I totally understand the romance of it all. Druid Orders weren’t exempt from these fancies either, but I guess none that I came across tried to say their Druidry could be traced back to the time of the ancient Druids. Most were quite happy going back to 1717 with William Stukeley and John Toland, but even those lineages included people like William Blake as Chosen Chief. The date of 1792 is probably the date for the rebirth of the Druid tradition. When Iolo Morganwg held the first Gorsedd, placing his nine stones atop Primrose Hill in London, and declaring the Gorsedd of Bards of the Island of Britain. I regularly heard arguements about lineage and authenticity, with this being expressed in ‘Celtic Reconstructionism’ – a valiant attempt to re-create Druidry purely from ancient sources, and disregarding all of the writings of Iolo and his consorts, but that path was never for me. Then something happened. A book was released by Professor Ronald Hutton called Triumph of the Moon, and it kind of changed everything. I remember getting it on the day of release and avidly consuming the words held therein. It looked at the development of Wicca through the lense of verifiable history. To say the reception of the book was varied is putting it mildly. There were those who loved it, and there were those who despised it. Long-held onto sacred views were definitely challenged, and for some that was too much. I was in the loved it camp. As I read the book it felt like years of baggage was falling from my shoulders. Although this book was primarily about Wicca, Wicca was the dominant Pagan path at the time, and it very much influenced the rest of mainstream Paganism. The Wheel of the Year, that dance and Journey of the Grain God, and the Earth Goddess spoke of in Frazer’s The Golden Bough, had been taken to the heart of Wicca and had then influenced the wider Pagan Way, and I had experienced it as a modern Druid through the close links between Gerald Gardner and the founder of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, Ross Nichols. I felt a wave of acceptance and calm that what I had been living was, in fact, something very modern – something created, it seemed, very much from the minds of those two individuals. Now I’m not saying that everything we do as modern Pagans is new. Far from it. But the Way all of it is expressed together, that is new. Well, when I say new it sprang into life in the 1950s. I want to tell you, this is a Good Thing. Before Gardner and Nichols there was, of course, the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society. Modern Paganism didn’t grow from a vacuum. It grew because that seed had been planted, had been watered and cared for, and it then began to grow. It grew from the Victorian love of the Occult, Spiritualism and Magic, the 60s Hippy movement and the Civil Rights movement in the USA, CND, Greenham Common, the road protests of the 90s, the New Age and New Age Travellers, and now the Environmental Crisis we find ourselves in is encouraging more people to explore ways to have a closer spiritual relationship with Nature. What was held onto as ancient authenticity has been replaced with modern validity? Things don’t have to be ancient to be of value and work. At some point, all religions were new and freshly born. To me it’s an incredible privilege to be here, right at the very beginning of something beautiful. I’m more than happy to own that, and join hands with my fellow Pagans of all paths and walk forward together to see where it all goes, and gently guide it as much as we can. How exciting is that?! And here’s a thing. That tiny seed is still a very delicate seedling. It hasn’t yet grown into its full potential. It’s still small, and that delicate living thing is held in the palm of all of our hands. I see that some want it to grow faster. They want worldwide recognition of Paganism as a Religious Path – now. Some want us to be perfect in all of our environmental choices – now. Gardeners use fertilizer to help their plants grow, and some of these wishes are indeed fertilizing the soil for growth, but this seedling will not be a fully grown tree in my lifetime. It’ll be something I nurture and love my whole life, but I will, in the end, pass it on to others, who will take over its care. Who knows when it will grow to fruition? If there are indeed another 3000 years, one thing is for sure – one day we will be the Ancient Pagans. One day we will be the Ancestors. Those hereditary Pagans so many wished existed in the 80s and 90s actually exist right now as some of our children, who have been raised at Pagan camps and conferences, and with Pagan parents, choose to walk in our footsteps, and take that seedling to their hearts. It’s a beautiful thing. A valid, empowering, modern, Pagan Path. Needed right now more than ever before. So how do we nurture it, and encourage its growth? That’ll be for next time. So mote it be. View the full article
  7. Earlier
  8. There are many benefits if you keep on practicing meditation. The benefits of meditation are numerous and there are more being discovered every day. Science has shown that meditation helps to reverse aging, decrease stress hormones, lower depression, improve memory and strengthen the immune system. One of the best meditation app which I have experienced using is the SOS Method app(https://sosmethod.co/). It's unique in that it doesn't require you to quiet your mind, it only takes minutes, and it's been endorsed by doctors, scientists, and regular people all over the world. It's a special formula that fuses music, tones, words and white space, and there are programs for all kinds of needs/issues/goals.
