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

Wicca 101 Begins!

Yes!  We had an excellent first class!  We sat at 1 registrant for a long time.  Miel and I were very concerned that we were not going to put on the class.  A couple weeks before, we bumped up to 6.  Enough for a class!  And then in the last few days, we jumped to 11.  11!  What an awesome number!  That meant the very witchy 13 total in our group with Miel and me.  

I think we had a great first class.  Every now and then I am reminder how well Miel and I complement each other.  This was definitely one of those times.  We naturally fed off of each other, picked up where one left off, and just that synergy.  Several of the class seemed to join right in there.  

The people in the class are great.  It is fun to see the ones that are clearly being led by the Gods.  And the curiosity and excitement is palpable.  And contagious.  As silly as this will sound to those of you who know me well, there are a few that we'll need to break out of their shells.  Yes, I just said that!  

We talked about ethics and expectations.  Even with this very serious discussion, we giggled and had fun.  I think we've got a great mix here.  I think we'll do wonderful things as a group!  I'm really looking forward to the coming year and growing with these people.  

All the best, 

Lapis

The Ride

As the veil thins between the worlds and Samhain nears, the ride begins.  You can feel it in the air as we move from Summer to Fall.  It is that crispness that tingles the senses.  You just know that Death is around the corner.  Interesting noises float on the breeze and you instinctively want to run and play and hide all at the same time.

The Faeries are dancing.  And the Ride begins.  

Queen Mab and her Court ride throughout and collect those lost souls.  Though she mourns her Consort, she is single minded in her quest.  

During these times, pagans who are in sync with the faery world often have trouble sleeping or their sleep is very busy.  We ride with the Queen and help her in her work.  Or we support those on the ride and they feed off of our energy.  

Rest well my friends.  Rest well. 

All the best, 

Lapis

Why is Service Important?

In Wellspring, we feel that service is very important.  You may wonder why we feel that way.  There are two core beliefs that I feel pertain to this.  One is that we are all part of the same world and we are all interconnected.  One of the common ideas that you often see demonstrated in different rituals is that we are the weavers, we are the web.  When something affects one strand on the web of life, the ripples can be felt through all of the web. You can find this in several of our songs and chants too.  We are the weavers is one.  Fur and Feather is another..

Fur and Feather
Fur and feather and scale and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one of soul,
Through all creatures are the gods made whole.

Words and music by Sable

The second core belief is the one of reciprocity.  Like attracts like.  What goes around comes around.  The Golden Rule.  Karma.  The threefold law.  If we turn a blind eye to those in need, then what will happen to us when we are in need?  And we'll all be in need at some point.  

We know that people have different abilities to give back to the community.  Some have time.  Some have money.  Some have both.  Some have neither.  The important thing though is to find that way that works for you.  As you may have seen in other posts, Wellspring bakes cookies for the holiday baskets for The Aliveness Project.  Miel used to do massage therapy there for quite a while.  

I am all about the dogs.  On Sunday, I did another transport run and helped to bring up 8 dogs from a kill shelter in AR to rescues in MN.  I got to tote 4 lovely pups from IA to MN.  I wasn't able to help on a different Saturday run from MO to MN but I did have a few extra bucks to send to one lady who was driving 12 hours to save those lives.  I had some time.  I has some money.  

I also send money to the Hennepin County Libraries, Minnesota Public Radio, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota and Twin Cities Public Television.  Each year at the holidays, we do a donation to disabled veterans.  We've also done a few holiday donations to World Wildlife Fund and Heifer International.  The regular charities are just $10 a month.  

What if you don't have time or money?  Lots of us order through Amazon.com.  Did you know they have a special program at Smile.Amazon.com.  You can go in there and select one of the highlighted charities or you can do a search for one that is meaningful specifically to you.  I also click every day on the Greater Good site for animals, literacy, mammograms, autism, veterans... There are several!  And there is probably an app for that... I just found and downloaded Walk for a Dog.  You walk.  It tracks your walk just like MapMyWalk would do for you.  Then is sends money based on mileage to the animal rescue you chose.  You get healthier.  The rescue gets more funds.  

