Wonderful Litha

Wellspring likes to do an outdoor picnic for Litha.  It's a pretty relaxed and casual affair where we often invite friends, family and other pagans to join us.  

This year we made the trip to Webber Natural Pool in North Minneapolis.  We had a lovely spread with way too much food as is typical for us in Blue Star.  Remember, if you ever leave feast hungry, it is your own damn fault as we always make enough to feed an army.

Two things stood out to me this year. 

First, it was wonderful to be outside and just enjoy the world.  There is so much turmoil and so much divisiveness right now.  We got to simply take a break from it all, spend time with each other and be peaceful.  

Secondly, several of us pushed beyond some things that are/were uncomfortable for us.  Sitting down and eating with people is one thing.  It definitely pulls you together and gives you a sense of community, but putting on a swimsuit and going into the pool is just a different level of intimacy.  Surprisingly, no one exploded.  No one died.  No one caught on fire -- although some of us are a little pink and crispy.  

We got to practice some self acceptance, together.  It's nice to grow with each other and independently together.  

And, if you've dug into our website, you'll see that this happened right as we are turning from the Path of Power of Love to the Path of Power of Music and Dance.  Great timing if you ask me!  

New Moon Vows

In Bluestar we have a tradition of taking vows at the new moon and at each hinge. The point of the vows is to give voice to our goals and impetus to work on them. Sometimes they are more mundane but we try to keep them focused on spiritual growth. The new moon vows are supposed to be vows that can be completed in a lunar cycle whereas the hinge vows are vows that can be completed in a hinge. We like to talk about them as being S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. All of these things give us the focus for the words we use and the intent we put behind it. For example someone might vow to meditate for 15 minutes a day. That meets all of the criteria. Solving world hunger does not.
 

Most recently at our open New Storm Moon celebration I vowed to reach my step goal, 10,000 steps, at least 4 days a week. I have been focusing on improving my health and treating my body like the temple it needs to be for the gods and I thought that would be a good place to put the right foot forward so to speak. Turns out that I might have expectations that are not realistic for my current strength and stamina. It is really hard for me to reach that 10,000 steps in one day if I am doing the other things I need to do to take care of myself.

It is important to realize when you have set yourself on a task that is not Achievable and to then change your expectations. It is not a failure. It is an important learning lesson. Just because a vow has been made does not mean that it will be accomplished or that it should.

Miel

Know Thyself

One of the things that we really work hard at in Wellspring is knowing who you are, knowing your boundaries and honoring them.  But we also try to balance that with supporting each other and our community.  Today, I committed to going outside of my normal boundaries to support two of my communities -- the Blue Star Community and the rescue community that I am part of.  

When we step beyond our normal boundaries, a few things happen.  You learn new things.  You meet new people.  You have new experiences.  Also, you stretch yourself further.  You work harder.  You can be uncomfortable.  

Both of my commitments today pushed my boundaries as an empath.  Normally, I'm good at knowing when I should not go into a situation because I can't shield appropriately enough.  Like, I don't often go out on Black Friday (unless it is with my mother-in-law, but still it is very laid back).  I don't go to Wal-Mart much.  If I do go to Wal-Mart, I carefully pick and choose which one I'm willing to step into.  And when it comes to rituals, I avoid certain communities and I avoid certain rituals.  It doesn't mean those rituals or communities are bad.  I just know that I may have adverse reactions.  

Today, I went to a mall on Black Friday for 5 hours.  Well, more like 6 hours with being dropped off early enough for set up and then being picked up after we had time for tear down and clean up.  I got to talk to some of the people in the rescue that I hadn't met before.  We raised some money.  I got to spend some great time with my daughter.  We got some Christmas shopping done.  (Yes, we celebrate Yule and Christmas.  Yule is our spiritual holiday.  Christmas is our secular and familial holiday.)  It was great to watch her do some things with her own money that gave her a lot of joy.  However, it was 6 hours in a mall on Black Friday.  With all those people.  With all those emotions.  With the stress and worry and excitement and concern and happiness.  There is so little calm and peacefulness.  

If I had stopped there, I would have probably been fine.  My feet hurt.  I don't stand or even walk for 6 hours like that.  But really, I would have been fine.

However, I didn't stop there.  I had made a commitment to be at a ritual too.  I knew that there were going to be two people that I wanted and needed to support.  I had committed to them that I would be there.  