  9. A word that frequents occult, historical, and scholarly texts of all varieties is "Hermeticism." What exactly is Hermeticism, and how can we apply its practices to our daily lives? In this excerpt from Llewellyn's 2020 Magical Almanac, Raven Digitalis explores the history and principles of Hermeticism. View the full article
  10. What do you think of when you hear the words, "Hedge Druid?" Someone who works with the green and growing things, of working with nature, with the seasons and the tides? Yes, Hedge Druidry is that—but it is also so much more. Here, Book of Hedge Druidry author Joanna van der Hoeven discusses the power of the liminal and putting the "Hedge" back in Hedge Druidry. View the full article
  11. The term myth can sometimes be seen as a derogatory word. If something is labelled a ‘myth’, in this broken, reductionist world we find ourselves, it is seen as untrue, maybe as a quaint story, sometimes as a way of taking the power away from beliefs that someone holds dear. “Oh, that’s only a myth.” “You don’t believe any of that was true do you?” Etc…etc… Only a myth. Indigenous peoples all over the world have looked at the natural world and seen within it stories of energies, Gods, powers that are so much more powerful than us little apelike creatures that walk on the back of such an incredibly diverse and living being. How did that mountain come into being? What of the great lake that gives us clear water to drink? Or the animal that howls at the moon and to whom we should show respect and avoid? What great power moves the tides? Where did our people come from, and who gave us fire? Can we sing the songs of the hills and valleys? Can we sing the songs of the eagle, the dove, the fox and the bear? When we breathe out our last breath, where does it go? Where do we go? Why do other birds despise the owl? What mysteries lay beneath the surface of that dark lake in the mountains? I could go on. It seems that progress has tried to show us that we don’t need these stories. That a reductionist world is the only true way forward. Maybe that is right for some people, but it’s never been right for me. These old tales bridge a gap between logical understanding of how things work, and a poetic and beautiful way to develop relationship. Progress has done wonders, don’t get me wrong – as I look back I would far rather be alive now than at any other time in history – but it is obvious that there is also a vast separation between people and the land. That separation is causing our own modern Wasteland. But I am getting ahead of myself… Myth is said to be the second level of story. The events within the myth may have been inspired by actual historical events, but often that is not the reason for the existence of the tale. Or at least the tale contains so much more than simply a way to remember history. I love the books by Stephen King. I’m a great fan of Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels. They’re great entertainment, and entertainment is important, but they aren’t myths. They are stories. Now of course myths are stories and they can indeed be approached as nothing more than entertainment, but that is the first level of story. Look a little deeper and the occult mysteries held within the mists of the story begin to reveal themselves. Let me give you an example. In the Second Branch of Y Mabinogi, Bran, the High King, gives a magical cauldron as an honour price for an insult given by his half-brother to Matholwch, the King of Ireland. The property of which is that if a slain warrior is placed inside, they will be reborn the next day, fully armed for battle, yet without the gift of speech. Without the gift of speech. When my second son was born it was an arranged caesarian. The doctor made the incision behind the green screen and literally pulled his head back and said, “Oh! Hello!” My son was there, open-eyed and ready, looking out at him. The midwife took him away to be weighed and then brought him back. Smiling, she said, “He’s an old soul.” And as he looked at me and his mother he began to cry, as babies do. He’s an old soul. Reborn without the gift of speech. As he lay there crying, what if he was desperately trying to say, “Mum! Dad! You won’t believe where I’ve just been!!! It was amazing! High mountains with waterfalls, great lake valleys, a warm Summerland of bliss!! And Dad! The mmmmmeeeeeaaaadddd! The Mead was incredible!!” But what could he say? “WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! WWWWWWWAAAAAHHHHHH!” Without the gift of speech. And as we age, so maybe our memories of that place between fades, until we are left once again wondering what lay beyond the veil. So the reborn warriors of Matholwch stood, ready for