Welcoming Circle Ritual: Nov 11

hammer-of-thor-pendant-1

Hammer Rite

Tree: We call quarters differently today. To honor the Heathen path, I am going to use an elder Hammer Rite. The Hammer is both the symbol for Heathenism and Earth (which Thor is God of in Norse lore.) In Norse lore, the primal elements of fire and ice collided creating our nine worlds. Freya Aswynn says they were actually matter and anti matter sparking creation of everything else. Who knows? We will call to the most primal elements to be our guardians. Please stand and face the middle.

(Raising Hammer to the North)

Tree: Hamar ef eldr ok Muspellheimr helga ve petta ok hald vordt!

David: Hammer of the fires of Muspellheimr hallow and protect this holy stead!

Tree: Hammar ef Iss ok Niflheimr helge ve petta ok hald vordt!

David: Hammer of the Great Ice of Niflheimer, Hallow and protect this holy stead! Tree: (Tracing the Hammer Sign in air): Um mik ok I mer Asgardr ok Midgardr David: Around me and within me, heaven and earth.

Tree: Please be seated.

Tree: As we have already mentioned, today is traditional for honoring our war veterans but the warrior ethic and stance in the world is deeper than just the weapons and courage in battle. Martin Luther King said “life isn’t worth living until you have found something worth dying for.” Martin Luther King found civil rights worth dying for.My Norse ancestors found their people and families worth dying for. They lived life as fully as they could in those days. Today, more than ever, we need the warrior spirit in us awakened as troubled times increase but is there anything worth dying for? Living for? What would you consider worthy of dying for, that something that makes your life worth living? Let us give ourselves a few moments to think about that then individually stand or come up to the Hammer and tell the universe what is worth dying for? This is not an oath. This is a reflection to awaken you to your inner warrior. Warriors come in all guises- parents, activists, spiritual pathworkers, keepers of light, everyday heros. If you have nothing to say, that is okay. There is no judgement here. Just remember those that you have held in your heart as courageous and heroic.

(Time for participants to speak to Hammer or the group)

Tree: Please stand and face the center again.

Tree: Hammer of Muspellheimr’s fires, I thank you for your protection. You may go now and take with you our thanks.

David: Hammerof Nifilheimr’s Ice, We thank you for your protection. You may go now and take with you our thanks.

Tree: You can be seated again. Thank you for sharing this space with us. Special thanks to Mike for giving us a glimpse into the Heathen Way.

Written by Tree Higgins

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Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve Soul Cakes

soulcakes

The Soul Cake is part of traditional Samhain/All Hallows Eve festivities in the British Isles. The cakes are flat and round, scented with saffron, mixed spices and currants.During the 19th and early 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ on Samhain (All Hallow’s Eve), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2) where they would request alms or soul cakes with the following song:

“A soul, a soul, a soul cake.
Please god missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Up with your kettles and down with your pans
Give us an answer and we’ll be gone
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate
Crying for butter to butter his cake
One for St Peter, two for St Paul,
Three for the man who made us all.”

In earlier times the poor would go to prosperous houses, offering to say prayers for departed loved ones. In return, they were given these round cakes and sometimes food and money as well. Soul Cakes are a wonderful example of a Pagan tradition that made it’s way into Christianity virtually unscathed. If you’ve never made them before, they are absolutely delicious. Here is my favorite recipe for Soul Cakes. They freeze well so you can make them ahead!

Soul Cakes
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp of saffron
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup raisins (or currants if you are able to get them)

For the Glaze:
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Mix well with a fork.

Crumble the saffron threads into a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until they become aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Add the milk and heat just until hot to the touch. The milk will have turned a bright yellow. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Add the egg yolks and blend in thoroughly with the back of the spoon. Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, begin adding in the warm saffron milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk; you probably won’t need the entire half-cup.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently, with floured hands, until the dough is uniform. Roll out gently to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a floured 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can gather and re-roll the scraps, gently.

Brush the souls cakes liberally with the beaten egg yolk.  Add currants in the shape of a cross and press them firmly into the dough.  Bake for 15 minutes, until just golden and shiny.

Makes 12 to 15 cakes

Copyright ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Full Hunter’s Moon: October 24th

full_hunters_moon-resizedAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Algonquin Native American tribes referred to October’s full moon as the Hunter’s Moon because it was time to go hunting in preparation for winter. As the days grow visibly shorter, perhaps we can use this full moon to contemplate what resources we need in order to make it through the approaching winter season.