Remember though, service doesn't have to be through an established charity.  Maybe you know a new mom who could use a few prepared meals or a few hours of free time to shower, do some laundry and wash dishes.  Maybe you know a couple who could use a date night and you can watch their kids.  Maybe a friend is in the hospital and you can go clean their house for them.  

Service comes in so many forms.  As we uplift others, we uplift ourselves.  We create the rising tide.  

I encourage you to find something close to your heart and then find a way to give.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Mabon Celebrations

Mabon is the second of our harvest celebrations.  We look at it as the pagan Thanksgiving.  We come together to feast and celebrate our bounty.  Food and feast is always important for a Blue Star ritual but especially so for Mabon.  

One of our regular traditions is to ensure that we have something to represent each type of food we hope to have in the coming year.  Depending on the size of the coven, you'll find fish, chicken, pork, beef, game meat, fowl to cover the meats.  Then several vegetables and fruits with an assortment of grains. Chocolate is ALWAYS on the table.  Plus a myriad of desserts.  We are blessed that living in this metropolitan area, we can access so many types of food easily and typically affordably.

While we have all these foods on our feast table, it is important to remember that we need to understand where those foods come from, how are they produced, how did they make it to our table.  Are we doing more harm to ourselves and our planet by eating these foods?  A common and recurring theme from our gods, at this time of year and also in the spring during the planting times,  is that we need to know where our food comes from.  We need to understand how to grow and harvest our own foods.  We need to understand how to protect those food sources and the people who bring them to our tables.  The food should nourish us, those who provide it, and the land it comes from.  

The second part of Mabon is the Harvest Home portion.  This is when we Call the Pagans Home.  This is a call to the Universe to help people (and all creatures) to find their way home.  A home where they are loved and accepted for who they are.  A home where they can flourish and grow.  We've co-opted (read stole) a poem by Kathleen Raine for our purposes.

Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home
by Kathleen Raine, “The Year One”, 1952. 

    Home, home,
    Wild birds home!
    Lark to the grass,
    Wren to the hedge,
    Rooks to the tree-tops,
    Swallow to the eaves,
    Eagle to its crag,
    And raven to its stone,
    All birds home!

    Home, home,
    Strayed ones home,
    Rabbit to burrow,
    Fox to earth,
    Mouse to wainscot,
    Rat to the barn,
    Cattle to the byre,
    Dog to the hearth,
    All beasts home!

    Home, home,
    Wanderers home,
    Cormorant to rock,
    Gulls from the storm,
    Boat to the harbour,
    Safe sail home!

    Children home,
    At evening home,
    Boys and girls
    From the roads come home,
    Out of the rain,
    Sons come home,
    From the gathering dusk,
    Young ones home!

    Home, home,
    All souls home,
    Dead to the graveyard,
    Living to the lamplight,
    Old to the fireside,
    Girls from the twilight,
    Babe to the breast,
    and heart to its haven,
    Lost ones home!

 

All of the lost souls, may you find your way home!

All the best, 

Lapis

Apples, apples, apples... Everywhere?

Sunday was our coven apple picking outing.  The apple season is a little late this year because of the long, cool spring.  We did not get to pick our own apples but we did get some of the SweeTango apples!

One of the things that happened at our Pagan Pride ritual was that we were urged to know more about our food, where it comes from, how it is made, and how it nourishes our bodies and the land.  

Well, we learned some new things about apples and how they grow.  Miel visited with the apple growers at the State Fair.  They turned her on to McDougall's Apple Junction in Hastings MN.  They use a special technique called Espalier which in very basic terms in pruning and shaping a tree so that it grows on a trellis or in a specific pattern.  The trees are smaller, but produce more fruit.  