battle, fearless, for they had just seen the Otherworld, and knew what lay beyond death. But could they tell of where they had been? No. They made just inordible sounds or stood in silence. The second level of story. Are we so full of superiority that we can discard our own myths and folklore? I don’t think that’s wise. Time and again I see a longing in peoples’ eyes for a more magical and mythical relationship with the world. On the TV we hear Aboriginal peoples telling their story of the Rainbow Serpent and The Dreaming, we hear the Native American tales of Coyote, or the Maori prose tales of creation, and many of us yearn for our own stories, yet we have them. For instance, all across this little island there are myths of lakes, mountains, rivers and seashore, but many people would never know. For instance, it astounds me every time I visit Bala in North Wales, the site of Llyn Tegid, the origin of one of the most influential myths told on the island – the home of Ceridwen and the creation of Taliesin. I have not seen one sign, not one tiny little sign that lets visitors know. I know that many Pagans make pilgrimage to the lake, and we know of that connection, but so many do not. Tell a visitor the story when they visit that lake and see their eyes change. Suddenly it is more than a big body of water. It has myth attached to it, and for some that changes the relationship to the lake. Here is another example of the power of myth. The town of Worthing has a rather remarkable tree. It’s called the Midsummer Tree and is said that skeletons rise and dance around it on Midsummer Eve. In 2006 it was scheduled to be cut down and removed, but so strong was the story among local people that it was saved. It was cut back but stands to this day. The Midsummer Tree, an oak, stands near Broadwater Green and is said to be around 300 years old. Until the 19th century, it was believed that on Midsummer’s Eve skeletons would rise from the tree and dance around it until dawn, when they would sink back into the ground.[177] The legend was first recorded by folklorist Charlotte Latham in 1868.[178] Since 2006, when the oak was saved from development, meetings have been held on Midsummers Eve there.[179] It is said that gateways to the Otherworld can be found between two trees, or two standing stones, under that blackthorn tree in the woods, but it is also said that the gateway is open to poets. To help heal this modern Wasteland we could do worse than stepping out on our own mythic Grail Quest. The Knights of myth travelled the land in search of the Grail to help heal the land. There is no doubt that if we in the west had a mythic relationship with our own landscapes then we would not be so quick to further its destruction with quarrying, building, fracking. If that valley held stories that had been passed down to great grandparents, to grandparents, to parents, to children, and we held those stories close to our hearts, we would not so readily fill it with so-called ‘affordable’ new homes. Myths and folklore tales help heal that Wasteland. So if you are on this Grail Quest with me, explore the tales of your local area, find the stories behind the landscape, and begin to heal the Wasteland through a re-enchantment of the land. How do you relate to myth, to local folklore? View the full article
  12. There is an ebb and flow to our lives; the sun rises, the sun sets; tides rise and fall; the moon waxes and wanes. We can find balance in our yoga practice and in our life by connecting with nature and the cycle of the seasons. Here, Yoga Through the Year author Jilly Shipway illustrates 7 ways we can integrate our yoga practice with the seasons for a better life. View the full article
  13. "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." -Proverb "HUMAN BEINGS MAKE LIFE SO INTERESTING? DO YOU KNOW, THAT IN A UNIVERSE FULL OF WONDERS, THEY HAVE MANAGED TO INVENT BOREDOM." -Terry Pratchett "Hogfather" My curiosity takes me on the wildest tangents. A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through a science abstract site reading through the science news as it was, and I got interested in an article about birds. My reading made me remember there was a bird I wanted to look up, which reminded me of the work of one of my mentors in archaeology who studied the Bay Area's Native American rock art and determined that they cataloged many, many bird species. This got me thinking about sacred spaces, which is where he had done this work. Then I wondered about maps of sacred spaces. Google can take me on some interesting journeys. I stumbled across an article about the biodiversity of sacred sites. Someone had figured out that sacred places, like old churchyards, have a slightly