Connecting With Herbs Ritual

herbaltar

Our herbal altar with medicinal and magical plants.

Here is the ritual I promised I’d post from Sunday night’s Welcoming Circle which was all about herbs.

CONNECTING WITH HERBS RITUAL

CASTING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin (Ares incense on charcoal burner. Use a feather to spread the smoke in all four directions.)

Aries Incense (adapt. from Cunningham)
2 parts Frankincense (Sun, Fire)
1 part Juniper berries (Sun, Fire)
1 part Cedar leaf tips (Sun, Fire)

Brother Sun and Sister Moon, empower us as we seek a more intimate connection with plants and herbs.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

We face the East and call upon the energies of plants that correspond with the Powers of Air: Lemon Verbena and Lavender, Pine and Sage. Elecampane and Lemongrass. Lend us your wisdom, optimism and intuition. Hail and welcome!

We face the South and call upon the energies of plants that correspond with the Powers of Fire: Rosemary and Hyssop, Peppermint and Rue. Basil and Juniper. Lend us your courage, enthusiasm and willpower. Hail and welcome!

We face the West and call upon the energies of plants that correspond with the Powers of Water: Violet and Thyme, Chamomile and Yarrow, Lemon Balm and Catnip. Lend us your compassion, flexibility and receptivity. We bid you welcome!

We face the North and call upon the energies of plants that correspond with the Powers of Earth: Mugwort and Vervain, Patchouli and Honeysuckle, Primrose and Fern, Lend us your patience, truth, and dependability. Hail and welcome!

We also call upon our Earth Mother, Gaia, Creator, and ask her to join us in this Circle. You have made all of these plants for us to enjoy. Words cannot express our gratitude for such an extravagant gift. We offer our thanks by learning more about their magical properties and using them to change the world around us for the better. Hail and welcome!

SHARE AT LEAST ONE GOAL WITH THE GROUP TO INCREASE YOUR CONNECTION TO PLANTS AND HERBS

RAISE ENERGY AND SEND IT TO THE PLANTS AROUND US (O-ma chant)
As we raise energy have a visual for the plants and herbs you would like to send our energy to. When we release it, direct it toward these plants.

CLOSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Earth Mother, Gaia, Creator, we thank you for your presence in our Circle tonight and for your nurture of us each and every day. We leave here challenged to develop a more intimate connection with magical and medicinal plants. Help us to achieve this goal.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Powers of the North and plants that correspond with the element of Earth, We thank you for your presence in our Circle tonight. May your patience, truth, and dependability be reflected in our lives. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Powers of the West and plants that correspond with the element of Water, We thank you for your presence in our Circle tonight. May your compassion, flexibility and receptivity be reflected in our lives. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Powers of the South and plants that correspond with the element of Fire, We thank you for your presence in our Circle tonight. May your courage, enthusiasm and willpower be reflected in our lives. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Powers of the East and plants that correspond with the element of Air, We thank you for your presence in our Circle tonight. May your wisdom, optimism and intuition be reflected in our lives. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Our Circle is now open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Litha (Summer Solstice) For Introverts

shy-speaker

Litha, or Summer Solstice, is the longest day of the year. This year it occurs on Wednesday, June 21st. It’s the day of the year when the sun is at its full life-giving power. Many feel vibrant and alive this time of year. I’m not one of them! 90 degrees is not my anointed temperature. I sweat like crazy and have to slow down my activities quite a bit. My brain also feels a little foggy. Therefore when the sun is at its full power, I am not. I’m one of those weird people who feels more alive and creative in January than I do in July. Perhaps that’s because I’m an introvert and January is definitely a more introverted month than July.

If you’re like me and don’t feel like lots of merriment this Litha, it’s a good time to reflect on the significance of this turning point in the wheel of the year. Wait for the cool of the evening if that’s possible. Light some candles. Pick an incense with a floral or citrus scent. Have a nice glass of wine or other relaxing beverage. Then take time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished since Yule. Have the seeds of ideas and projects you planted during the first part of the year been able to grow? If not, is there anything you can do to help them germinate during this time of the year that is focused on the greening of the earth?

The second part of your reflection should include the observation that June 21st begins the “long dying of the year” as each day gets shorter and shorter. It’s the time to begin thinking of the things you need to let go of: emotional weights that are preventing you from moving forward, project that just aren’t going to happen, etc. For me, this is not a morose activity.  t is very life-giving as we lighten our load so we can move more joyfully and freely in the world.

So, that’s my Litha celebration for introverts. I’m looking forward to a quiet evening and if that’s your thing as well, I wish you a calm and cool evening!  Blessed be!