We also learned more about the difference between bees and wasps.  They have different types of venom.  Bees have a venom that is a warning.  "Go away you big scary human!"  And wasps sting to immobilize and eat whatever it has stung.  "Take that puny human!"  Also, by continuing to back away from the wasp, you create a backdraft sort of vacuum.  The little wasp has very little choice but to follow you.  

We walked away from our trip with LOTS of apples and armed with more information about the world we live in.  

Now what are we going to do with all those apples?

Last night I made apple fritters.  Quick, easy, and tasty.  Not so much with the healthy though.

1 1/3 c self-rising flour

1/4 c sugar

1/3 c milk

1 egg

Apples

Oil

Powdered Sugar

Peel, core and slice your apples.  I used 4 fairly large SweeTango apples.  And just used the metal corer/slicer thing from the kitchen section of the store so I had little apple wedges.

Mix your dry ingredients.  Add your wet ingredients.  Mix well.  It should be a little thicker than pancake batter.  You may need to add more milk.  Pour about a 1/4 inch of oil in your frying pan.  Dunk your apples in the batter.  And then fry them up in the pan.  Turn over when they are a nice golden brown.  Remove when they are nicely done on both sides.

Drain off the oil by placing the apple wedges on paper towels on a plate.  I had extra batter leftover so I gave it another good mix and just poured it into the oil -- Voila!  Fried Dough!  

Once everything has cooled and the oil has dripped off, sprinkle on powdered sugar and eat!  They are best when eaten warm.   This recipe comes from the very old red recipe book that my mom let me take when I moved up here.  It is from the Culinary Arts Institute.

And if you need more ideas of things to do with apples... click here

All the best, 

Lapis

 

 

Pagan Pride

Oh wow!

We had a wonderful time at Pagan Pride.  Ritual was amazing!  Ritual can only be amazing when you have amazing participants.  The singing and the energy raising literally gave me goosebumps.  

We met lots of wonderful people.  I'm still pretty wiped out but expect more soon.

Thank you to all the wonderful Blue Star people who came out and helped with the ritual and added your voices to ours.  

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our little tent, spoke with us for a few minutes, and joined us for ritual!

~Lapis

We Are a People of the Library, Not of the Book

A wise man once said that about pagans... Steven Posch to be specific about it.  Steven Posch is one of the leaders of our local pagan community.  He'll be doing the opening ritual at Pagan Pride by the way.  We do not have a single book that defines our religion like many other religions.  We have books and books and books.  We have historical books, herb books, mythology books, fiction books, archaeology books, etc.  

Miel and I were talking about what books to put down on our reading list.  We've sadly discovered that we apparently gave up reading books on Wicca or Witchcraft a while back.  So many of them are just crap.  The books that we refer back to over and over are reference books.  The books that remain on my shelf after 20 something years are reference materials.  The same is true for Miel.  

The biggest secret about magic...   Is that it is inside of you.  You don't need a book to tell you about it.  What you need is time and introspection.  Magic is happening all around you all the time.  You just have to stop and notice it.  

Did you see Apollo drive his chariot across the sky today?  And did you notice Demeter gathering the grains and turning Summer to Fall?  And will you see the work of Diana as the moon rises?  

Now, stop and be still for a moment.   Actually take notice of the world around you.  Find the magic.  You can do it!

Now, if you need a book or two to get started, I still keep on my shelves the following books:

Spiral Dance by Starhawk

Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World 

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

And a little meditation music to go with them



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

Home Again, Home Again

This week has been a bit hectic. 

The course outline for the Seekers' class is complete.  Miel and I met with the shopkeeper where we want to have the classes.  She is very excited about it too.  It looks we can do the night we want at the time we want and for a very reasonable price for participants/students.  She's got to double check the calendar and get back to us, but I think we're pretty much set.  Once we have it all definite and wrapped up, we'll publish the info here.  

