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

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

 

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

Ritual Writing

We've finally gotten our ritual spot confirmed for Pagan Pride.  We're up at 12 noon on Saturday September 6th.  In keeping with the theme of this year's Pride, we are blessing the land and and giving back.  

Miel and I talked through several ideas of what to do and how to stage it.  Hopefully, we can gather everyone together this week and again next week to step through the ritual and the blocking.  Public ritual is usually quite different from grove and coven ritual.  But because we are known of but not known in the community, I really wanted to try to keep to our standard ritual as much as possible.  

Blue Star uses a particular ritual set up over and over again.  Using that same structure repeatedly does a few different things.  First, because we have done the same thing over and over and over again all over the country and in other countries, it adds that power of legacy to it.  Secondly, it helps to get the participants transferred from that outside headspace to ritual and magical headspace.  Plus when you do a thing over and over, it becomes ingrained in your psyche.  You instinctively know that when those first notes of Home Again start that magic is about to happen.  

As much as every ritual is the same, every ritual is different.  Every ritual needs to be carefully considered and thought out.  

Why are you doing ritual?  What do you hope to accomplish?  Who is your audience?  How can you make sure that you keep everyone engaged?  How do you deal with the ebb and flow of the energy?  What songs or chants will you use?  Why?  Are you even going to use song?

For this ritual, we are doing an invocation.  We are drawing a goddess into the human vessel of one of our priestesses.  Any time we do this, we need to consider several things.  Why are we doing it?  Why are we calling upon the gods and having them come to visit with us?  Some of them like to simply come and be with us.  Some do not.  Some want to have a purpose, a direction.  What is going on with them in their myth cycle?  Will they be happy with being brought into this situation?  And do we have the things that they want to offer them for food and drink?  One god wanted liquid fire.  Another goddess was shocked and thrilled to have tasted chocolate for the first time.  

Another thing we are doing is using lots of song.  A good deal of Blue Star history is based in song.  We are good at it.  We raise incredible energy with it.  We are using four songs.  Because of the difficulty of some of the vocal parts, I carefully looked at who volunteered to help us out.  Do we have the right voices?  Are these songs that we can carry?  

One of the songs is for a power raising so for that one in particular, I need to know that it is the right song for that use.  It needs to be repetitive, maybe be sung in a round, must apply to the work and theme that we have, and one that most people will know or can pick up on easily.  

For the other three songs, we'll need to provide lyric sheets to our participants.  They may or may not know the songs.  There are easy choruses that everyone should be able to join in on quickly.  

Because it is a public ritual, we also need to consider how to get things out to people quickly and easily so we don't drag down the energy and the ritual doesn't lag or stall at those times.  Food allergies?  Handling of multiple chalices?  Sharing one chalice with who knows how many people?  Making sure that people project their voices so everyone can hear.  

Ritual writing is an in depth process with lots of little details to consider.  When you have the basic structure in place, you can concentrate on the meat of the circle or the work you want to accomplish.  It is a core and key element of Blue Star.  

Hopefully, we'll see you at Pagan Pride and you can see the results of our work.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Public Outreach

Miel and I have done a lot of work over the last few days.  We've finalized the curriculum for the Seekers' Class, touched base with a shop to host us, and have a solid plan for this.  It's coming together quite nicely.  At first we weren't quite sure we wanted to do this but then pieces kept coming together.  We kept getting those nudges from the Universe.  Thankfully, we're now smart enough to listen and not need the 2x4 to the head.

The class is going to be 13 classes.  No, we didn't try to be that 'witchy' about it but we got down to 12 classes and checked out another training syllabus and realized we missed some important stuff.  There wasn't anything we felt we could cut and so, we ended up with the very witchy number of 13.  We are thinking one class per month, preferably on a weeknight for an hour.  We want to run through this though with the shop and make sure this all seems reasonable.  

Although we've spent the last dozen or so years in Blue Star, we've both had outside classes and such.  It was interesting to see how we perceived each other's strengths and where we had skills that we don't really use anymore.  Blue Star really does focus on honoring the gods, not so much on the spellwork and stuff.  We are going to have to dig into our past, dust off some of our old knowledge and pull it out for this class.  We have done our best though to keep it mostly generic to Wicca.  Once we have a schedule, we'll be reaching out to our non-Blue Star pagan friends to help us out with more info and resources to talk about other Trads.  We are lucky that here in the Twin Cities, there are LOTS of options available to us.  

This week, I'll be typing up the curriculum and syllabus.  Once that is all nice, neat and edited, I may find a place on here to post it.  We should have class schedule, location and cost finalized shortly after Lammas!  

 

We also listened to the Universe nudging us on the public ritual.  We got our volunteers for Pagan Pride and have sent in the email volunteering to do a ritual there.  Again, once we have the time and location, we'll of course publish that so you all can come see what we are about.  It's been pretty neat to see our community coming together for this.  Some of our dear friends whose lives have gotten really busy are coming in to do this with us.  We've got some GREAT voices coming so we'll definitely be able to showcase our singing how quickly and amazingly it raises energy.  I'm very excited to share that feeling with everyone.  It's just amazing!  Again, once I know what time we're doing the ritual, we'll pull together planning meetings and start publishing info about it.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Weekend Update with Lapis

Unfortunately, I've found a new show to occupy my time on Netflix.  The Paradise.  It's a BBC show about a department store.  I've been avoiding the laundry for a bit now.  

So what have we actually accomplished this week?  Well, we are one Blue Star volunteer away from doing a ritual at Pagan Pride.  We're thinking of doing a sort of teaching ritual.  While our rituals have many of the same steps.  We purify the space to prepare for the ritual, cast circle call elements, call the gods... These are pretty standard to most Wiccan rites.  Our altar placement is slightly different.  We have specific movements and stances.  I was thinking that it might be neat for people to have the open opportunity to ask us about those.  

The downside though is that it interrupts the energy of the circle.  One of the truly magical things about Blue Star is that when we sing, when we gather in numbers, the energy is vibrant and pure.  It tingles though your body and sends chills up your spine.  What better way to showcase who we are than through that?  This is what Miel and I are currently struggling with.

In other news, we are also putting together a Seekers' Class.  We've yet to settle all the details but it looks like we'll probably do a once a month meeting.  We're pulling together a curriculum tomorrow and hope to have it all worked out by Lammas -- August 1st -- and then speak to one of our local shops to see if they'll host us.  There will be a cost associated to help cover rent of the space and materials.  New Moon and a harvest sabbat.  Surely good signs.  

Lastly, tomorrow we are making our second run to IA to pick up seven pups and bring them on the last leg of their journey to safety, not under the threat of being put down, and finding forever homes with loving families.  The transport almost didn't happen.  It took longer than usual to put it all together.  I was really worried that those seven pups weren't going to make it out of Little Rock.  An hour after the transport is usually shut down, it finally came together.  Miel is coming with me and my daughter again.  

Well, it's past time for me to go to bed... 

All the best, 

Lapis