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Summer Solstice: Let Your Light Shine

summersolsticeLitha or Summer Solstice contains powerful themes that are of interest to Christians and Pagans alike. In fact, I suspect this powerful day in the Northern Hemisphere has been revered ever since human beings began noticing the cycles of nature around them. The term Litha comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase Aerra Litha, which means “before Midsummer.” For many Pagans it is a day with the themes of fertility and fire, since the Goddess is fully pregnant with child and the Sun God is at the height of his power. In earlier times Europeans farmers lit bonfires to mark this day and then spread the ashes over their fields to insure fertility of their crops.

Not surprisingly, the Christian Church appropriated this celebration (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!). They set aside June 24th to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist, calling it St. John’s Day. It is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian Church, dating back to 506 CE. It’s tie-in to the theme of fire can be found in the gospel of John 1:6-9 which talks about the relationship between John and Jesus: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” The light, in this passage, is Jesus who takes the place of the Sun God as the light who “shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn 1:5)

For both Pagans and Christians this is the perfect time of year to celebrate the gift of life with bonfires, which for any of us have become charcoal and gas grills and fire pits! This weekend is also Father’s Day which means it’s a great day for family get-togethers and picnics. This is definitely resonates with the spirit of Litha.

From a spiritual perspective, the Solstice it’s a good time to meditate on the fertility of body, mind and spirit. It’s a time to capitalize on our strong points and use the gifts and talents the Divine has given each of us to help give birth to a greener, healthier and more peaceful world. The Bible passage that keeps coming to mind when I think about Litha is Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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June Full Moon: Strawberry Moon

strawberry-moon-squareAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the June full moon, which occurs this coming Friday, June 9, is known as the Strawberry Moon. (Other names for this moon include the Rose Moon and Hot Moon.) The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries. Since strawberries are such a sensual fruit perhaps we can use this full moon to do a little self-care. Keep the night simple. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage or decadent dessert. Sit under the full moon in a comfortable chair and soak up her powerful energy. Spend time grounding and letting go of any anxieties and worries you are carrying. When you feel like you’re in a place of complete calm, have that lovely glass of wine or hard cider you brought with you and savor every sip. Eat a piece of pie or cake but do it slowly and appreciate each sensuous bite. In light of the ridiculous and disastrous decisions that keep coming out of Washington DC on a daily basis, along with whatever challenges we are dealing with in our personal lives, we all need time to rest and recharge our spiritual batteries. Take good care of yourselves, friends so that we may be the warriors of justice and compassion our world needs us to be! Blessed be!

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Drying Yarrow: Urban Farmer Method

What practitioner of magic does not desire to live out in the country with plenty of land to plant magical herbs and a forest nearby where we can go wildcrafting?  Yet, I have the suspicion that many of us are city dwellers who often practice our magic indoors and have little or no land at our disposal.  This does not mean we cannot connect with our Earth Mother in meaningful ways.

yarrow01

Yarrow and bee balm in the corner of my yard.

The front yard of my house is the only place that gets enough sunlight to grow things besides ferns and other shade plants.  It’s very small but I grow a number of decorative flowers because I love them and also plant a few magical herbs alongside of them.  If you have no yard whatsoever, you can also plant many of these herbs in container gardens.

Yarrow is one of my favorites, no only because it has a long bloom season, it also dries easily and is one of my go-to plants for magic spells.  Yarrow is also a perennial so it keeps coming back and multiplying year after year.  I only harvest what I need and never gather more than 1/4 of the stems that germinate and grow.  It’s amazing how much dried yarrow a few stems produces so harvest it cautiously.

Drying yarrow by the “urban farming” method is easy!  First cut the flowers off the stem by pushing your kitchen shears as close to the bud as you can get them.

yarrow02Take all the leaves off the stems as well.  Return the stems to the earth for composting.

yarrow03yarrow04

Next, place the buds and leaves (I do them separately) in a large plastic container that is lined with a paper towel.  Place the container in the rear window of your car and keep it there until the buds and stems are dry which only takes a few days.

yarrow05Another method is to place them on a brown paper bag from the grocery store instead of a plastic container.  Who needs an expensive dehydrator?  This does the job quickly and inexpensively!yarrow06

The finished product is gorgeous.  When the buds are dried they can be easily separated into individual pieces.  The leaves can either be crumbled by hand or placed in a food processor until they reach the desired consistency.  I use this method of drying for most of my herbs and it’s as easy as it gets!  Give it a try!

Copyright ©2016 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Yarrow: Herbe de St. Joseph, Carpenter’s Weed

yarrowThe use of yarrow as a healing herb and magical plant is well documented. It has been utilized by Pagans and Christians alike. The Latin name (Achillea millefolium) is derived from the Greek hero Achilles who, legend has it, carried yarrow with him into battle and used it to stop the flow of blood from the wounds of his soldiers. This is where two of it’s nicknames come from: staunchweed and soldier’s woundwort.

The Christianized version of this tale is connected to the French name of yarrow: herbe de St. Joseph. Legend has it that after Joseph hurt himself while working in his carpenter’s shop, the infant Jesus brought him some yarrow and instantly healed the wound. Clearly, this is an adapted version of Achilles story, but I think it’s really fun!