This ritual is a very heavy emotional ritual that is incredibly cathartic for the participants.  This was the third time I've been in 12 years...  13 years...

I don't go because it's a lot of work for me.  A lot of work.  In ritual, it is when I usually can let my shields down and just feel and be.  This ritual means that I'm usually doing double time keeping those shields up.  And then when I know that people probably need some extra from me, I try to give it.  We had a couple of new people there.  One of which I feel responsible for and so when the emotion was really high, I helped reinforce shields for that person.  Another person there was raw and open for a while and so I helped reinforce shields for that person temporarily until they were back on their feet.  

And as people near me had their catharsis, I wanted to be there for them, to help support them.  It's kind of what I do.  I use those empath abilities during those times to help them funnel off and stabilize emotions.  I don't take them from them.  They are important.  Everyone needs to feel those emotions.  But as they let the emotions bubble up and come out, I try to flush out the excess.  This is only with people that I know and have an intimate connection with, unless I've been asked to help.  Sometimes, holding them is just holding them though.  

Tonight, after pushing past my normal boundaries, I know that I have pushed too far.  I have literally made myself sick.  It will pass.  Clearly not as quickly as I'd like as I'm blogging at 3am, but it will pass.  Would I do it again?  Yes... I say that begrudgingly because I know what the consequences are, but yes, I would do it again.  I might try to schedule things better where I could have had control.  

Sometimes, knowing thyself means knowing when you need to do something regardless of the effect on you and being ready to live with those consequences.  Sometimes, knowing thyself is knowing who you are willing to make that sacrifice for and who you are not.  For now, I'm grateful for my renewed daily meditation habit and knowing that habit will help to make this pass more quickly.  I'm grateful for all the different people in my life and I'm glad that I can be of service to them.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Hell in a Handbasket

Life went to hell in a handbasket this summer.  You can probably tell by the immense lack of activity on the blog.  Blue Star lost one of its own to cancer.  He was our lore keeper and loved by so many of us.  It's a loss that we will feel for many years to come. 

Additionally there were other frightening diagnoses to deal with and other deaths to deal with and then trying to pick up the pieces and become functional again and then suddenly school started...

It's been a rough ride.

However, we are happy to have found our footing again and planning again and doing again.  We finished out our Wicca 101 class and have decided to do public Blue Star New Moon rituals at local metaphysical shops.  The first two (December and January) are gong to be at the Eye of Horus. 

Blue Star as a Tradition is also moving and grooving.  We have two different new groups moving ahead with some very interesting projects.  I'm excited to be part of both.  I believe that both will help me grow as a person and as a priestess.  I'm certain that they will help the Tradition grow as well.  I think one of the great gifts that has come out of the death of our loved one is that we have really come together.   Like any large family, we have our squabbles but I think those squabbles are going to develop into some good and solid growth for us.  

Looking forward to what the future holds.

All the best, 

Lapis

Element: Water

Every year, on Memorial Day, my inlaws go to the cabin.  It isn't their cabin but it is one that they have rented every year starting on Memorial Day and for the rest of the week for years.  They knew the previous caretakers really well.  Each week ended with a nice steak dinner.  

This was one of my favorite things each year -- until the kids started school.  Now, we just get to go for the first day.  We make the three hour drive, spend the day and then drive home that night.  I don't get to enjoy the lake itself, but I do enjoy the company of my inlaws.  

Any time I get to be near the water, I am happy.  It really speaks to my soul.  What is it about the water?

I think that if you have spent time near the ocean, you probably know what I am talking about.  With the ocean or the Great Lakes, there are the waves that rhythmically crash against the shore.  The simple repetitive sound can easily lull you into a meditative state.  If you sit quietly, your breath will begin to match its rhythm.  Your heart beat slows and your thoughts drift.  If you listen closely, you can hear the voices in the waves speaking their wisdom to you.

The lake is a different beast altogether.  It can be choppy on a windy day but it's not the same as the ocean waves.  But you never really know what the lake holds.  They can suddenly drop off into unknown depths.  The murky bottom holds all sorts of secret life.  A glassy lake reflects the heavens above.  And still doesn't tell you its secrets.  

