June Full Moon: Strawberry Moon

strawberry-moon-squareAccording to the Farmer’s Almanac, the June full moon, which occurs this coming Thursday, June 28, 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 ©2018 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 ©2018 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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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.

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 ©2018 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.

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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.

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

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The Ethics of Wildcrafting

mugwortOn a recent walk with my dog, I came across a nice patch of mugwort on a favorite trail of ours. I made note of its location and watched it grow for several weeks, hoping to harvest some of it for an Old World Mugwort Lemon beer. (Mugwort was used as a bittering agent before hops became the standard.)

This past week we were back on the trail and, much to my shock and horror, ALL OF IT was gone. To add insult to injury, the plants had literally been pulled up by the roots! It was as if it had never existed in the first place.

To whoever did this unthinkable act of carnage, I can only say YOU SUCK! How in the world did you think this was okay? Granted, mugwort grows in abundance in our area but if you did this to mugwort, what’s to stop you from doing it to any other plant you please, including those that are on the United Pants Savers “to-watch” and “at-risk” lists.

Here’s the thing, because wildcrafting is becoming more popular we need to develop strict personal ethics about what we harvest and what we don’t harvest. The old rule of thumb in Wiccan circles is that you can harvest a third, but I think that’s being overly-generous. If I harvest a third, then you harvest and third, and someone else harvests a third, there is nothing left of the plant.

I don’t care if you use it for ritual or medicinal use, we’ve got to protect and preserve these valuable treasures we’ve been given by our Creator. This is both a moral and spiritual imperative. Anyone who claims to be “in touch” with nature is a charlatan if they act so carelessly and recklessly. I have no respect for you whatsoever. Rant over!

My own personal ethics regarding wildcrafting is that I first try to grow what I need in my own garden. If I have an abundance of anything, including young plants in the spring, I give them to others to use. I try to plant what I think I will need during the year and no more. I’m also cultivating bloodroot because it’s on the “At Risk” list. My plan is when I have enough plants to divide I’m going to plant them in a nearby forest so they can continue to multiply and flourish.

Whatever I cannot grow myself I try to wildcraft. When I find the plant I need, I make sure there is plenty of it in the area. If not, I leave it be until it’s plentiful. Then when I decide it’s okay to harvest, I take only what is absolutely necessary for whatever project I’m undertaking. For example, the Mugwort Lemon beer I make only needs 0.3 ounces of dried herb which is not a huge amount. I only harvest the tops and leave the rest of the plant to continue to grow.

I’m sure many of you already have a strong ethic regarding wildcrafting. If you haven’t thought about it before, I hope you’ll consider the story I’ve shared with you in this post. Blessed be!

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

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Drying Rose Petals: Now That’s Easy!

Who doesn’t love the beauty and color of roses? However, they only last for all too brief a time. Here’s a quick and easy way to preserve the petals for ritual, magical and decorative purposes. (I’ll write more on how to use them later!)

1. Pick the petals when they still have their color but are getting ready to fall off the flower. At this point in their bloom cycle they come off very easily.

2. Place the petals on a double sheet of paper towels in your microwave.

rose01

3. Place another sheet on top and nuke those babies for 40 seconds to begin with and 20 second increments afterward until they are dry. (Mine took about 80 seconds) Make sure the petals don’t touch or they’ll stick together!

rose02

4. Take them out of the microwave and let them cool off. Then let them sit for another day or two to make sure they’re completely dry. Easy and beautiful! Yes, you can lay them outdoors to dry naturally but the sun fades their color. I know some people prefer this method but why not take advantage of modern technology every once in a while?

rose03

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

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May Full Moon: Flower/Deer Moon

69129Native Americans named May’s full moon (which occurs on May 29) the Flower Moon for obvious reasons. May is the month when everything is coming into full bloom and there are flowers popping up everywhere. It’s a time for us to focus on spiritual growth where the seeds we planted on Imbolc have germinated and are well on their way to maturity. You may want to take some time this full moon to reflect on projects and activities that need a little TLC in order to come to full fruition.

The Witches Calendar calls it the Deer Moon. A good ritual activity connected to this is to cast a circle and call the quarters in whatever manner works best for you. Then spend some time grounding and raising energy. When you feel peaceful and calm, read the story about deer energy from the book Medicine Cards that can be found online HERE. After you have finished reading the story, visualize a person who is your “demon” at this moment. Someone who is keeping you from advancing in your spiritual path. Think about how they make you feel and then try to release those feelings from your body, through your feet and into the earth.

When you are finished with this part of the meditation, try sending deer energy to your “demon” with the expectation that it will transform them. In your next encounter with this person, try embodying deer energy and see if it changes the dynamic between the two of you.

According to Medicine Cards, “Deer teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are trying to keep us from Sacred Mountain. Like the dappling Fawn’s coat, both the light and dark may be loved to create gentleness and safety for those who are seeking peace. Find the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds. Stop pushing so hard to get others to change, and love them as they are. Apply gentleness to your present situation and become like the summer breeze: warm and caring.”

This can be a very powerful and transformative exercise so don’t rush it. Give it the time and attention it deserves this full moon. Bright blessings!

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

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