Blue Moon: Mar 31

Full-Moon

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have established; what are human beings that You are mindful of them, mortals that You care for them?  [Psalm 8:3, NRSV]

The night of March 31st is the second blue moon we’ve had this year. (The first one was January 31st and we won’t see another one until 2020!) This does not mean that the moon will appear with a blue hue.  That’s another phenomenon altogether which is caused by volcanic eruptions or an exceptionally large fire.  The kind of blue moon I’m talking about is when there are two full moons in one month.  The second is known as a blue moon.

There are a lot of opinions regarding what we should do when a blue moon occurs.  Some treat is just like any other full moon and take advantage of its ritual power.  Others see it as a special gift that should be used for special purposes.  A number of those who fall in the second camp see it as a time to write down the goals we wish to accomplish during the remainder of the year.  Since this blue moon falls in March, which is a time for seed planting and germination, it might be a good time to reflect on what dreams and goals we would like to plant in the soil of our lives during this season of growth and new beginnings.

As I was thinking about what ritual I wanted to create for this blue moon, the words from the above Psalm came to mind. I picture the Psalmist staring at the heavens with the full moon shining luminously upon him/her. This sight inspires him/her to ponder one of life’s greatest mysteries: The Divine Presence who created everything the Psalmist sees also draws near and pays attention to him/her. If that’s not a humbling and powerful experience, I don’t know what is!

So, this blue moon, I’m going to ponder the same mystery the Psalmist did.  I’m going to go outside and sit in silence, taking in the majesty and power of the blue moon. I will create space for the Divine Presence to speak and to inspire me regarding the magical work I need to be doing for the remainder of the year. When my vision feels clear, I will write down these goals along with what steps I need to take in order to accomplish them. Then I’ll celebrate the occasion by dancing under the light of the blue moon (if no one’s watching!) and sing a song praise and gratitude to the Great Mystery whose presence is known to us in so many varied and wonderful ways! Blessed be and Amen!

Copyright ©2018 by sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Esbats, Wheel of the Year | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Easter Witch?

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The Easter Witch? Yes, that’s what I said!. There was an interesting AP article by Matti Huuhtanen that appeared in my newspaper two years ago entitled “Little Witches in Finland Cast Good Spells Before Easter.” (Google it!) Needless to say, it got my attention.

I did a little digging in cyberspace and this is what I found. Apparently there is an unique and unusual tradition in Finland that involves little girls dressing up as witches and going door to door on either Palm Sunday (by children from Orthodox families in Southeast Finland), or Holy Saturday (by kids from the Lutheran families of Western Finland).

Children’s culture expert Reeli Karimäki of the Pessi Children’s Art Centre in Vantaa, had this to say abut the tradition: “In the most popular family tradition, young children (especially girls) dress up as Easter witches, donning colorful old clothes and painting freckles on their faces. “The little witches then go from door to door, bringing willow twigs decorated with colorful feathers and crepe paper as blessings to drive away evil spirits, in return for treats.”

Later, she adds “This Finnish children’s custom interestingly mixes two older traditions – a Russian Orthodox ritual where birch twigs originally represented the palms laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; and a Swedish and Western Finnish tradition in which children made fun of earlier fears that evil witches could be about on Easter Saturday.”

In the AP article, Matti Huuhtanen wrote “Ethnologists say Finland’s Easter practices came from the eastern region of Karelia, where Russian traditions were strong even when it was a part of Finland. Farmers in Karelia for centuries have taken pussy willows in lieu of palm leaves to their neighbors on Palm Sunday as a gesture of blessing.”

The candy of choice is chocolate foil wrapped Easter eggs which are placed in a copper pot the “little witches” carry with them. They also sometimes receive money, in the form of coins, as the treat. Those who make a donation are given a blessed willow branch in return.

I find this activity delightful and quite unique. The Pagan and Christian elements of this tradition live happily side by side and no one in Finland seems to bat an eye. It gives me hope that we can appreciate one another’s spring equinox celebrations, no matter what they may be!