higher biodiversity score than other areas around them. I wonder if this would hold true throughout human history, and I'm fascinated by the idea. Another tangent has led me to the conclusion that the world's sacred places, both past, and future, need a map. Maybe, if we could connect the plentitude of sacred places with landscapes around us, maybe we could connect more easily with the land, with our neighbors, with our inner landscapes, and with our ancestors. I haven't the faintest idea about how to go about this, but I'm certain the map generated would show us something about us, as humans, that we hadn't known before. The universe is a neverending source of interesting wonders to ponder, and the Earth, as a part of it, is no exception. I come across so many fascinating things each day that I can't possibly pursue them all. I bless you today with a drop of curiosity. May you find yourself enraptured by the thirst of knowledge, if only for a moment, and may it bring you a sense of awe at the universe around you. View the full article
  14. Ceremonies and rituals are powerful; they create sacred space, invite healing, and connect us to our ancestors. And, during the summer months, we can celebrate the bounty and abundance of the season with our ceremonies and rituals. Use these ideas and a guided journey from Celtic Tree Rituals author Sharlyn Hidalgo as we go forth into the summer months. View the full article
  15. Pain serves a purpose in our bodies. It lets us know that something is wrong. There are many types of physical pain, and each uses a specific set of nerve cells and brain cells to drive home the point that we need to fix things. Stick your hand on something hot, and your brain uses that information to get your hand moved away from danger. Step on something sharp and your brain tries to make sure it doesn't happen again. Very useful to survival, right? When it comes to psychological and spiritual pain, the process is quite similar, but it is also influenced heavily by our cultural norms and personalities. Pain creates strong memories to keep us from repeating trauma, but those memories are sometimes problematic. Our brains are so good at what they do sometimes that they bring up painful memories at inopportune times. This can keep us from moving on, and it requires a great deal of healing to get past it. Humans are learning, in recent centuries, about how very complex our brains are. We are learning how trauma and pain change us at many levels, including at the cellular level. We can pass on trauma, and it has huge implications for who we can be as a species. Many people, from doctors to spiritual leaders to psychologists are trying to help people heal, and that is admirable, necessary work for all of us as humans and our societies. Some people, on the other hand, will misuse the things we have learned about pain and healing to take advantage of others. They lure in their prey and use the promise of healing to cause harm. They come in every faith and every discipline. Wolves in sheep's clothing. They are to be watched for and avoided, but they are not the only people to be wary of. I find the more troublesome people to watch for on our journeys to healing are the bumblers, the fools who don't realize how little they know. Like the wolves in sheep's clothing, they can be incredibly harmful, but they lack malice. They cause harm by not fully understanding the concepts they try to apply, by not finding ways to understand other people's pain, and by intellectual and spiritual laziness and rigidity. Their answers are too simple, too easy. they rely mostly on other people's views of themselves. They claim success for things that are very lucky, and they lack depth. Beware of these well-meaning fools. They know not what damage they do. I've written before about this, and I remind all of us, myself included, that we are responsible for looking out for ourselves and each other. Don't follow those who don't understand you and don't seem to want to. Be cautious with your money and your energies. Trust your gut when it tells you something is off, it often knows things your brain hasn't let you in on. Do your own research. be unafraid of curiosity, and never give up believing that you are worthy of healing and capable of it. Pain is purposeful, but you are not required to live in forever. Accept that you have been injured and wronged. Take responsibility for your actions and your desire for healing, and seek out those who can help you, whether professional or spiritual or best yet, working together with you (this is the most important piece of your healing, you know) as a team. I wish you the strength to begin healing if you have only just begun, and I wish you perseverance if you are well on your path. If you are a true healer, I commend you on your work and thank you for it. May you be blessed with what you need to be the best version of yourself possible in this life and all others. View the full article
