July Full Moon: Buck Moon

buckfullmoon

Native Americans call July 9th’s full moon the Buck Moon because in North America bucks (male deers) are beginning to sprout their antlers. Symbolically this ties in with the first harvest theme of Lughnasadh which we will celebrate in a few weeks on August 1st. A good reflection question to ask ourselves during this month’s full moon is “What do we want to harvest in our lives? What do we want to manifest in our world?”

These days there is a lot to be fearful about and we can choose to give into that fear and manifest anxiety and worry. OR we can draw our strength from nature and the Divine and harvest a new crop of love, compassion, reconciliation, hope, etc. May we use tonight’s full moon to ground and center ourselves so we will remain strong in these trying times. Blessed be!

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

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Calendula: Solstice Flowers on Steroids

calendula-illustrationG/P/E Masculine, Sun, Fire

Even if you don’t have a particularly green thumb, you can grow calendula in your garden. They love lots of sun and produce prolific amounts of beautiful yellow and orange blossoms that can be used for magical, medicinal and culinary uses. They also grow well in pots if you live in an apartment or condo. The trick to getting lots of blossoms is to keep harvesting/ deadheading them as they flower. In the hottest part of the summer they may stop producing flowers but don’t give up on them. When the temperature drops a bit they will start blooming again and, depending on where you live, can produce flowers well into the fall. They can reseed themselves with little effort on your part but you can also save the seeds from the dried involucres (green base of the flower head). This is also where the highest concentration of medicinal resinous oils are found.

Medicinally, calendula has lots of healing properties. A salve made from the whole blossoms is very healing to the skin and can help with all manner of cuts, bruises, rashes, burns, insect bites, etc. Tea made from the dried blossoms is also a great way to beat the winter blahs. I combine it with other herbs to promote a sense of well-being and happiness.

As a culinary ingredient, calendula petals can be eaten raw and add beautiful color to fresh garden salads. Dried petals have also been used in place of saffron as a colorant and flavor ingredient.

Magically, calendula is an overlooked and underappreciated herb. Scott Cunningham says that calendula flowers gladden and strengthen the heart. Garlands of calendula strung on doorposts stop evil from entering the house, and placed under a bed will protect you while you sleep. I find that their energy is joyful and vibrant and can be used in any ritual where sun/fire energy is called for. Even a small vase of calendula placed on my home altar feels empowering and inspiring.

Paul Beyerl in his excellent book “A Compendium of Herbal Magic” says that the dried petals can be used alone or mixed with a dry incense to consecrate tools of divination, and the petals may also be macerated in sunflower oil to make an oil of consecration. It’s sunny color and fire energy are also good for clearing negative energy.

As a side note, the common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary and may have previous associations with a nature goddess. If anyone has any historical info on this, let me know. The more common variety of marigold that most people are familiar with is also used in Dia de los Muertos celebrations. It is placed on altars and graveside to honor the dead. Given that calendula can flower into the fall in some climates, it may also be used for this purpose.

So, what are you waiting for? Make plans to add calendula to your garden next year. You will love the many uses for this versatile flower.

Copyright, ©2017 by David Taleisin, 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 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.

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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.

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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