Beyond that, my family and I went to South Dakota for an extended weekend.  We live in such a beautiful country.  I love when I get the opportunity to explore new corners of it.  We went through the Badlands at sunset and after dark.  And then we went back in the mid-afternoon.  It is absolutely stunning.

We also went to Mount Rushmore.   If you've never been, there is this point on the road up there, where you come around this turn in the road and suddenly before you are those stony faces, carved in the mountain.  

Then there was the Prehistoric Indian Village.  They've been doing an archaeological dig there for 11 years and have barely gotten into it.  

We also stopped at the touristy sites -- The Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Cosmos Mystery Site, and the 1880 Town.

The best part of all of it though, along with the time with the family, is the energy of the different places.  There of course the Badlands.  Then there are the beautiful rolling hills and mountains.  It's just amazing.

Sunset and moonrise in the Badlands

Sunset and moonrise in the Badlands

Another section of the Badlands with amazing colors in the dirt.  Over 75 million years ago, it was all under water and there were giant sea creatures living here.

Another section of the Badlands with amazing colors in the dirt.  Over 75 million years ago, it was all under water and there were giant sea creatures living here.


Prairie Dog!  

Prairie Dog!  

I almost forgot about the prairie dogs!  We stopped at a prairie dog farm just outside the Badlands and fed them!  They are so freaking cute!!

 

So my advice?  Get out into the land.  Feel its energy.  Get to know its history.  See the sunrise and the sunset.  

All the best, 

Lapis

 

Happy Lammas

The harvest sabbats have begun!

August 1st is the beginning of the harvest season celebrations.  It is the first harvest and the harvest of the grains.  The crops being brought in are corn, wheat, barley, etc.  We typically make a bread man and use him as a symbolic sacrifice to ensure the harvest for next year.  You can find lots of things on the internet about Lammas with a quick Google search.

Harvest season also means the season of sacrifice.  It is when you give up something so that others can benefit and grow.  John Barleycorn is sacrificed so that there can be bread and grains to make it through the winter and seed enough to grow again next year.  

The Lady also takes a sacrifice.  The Lord willingly offers himself up so that the land can be bountiful in the next year.  And while he does so willingly, she takes his life.  She slits the throat of her lover and grieves so that the people may live.  His blood is spilled on the fields, blessing them and giving them life again.

This is not an true and physical act.  Some covens use the bread man and cut him open letting his seed filling spill on the ground.  Some covens build a wicker man and burn him, spreading his ashes on the ground.  Our coven uses the bread man technique.

Lammas is often confused with Lughnasadh.  Both are on the same day but are two very different celebrations.  They are not interchangeable.  Lughnasadh is the funerary rites and celebration of the life of Lugh's foster mother Tailtiu.  These were games and feats of strength and strategy.  

Wild Hunt has an interesting collection of different ways the holiday is celebrate.  It can be found here.

And so the Wheel turns... 

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

 

 

Weekend Update with Lapis

It was a busy weekend!  

Back on our Home Page, we mentioned that we lead full and busy lives.  Yes, we do!  Both Miel and I were busy, busy, busy.  

Friday night, my hubby and I managed a date night.  We checked out Pinstripes in Edina.  It's a little expensive but it was so tasty.  The antipasto and cheese was pretty good but to be honest, I like Al Vento much more.  Then we played bocce.  We discovered that I can be a little cut throat when it comes to bocce and a few times, rather than get closer to the silver ball, I just knocked my husband's way out of the way.  Afterwards, we spent some time down at Centennial Lakes just sitting and people watching and chatting.  It was nice just to sit outside in the evening air.  

Saturday, we ran around like crazy people to get all of our errands done.  Duluth Trading is open now down in Bloomington so we headed out there for some clothes.  Just a few pieces to make sure they have the life cycle to make the price worthwhile. And then a stop at the Drooling Moose chocolate shop.  OMG!  The orange chocolate pecans are to die for!  There was food... And a corn on the cob from Popeye's that wouldn't stay in the bag so I was chasing the corn while my hubby was driving.  My beautiful daughter got all dressed up, with fairy wings and full of sparkles to run around at a party all night.  