  16. Last weekend at Witchfest Midlands I gave a talk titled The Pagan Grail that focussed a little on the Grail from the Taliesin poem The Spoils of Annwn, but the main intent was to ask the question, what is the modern Pagan Grail? I got some very inspiring feedback from the talk so the obvious next step was to bring aspects of the talk to the blog and ask the same questions here. So let us begin… Our local monthly pub moot is a talking stick moot. We all gather around one large table (or bring more tables over if the group is a big one). We then draw a piece of paper from The Jam Jar of Possibilities. This jar contains loads of folded bits of paper upon which we have written topics that we would like to discuss at the moot. At the beginning of each moot, we ask if there are any new topics people would like to talk about, and if there are, they are written down, folded up, and added to the jar. Once the topic is drawn we pass around the Talking Beermat, and whoever holds the mat, has the floor, and can speak, uninterrupted, and the paper of the drawn topic is discarded. But… There is one piece of paper that is placed back after being discussed. It’s a small piece of paper with just two things written upon it. Y tho? What do we mean by Y tho? It’s a really powerful and important question to ask ourselves every now and then. Why do we do what we do? Why do we identify as a Pagan/Druid/Witch/Wiccan? What do we do on a daily basis that expresses our Path? All of those questions. Once that piece of paper is drawn, it is then placed back in, to be drawn another time, so we can re-visit and ask those questions again. So this was a perfect first question to ask in our search for our own personal modern Pagan Grail. What is the Grail for you personally? Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest? Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are? Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world? I was once asked to try to sum up modern Druidry in one sentence, and the closest I could find was ‘a set of practices inspired by the ancient Druids that enables a closer relationship with the natural world both seen and unseen’. Nowhere near perfect, but it was ok. It suggests a connection to the land. A way of healing the separation many people feel in our modern age between the land and the people. The Arthurian Grail Quests are caused by a separation between sovereignty and the land, and this separation causes The Wasteland. The promise of the Grail is to heal that separation and bring back harmony to the land. If people really felt a deep connection to the land then Fracking simply could not happen. So many other practices that threaten to destroy life here on Earth would become anathema. But there is a separation, there is a Wasteland. Any Path that inspires that closer relationship with the Natural World is so important these days. So how is that relationship expressed? Gardening, working an allotment, bushcraft, recycling, buying decisions, all are incredibly important and fulfilling, but none of these are exclusively Pagan. What is the essence that is there when a Pagan works their allotment or tends their garden? Obviously, that spark is incredibly personal and only you will know the answer, but I’ve spoken to so many people over the years who haven’t asked themselves that question. It’s a good question to ask. For me, it expresses in the form of relationship. Lots of people take their dogs for walks in the woods or by the beach and enjoy being in that environment, but not so many talk to the trees as they walk, or stop and take time to commune with the Spirit of the Ocean. I’ve described my path as being that of a Polytheistic Animist. So when I commune with the Spirit of the Sea, that great Spirit that covers two thirds of the entire planet, and I see that Spirit as a powerful Spirit, some may even say a Deity, but not a separate being that strides the ocean like Poseidon or Neptune, trident in hand on the back of a giant seahorse. No. To me, there is no separation, no separate being – the Spirit of the Ocean is the aware consciousness of the entire ocean itself. And it’s that relationship that is my Pagan essence, that spiritual thing that comes from the well-spring of Pagan folklore, magical practice, and attitude. Spiritual Relationship. Do you want to join me on the Pagan Grail Quest? This is going to be a series of blog articles, and each one will ask questions and I hope to encourage some very deep thinking and consideration. Don’t for a moment think I have already answered the questions I am asking myself – I’m on this Quest with you. So, until next time – What is the Grail for you personally? Have you ever considered your Path as your own Grail Quest? Are you the mystic that expresses your Path by how you view the world, who you are? Are you the magician who expresses your Path by what you do, by your actions in the world? Both? What is the essence that makes these acts or sense of beingness a part of your Path? View the full article