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

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St. Patrick’s Day: The Great Snake Controversy

st-patrickFor most people, St. Patrick’s Day is simply a day where we celebrate all things Irish, including the color green, shamrocks and drinking LOTS of Guinness. Americans go crazy for this secularized holiday and, according to an Irish friend of mine, make a bigger deal out of this holiday than they do in Ireland.

But not all is fun and games. According to some Pagans, St Patrick’s Day has a dark side.  One of the most popular legends about St Patrick is that he drove out all the snakes from Ireland. However, according to The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, there is no evidence that snakes ever lived in Ireland. This has led some Pagans to believe that “snakes” are a metaphor for Pagans, and view St. Patrick as the one who committed cultural genocide on the Celtic people.

One of the most interesting articles I read that questions this connection is a piece by
Jason Pitzl-Waters on his blog The Wild Hunt: A Modern Pagan Perspective. It can be found on the excellent site patheos.com. Here’s a link to the original article: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2012/03/saint-patrick-druids-snakes-and-popular-myths.html

Pitzl-Waters says “The simple fact is that paganism thrived in Ireland for generations after Patrick lived and died, and, as Lupus puts it, ” the ‘final’ Christianization of the culture didn’t take place until the fourteenth century CE.” There was no Irish pagan genocide, no proof of any great violent Druid purge in Ireland, it simply doesn’t exist outside hagiography. By the time hagiographers started speaking of snakes and Druids, Irish paganism was already a remnant, and Irish Christianity the dominant religious force on the island.”

I have also read that the Church designated St. Patrick’s feast day as February 17th to provide an alternative Christian holiday to the Pagan celebration of Ostara. I’m not sure this connection can be made either. History.com sets St. Patrick’s death date as February 17th.  It may simply be a coincidence that the two holidays fall so close together.

As a final thought History.com offers the following positive info about St. Patrick and his relationship to Pagan culture. “Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.”

Perhaps St. Patrick was not the geneocidal maniac some make him out to be, but he might not be 100% saint either.  The jury is out on this one.  You’ll have to draw your own conclusions regarding the origins of this Irish saint.

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

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Empowering Your Emotions

Here is a copy of tonight’s ritual at The Welcoming Circle. We had a powerful discussion about how all emotions serve holy purposes in our lives.

EMPOWERING YOUR EMOTIONS

ANOINTING WITH DARK SUN OIL—David Taliesin (It was charged during the solar eclipse of 2017.)

Whatever emotion is causing you harm,
May it be transformed into a source of power and strength.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

We turn to the East and ask the Elemental Spirits of Air
To be with us tonight.
Guardians and Ancestors, teach us the value of fear
Which alerts us to danger
And helps us to prepare for battle.
Hail and welcome!

We turn to the South and ask the Elemental Spirits of Fire
To be with us tonight.
Guardians and Ancestors, teach us the value of anger
Which give us the motivation we need
To fight for what is just and true.
Hail and welcome!

We turn to the West and ask the Elemental Spirits of Water
To be with us tonight.
Guardians and Ancestors, teach us the value of sadness
Which helps us to mourn what we have lost
And becomes a healing balm for our hearts.
Hail and welcome!

We turn to the North and ask the Elemental Spirits of Earth
To be with us tonight.
Guardians and Ancestors, teach us the value of envy
Which challenges us to look within
And discover the gifts we already possess.
Hail and welcome!

Divine Presence, Great Mystery,
Who is known to us by many names,
Guide us in our process of discernment tonight.
Teach us how to harness the power
Of all the emotions we experience in life.
Hail and welcome!

A PERSONAL EMOTIONAL JOURNEY—David Taliesin

Instruction: Make sure everyone has a pen and paper.

On the table there are four different colors of yarn, each corresponding with one of the directions.

To the East we have white, which represents FEAR. To turn “white as a ghost” is a common expression associated with fear. When used negatively, fear can paralyze us. Fear can render us helpless and make us want to hide from whatever challenges we need to face in life. If you feel like FEAR is holding you back this week, take one of the white strings and sit with it. Tie it around your wrist if you like. Use the paper to explore the nature of your fear and to seek Divine wisdom regarding how you can use this emotion in a positive way in your life.