We can think of this preparation as either literal or metaphorical. Some of us have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and have to surround ourselves with the people and coping skills we need in order to keep us healthy. Others are feeling like they’re slipping into a winter season of their lives. If this is the case, be intentional about doing what you need to do in order to keep yourself strong and grounded.

Since, the veil between the worlds is also thin this time of year, it’s the perfect night to seek the wisdom of our Ancestors and Beloved Dead who can help us to navigate the perilous journey ahead. Candles, mugwort, marigolds/calendula, pictures, etc. can help us draw closer to those on the other side. We all need to feel their love and encouragement in this stressful and angry world.

So, put the energy of this season and this powerful moon to good use. And for those who celebrate it, I hope you have a blessed Samhain!

Copyright ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Samhain/All Saints: The Great Cloud of Witnesses

greatcloudTherefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.  [Heb 12:1. NRSV]

As we approach the celebration of Samhain as well as All Saint’s Day, I love the term the writer of Hebrews uses to describe those who have made the transition from our world to the next. The “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews are those who sit in the eternal stadium seats, cheering us on, as we “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” I have always found this image to be rather comforting. It reminds us that the blessed dead still have a role to play in our lives as a source of wisdom and strength.

So who makes up this great cloud? One of my teachers, Byron Ballard, gave three distinctive classifications of the blessed dead in a class I attended. In looking at each, I hope it expands our understanding of who makes up those we label as our ancestors.

ANCESTORS: People in your direct bloodline who are dead.

BELOVED DEAD: People you honor who are not your ancestors who are also dead.

MIGHTY DEAD: Those you claim and honor as your ancestors. Heroes, writers, warriors, people who inspire you who, again are dead.

On my ancestor altar this year there are a few that fall into each category. I have pictures of my Ancestors such as my great-grandfather and his family. I also have pictures of the Beloved Dead such as dear friends who are no longer with me. Finally, this year’s Mighty Dead include Scott Cunningham whose magical work continues to resonate with me and inspire me and David Bowie and Prince, musical legends who passed away this year.

Everyone’s great cloud of witnesses is different, yet each of us has people who continue to inspire, challenge and comfort us even thought they are no longer with us. Who are the Ancestors, Beloved Dead, and Mighty Dead you are honoring this Samhain/All Saint’s Day?

Copyright ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Samhaim Divination: The Pentacle Tarot Spread

Since the veil between the worlds is thin this time of year, Samhain is known as a good time to do divination work. My favorite spread as of late is the Pentacle Spread which includes the four elements, a spirit card, and a significator card. There are several variations of this spread so you have to use the one that “works” for you and your particular spiritual path. I’ve been told I read the cards like a witch because I connect Air with the suit of Wands and Fire with the suit of Swords. Many flip these correspondences around but this approach has always made the most sense to me.

As with all things Wicca, there is no “right” way to read the cards. It’s an intuitive process so you have trust your judgement. Experiment and see what happens. I did two amazing readings last night with this spread and think you’ll enjoy working with it as well. Samhain blessings!

Pentacle SpreadMY PENTACLE TAROT SPREAD

Center: Querent’s Significator – What are they asking about? Have the Querent look at all the cards in the deck and choose the one that most resonates with them.Explain the meaning of the card to them and see if it fits the question they want to ask.Place this card face up in the center and shuffle the deck.When it feels ready ask the Querent to cut the cards and deal them clockwise in the order of air, fire, water, earth and spirit.

Top Right: Air – Intuition/creativity. Represents the SPIRITUAL. What is your gut/intuition telling you? Is it positive or negative? Qualities associate with this suit are enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking and confidence. Wands involve the intellect, learning, teaching, knowledge, enlightenment, divination. The mind working to discern from a spiritual perspective.

Bottom Right – Fire – Will/energy. Represents the MENTAL. Fire can create or destroy. How are you feeling about making decisions at this point? Qualities associated with this suit are will, action, passion and energy. It’s capable of separating good from evil, truth from falsehood. Swords involve acting with power and decisive action.

Bottom Left – Water – Emotion. Represents the EMOTIONAL. Qualities associated with the suit are intuition, desire, feelings and relationship patterns. Cups involve intuition and are “heart centered.”

Top Left – Earth – Stability/security. Represents the PHYSICAL. What is grounding/rooting you? Is it nurturing or keeping you from moving forward? Qualities associated with this suit are money, prosperity of all kinds, and physical health. Pentacles involve practicality, security, prosperity of all kinds, and physical health.

Top – Spirit – The Whole Self. This is what everything is leading up to. This is the goal the elemental spirits are pointing toward.