  17. Witchcraft and the spirit world are uniquely tied together, and building a deeper practice often means building bridges between ourselves and the spirit world. This isn't always easy, however. Here, author Devin Hunter presents 6 ways we can build bridges to the spirit world. View the full article
  18. Shownotes for DruidCast Episode 146 The Dreaming – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk Interview with Awnangee (really not sure if the spelling is even close!) Angel – Deborah Cher – https://deborahcher.bandcamp.com Artorius Rex – Malkin Tower – https://www.malkintower.co.uk Arthurian story with Professor Roland Rotherham – https://www.rolandrotherham.co.uk Belthain – Belthain – http://www.belthain.com DruidCast theme – Hills they are Hollow – Damh the Bard – https://www.paganmusic.co.uk For further information on the Druid tradition – https://www.druidry.org View the full article
  19. What do you do when you pull a court card in the outcome or action position in a tarot spread? Do you pull another card out to help get more clarification? Do you pretend it didn't happen, put the court card back in the deck, and pick another card? Or do you learn how to use the tarot court to problem-solve, get unstuck, and move forward? View the full article
  20. I find myself thinking about echo chambers often. The last couple of weeks have been bringing home to me how very unhealthy they are for us as individuals, but also as a society. One of my friends was recently recounting a meetup for therapists he attended that had a large number of people from the same geographic area in the same profession who were all echoing the same concern that something was missing from the field. My friend was astounded at how often these people echoed each other but also failed to grasp that the answer to their concern was shockingly simple: it's time to start talking about intersections of race, class, and gender. A few days before this conversation, I was listening to someone else make unhealthy choices with the support of her echo chamber. Because their viewpoints were all too similar, they were missing just how messed up things sounded to everyone else. We've all seen how media outlets have begun to tailor their reporting to their perceived audience, and how that bias is straining relationships between groups. A lack of diversity in thought is polarizing, misleading, and disruptive. I'm trying to challenge myself to look for the echo chambers in my life. Without any challenge to my thought processes, I'm afraid of becoming both intellectually lazy, but also callous to the concerns and needs of others. I'm afraid of withering from spiritual malnutrition caused by a too homogenous environment that lacks the strength that comes from adaptation. View the full article
  21. The snow-capped mountains reach towards the blue sky, and as they do so the white begins to fall away. Rivers of melted snow rush downward and soon join as one with the river below. Soon the river is flowing so fast it’s uncontrollable. It has a life of its own, its own purpose. It grows as more snow-melt joins. The water is one being, one life, as it rushes through the valley, out, to reach the oceans. When the Awen is flowing, that’s what it feels like. Overwhelming, uncontrollable, exhilarating, and that’s the flow I’ve been swimming with for the past three years working on the First and Second Branch of Y Mabinogi. It has felt like these albums have had a life of their own, almost as if they were desperate to be created. I remember when I finished the First Branch and was instantly being mobbed by crows each day as I walked Oscar by the river as if Bran and Branwen were saying, “Come on! It’s our turn now! Get on with it!” But the Second Branch was quite some ride. By the end, after living with the tale for a year I had such mixed emotions. I loved the end result and was so happy to release it so you could all hear it. But I was also emotionally exhausted – the story had taken its toll on me, and so I decided I needed a break. I could feel that need before I finished, and I remember saying to my Bardic Buddy Arthur Hinds that I was done for a