To the South we have red, which represents ANGER. To burn “red with anger” is a common expression associated with this emotion. When used negatively, anger can cause us to harm others physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Anger can cause us to make rash decisions without thinking them through. It can quickly set things into motion we cannot take back. If you feel like ANGER has a stranglehold on your life this week, take one of the red strings and sit with it. Tie it around your wrist if you like. Use the paper to explore the nature of your anger and to seek Divine wisdom regarding how you can use this emotion in a positive way in your life.

To the West we have blue, which represents SADNESS. “Feeling blue” is a common expression associated with sadness. When used negatively, sadness can paralyze us. It can cause us to withdraw from the support of others. Sadness can put us in a spin cycle of depression, regret and mourning that never ends. If you feel like SADNESS is holding you back this week, take one of the blue strings and sit with it. Tie it around your wrist if you like. Use the paper to explore the nature of your sadness and to seek Divine wisdom regarding how you can use this emotion in a positive way in your life.

To the North we have green, which represents ENVY. To turn “green with envy” is a common expression associated with this emotion. When used negatively, envy can cause us to do whatever it takes to possess what we desire, even if it is harmful to others. Envy can also make us blind to the blessings we already have in our midst. If you feel like ENVY is holding you back this week, take one of the green strings and sit with it. Tie it around your wrist if you like. Use the paper to explore the nature of your fear and to seek Divine wisdom regarding how you can use this emotion in a positive way in your life.

[SPACE FOR QUITE DISCERNMENT. This is followed by an opportunity to anyone to share what insights they gained during this time of meditation.]

DISMISSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

Guardians and Ancestors of the North,
Elemental Spirits of Earth,
Teach us how to use envy
As a force for good in our lives.
May it challenge us to work harder
For the resources we need to accomplish
The Holy Work you have called us to do.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West,
Elemental Spirits of Water,
Teach us how to use sadness
As a force for good in our lives.
May it call us to journey within
And emerge a stronger person.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South,
Elemental Spirits of Fire,
Teach us how to use anger
As a force for good in our lives.
May it inspire us to fight for that
Which is just and true!
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East,
Elemental Spirits of air,
Teach us how to use fear
As a force for good in our lives.
May it alert us to situations
That might cause us harm,
And get us ready to either fight or flight.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Divine Presence, Great Mystery,
Who is known to us by many names,
All of our emotions are gifts from you.
Teach us how to use them wisely
To bless and benefit ourselves and others.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

And now, 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, merry part, and merry meet again.

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

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What If…I’m Dreaming of a Green Christianity

jesustreeWhat if…Christians could let go of their need to be “right” and listen to the voices of other spiritual paths?  Is it possible for us to let go of our sacred cows and learn from others who also have deep connections to Spirit, community and creation? How would this change the way we practice our faith?

What if…our faith followed the cycles of the seasons instead of the liturgical calendar?  What if the teachings of Jesus were organized in a way that explored the themes of birth, growth, harvest, and rest?  How would this affect our role as stewards and caretakers of the planet?

What if…we could listen to the voices of minority groups of followers of Jesus whom mainstream Christianity tried to snuff out?  What do ancient Christians like the Gnostics and the Essenes have to teach us about Jesus that might add to what we already know?

What if…I’m asking some pretty big questions these days.  Some of my Christian friends would think I’ve lost my mind, but my spiritual life has been turbocharged by what I’ve learned from my Wiccan and Pagan friends. My connection to our Creator is more intimate and peaceful.  My relationship with the natural world is infinitely stronger and deeper. I now sense that everywhere I walk is Holy Ground, and my life will never be the same again.

Perhaps you’re a Christian and you’re reading this.  If traditional forms of Christianity are working for you; if they make you feel deeply connected to God and more loving toward your neighbor and creation then don’t change a thing!

If, however, traditional Christianity is snuffing the life out of you; if your faith feels like its only based on what you believe about God rather than on your relationship with God, then I want you to know you’re not alone.  There are lots of “seekers” out there who are longing for a more intimate connection to both the Eternal One and creation that traditional Christianity is not providing for them.

