Spring Mysteries Festival Review

Spring Mysteries Festival Poster 2018
Spring Mysteries Festival Poster 2018

Note: see end of post for recent update to this review.

I have attended the Spring Mysteries Festival, hosted by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, many times. It’s really refreshing to be at a large complex multi-day ritual, that is so devotedly and competently done.

Some festivals are the land of the Party Pagan, whose main interest in festivals are in costumes and mead (1). While there are definitely attendees who fit this mold, this is a festival that isn’t shaped for that purpose, something that is a relief to me. Sometimes it feels like the more religious Pagans are few and hard to find. Based in this experience, the sincere dedication to ritual that deeply engages the gods and the participant, clearly and well executed in this festival is a joy. Continue reading “Spring Mysteries Festival Review”

Creating a Beltaine Ritual for Lovers

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Beltane_Bonfire_on_Calton_Hill.JPGBeltane is a Pagan/Wiccan festival of sexuality and fertility, usually celebrated on the evening of April 30th or May 1st.  When celebrated in a group, the sexuality is usually symbolic, represented by dancing around the May pole – which yes, is representing just what you might think that is meant to represent, and the ribbons encasing it, also, exactly what you’d think. Similarly a chalice and blade may form the central imagery in other rituals. While the traditional imagery is heterosexual, this imagery can be adapted to any configuration of humans you enjoy, again, *all* acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.  When celebrated privately, with just you and your lover, spouse or partner, the symbolism can be more direct, and can be customized to the bodies involved. Continue reading “Creating a Beltaine Ritual for Lovers”

Inadvertently Pagan pop song #1 – Love Can Move Mountains

Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos By BenAveling - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813
Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos
By BenAveling – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813

One of the nice things about being Pagan is that the forces of life – earth, air, fire, water are held sacred by many people, which means that we can relate spiritually to much of popular culture, particularly music.

As a devotee of the Goddess of Love, many love songs have a double meaning to me. Songs that might seem over the top when sung to or about an actual person, make perfect sense when framed as coming to or from the Goddess of love.

Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.
Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.

I was dancing with some women last night and a song came on called ‘Love can move mountains”. It occurred to me that it works perfectly as a hymn to the power of Aprhodite. The power of love is such that it can transform anything. Aphrodite’s association with her husband Hephaistos, who lives under mount Vesuvious, adds another layer of meaning to the song. While we may at times lose faith in a particular love or experience of love, we cannot lost faith in Love herself.

Here’s the   text of the lyrics, written by Diane Warren and first recorded by Canadian vocalist Celine Dion in 1992

You can listen to her version here.  For a version that is, well, a little less Celine Dion, you can listen to this version sung by the young Sara Niemietz (or click on the album at right to see, stream or buy the album)

Lyrics to Love Can Move Mountains by Diane Warren

Faith
Trust
Love (love)
(Love can)
Love can move mountains
There ain’t a dream
That don’t have the chance to come true now
It just takes a little faith, baby
Anything that we want to do we can do now
There ain’t nothing in our way, baby
Nothing our love couldn’t rise above
We can get through the night
We can get through the light
Long as we got our love to light the way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
With a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Oh yeah, baby
Oceans deep and mountains high
They can’t stop us
Because love is on our side, baby
We can reach the heavens and touch the sky
Just believe it, believe in you and i, baby
If we got love that is strong enough
We can do anything, we’d get through anything
‘Cause through it all, love will always find a way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, baby, love can
Love can move mountains
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
(You need love)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh yeah
You believe in me
I believe in you
If we believe in each other
Nothing we can’t do
If we got love that is strong enough
Then we’ll find a way
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you need love baby)
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you got to feel it baby)
Love can, love can move mountains
Love (trust love, love can move mountains)
If you believe in me and I believe in you (trust love, love can move mountains)
We can believe in love, baby
Love will find a way (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love will find a way, baby
We’ll believe in each other (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh, baby
Believe in love (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love can move mountains
Believe if you’re feeling love
Love
You got to believe it baby
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta baby

 

Imbolc, Music and Priestessing a Song

On how sacred attention is everything

Crosóg Bríde: Drumnalost (Bridgid's cross)
Crosóg Bríde: Drumnalost, (c) Louise Price

The Pagan choir I lead was working on a new song for Imbolc a few weeks ago, Lisa Thiel’s Imbolc, from the album Circle of the Seasons. It’s a song for Brigid (pronounced Bridjid or Breed) with the following lyrics:

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
Bless this house, and all of our kin
Protect this house and all within

Blessed Bridget come into thy bed
With a gem at thy heart and a crown on thy head
Awaken the fire within our souls
Awaken the fire that makes us whole

Blessed Bridget, queen of the fire
Help us to manifest our desire
May we bring forth all that’s good and fine
May we give birth to our dreams in time

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
From the source of Infinite Light
Kindle the flame of our spirits tonight

There are several different kinds of Pagans in the choir I lead. Some are experienced singers with little experience priestessing, some are experienced priestesses with little experience singing and performing and some are less  experienced in either.

However, all are game for an experiment, and Pagan music being a largely oral music tradition, we do a lot of experiments with different ways of arranging and mixing the songs to make them more layered and interesting. However, this most recent experiment was quite powerful.

I paired up the members including myself set us each to sing the song in pairs, at our own speed, as if it was (and is) and invocation of Bridgid.

Myself and one other singer, who is a professional singer, very experienced as a singer but less as a priestess,  went into a separate room, grounded and began to sing it, trusting Bridgid to guide us. I asked my partner to sing the song as if she was calling directly to Brigid and invoking the song as a spell. And magic happened. We connected to the energy of the song and inprovised a winding, tight, almost Baltic harmony as we sang the song. I could feel the power of Her flow through both of us an we just followed it.

Encouraged by this success, I went back into the choir room, and we all switched singing partners. My second partner was an experienced priestess whose singing is understandably quite a bit less polished than my first partner. For her my direction to sing the song as an invocation had a quite different flavour. A dedicated and devout priestess, the instruction to sing the song as an invocation to the Goddess Bridgid had the effect of pulling her deeper into the song, making the song real and rich and deep, as if it had been in one dimension before but now was in three.  Her tone was better, her volume and tone varied with the meaning of the song, and it had the meaning she brought to it by her devotion. It was transformed by the presence she brought to it.

I think the lesson in this, from Bridgid, Goddess of Bards after all, is that sacred presence makes everything better, and that when songs (and life) mean something and you really attend to that meaning and connection with the sacred, it transforms what you do.

After we finished singing, we thanked and devoked Bridgid, because She was definitely present.

Imbolc Blessings Everyone.

 

Magic is a perilous art – practical prosperity magic part 2

I realized today my prosperity spell  has taken effect in yet another unforeseen way.  I was doing a tarot reading about a dilemma I have  and received the following cards.

Tarot reading with Magician card in hopes and fears position

In the ‘hopes and fears’ position of this reading, which is notable for it’s long series of major arcana cards, there is the magician card. I was taught to read a major arcana card in this position as fact rather than hope or fear.  I was also taught to read the magician as a card signifying the results of a spell.

The reading is about the proposed sale of my house to developers, for about $900,000 more than it’s assessed value, and about $700,000 more than it’s usual market value.  Because of some recent zoning changes in my area, the land my house sits on has become much more valuable.  No offer has yet been made, but potential purchasers have been expressing interest.

I’ve been anxious about this prospect. Sure, it’s a lot of money, but houses in Vancouver are expensive, and what will I replace my home with? As well, I’m an orphan, and as a result of having lost my family at a young age, my homes take on extra importance, as I have no other anchors. This house has a lot of loving labour put into it, and a lot of memories. It’s the home I created and shared with my ex partner of 14 years, and selling it will let go of the physical space of that history. The contract I signed three days ago, one week after casting my spell, says that if my price is met by a potential buyer, I will sell the house. I have declared to the forces of life that I will harvest this fruit if it is ripe.

This is the perilous nature of magic. Once I have cast a spell, I do not know exactly how it will fall, and I have consented to it’s completion. “She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches, changes”. This is particularly true of spells, for they give consent to the Divine to speed up the natural forces of causation in your life.  A cast spell is like that William Hutchison Murray quote inspired by Goethe:

“the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

It is fall, when even the trees let go of what was once beautiful and full of life.

As witches, it is our job to make compost of it to nourish the new and the living.

Practical Prosperity Magic Update (1a)

An update to the spell begun in Practical Prosperity Magic 1

So yesterday I set my intention. I was still struggling with it as of last night when I went to a free form dance class with some friends. I’d intended to dance up some energy and joy to support my intention, but had found out I’d misplaced a large amount of cash just before the class. I danced hopefulness and faith and by the end of the class felt better.

I got home and immediately found the cash in the first place I looked, for which I was very grateful and saw as part of the spell working.

This morning I got a big new project from an existing client. Harvest!

I wanted to write about this because it’s part of how prosperity magic works. You need to be mindful of what happens and -this is very important – see it all as part of the process of the spell working with you and your life.

Practical Prosperity Magic part 1

“Last Harvest” Photocredit: Linda on Flickr (cropped)

Google ‘prosperity magic’ and you will find a lot of rhyming spells, and information about exactly what herb or stone to pair together with your working.  I don’t know whether such things work. That’s not how I do magic.

I own a house in pricey Vancouver, and a successful business, both of which I came by through some freakishly good luck, or as we witches call it, intention and manifesting.  Magic works.

Prosperity magic is straightforward and doesn’t need to be complicated.

Successful spell-casting combines a set intention, a symbolic action that reinforces the desired result, a practical feel for what is possible without straining the fabric of the universe too much, and the ability to sense which way the wind is blowing, magically speaking. We set our sail so that the winds of change blow us in roughly the right direction. If we know what the heart of the ideal outcome is, we can tell when we there.

When recruiting help from the energies of the universe, it helps to be realistic. Just like the old truism that you can only have two of the three qualities of fast, good and cheap at once, in magic you can often only have two of specific, fast and easy.

I’ve never found it helpful to be being incredibly specific about details of the things I need. I find it better to be specific only about those things that are truly critical. Maybe I just enjoy being surprised. Or maybe I have faith in the universe to give me what I need, if not always exactly what I wanted.

There is a kernel, at the heart, that is the most important thing about your goal.  Holding fast to that and letting the rest go will help you obtain your goal more quickly and easily.  This kernel is short and rings true. It contains nothing optional.

In my life, I’ve made some work choices that have affected my income. I chose to let go of a big client, and am now needing to replace that income. It has created a vacuum to draw in something else, and I’m trying to be mindful about what that is. I’m planning some magic to help bless this process and guide me to where the ideal outcome is.

Which way is the world flowing? Go with it.

When thinking about how to shape a spell, I first look at the time of year and time of month. We are at the harvest time of the year, reaching into the fallow, storytelling and bright community time of the year, the time where we keep one another warm, loved and fed.  Fall  (we are just past fall equinox at time of writing) is a time for harvest rather than planting. On a lunar level, I sit just before the first of the three days of the full moon, also a time of harvest and fruition.

The way I read it is, this is what way the large solar and lunar tides are flowing, toward harvesting or building upon something I’ve already developed. There is also a theme of that human community that comes in winter – filled with connection, music and story.

Knowing that, I can sort through my goals, not just for ones that fit those patterns, but also for ones that can be seen in that light, even if that’s not the way I normally look at them. Cleaning house, for example, can be seen either as removing mess ( a waning pattern) or creating order (a waxing or increasing pattern), depending on the time of month or year. In this way, many goals can be expressed in a way that suits the prevailing magical ‘weather’.

Know your intention

So what is my intention? To bring in money? To harvest what I have in terms of skills, networks and resources? To harvest a new way of using those skills, networks and resources? All I know is that the answer is to seek something that is already almost ripe, whether I have noticed it before or not. This leads me to the important thing, the statement of intention:  my harvest basket is full and I live a life I love. I am holding on to the tiller.

Symbolic Activities

So once the magical climate, and intention are set, the next step is to find a symbolic action that fits and reinforces the intention, in a way in keeping with the weather. This is setting the sail.

Some common symbolic actions that can be done in service of prosperity are along the themes of making space for wealth to flow in, blessing and taking good care of what you have to invite more, and affirming you have plenty, even enough to contribute and give away. Simple actions like mindfully housecleaning, repairing, clearing clutter by giving things away, preparing a good meal and eating it, or dancing, when done with an intention in mind,  can be very effective spells in and of themselves.

Allies

Aphrodite – foam arisen (snapshot in La Palma, Canary Islands) – Photocredit Unucorno on Flickr

Who are your magical allies? Are there specific Gods you connect with for guidance and support? Do you have ancestors who want to see their line prosper? Ancestors with relevant skills, qualities or experience? Or are the broad forces of nature your main allies – Mother Earth who feeds you, Mother Ocean who connects  you, the force of Life that flows through you? Allies can be involved in many ways –  the traditional prayer as supplication or asking for blessing and guidance, and if possible, a little push in the right direction.

Putting it all together

Magic doesn’t have to be complicated. I scale the level of ritual to what feels right. If the task feels very important and formal, I will do a full ritual with grounding, calling and casting. If I don’t have the energy for that or it doesn’t fit, I may go as simple as  a symbolic action, such as cleaning my house while saying a chant out loud or in my head. I may plant a healthy, unlikely-to-fail plant outside my front path, light a candle with my intention written on it, or sing a blessing every time I climb the stairs (as I did when manifesting the down payment for the house I now live in).

Red Stag in grass

In the current example, I will call on the force of Life, who I envision as a sacred Stag, and the force of Love, who I see and feel in many ways. I ask them to bless my harvest, to help me find and complete opportunities to fill my harvest basket. I will notice and celebrate everything that now comes to me, seeing it as evidence my spell is working and expressing gratitude.

Because creating music is what I love, I wrote and will sing a chant (read lyrics and hear recording below). The actual spell is still taking shape. Here’s what I have so far: singing combined with a action. That action will be listing and pursuing all existing talents, connections and resources in a spirit of harvest and then welcoming and celebrating everything that comes. Stay tuned for part 2 for how that takes shape.

If you’d like more practical magic, please put your email address in the subscribe box in the sidebar to receive notices when I put up new posts.

Life and Love
Overflowing
filled to brimming
warm and fed
Life and Love
is the harvest
I dance to where I’m led.
Life and love
Wit and Wisdom
web and wonder
wild and tame
basket full
a horn of plenty
harvest time is here.

 

Mabon – practical letting go of magical, symbolic and ritual objects

  • Date: Sept 20 1017
  • Moon phase: two days past new, waxing
  • Season: day before Mabon

When I attend a Pagan festival, a public or coven ritual and other events I often walk away with some sort of beautiful and hand made token. It’s something that either I or the organizers have imbued with a positive, hopeful or seasonal energy. Some of these items I keep as a reminder of the experiences I had, and and some I completely forget the context or purpose.  These items are sometimes on my altar for a short while, or they end up in a cabinet I store special treasures in.

But when is it time to let these magic pieces go? And how best to do it?

I came across the graphic at right about Mabon, also called fall Equinox, or harvest, which nicely summarized what the core magical work of the festival is.  Celebrating and enjoying what you have grown, surrendering those things whose time has past, as the trees do their leaves, and expressing gratitude.

And then, as we do, without really intending to, I found myself sorting through my little magical items, reaffirming the continuing need for some and finding a home for it, such as the iridescent marble I received the day I dedicated to Aphrodite, and releasing others.

At the end of my sorting, I had several tokens from various festivals and rituals along with some sacred art I’d made, and some broken shells that had been part of the water section of my altar for several years. Putting them in a cloth bag, today I decided to head down to a beachfront park to release them.

Before I left I checked the moon phase. Two days past new is not a great time for releasing anything. It’s the time of new growth and increase. So instead of focusing on the releasing aspect of what I was doing, I thought about all the good will, good intentions and good magic still contained within these items, and focused on releasing it into the world to act with gratitude.

As I was leaving my house, as often happens, I had an instinct to bring something else – a symbolic art piece I’d done to love and accept all the pieces of my life I felt I’d failed in some way or which represented a failure. I’d created a beautiful ‘nest’ for these puzzle pieces, to surround them with love. And now, apparently, it was time to let them fly free.

When I reached the park I walked along deosil along a path that encircled the space and which led me toward the water. When I reached the shoreline, I had an impulse to walk down the rocks and look at the water. It was there I left my nest.  I looked at all the pieces, and realized that the love and compassion I’d put into them as I’d placed them originally in this nest really had taken effect.  I realized that there were ways that these roles of partner, activist, musician, and family member are being reinvented since then and, outside my conscious fretting about them, are transforming.  So I left my biodegradable nest on the shore line and went on.

The rest of the items became a kind of decorative shrine at the base and branches of a tree I chose near the shore. The tokens on strings I hung in the branches  to twirl in the fall wind and the rest I placed around the base. I’d held some of these items for over twenty years, like the little canoe and bowl commemorating a Samhain ritual vision I’d had. I found myself feeling grateful for the memories and energies each item represented, as I laid it down at the base of the tree in blessing.

Then I continued walking around the park till I’d made one full circle, and then walked it briskly one more time to empower my intention, that the items I’d laid there with gratitude release their loving, hopeful and good energy into the world to increase in my life and the lives of others. And then I opened the circle.

It seemed like a very good way to celebrate Mabon.

Blessed be.

PS: What ways do you use to release magical or important objects well?

 

The ocean is my fierce mother

The ocean is my heartbreak place
my going home to momma place
to lick my wounds and fall safe
into the fierce mother

The ocean is my safe haven,
a more vast than my actions place,
of a magnitude equal to hold my sorrow and longing space
for too much to hold or understand

The ocean is my ‘it will be all right’ place
my ‘I will hold you tight’ place,
the place that judges me worthy,
equal to my struggles and sure to overcome them.

The ocean is my ‘you can rest a bit’ place
‘before you go on to conquer’ place,
a place where my largest self is held.