while and that I was going to have some time away from the Y Mabinogi albums to record some songs. His response was, “But what if the Lady wants you to carry on?” My reply was, “Well if that’s so, the Lady will get her wish.” The Awen is a complicated Mistress. Right now it feels like the river I had been enjoying so much for the past three years has slowed. The peaks have melted and now the waters have settled into an almost imperceptibly gentle meander. Life has been incredibly busy (with great stuff, but still very full) and at times like this, I sometimes wonder how I ever have any time to actually sit down and write songs. The temptation is to jump in and swim. To try and force the Awen to flow faster by trying too hard. But I know from many lessons in the past that this isn’t the way. It’s possible, but songs that spring from that kind of effort are always the ones that either don’t make the album, or that wait to be changed by a more free-flowing Awen dive. So I have been wondering if the Lady does indeed want me to remain focussed on the tales. To finish the task. But then I question that and ask if I’m just being lazy when it comes to writing new non-Mabinogi songs. Or is my life right now just so busy, with the Awen directed in other areas, that I should just surrender, leave things for a while, and go where the Awen is taking me. I’ve never been very good at ‘going with the flow’, but sometimes that is the best thing to do – to surrender and see where life is going, rather than trying to force it to go somewhere it doesn’t seem to want to go. I’ve never been torn between two projects before. I’ve always known what would come next, where I would point my wand. Now I think the best thing to do is to let the Cauldron bubble and brew. To allow the ingredients to do their work. To surrender, wait, and stir. And trust. View the full article
  22. Mystics, magicians, Wiccans, and Neo-pagans of all stripes identify their practice with the figure of the pentagram. But, it is unlikely that any group has incorporated the pentagram into its ritual work more than the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Here, Golden Dawn Magic authors Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero explain its importance to Golden Dawn magic. View the full article
  23. As we prepare for vacation, I find myself swept up in the kids' enthusiasm. This is a rare thing for them. It's been years since we had an extended trip and more importantly, its' our first family vacation that is not for someone else's celebration. The kids are pretty excited about an adventure, and my husband and I are looking forward to being away from home and work. We'll be camping in an RV for a week to celebrate our 20th Wedding anniversary. I've started packing things in boxes, but a couple of boxes have become projects themselves. Aislinn and I decoupaged a forest and flowers ad a deer on one of them before we packed things into it. Totally unnecessary, but fun. It has added a bit of magic to the whole process of packing. We're plotting a box of stars next. To top off these shenanigans, I've also color coordinated things unnecessarily (really the plastic plates and vinyl tablecloth and mesh food tents don't have to match, it's just ridiculously cute and joyful). From time to time, it's a lot of fun to embrace childlike joy and anticipation for no reason other than you can. Decorate something to within an inch of its life, make cupcakes and enjoy them, be silly, sing and dance because you can. Exuberance can break up a whole lot of negative and stale energy in your life. I know I'm enjoying all my unnecessary and silly plans even before we leave home. View the full article
  24. Stonehugger

    [A Cauldron Full of Stars] Loose ends

    I look at people with plans and wonder how they do that. Life seems to happen to me but I'm ok at getting the best from whatever comes along. Maybe I'll be more strategic in future!
  25. Learning about crystals and how they actually work can be the greatest discovery; no matter whether you are a newbie or seasoned energy healer, the crystal fascination can turn fanatical! Everyone can enjoy crystal body layouts and feel incredible. Jolie DeMarco, author of High-Vibe Crystal Healing, illustrates the power—and fun!—of using crystal layouts. View the full article
  26. Stonehugger

    [Llewellyn] 5 Ways to Connect with Your Craft

    The main thing that made me think Wicca wasn't for me was a sense that it seemed to have a concept of orthodoxy. It probably doesn't help that the word is used so loosely in popular culture to mean any pagan-inspired set of activities. That would explain a need to keep the word reserved for a specific set of beliefs perhaps.
  27. As I glance along the feeds of my social media accounts I see friends celebrating Beltane. I can imagine the hedgerows at home beginning to be heavy with Hawthorn flowers, the birdsong will be a symphony of voices, the skylarks will be singing their song seemingly never taking one small breath. The time between Beltane and the Summer Solstice is my favourite time of year. The gates of the South East and South of the Circle open and light and life comes literally flying through, colouring the land with flowers and the sky with blue. Bliss. I say imagine because right now I find myself in Autumn. Here in Australia instead of life and fertility I feel the veil thin as the Spirits of the Ancestors are honoured at Samhain. Sometimes I wonder when I’m at home if the festivals really are simply reversed. But seasons are seasons and, although the smell of Autumn differs from region to region across this massive land, here in South Australia it really does feel like Samhain has arrived. Just a few days ago ANZAC day was marked here – just as at home Remembrance Sunday lay in Autumn, close to Samhain, so the day to remember the fallen of war also lay close the time when the veil thins. So the South East of Beltane becomes the North West Gate of Samhain as we cross the equator. What a truly magical world we live upon. When I return next week I will travel from Autumn to Spring in the space of a 22 hour flight. I’ll go from seeing falling leaves to bright green fresh leaves, draped in flowers. I may have missed the ‘date’ of the 1st May, but Beltane will be in full swing for a couple more weeks at least. For convenience I mark it by date, but in truth when I look upon Albion and see all of the hedgerows literally dripping in Hawthorn, that’s when it’s Beltane for me, and I know I won’t have missed that magical sight, and will be able to welcome the May Queen myself. So although I have celebrated Samhain twice in six months, I know the flowers of Beltane will thankfully be there when I return home. Whether you are celebrating Samhain or Beltane, blessed be. View the full article
  28. I am one of those women who apologize for everything. It also drives me crazy. I know, on one level, that most things aren't my fault, and yet, I still say that I'm sorry. My reflex, however, something that was socialized into me years ago, is to accept responsibility for anything anyone hints might be my fault. Younger brother sets the rug on fire, I felt guilty. My kid says something rude to another kid, I feel responsible and apologize only to find out that the kid was defending himself. My husband is cranky over something, I say, "I'm sorry'. And, while doing all of these things, I'm also disgusted with myself. I am not alone in this toxic behavior. So many women do it that books have been written about the phenomenon and the therapy for it. It's societal, and it's really, really bad for us. For every apology we make that we aren't actually responsible for, someone is getting off the hook for their bad behavior. It causes imbalances in shame, fear, and accountability at every level of society. You can't hold the victim or the bystander accountable for crime and expect anything to get better. We all know this, but when it comes to a more personal level, our perspective gets skewed and we get blinded by our emotions and relationships. For me personally, it causes physical problems. My stomach churns every time I feel responsible for something, and the ensuing internal conversations make me tired, unhappy, and anxious. I can keep myself awake for days replaying my actions when I believe I could have done better. Literally, I make myself sick. Then I feel worse because I know I did it to myself. I have been trying to change this behavior. The first step, always, is to recognize something you do is unhealthy. Then you have to try new behaviors on for size, and like buying the perfect pair of shoes, you might be trying things on for a good long while. Much like shoes, one type isn't appropriate for all occasions. Your pumps can't replace your running shoes. Sandals can't do the work of snow boots, at least not without substantial risk to you. I have no cure-all advice here. I'm still learning. I've tried to turn "sorry" into "thank you" when it works. I've tried not saying anything, and I've dabbled in not accepting responsibility. I've made some progress, but not enough for my liking. I'm trying not to pass on this personality trait, and it's had mixed results. Right now, I'm trying to be conscious of my behavior and the reasons for that behavior. Maybe once I deal with why I feel like I should accept blame I'll be able to stop doing it. I hope. I really, really hope. View the full article
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