Sunday, we did our first transport to help save dogs' lives.  We got connected with an animal shelter in Little Rock, AR.  They have a rescue coordinator so her job is to try to get the animals out of the shelter before they get euthanized.  She organizes runs from AR to MA and MN and I don't know where else to rescues that won't euthanize.  So we drove down to IA and back with four great little dogs.  Then we finished off our day with the Wendy Rule concert at the Eye of Horus. What a lovely strong voice!  I wanted to just close my eyes and soak it all in.

So why am I telling you all this?  Two reasons, we really do have busy lives and do things that aren't just Wicca-related.  And community service is important to us.  

Busy lives does make it difficult to schedule sometimes, but we know that we all have things going on.  There simply comes a point though where you have to set your priorities.  Sometimes, those are grove and coven.  Sometimes, it isn't. But clearly, we do not want to be the center of your life and vice versa.  Being a whole, healthy person is vitally important to being a happy person and being able to grow.  

And service?  

Both Miel and I know that our hearts and souls demand that we help others.  You may have heard "We are the weavers, we are the web".  If anyone or anything in our web is hurting and in need of help, we want to help them.  We want them to help themselves as well.  Miel does body work to help others.  My job is about the health and safety of people.  When we have people in our community in need, we often step up to help.  Sometimes organizing or sometimes simply doing our part.  The one thing that we do though as a group is cookie making for The Aliveness Project.  Every year as one of our Yule celebrations, we get together and bake dozens of cookies.  Dozens and dozens.  And now, I think my family and I will help save dogs by transporting them from IA to MN whenever we can.  It's good for the soul to do things for others.

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend, full of love and joy, like I did.

All the best, 

Lapis

Pagan Pride 2014

It seems like we are going to set up a booth at Pagan Pride this year.  Clearly it will be just an informational booth but we need to figure out what information to provide and have available.  Miel and I will both be there.  We've opened it up to any of our other Blue Star Family to join us.  Hopefully they will bring some ideas as well.

So far, I'm thinking we'll have print copies of the things we have available here, some sort of business card, print copies of Isaac Bonewits' Cult Survey, maybe a recommended reading list and I'm thinking an altar all set up as well.  Plus music.  There must be music!  Maybe food?  

Maybe I can lure a few of our tradmates to come out and sing with us on and off throughout the day.  

I'd love any suggestions!

 

All the best, 

Lapis

Full Moon & Herbology Yesterday

With our little group, things don't always go as planned, but we adjust and adapt and move on.  One of our group got sick.  She tried very hard to hang in there but ended up having to go home early.

We did not do ritual but we did another practice altar set up with plenty of time for Q&A about the altar, why we set it the way we do, and what the different items on the altar are for and what they symbolize.  We did our Herb Fairies study, but to our surprise we did not have chickweed nearby.  We may have to go on a bit of a hunt at new moon.  We did a walk around the yard at the covenstead and found several different herbs and talked about the differences between some that look very similar to others.  There was some talking about native vs non-native plants.  We dug into our books and researched those herbs as well as the ones we used in our cooking.  It ended up being very educational and fun for all of us! 

And as always, a delicious feast!  With the lemon garlic chicken, lime oregano broccolini and brussels sprouts.  We ate our trad cakes for dessert and OMG they are amazing with those little cinnamon chips added to them!  

Gotta go plan for Pagan Movie Night!  

All the best, 

Lapis

Weekend Update with Lapis

It's been a pretty busy week.  Miel is off at the Basilica Block Party, enjoying the music of Delta Rae, Michael Franti, Ingrid Michaelson and more.  I"m jealous but really, I'm not one for big crowds.  

We got together Tuesday and went over the materials for Herb Fairies for tomorrow.  We're pretty excited.  We are going to gather at her house and go through the beginning parts of it then take our journal pages down to the park and see if we can find some chickweed.  If we do, we'll make one of the recipes that is included in the materials.  I'm thinking that I'll also bring my fave herb book The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl.  (Clearly, I'm going to have to figure out how to underline text here.)  I really like his book because it is so easy to use, has multiple reference pages and indexes, and has the medicinal and magical uses for common herbs.    

I got all the things to make lemon garlic chicken for feast tomorrow.  It's pretty easy and very tasty.  All you need is a whole chicken, some lemons, lemon juice, garlic and onions.  I got four lemons.  I'm going to slice two of them in half and put them on the bottom of the crockpot.  Then slice one into rings and the other into quarters.  The one in quarters will go in the chicken along with some onion and some garlic.  The sliced lemon will go on the chicken itself.  Then add a little lemon juice and cook on low all day.  The chicken is super tender and juicy.  I think I'll add some rosemary and thyme.  We can look them up in the Master Herbalism book and talk about the properties of the herbs.  Food is magic!  And feast is super important in Blue Star and Wellspring.

I also am working on things for The Blue Star Foundation.  I'm on the Board of Directors and we are putting together different projects we want to work on to help support the Trad.  One of the things we are getting ready to launch is our virtual lending library utilizing Library Thing.  We've been adding our books out there so that others can search and borrow them from each other as needed.  

I guess the last thing that I wanted to touch on was the SUPER MOON.  It seems that every full moon lately is A Thing.  Well, this one is supposed to be another Super Moon.  That means simply enough that in the orbital path that the Moon takes around the Earth, this is one of the times when it will be very close to us.  It will look really big and is likely to be more intensely felt -- higher tides, more lunacy, etc.  For my sister, it means a serious lack of sleep.  She always gets pretty serious insomnia around the full moon but this one is being particularly rough on her.  

Hope you've all had a great week.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Culling Year

Every few years, and very cyclical, I seem to experience a culling year.  This year is clearly one of those years,  Today, I heard about another death from a coworker.  I didn't know this person well, but saw him every day in the halls.  He was always smiling and always said hello.  This is the third death in three weeks of people at our office.  It is the fourth one this year.  

What do I mean by a culling year?  There seems to be a large amount of death around.  I'm sure that other people experience them in other cycles though.  These years are hard to get through.  I rely heavily on my friends and family to help distract me, get me out of my house and remind me that I have survived them before and will again.

I believe they hit me a bit harder than many people because I am an empath.  I typically do not miss those who have passed.  But I feel the sadness and grief of the friends and family.  With this happening at work, I'm surrounded by 400+ people who are grieving in some way.  

Over the years, I've learned how to build some pretty substantial walls to protect myself and to stay above the fray.  Every now and then, they simply aren't substantial enough.  Two weeks ago, we had two deaths in one weekend.  By the time Friday had gotten here, I just couldn't do it.  I was exhausted.  

So how does one protect one's self from this bombardment?  It's a little different for everyone.  You have to figure out what your source of power is.  For me, it is the solar plexus chakra.  Every day, I pull energy up through the earth and my body to my solar plexus and make sure that chakra is bright, clear, and spinning.  The light from there extends out from my solar plexus and creates an orb similar to an egg shell shape around me.  I see it as being inside a bubble of this energy.  Typically, it is fluid and clear and opalescent.  When I'm being bombarded with others' emotions, it thickens and hardens to prevent them from getting in to me.  

This is all part of Grounding, Centering, and Protecting.  I use simple visualization techniques to accomplish it.  But because it is a visualization exercise, each person has their own way that this manifests.  My recommendation is that you use meditation time to find and grow your own methods.  Once you find the visualization that works for you, hone it until you do it without even realizing that you are doing it.  As witches, we are so open to energy, use energy, and feel energy that it is important to know how to keep unwanted energy out.  

Keep breathing and stay centered.

All the best, 

~Lapis