Element water though is so much more than oceans and lakes.  There is water in what we eat and drink.  It is who we are.  More than half of our bodies is water.  It literally comes out of our pores.  That water inside of us, that is part of us, changes who we are day by day.  It is what draws us to the moon.  It is why people get so strange during a full moon.  We must honor that part of ourselves.  

We call upon the element of water in our rituals to bring us their special gifts.  Sometimes we specifically call them out.  For me, element water is also a protector and guardian.  It is a giant wall of water protecting the purity of what I do in ritual and in my magic.  Element water soothes me, washes away any pain or agony, and cleanses me -- physically and spiritually.  

Element water is a deep and profound thing.  I encourage you to meditate on the element water and find your own connections. 

All the best, 

Lapis

Secrets & Mysteries

This week, I sat down with a young lady from a nearby religious school for an interview.  She had found our website while doing research for a term paper and wanted to find out what witches really do.  Now, I’m a wary sort of person so I asked for the questions in advance.  I felt that she was sincere and agreed to meet with her in a public place.  She was very polite and listened with an open mind.  At the end of the interview, she asked if she could come and observe a class or ritual if possible.  Since the ritual was in a public place and we allowed the general public to sign up for the class, we let her come to the class.

 The other day, I was listening to the radio on the way to work.  I like talk radio in the morning.  It makes me feel like someone is in the car with me.  Sometimes MPR is just too much for me to deal with though and I start my day angry about the state of our world.  So, I tune into MyTalk 107.1 which is all fluff.  They were talking about a new show or something.  One of the ladies was doing her best to avoid any of the spoilers so she could just immerse herself in the experience and enjoy it.

 What do these two things have in common?  Secrets and mysteries. 

 So much of Wicca is about secrets and mysteries.  I have to tell you first that I don’t like secrets.  I’m not good at keeping.  I don’t like having them.  And I’m probably going to spill the beans at some point.  It doesn’t mean I’m not trustworthy.  I just don’t like secrets.  Too often they are used as a weapon to hold power over people, to harm people, or to test people.  I really hate those types of games.

 But sometimes, secrets are important.  This year, I kept a huge secret from my husband for more than six months.  He was up for an award and I knew it.  However, the surprise and joy that he would feel in the moment when he was called up for the award was well worth keeping the secret. 

 We have secrets and mysteries for those same sorts of occasions.  Sometimes you simply need to experience the ritual as it happens, without foresight and knowledge, just so you can unlock that mystery for yourself.  We can provide tools and methods, but until you do it yourself and experience them for yourself, you’ll never truly know.

 Where do you draw those lines with a complete outsider who just wants to observe?  Wellspring is about outreach and education.  We opened our ritual to her.  We answered her questions.  We treated her as part of the group.  Hopefully, our openness and our kindness will be returned. 

 And what mysteries am I willing to impart to you?

 Here’s a few where nature and the gods will fill you up:

 This weekend, get out of the cities.  Find a nice grassy area, lay down and stare at the stars in the sky.  Just let your mind flow wherever it wants to go.  Relax and watch the heavens. 

 When the rain comes, go outside.  Open your arms wide and face the sky.  Let those rain drops fall on your face and arms.  Let the Mother Earth cleanse you and wash away any anger, any fear, any doubt.  Be filled up with her joyousness. 

 And share a meal with loved ones.  Turn off all the distractions.  Ban the cell phones and other electronics from the area.  Just sit and eat and talk and laugh and enjoy. 

 Mysteries are all around us, if only we look. 

 

All the best,

Lapis

Yay Beltane!

Whoo hoo!  Beltane is here!  In Blue Star, this is one of our two hinge celebrations.  We pass the leadership from the priest to the priestess. It is the celebration of the physical union of the God and Goddess to ensure the fertility and prosperity of the crops in the coming year.  

So what about other ways to celebrate?  What if you are solitary?  Or have kids?  

One of our sister covens is having an outing to the Minnesota Arboretum for some fun and frolicking with the Flora and Fauna and all the beautiful new life there.  One year, we made flower leis.  There is a group of us that always go to the May Day Parade.  Each year there is a new celebration to welcome back the Sun and the warmth.  The Minneapolis Farmer's market is open.  There is a park within walking distance no matter where you are in the cities.  

Spending time outside in one of our many parks, looking at one of our many beautiful lakes is great way to honor the changing of the seasons.  

So get outside this weekend!  Let the sun shine down on your skin!  Enjoy weather where you can maybe show a little skin!

All the best, 

Lapis

Self-Purification

I was sitting there in the dark, all alone, and full of emotion.  I wondered how I could get some of the emotion and the energetic crap out of my mind, out of my heart, and out of me.  In our religion, we don't have confession.  There isn't anyone to absolve us of our sins or those things we perceive as sins and wrongdoings.  We believe that we are responsible for our own actions.  The things that we do will return to us threefold.  Karmic retribution.  Occasionally, we inflict those punishments on ourselves.  

Not only do we do things to ourselves that we need to be cleansed of, but others do things to us that we need to be cleansed of and have removed from our psyche.  We hang on to pain and to hurt.  The darkness settles over us and we start to drown in it.

So what do we do?  We're witches!  We take care of it ourselves.  This is where self-purification comes in.  There are several methods of self-purification.  Some are nasty ways to do it.  Remember the reverend in the Scarlett Letter?  Self-flagellation.  I wouldn't recommend it.  However, I would recommend a bath though.  It's much more pleasant.  I highly recommend a warm bath with some Epsom salts.  A good soak, a deep scrubbing and some meditation will work wonders.  Once you add intent and a little energy work, you have a fabulous self-purification.  

Another method that I believe I picked up from Spiral Dance by Starhawk is to cast your circle, call in the elements, invite in your gods and then cense yourself with the smoke of the incense, the elements of Air and Fire.  Then take a nice swig of salt water, swish it around, even gargle with it and then spit it back out.  Visualize that salt water pulling out all of those impurities from your heart and your soul.  As you spit it out, it is removed from you and you are rid of it.  Then ask for the blessings of your gods and the elements.  Stay in a meditative state for a while and fill yourself with love.

Every now and then, we use a longer term method of purification.  Fasting.  This is typically in preparation for a major ritual, transformative rituals.  These are times when mysteries are revealed.  The cleansing process not only helps to eliminate impurities from our bodies but also helps to put us in a state to receive messages from the gods.  Now, when I say fasting, I mean that we start essentially with an elimination diet sort of thing.  First we eliminate processed foods and meat.  Then little by little work our way down to a raw food or juice diet.  Then nothing but clear liquids for the last few hours.  All of these things are adjusted as needed based on your own physical needs.  For instance, I can't do a raw food diet.  I'm allergic.  I was able to alter it so I went down to a pasteurized juice fast.  I also am hypoglycemic so some of those juices had protein powder added to them.  There was no 12 hour or 24 hour liquid diet for me.  It would be bad and unhealthy in serious ways.  

These things are meant to cleanse your soul.  Not harm you.  Make sure that any time you do any sort of magic or cleansing or fasting that you do not harm yourself.  Take care of yourselves.

All the best, 

Lapis

 

April Showers

April and Spring are both here.  The good news is that the Sun is back!  Yay!  Miel and I are both solar powered creatures.  Winter takes a huge toll on us.  However, that is done!

We have met and discussed our goals for the coming year.  We've written them down, committed to them, and started on them.  

Spring is a great time to do that.  Take stock of your houses, clean them out, set down your goals and start again with renewed confidence and vigor.  

Some of the fun lore that we incorporate into our lives with the cleaning and preparing are:

All the holiday decorations, especially anything with those evergreen needles, needs to be out of the house by Feb 2.  Otherwise, all those little needles turn into little gremlins that wreak havoc on your home.  

Spring Equinox or Ostara is the time to plant those seeds.  Here in MN, that means you can set up your starter seeds for growth in the basement under the grow lights.  But it is also is for those seeds of creation.  Miel and I, like I said earlier, sat down together and wrote down our goals for the coming year.  These goals though can be anything!  Start planting those seeds to continue your education, to find a new job, to start a new project, to learn a new skill.  This is a great time for all those things.  

Good luck with your seeds!

All the best, 

Lapis

The Apple Wassail

Orchards all over Minnesota are practicing an ancient tradition this month. I first heard about this from Sweetland Orchards, my favorite orchard and cidery. They sent out an email saying they were going to be hosting a party in the barn and going out into the orchard at sunset with noisemakers to scare away spirits and taking toast to tie to the oldest tree in the orchard.
 

I had heard of Wassailing before but it was always in conjunction with Christmas or Yule celebrations. To wassail means to go visiting. Apparently southern England has its own still strong tradition of apple wassailing that is visiting the orchards. They would go out to sing songs and pour out offerings to the trees showing the spirit of the orchard what they had produced with the previous year's bounty and asking for abundance in the coming growing season.
 

The toast puzzled me so I looked into that further. Apparently older traditions would soak the toast with some of the cider to hang in the branches before pouring some out on the roots. Other places hang it in the branches dry. One site even suggested that it was hung for the robins. None were good at explaining the origins of the toast in the branches itself, just that it has long been done that way.
 

Many English orchard wassailing parties take guns and shoot them off in addition to the noise makers just in case banging on pots and pans and yelling isn't quite enough to scare off any evil spirits. They are serious about the cider making over the pond.
 

Sweetland Orchards chose to follow many others in long tradition of holding their orchard wassailing on 12th Night or Epiphany. That is by no means the only date to hold this ceremony though. There are advertisements for wassailing from early January thru early February. 
 

Blessings on the coming growing season and all who benefit from apples growing.

Miel

Candle making!

Candle making! In preparation for Imbolc next week, we made candles today. Time to take stock of what we have and assess our needs for the coming year. I love that all day there is warmth and humidity and my house filled with my loved ones.

Candle making is a whole day event. Set up, making, and tear down take about 12 hours. For me it is a labor of love. I take old wax from those whole community and turn it into new candles to use in the future. It is a very tangible way of spreading the light through the darkness and a reminder to me that moving forward means building on what has come before.

Another thing that is very traditional as an activity for Imbolc prep is cleaning of tools. Lapis pulled out our coven sword and gave it some much needed attention. Reorganize the tool cabinet and generally sprucing things up is a great way to start off right.

Imbolc is the cracking of the ice of winter. Our days are perceptibly longer and spring will come soon. Sometimes not soon enough. These are the things we do to prepare ourselves for the coming year.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Miel is on her way to visit family for the holidays.  We are hosting at home with a close friend.  It'll be low key but a day with good friends and tasty food.  

One of my favorite things about the Blue Star Tradition is the Orphans' Thanksgiving.  Many of us are transplants and away from our family.  One family opens their doors every year to anyone who wants to come and join them for Thanksgiving.  It is always potluck but they work together to try to make sure that they have all the traditional foods.  It's a huge meal, full of great food, and with great company but none of the bickering that you often get with blood family.  

After the dishes are cleared away, the big table is broken up into smaller tables and everyone plays games until they are tired and ready to go home. The fun and fellowship goes on into the night.  Snacking happens on and off throughout.  

So my wish for you all is that this Thanksgiving be filled with lots of good food, lots of love, and lots of fun.

All the best, 

Lapis

Back to Basics

It is amazing the things that become second nature after working on them, developing them, and making them your own.  A part of yourself.  And then when you stop to think about it and remember the steps and explain it to someone, it becomes new again.  Not only does it become new again, but it becomes more powerful.  

We talked about grounding, centering and shielding at class on Thursday.  We were asked if we still had to think about it and work at it.  The truthful answer is yes.  In fact that day, I needed help from Miel to ground and center myself.  It had been a very chaotic day and my energy was scattered.  After some intense rituals, I have to think about it.  

At one point, we consciously raised (or lowered) our shields and let them feel where they were.  It was interesting to have multiple people purposefully poking at me energetically.  Purposefully invading my space and my barriers.  I haven't played those sorts of energy games in a while.  

I'm really excited about the class.  I'm excited to see where they all go with this.  I'm also excited to see where I make new discoveries through the class and going through all of this again.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Paths of Power: Meditation

Miel and I were prepping for our next Wicca 101 class which is about Grounding, Centering, and Shielding.  As part of this class, we are using a guided meditation to help with the concepts and techniques of grounding and centering.  It led to a deeper discussion of meditation practices in general.  This got me further thinking about my own personal development and use of meditation.

There are some basics about meditation that not everyone thinks of as meditation.  First, the most common form of meditation that most people think of is quiet mind/quiet body.  Basically, you sit still and empty your mind.  This is probably one of the most difficult types of meditation out there.  If you can do it right off the bat, bravo!  But there are three other ways to describe meditation -- quiet mind/moving body, moving mind/quiet body, and moving mind/moving body.  

Moving mind/moving body is one that lots of people.  Without even realizing it.  Do you listen to audio books while running?  Watch TV and just kind of zone out while on the bike at the gym?  Your brain is following some sort of story and tunes everything else out.  Your body is getting into some sort of rhythmic movement.  They work together to release stress and settle your mind.  

Moving mind/quiet body are those guided meditations.  You are following a story.  You are being led down a path to gain some sort of information or insight.  You do this while sitting or laying comfortably and still.  Lots of yoga classes will end with this quiet guided meditation to help you relax your whole body.  Pagans and New Age Spiritualists often use them for self-discovery.  One of my favorites was a journey to discover the parts of myself that were hidden or neglected.  

Quiet mind/moving body is accomplished through things like tai chi, qi gong, or one of our favorites is the Tsalagi Dance of Life.  You focus on the movements and then quiet your mind and just feel the flow of the movements.  Once you are familiar with the movements, they automatically help you slip into that meditative state. 

And now on to quiet mind/quiet body.  This is finding that comfy spot and and quieting your mind.  The key for any quiet mind meditation is learning how to silence those voices in the back of your head that keep talking about the things you need to get at the store for the house, that nagging thing that you didn't quite do right at work, the errands that you need to run, the bills that you need to pay.  You learn to acknowledge the thought and then let it slip by.  At first, I would clearly think to myself, "Yep, I got it." And then move on.  As part of my pagan learning, I learned to use those thoughts as cues to go deeper into the meditation.  Same with noises around me that I can't control.  You'll find that there are different positions that you can or cannot be in.  My hands cannot touch my head or arms, but resting on my abdomen is good.  

The other thing to consider is music.  Music helps on a few different levels.  First, the ups and downs of the music.  Most music has some sorts of peaks and valleys.  If you are into the meditation, your journey will follow those peaks and valleys.  If that is part of your plan, then it's good.  If it isn't, then you need different music.  Having a rhythm and a sound that speaks to you is important.  Miel finds some types of trancy club music to be good for her.  I love Liquid Mind for my meditation.  But also Gregorian chants, tribal drumming, and any of the new age music or soundscapes can work pretty well.  One of the things that I love about using Gregorian chants is that I can't actually tell what they are saying so it allows the voices of the gods to materialize in them for me.  A good steady drum beat is fantastic.  Often hard to find, but still fantastic background to help you dive deeper and deeper into your meditation.

So why use meditation?  It isn't a Wiccan thing per se, but a lot of Wiccans use it as a tool.  For Blue Star, it is one of our Paths of Power.  If you can hush your mind or use the active mind to journey, then you can connect with your higher self, your subconscious and/or the gods.  You can use meditation as a jumping off point to learn move about trance work, lucid dreaming, astral projection, A strong meditation practice can aid in self healing and pain management.  

I used meditation during labor and delivery.  I don't think that I could have made it through without.  Labor came hard and fast.  But we put on my music (Liquid Mind -- I had enough peaks and valleys coming with the contractions) and I slipped into deep meditation.  I know that nurses and midwives and even doctors came in and out of the room, but I don't consciously know it.  I know they tried to move me over a couple of times and because it was disruptive to my meditation, I resisted but I stayed pretty deep.  There was no screaming, yelling, cursing my husband or any of that.  

If meditation can manage that pain, you know it can be a powerful tool.  I encourage you to develop your meditation practice.  Find the methods that work for you and master them.  Move on and experiment with the other ones until you can simply slip into that meditative state on demand and without extra tools.  

Enjoy.  Peace.

All the best, 

Lapis

CoG Samhain

We are rounding out our Samhain ritual season.  This is always an interesting time for me.  As I think I've mentioned before, it's very busy.  Miel was part of three Samhain rituals.  I was part of two.  And then we had our Dumb Supper.  Last night was the last one for both of us.  

It was a good one too. The priestess for the ritual did an excellent job of pulling together people from different covens and different traditions to create the Covenant of the Goddess Samhain ritual.  All of the invocations were good and strong.  The part that made me giggle most was that a few times I ended up starting off the singing.  No one died.  Thankfully, people joined in quickly after getting the cues.  And we managed a powerful energy raising.  

In our own coven, we have passed the power.  For the last six months, I held the sword.  Miel has it for the next six months.  We've done lots of work over the last hinge.  I think we've built some strong foundations.  We've got our rhythm.  We've got solid plans for the coming months.  I see bright things ahead for us.

The other thing thought that I want to talk about today is healing and the magic of ritual.  I've been sick the better part of the last week.  I knew though that I had to be at the CoG ritual.  Bowing out at that point was not an option.  I slept as often as I could.  I beefed up on zinc, echinacea, Vit C, tea and chicken noodle soup along with cold medicine.  I sucked it up and went to ritual.  Careful not to shake hands or touch too much.  

I will tell you though -- Everytime I go into ritual and I am sick, it is suspended.  So in ritual, we create a unique space that is beyond time and place.  And you know, that isn't always apparent.  Sometimes, you can see the kitchen and the clock in there and you know exactly where you are and exactly what time it is.  Often though, circle is warmer because of the energy.  But the part that amazes me is that I can go into ritual feeling sick and once I'm in ritual headspace, I don't feel sick.  Last night, with a cold moving from my head to my chest, I walked around and sang a lot.  I managed the energy and felt fine the whole time.  

Now, right after that circle came down, it was an entirely different set of circumstances.  The residual feel good hung around for a little bit.  I answered some questions for people, but then I started coughing and sweating and the congestion built right back up.

The other amazing thing about ritual last night -- we had so much going on and we started a little late.  I was sure it had to be 9pm when I left.  It was only a little after 8pm.  Time moves differently in ritual.  

I love it when I get to experience that, especially after so many years of doing this.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Samhain Comes

Just a couple more days until Samhain.  And just to be clear, that is NOT Sam-hain.  It is Sow-en, like a female pig (a sow) plus en.  Sow-en.  Samhain.  A while back, I was binge watching Supernatural.  And it was the Samhain episode... and they must have said Sam-hain about 53 million times and each time my head exploded.  I'm nearly positive that they did it on purpose to drive me crazy.  Sure of it.  ;)

Now... On to less crazy things...

Just a couple more days until Samhain.  This is always a very busy time of year.  As you know from my previous post, it is a hinge for us.  That means there is work to do.  Basic running of the coven sort of work to do.  Plus, it is one of the high holidays.  And that means BIG ritual stuff going on.  This year of course is no different.  With kids, it becomes a little extra tricky because Samhain is one of those sabbats that you really like to do ON the sabbat.  This year, we are doing trick or treating first and then late at night (for me at least), we are doing our Wellspring Samhain ritual to do the work part of things.  Then on Sunday, we are hosting a Dumb Supper.  Then next weekend, we are also participating in the Covenant of the Goddess public Samhain ritual.  There is an anniversary party and a birthday party in there too.  

So what exactly is Samhain?  I know that if you are reading this on the internet then you've probably read a lot of different resources that will tell you what Samhain is... technically.  So I'm going to share with you my own personal views, interpretations, and experiences of what Samhain is.  

In Blue Star, we have some people that are very tied into the world of the fae.  And most of my imagery comes from that.  And in my head there is a mixing of two goddesses and two different mythos that defines Samhain for me.  

First there is the collecting of the souls of those who have passed in the last year.  This coincides with the imagery of the ride of the faery queen.  I see her all dressed in black, flying on the wind with a huge black horse, and collecting the souls as she races by.  And she takes them home to the Summerlands where everyone is young, beautiful and vibrant until they come again to our plane.  

And Hecate does much the same in my experience.  But I see it more of she is a beacon to which the souls are drawn to her and she leads them into Hades.  She must work very hard to keep that beacon shining brightly so that the souls can see her in the darkness and find their way home.  

That is the first part of the sabbat.  The second part is that this is when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest.  It is when the spirits can communicate with us most easily.  It is the time for connecting and honoring those that have passed before us.  It is in remembrance that we will have our dumb supper.  It is in remembrance that we set up the ancestor shrine and call out to our loved ones.  We let them know that they are loved and they are remembered.  

For me, this is the meaning of this holiday, this sabbat.

But truly, there is a third part.  It is the beginning of the new year for most witches.  It's still difficult for me to let this be the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.  Often times, there is a great deal of fortune telling or peeking into the future to see what the new year will bring.  There is the letting go of unnecessary burdens and pain from the old year so you enter the new year clear and free.  

Whatever your celebration entails, whatever calls to you, may you have a blessed Samhain.  And may you know the love of your departed ones again.

All the best, 

Lapis

Vows and Goals

Yesterday at 4:57pm was the new moon. Typically, I am not nearly so precise with the time of the new moon.  Typically, we try to schedule our rituals as close to the full or new moon as possible to reap the benefits of the energy of that moon.  Samhain is close on the heels of the new moon and is hear in a week.  Although there are many correlations that I could make with these two things happening so quickly, the one in particular that I'm focusing on right now is Vows.  

In the Blue Star Tradition, we often make (or take) vows.  We take them for the new moon and for the hinge.  The hinge sabbats are Samhain and Beltane.  The new moon vows last for one lunar cycle.  The hinge vows last for half the year.  

For the new moon vows, we focus on short term things.  They are usually self-improvement sorts of things.  From this new moon to the next, I'll walk the dog three times a week.  From this new moon to the next, I'll make my bed every morning.  I'll declutter for 15 minutes a day.  I'll turn in all my homework on time.  They require some thought and some commitment but they are not usually huge changes in our lives.  Now hinge vows on the other hand, they should be transformative.  These should have a deeper meaning in your life.  

So as I am preparing for Samhain and thinking on on a vow, I realize there are many things that I need or want to change in my life.  Most of them are personal.  I need to be healthier.  I think that I will make that hinge vow -- to be healthier -- and then use the new moon vows as the smaller steps to achieve that healthiness.

Most of us have probably heard about SMART goals.  We can use this process and apply it to our vows.  So my overall goal of being healthier can be achieved by:  walking the dog 3x a week, track and journal my eating, increasing my water intake, making 10K steps each day, and eliminating soda and sweet tea from my diet.  

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound.  Looking back at the vows I've outlined, 'be healthier' is not that specific but I've created 5 smaller steps to get there and those goals are specific.  They are measurable.  Because they are specific, they are measurable really.  Attainable?  Yes?  Making my steps will be easier with the dogs walks.  Sweet tea?  That is going to be hard, but I've already started using different sweeteners.  And I'm making the assumption that tonic water is not soda so I think I'm okay there.  Relevant.  They are absolutely relevant to my overall goal of being healthier.  And because of the nature of the vows, they are automatically time bound.  

If vows are just goals, then why do we even do them at all?  In the last post, I talked about manifesting reality.  This is very similar.  We carefully consider what we need to be doing.  We plan it out.  Then we put the extra oomph in it by adding to our goals and vows the energy of our covenmates and the blessings of the Gods.  

No longer are you working on it by yourself.  The energy of the ritual is helping to push you forward.  The spirit of the elements are working with you.  And the blessings of the gods are behind you.  There is a whole team with you.  

Good luck with your vows and goals.

All the best, 
Lapis

Manifesting Reality

Where thought goes, energy follows. 

We are all magical beings.  And where we put our focus is where the magic happens.

Miel and I decided a few months ago that we specifically needed to work at putting ourselves out there, open ourselves up to the Universe, and bring people to our coven.  We were specific about the type of people we wanted to attract.  Most people think that is where magic/spellwork stops.  It's not. 

You can sit back and do a million spells but unless you change your reality, nothing is going to change.  You have to make those changes happen.  So what is the point of doing spellwork?  And 99% of the time, my response to that would be "Exactly!"  The spellwork, in my opinion, is what puts the icing on the cake, the turbo in your sports car.  It's that extra boost.  

Meanwhile, Miel and I put that out there.  Then we sat down and started the work.  We started talking about it.  We created this website.  We created our Facebook page.  We got business cards so we could share our contact information with people.  We carry them with us everywhere we go so we are always ready.  We decided to have a booth at Pagan Pride.  We then volunteered for a ritual.  We attended other pagan events.  Throughout these events and conversations, we kept getting told to do a Seeker's Class.  The community needs it.  You should do it.  That was the Universe speaking back to us.  That is where the magic began to happen.  We worked with a shop that we thought would attract the people we were looking for.  We pulled together curriculum.  We set up dates and times.  We advertised on pagan pages.  We had one person sign up.  The magic happened when in the last week or so before the class, we had 10 more people sign up.  The magic happened when the people we sat down with all seem like the people we wanted to attract.  

So we put our thoughts and effort and energy toward a goal.  We asked for the Universe to help us.  We manifested our reality.  We made magic happen.  

How do you make magic happen?  How do you manifest your reality?  What do you need the Universe to give that extra boost to?  

All the best, 

Lapis