The biggest misconception online regarding yarrow is that it was part of the Anglo-Saxon 9 herbs charm to ward off illness and the demonic. This charm was used by both Pagans and Christians. Unless someone can cite a source for this, my understanding is that the 9 herbs were mugwort, plantain, watercress, chamomile, stinging nettle, crab apple, chervil, fennel and “attorlothe” which is identified as viper’s bulgos, cockspur grass, betony or black nightshade. Yarrow is nowhere to be found among the nine herbs so it appears to be a case of too many people “copy and pasting” from another web site without verifying the source! (I welcome anyone with more info than I could gather here!)

Two of the most interesting ancient Christians spells using yarrow are one for demonic possession and another for love. (I recommend neither!) Regarding the first, yarrow was part of a bundle of 13 herbs that were made into a “spew drink” which caused the inflicted to allegedly vomit out the demonic spirit! Seven masses were said over this herbal concoction to which garlic and holy water were added. The finishing touch was that is was supposed to be drunk from an upside down church bell. You gotta admit it’s pretty dramatic!

In the love spell, a girl was supposed to pick a sprig of yarrow from the grave of a deceased young man, reciting the following poem:

Yarrow, sweet Yarrow, the first I have found,
In the name of Jesus Christ, I pluck it from the ground.
As Jesus loved sweet Mary and took her for his dear,
So in a dream this night,
I hope my true love will appear.

She then was told to place the sprig under her pillow until her true loved appeared. This charm is interesting because it is a thinly veiled ancient Pagan charm with the names of Jesus and Mary added to it. This is yet another piece of evidence that supports my theory that many converts to Christianity brought their Pagan traditions with them into the Christian faith. The Church was unable to suppress these traditions so they adapted and incorporated them into the rites and practices of the Church.

The final interesting use of yarrow I came across was found on http://www.sacredearth.com.  They wrote “A special soup of herbs is the traditional dish for Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. This soup contained 9 holy healing herbs, one of which is Yarrow. This soup was believed to ward off all sickness and disease and dispel all evil influences for the whole of the coming year.” I had never heard of this before but it fits the history of the use of yarrow quite well.

Copyright © 2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Self-Care Ritual

Here is the ritual I promised to post from Sunday night’s Welcoming Circle. Our discussion topic for the night was self-care.

CONNECTING TO THE DIVINE RITUAL

ANOINTING WITH OIL—David Taliesin

(Protection oil— 7-9 drops of Hyssop Essential Oil, 1/4 cup olive oil)

May the Great Spirit protect you from all harm
So that you may grow strong in body, mind and spirit.
So mote it be!

CASTING THE CIRCLE—David Eck (frankincense smudge)

Dark spirits fly away, so only peace and love remain.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air,
Lend us your creative, mysterious, intuitive power tonight.
We seek to be healed in body, mind and spirit.
Help us to achieve this goal. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire,
Lend us your decisive, wise, transformative power tonight.
We seek to be healed in body, mind and spirit.
Help us to achieve this goal. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water,
Lend us your compassionate, loving, calming power tonight.
We seek to be healed in body, mind and spirit.
Help us to achieve this goal. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth,
Lend us your grounding, strengthening, nourishing power tonight.
We seek to be healed in body, mind and spirit.
Help us to achieve this goal. Hail and welcome!

Great Mystery, who is known to us by many names,
Who surrounds us and is also within us,
Lend us your Divine Wisdom tonight.
We seek to be healed in body, mind and spirit.
Help us to achieve this goal. Hail and welcome!

HEALING SACHETS—cloth, ribbon, herbs

(We made sachets to strengthen our goals for self-care. Then we empowered them by raising energy in the circle and directing it to them.)

BLESSING FOR SACHETS AND CLOSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Great Mystery, who is known to us by many names,
Bless the sachets we have created tonight.
May their energies help to heal our bodies, minds and sprits.
May they remind us that the earth has many treasures
To bless and enhance our lives.

We also thank you for your presence in our circle tonight.
Continue to show us the things we need to do
To become the whole and healed people
You desire us to be.

Help us to reach our fullest potential
As agents of transformation and change in our world.
We are honored to be on this magical journey with you!
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth,
Thank you for your grounding, strengthening, nourishing power
That flows through our lives.
We are blessed to have you as our companions
On this magical journey!
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water,
Thank you for your compassionate, loving, calming power
That flows through our lives.
We are blessed to have you as our companions
On this magical journey!
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire,
Thank you for your decisive, wise, transformative power
That flows through our lives.
We are blessed to have you as our companions
On this magical journey!
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air,
Thank you for your creative, mysterious, intuitive power
That flows through our lives.
We are blessed to have you as our companions
On this magical journey!
Stay if you will, go if you must.
We bid you farewell!

The circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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