I’m not sure what to call my vision yet but, for lack of a better term, I’m dreaming of Green Christianity.  I envision an earth-based Path for followers of Jesus that is eclectic (draws from many sources), individual (recognizes that everyone experiences the Holy in their own unique way), and elemental (works with the energies of nature to promote healing and harmony).

My ultimate goal is to produce resources to help others who are interested in stretching their faith beyond the confines of traditional Christianity.  I plan to write a book that takes the teachings of Jesus (from the Bible and other sources) and places them on the Wheel of the Year. So far, the timing for this project has not been right but it will happen!

So, are you in?  Will you dream of a Green Christianity with me?  I know you’re out there, so don’t be afraid to let your green light shine!

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

Posted in Creation Spirituality, Liturgical Calendar, Spirituality, Wheel of the Year | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tree Hugging Jesus

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

“And Jesus led the Sons of Light to an ancient tree by the side of the river, and there he knelt at the place where the roots, gnarled and hoary with age, spread over the river edge. And the Sons of Light knelt also, and they did touch with reverence the trunk of the ancient tree, for it was taught to them that the trees are the Brothers of the Sons of Men. For their mother is the same, the Earthly Mother, whose blood runs in the sap of the tree and in the body of the Son of Man. And their father is the same, the Heavenly Father, whose laws are written in the branches of the tree, and whose laws are engraved in the forehead of the Son of Man.” —The Essene Gospel of Peace, Book 4

Now this is a Jesus I can resonate with! I like my Shepherd to be a little bit of a tree hugger. How about you?  This is the Jesus that was lost during the selection of the books that became the New Testament.  This is the Jesus of the minority instead of the majority, the people whose opinions mainstream Christianity tried to silence. (My Wiccan friends can definitely related to that!)  Thankfully some of their writings survived!  One of my favorites is the Essene Gospel of Peace, Book 4.  If you’ve never heard of it before, definitely give it a read.  The full text can be found at http://essene.com/GospelOfPeace/index.html

Copyright © 2018 by sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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DIY: Spell Candles

My working theory is that magical people are also “crafty” people.  We like to harvest and dry our own herbs, when possible.  We enjoy making our own incense blends, sachets, magical oils, etc.  I’m sure there are “supermarket witches” out there, but many of us like to prayerfully/meditatively place our intentions/energy into every step of the creative process from the raw materials to the finished product.  I believe our magic is more powerful when we work with products made by our own hands.

If you’ve never tried making spell candles before, it’s a lot easier than you think.  I begin with honeycomb textured beeswax sheets which I buy from a farm that is dedicated to helping our bee population thrive.  In the pictures below I’m making healing candles so I chose light blue as the color of the beeswax.

candle01

I cut each sheet in half so I get two candles out of each sheet.  Then I take a blow dryer and soften the wax on the edge of the sheet for a few seconds.  (Don’t overdo it or you’ll have a mess!)  I press the wick gently but firmly into this softened wax.

candle02

Then I warm a small section of the sheet with the blow dryer and begin rolling the wax over the wick.  Make sure you do this tightly because if there are a lot of air pockets, the candle won’t burn correctly.

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Here comes the fun part!  You can place either herbs or oils on the surface of the sheet in small amounts.  In this instance I’m using dried rue and yarrow which came from my garden.  Choose whatever is going to help your specific intention for the candle.  This is a prayerful process for me.  When using oil I make the sign of the cross on the surface of the wax sheet with my finger, saying “On earth as it is in heaven.”  One of my Wiccan friends, who taught me how to make these candles, draws a pentacle in a circle, saying “As above, so below.”  Do whatever feels right for you.

candle04

Then continue rolling up the candle until you reach the end of the wax sheet.  If you’re using herbs hold the blow dryer on the underside of the sheet so you don’t send your herbs flying all over the place!  If it’s a warm summer day I find that you can sometimes roll up the rest of the candle without applying any more heat.

candle05

When you’re finished rolling the beeswax sheet, heat the edge and press it into the candle to seal it!  Then take a moment to prayerfully dedicate the candle for its intended purpose.

candle06

Copyright ©2018 by sabbatsandsabbaths.com

Posted in Herbology, Magic, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments