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,


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.