Inward Winter Ritual

winter ritual

Inward Winter Ritual

This winter ritual is designed to harness the inwards energy of the winter season. It is a time for hibernation, for thought, for reflection. We draw into the center of our houses, curl up under blankets, and we draw into the center of ourselves.

The winter months are as much about the darkness as they are about the light. To understand the light, you need to understand the dark. To be able to distinguish your deep thoughts from your surface thoughts, guidance from elsewhere from your own doubts, you need to know what silence sounds like.

This winter ritual will let you look deep into the heart of yourself.

You’ll need:

  • Christmas-y smelling candles
  • White candle
  • Dark bowl full of water or a black mirror
  • A dark room
  • Patience

Step one

Light the candles. Allow the aroma to fill the air.

Step Two

Make sure you’re comfortable. The intent is to sit here for as long as it takes. It may take several attempts over several days, or you might get somewhere first time.

Step Three

Light the white candle.

Step Four

Stare into the bowl or the black mirror and let yourself relax. Silently ask yourself all the questions you haven’t been answering. Where are you going? What are your goals? When are you happy? Who are you?

Don’t demand, simply ask. Stay as calm as possible. Keep asking until you see an answer.

 

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Why I Hate Meditation – Guest Post by Deanna from SMEAR

Today we have a wonderful guest post called ‘Why I Hate Meditation’ by Deanna from SMEAR.

Why I Hate MeditationWhy I Hate Meditation

The truth is, I hate meditation.

There, I said it. I feel like I just admitted to something dirty. Like people on the other side of the screen are looking at this and like: “God, how could she say that?!”
I’m not sure what it is about the art of meditation but it just doesn’t appeal to me. But you know what? I still do it.

Why? Because it helps. Yes, I hate it but I’m not oblivious to the fact that it does actually help me. It makes me so much more calm, it increases my mindfulness and that in turns allows me to be happier. The same way one small positive thought in the morning can change the entire day, a few minutes of simple meditation can change the day. As much as I hate admitting it.
I’ve always hated meditation. I’m not sure what it is really but it just… rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want to settle down and calm my mind. I want to keep thinking, I want to keep coming up with ideas even if I know how good it is for me to quiet my mind.

But there are alternatives that I don’t mind. I love walking and allowing myself to slow down. Often times I find a walk the perfect alternative to meditation- though sometimes my mind goes a mile a minute still. Coloring can be a great alternative as well for anyone who enjoys it (surprise, I hate that too. There must be something wrong with me.) But there is a reason that every self help book, blog, guru, and forum out there suggests meditation. It’s good for you.

A few months ago I challenged myself to try meditation, even though I hated it. I forced myself to go in with an open mind and I kind of hoped I would come to love it. I didn’t, but I stuck it out for a month and I learnt a lot. I learnt that even though I hated it, it was good for me. I didn’t need to love it to benefit from it. So, to anyone reading this right now who doesn’t like meditation, I have a challenge for you. Try it. For one month do it at least 6 times. That’s not too much.
See how it changes your life and your mindset. If it doesn’t and if you still hate it, that’s okay. But I know a lot of people who try it once and decide it doesn’t work. We often get discouraged when we don’t get results right away. But meditation (like a lot of things) takes more than one time to work. It takes constant practice, and an open mind to be willing to let it work- because without that no amount of meditation will have a benefit on you.

So, do I meditate a lot? Of course not! I hate it. But I do it three or four times a month, and that seems to be enough for me. When I’m stressed I might sit down and do it more and in truth, that helps. It’s like working out for people who don’t like working out but want to get into shape- it’s about finding the right balance. And you never know, you might come to enjoy it.

More From Deanna

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Moon Magic Course Review – Living by the Moon by Heart of the Forest

moon magicLiving By the Moon – Moon Magic Course Review

Moon magic is a great but sadly overlooked area of witchcraft. Like most astrology based magic, it’s got a reputation for being hard to use, or difficult to remember.

At least, that’s why I’ve never looked to deeply into it, beyond working with a Full Moon or Supermoon.

Heart of the Forest is a great online school run by Serena White. It’s got courses on all kinds of things, including chakras, meditation and essential oils. Some of her great lessons are free of charge, and the rest are super good value for money.

Serena recently let me take her Living by the Moon course for free, and I loved it. When I finished it I decided to look at the usual price, because I’m nosy like that. My jaw hit the floor when I saw it.

I would have happily paid $7 for the beautiful Moon Journal download alone! The also course has great information, exercises and meditations.

Serena really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to Moon Magic, and her lessons are short and to the point with no waffle.

Moon Magic can be a really tricksy thing to get hold of, but with this course, I found it really easy. Everything is broken down into easy to understand steps and concepts. It’s a self-paced course, and you can go as slowly or as quickly as you like. There’s no waffle, only solid information.

Serena also gives you tips and advice on how to really live by the Moon, including non-magical activities like gardening.

It’s a great course, and at $7, you really can’t go wrong!

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10 Things to Do on Samhain

samhainTen Things to do on Samhain

A collection of divinations, rituals and customs you might like to try out on Samhain this year.

Apple Divination

Take an apple, and peel it. Try and peel it in one go, so it is just one long piece of apple peel and throw it over your left shoulder. If you can’t, take the longest piece.

The letter it forms will be the initial of your next love.

Dumb Supper

A Dumb Supper is a meal shared with your Dead Ancestors or relatives. Cook a meal, leaving a portion and a chair for each of the Dead that you wish to join you. However, you must cook and eat the meal in total silence, or they’ll vanish. Make sure not to season the food with salt either – it may keep them away!

Tarot Readings

Samhain is the end of the year, so it is perfect for Tarot readings or other divination. The results are usually the most accurate on this day about all others. Provided, of course, you use the ancient calendar – each day actually starts on sundown, not sunup. So, Samhain starts at sundown on the 31st. So you have a pretty decent excuse to break out the pumpkin spice candles.

Costume Parade

The original purpose of costumes on Samhain is to fool the wandering Dead that you’re one of them. So, if you’re planning to be out and about, dressing up as a Sexy Cupcake
is probably not your best option.

Although if any dish had a soul, it would probably be cupcakes.

Burn it Down

Building bonfires on Samhain, Hallowe’en and other similar days is something that crosses many cultures.

The two most common uses are to either dispel bad luck, or bring in good luck. I usually make my Black Salt from the ashes of either a Samhain or a May Day fire.

Leave a Light On

Again, there are two reasons to leave a candle, light, or Jack O’ Lantern in your window.

The Jack O’ Lantern is built to ward away evil spirits, again by fooling them into thinking you’re one of them – specifically the titular Jack, cursed to wander the earth with nothing but a turnip for a lantern.

The other reason is to actually signal spirits to you – usually your Dead relatives, to either welcome them into the house or give them a light to move into the proverbial Light.

You … probably can’t do both at once, so I’d choose how haunted you want your house to get – you don’t want some randos crashing the party. As we all know, the Spirits are strongest this time of year.

Mirror, Mirror

Another romance divination you can do, this is best done in a group, in the dark, and scare each other senseless.

If you’re unmarried, you can look into a mirror after midnight, and over your shoulder will be the face of the one you will marry. But beware – if they will die soon, you’ll be face to face with a skeleton instead.

If you choose to do this in a group, only one person should be reflected in the mirror at a time.

Spider Wisdom

Spiders can be great allies if you treat them right. When bad witches are near, they are said to fall into candles and burn to death. If one is scuttling around on Samhain, a Dead relative is watching over you.

And, at Samhain or any point in the year, if you catch a spider in your house and refrain from killing Her, you can ask her a question.

Take her outside, and before you set her free, remind her you had every right to destroy her since she was trespassing. Ask her to answer your question as payment, then ask the question. Look for your answer in the next three days.

(Don’t kill spiders though. That’s rude and unneeded.)

Hazelnut Divination

Another love divination! This one is useful if you are having trouble deciding between lovers. For each suitor you have, set a hazelnut beside a fire. Chant ‘ f you love me, pop and fly. If you hate me, burn and die!’

Trick or Treating

If you are going to be giving out sweets/candy for the Trick or Treaters this year, can I ask you to do one thing?

Keep a few sweets or chocolate behind suitable for kids with allergies or intolerances, not only to nuts but to things like gluten or lactose.

It doesn’t have to cost you any more – it’s getting much easier to find these things now, and a lot of popular, cheap sweets are fine as well.

Your whole stash doesn’t have to be Free From, but if you can keep a few back for anyone that asks.

I’ve heard of some kids who never got to go Trick or Treating because there were very few sweets they could eat without ending up in the hospital, and that broke my heart.

There’s no way you’ll be able to cater for every allergy, but if you could keep one or two things without lactose, gluten freelactose freeand without nuts, as those seem to be the more common ones.

(I also knew an old lady who would give out little bags of about 50p’s worth of 2ps, and some people give out inexpensive small toys or stickers too. Or fruit, but I don’t see an eight year old being too grateful for that one.)
It’s a small kindness that will make someone’s day!

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Book Review – The Learn by Tony Halker

Today we’re doing something new – I’ve been very kindly asked to take part in a blog tour organised by Authoright. Please follow along the tour and visit the other great blogs taking part!

Buy it here: The Learn
the-learn

(I don’t usually do novel reviews here, so if you like this be sure to let me know in the comments below and I’ll dig up some similar novels.)

The problem with Druidic historical fiction is that so little is known about our Ancestors that one has to fill in the gaps much more than with other historical areas. This means that one Druid/Bronze Age book will be completely different from the next, so it’s hard to say ‘Oh, this one is like that one’.

Tony Halker has a lyrical voice that will appeal much more to lovers of poetry and visions than people who like a tight novel structure, which this book doesn’t have.

More About the Book:

The Learn by Tony Halker

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

tony-halker_banner

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Book Review Monday – A Legacy of Druids by Ellen Evert Hopman

A legacy of druids

A Legacy of Druids

If you’re interested in the history of religion and Druidry in particular, you’ll really like A Legacy of Druids.

This is a collection of interviews from roughly twenty years ago with Druids from all over the world and from different backgrounds.

In Druidry, and I think in religion in general, everyone looks towards the distant past and argues about precisely what the colour blue meant to someone living 2000 years ago.

This has some relevance, of course, but what happened twenty years ago is, in some lights, vastly more important.

We cannot understand where we are today without understanding where we were yesterday.

It is at once vastly comforting and vastly infuriating to read these interviews.

Comforting, in the way that so many of the fears back then never came to pass, which bodes well for some our fears today.

Infuriating, in that a lot of the problems that plague this community are still around. However, this does give me some hope, in that we do have proof that these are in fact, serious problems, and not some PC sensitivity that too many people insist is the truth.  We should be able to delight in our differences, not spurn them.

This is a fascinating glimpse into our history.

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Interview with a Druid – Nimue Brown

interview with a druid

Interview with a Druid – Nimue Brown

In today’s Interview with a Druid I’m talking to Nimue Brown, author, druid, and quiet activist, about doing the Pagan Business thing for the right reasons. This is one of my favourites Interview with a Druid (or Witch, etc) that I’ve ever done.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Druidry and Meditation

On Knowing What to Write About

It depends on what I’m aiming to write – if it’s a blog post, it’s a case of what have I learned recently, or what’s annoying me! Some things come as a response to what’s needed – so I’m looking for radical ideas for my quiet revolution column at Pagan Dawn in an ongoing way, I’m thinking about alternative responses to the seasons for Sage Woman blogs, radical poetry might go to Gods and Radicals, miserable poetry goes to a local event.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Druidry and the Ancestors: Finding our place in our own history

When it comes to books its a slower and less coherent process. I tend to have some long term interest in something before I get to the point of wanting to write a book about it. Usually there will be a combination of reading other people’s ideas on a subject, exploring a practice or an idea for myself, and it flows from there. At any given time I’m reading and exploring in a number of areas, some of which go into books, some don’t, and its not usually obvious when I start whether I’ll take it to fiction or non-fiction.

Sometimes both – Druidry and the Ancestors(non-fic) and Intelligent Designing for Amateurs (fic) both started life in my reactions to Ronald Hutton’s Blood and Mistletoe.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Portals – Spirituality Without Structure: The Power of finding your own path

On Writing

I think the first thing to say is that being a writer does not pay my bills and probably never will – this is true of a good 95% of authors. Most of us have second jobs. Some of us manage to align those second jobs with the writing work, but that’s not always the case.

It’s certainly true that being an author in this day and age tends to mean spending more time tying to draw attention to your work than you spend creating the work. I give talks, now and then, I take books to events (easier for people who have cars, I suspect), interviews (!) I write articles and columns and blog posts and lurk around on social media trying to find ways to say ‘you could buy my book’ without boring people to death. I’m not a great self publicist, I’m much happier when I’m talking about other people’s books. I find it easier to be excited about other people’s work.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness

 On a Writing Career in the Pagan Field

My first advice would be to drop the ‘career’ notion. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the Pagans who earn enough as professional Pagans with writing as part of the mix, to be wholly self supporting. Even best selling Pagan authors tend to have a second job – it’s realistic to think you could be working part time and being professionally Pagan part time. So, don’t do it for the fame and riches! Do it because there is something you feel called to share, because you’re inspired, driven, passionate about something.

Then at least there’s the job satisfaction, even if you aren’t getting any money out of it. Most Pagan events can’t afford to pay most speakers more than their travel costs. I know there’s a widely held belief that authors all rake it in JK Rowling style, that people charging for teaching are exploiting the community and all that. The truth is that many of the Pagans you’ve heard of are either paupers, or have a day job. I won’t name drop, but as an author, reviewer and member of various things, I’ve talked to a lot of famous Pagans along the way and I know something of what it costs them to do the work. If you’re looking for a career, this isn’t going to provide.

interview with a druid

Buy it here: Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century

Stay tuned for more Interview with a Druid!

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Reconsidering the Elements: Fire

reconsidering the elements

Reconsidering the Elements: Fire

Fire is typically hailed as the creative and destructive element, but since all other elements also have a claim to creativity, you’re then left with destruction or sexual energy.

Which is honestly a bit of a cop out, because then you end up with some very strange Tarot readings with only those two answers for fire!

To understand fire’s role in magic and metaphysics, I think we first need to understand fire’s role in human culture.

I truly believe that without fire, we would have led the same existence as other animals. Without fire, it’s harder to digest animal and plant matter. Without fire, it’s harder to make effective tools. Without fire, it’s harder to stay warm. Without fire, there is no home. Without fire, grasslands would become ineffective and diseased, cutting us off from our main food sources. Without fire, you can’t see in the dark.

Fire is human beings taking something from nature, and controlling it.

The only other beings on Earth to use fire are certain plants, who wait for the grasslands to die, become hot, and eventually flame up, then causing these plants to spread their seeds. They require fire, but they don’t control it.

I think controlling fire the way we do is a purely human idea.  Many corvids use tools to get what they want, sometimes even making a tool from something in their environment to aid them. But they don’t use fire. Elephants use tools and higher reasoning, so do chimps, even dolphins.

But none of them use fire.

There are so many myths and legends about fire, from all corners of the globe. Think Prometheus, think Brigid.

Fire is the bit of us that sits behind the eyes, that tells us to push. To explore . To take the other road. Fire is the voice that whispers ‘What if?’

And sometimes, of course, fire leads us astray. Fire is our greatest ally, but also our greatest enemy.

Without control, fire will destroy us. It can wipe away whole cities if left unchecked.

And that, I think, is what fire represents in Tarot, magic, and metaphysics. Control, or the lack of it.

Control

If we control fire, we can live in luxury, with warm air, hot water, hot food and items made of metal, glass and plastic. We can achieve all our dreams with that voice that screams out for more, better, faster.

But if we don’t control fire, we die in agony, with everything we’ve built in ashes.

Fire needs respect, and if you don’t give it, it will run away and take down everything you love.

Fire is something almost unquantifiable in magic terms, it is a process, not a thing. And that is what makes it special.

If you want to work with fire, consider whether you are ready. Consider why you want to work with fire.  Any magic that you want to enact great change will benefit from the use of fire.

But of course, use it wisely.

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Top 5 Best Pagan Books

top five Pagan booksTop Five Pagan Books

These are in no particular order, one, because they are all very good, and two, because they deal with such vastly different subjects it would be unfair to rank them.

(Also, the first link in each, the actual name of the book is a link direct to that book on Amazon where you can buy it. It is an affiliate link which means I earn a tiny commission from Amazon should you buy anything through that link.)

  1. Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century edited by Nimue Brown. Full review here. I’ve chosen this one, because it features so many varied  viewpoints on what it is to be Pagan, that there isn’t a person on the planet who won’t learn something new or be offered a new way of looking at the world when they read this book. This book has articles not just from writers, but from other prominent Pagans, activists and clergy and both. This is a must read for anyone who feels like they’ve lost their way – there are so many ways out there, you can find one to suit you or create your own.
  2.  A Druid’s Tale by Cat Treadwell. Full review here. Cat shares what it’s like to be a Druid as she sees it, and it’s a wonderful tale, full of inspiration and lessons. Useful not only for people on a druidic path, but for anyone considering a clergy or professional religious role in a great many religions, I think.
  3. A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft by Lee Morgan. Full review here. Winning the award for longest title on my bookshelf, this book has really opened my eyes to folklore and folk magic, and allowed me to investigate historical material more thoroughly. This is a book I go back to, time and time again, for things even beyond witchcraft – I’m doing some research for some folklore articles I’m writing, and yet again this book turns out to be useful.
  4. Pagan Dreaming: The magic of altered consciousness by Nimue Brown. Full review here. It’s several months on from my first reading of this book , and I still can’t believe just how much it’s helped me. Following it has not only given me greater clarity and an actual relationship with my dreams, but has also given me my health back. Being able to to properly analyse not only my dreams but also my sleep has allowed a doctor to finally find out why I am tired, and now I have my life back. This is the only book I’ve ever read which emphasized and explained that to work with dreams you need to work with sleep, and how important sleeping actually is. I would recommend no other book on the subject.
  5.   The Book of English Magic by Richard Heygate. This book is not really designed for practioners, or for academics, which is why I love. It is a tour of English magic from as far back as we can reach, to the Chaos Magic of the 1980s, and contains just about every flavour of English magic I can think of. There are also interviews with all kinds of magic users, from witches to magicians to Wiccans, as well as simple tutorials to try out all kinds of magic. My copy is almost falling apart from overuse and it’s full of notes and scribblings too.

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Book Review: Pagan Planet

pagan planet

Pagan Planet Review

Buy the book here: Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century

Pagan Planet is an overlooked and underrated gem of a book that deserves an honoured place on your bookshelf.

A variety of authors, activists and Pagans of all walks of life contributed a short piece to this book. A grand and yet small perspective of the Pagan community as we wander further into this millennium.

This book is really enjoyable –  it is a frank and varied look at what it means to be Pagan in the modern age. I took something away from each piece in this book, and added new authors to my ‘To – Read’ list based on their pieces in this book.

I also really appreciated that activists and other members of the wider Pagan community had pieces included. It was really interesting to read from the perspectives of those that don’t usually share so deeply in their lives.

You’ll learn a lot from this, not just about other Pagan religions, but also about activism of various kinds.

Pagan Planet made me realize that we are only as strong as the values we choose to demonstrate.

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