Copyright ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Ancestor Ritual

Here is the group ritual we did last night to close The Welcoming Circle. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Ancestor Ritual October 2018
The Welcoming Circle
Written by Tree Higgins

Calling of Quarters

Hail, Guardian of the East! Keeper of sacred winds
that carry our love beyond this realm.
Hail, Guardian of the East, stand and protect this sacred circle!

Hail, Guardian of the South! Bearer of the Phoenix
who dies in fire and is reborn of his own ashes!
Hail, Guardian of the South, stand and protect this sacred circle!

Hail, Guardian of the West! Keeper of all the rivers of crossing!
Hail, Guardian of the west, stand and protect our sacred circle!

Hail, Guardian of the North! Keeper of the earth
from whom all things rise and all things return!
Hail, Guardian of the North, stand and protect our sacred circle!

Anointing

I will now anoint those willing so that the light once shared with the departed
may shine for awhile here.

(While anointing) Let the love you have been given
and the love you gave
be the light that shines through the Veil.

Ancestor Ritual

The Veil is thin and our departed loved ones near.
We stand here and now to honor those
who have passed from our sight but not our hearts
and to honor our ancestors whose sacrifices and choices
made it possible for us to be here today.

We will take a moment in silent reflection for those we have lost. (PAUSE)

I will give each of you a paper to write a name of the beloved dead on so it can be offered up in reverence and honor. If you need more than one paper, please help yourself. (Hands out papers and pens)

When you are ready, you may bring it to the candle and burn it. Whisper your words to the one on the other side of the Veil as you release the scraps of paper).

(As they bring forth the scraps of paper)
We send these with respect and love to the other side of life.
We send joy for the good things we shared,
honor for the struggles we shared
that ultimately made us stronger
and we send that sense of wonder
that connected us when you were here
and still endures now that you have moved on.

Hail the Ancestors who made us.
Hail the dead who loved us and with thanks
we now let you go again on your new paths.

Blessed be those who remain here with us now.
Blessed be those gone beyond.
We can all walk in balance now.

Releasing the Quarters

Hail, Guardian of the North! We thank you for your watch.
We release you now. Please go freely on your way.

Hail, Guardian of the West! We thank you for your watch.
We release you now. Please, go freely on your way.

Hail, Guardian of the South! We thank you for your watch.
Please go freely on your way.

Hail, Guardian of the East! We thank you for your watch.
Please go freely on your way.

Now the circle is open but it is never unbroken
because ti is a circle woven in love.
Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

Copyright ©2018 by Tree Higgins

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Remembering a Man I Never Met…Talking to My Ancestors

muertosaltar14

Dia de los Muertos 2014

Henry was my great grandfather who emigrated to this country with his wife many years ago. Together they learned English, lived through the Great Depression and found a way to raise 10 healthy, happy children. Although I never met him face to face, I have always felt connected to him ever since the day I saw his picture on my grandmother’s bedroom dresser. She told me he was a wonderful father who loved music and adored his kids. He had a zeal for life that never faded, even when he and his family were going through the toughest of times.

During the month of October I construct an ancestor altar in the style of Day of the Dead. It has pictures of departed loved ones, with Henry front and center. It also includes fresh flowers, candles and calaveras (skeleton figurines engaged in everyday activities). Every time my family sits down for supper, we light the candles and dine with our ancestors. At other times I meditate in front of the altar, burn a little mugwort (which attracts the spirits) and ask Henry to give me the wisdom and strength I need to face the challenges of the coming year. I know some people might think that’s strange, but I find it comforting and uplifting.

Ancestor veneration is practiced throughout the world in some form in every culture. Unfortunately, it has mostly fallen out of favor in the United States. Yet if there was ever a time for us to revive this spiritual practice, it is most certainly now. Our world is a mess with violence surrounding us one every side. Our environment is also in peril and we need all the advice and strength we can get from our ancestors to help us navigate these perilous times.

As we approach the celebration of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, or Dia de los Muertos (depending upon your spiritual path), many of us believe the veil between us and those on the other side is thinnest. It is the perfect time to commune with our beloved dead and draw strength from them. If you’ve never constructed an ancestor altar before, start small. Use the top of a dresser or a shelf in a book case. Include pictures of those you wish to remember, along with small mementos, a candle, and maybe some fresh flowers or incense. Use this altar as a place to meditate and pray in the coming weeks and see what wisdom the beloved dead have to offer you!
If you’re like me you will discover that you won’t want to dismantle this altar after the month of October comes to an end. Personally, I reluctantly take the big altar down but I also construct a smaller one in my office where it remains for the rest of the year. It is a visual reminder that our ancestors and Ancient Ones are always with us, building us up and cheering us on every step of the way!

Copyright ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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