Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why I Don't Use "Lughnasagh" or "Lammas"

I use neither. I prefer using First Harvest, instead.  

I don't celebrate the Wheel of the Year, at least I don't use that term.  Wheel of the Year is a term that I strongly associate with Wicca, it's the only path that I've seen it used, or at least it's the first one that I've seen used. Not saying that some Non-Wiccan Pagans and Witches aren't using that calendar, but I don't. I'm not Wiccan, so there's no point in me using a wheel for their sabbats.  

I don't even use the same sabbat names. Because I'm not Wiccan, and given that most of the terms used--from my understanding--are Celtic in origin, I don't follow a Celtic Path. I barely have Celtic elements. So why am I using Celtic sabbats and meanings? They hold no meaning to me. I don't follow those Gods or Spirits. Heck, I've only recently renamed October 31st. For the longest time, I didn't know what else to call it, other than Samhain. I didn't want to just use Halloween. Halloween is secular and I still love it, but I also celebrate that day for spiritual reasons. Given that it's a major day of my practice in terms of Ancestral Veneration, I decided to call it Ancestor's Day (it was Third Harvest, but I didn't really like that name).

I used to use Lammas, but eh, I don't anymore. It means "Bread mass" or something, and this harvest isn't just about grains. It's about harvesting all/most summer grown crop. And I feel, until I really begin to have my own backyard farm and understand other seasonal harvests, August 1 is the First Harvest, until Thanksgiving, or what I call the Last Harvest.

I know that Lammas is also related to Christianity, but I don't have a problem with that. My focus of August 1st, isn't just on grain or grain deities. I do use May Day instead of Beltane, um but it actually doesn't have anything to do with the Christian May Day. Back in college, we had a huge spring celebration called May Day, on May 1st. Since I was already celebrating that day, I went with the name. It's still a celebration of fertility and life, but without the Wiccan and Celtic elements.  

Gotta find and do what works. If it doesn't hold meaning to you, then what's the point of observing it? Don't just celebrate a day just because it's custom or someone else says so. Even if you are of that path and trad, you can still examine the sabbats and see what and if they hold meaning to you. If not, try putting another spin on it. Find what works. Or just don't. Celebrating or not celebrating doesn't make you any more or less of a Pagan or Witch.

I have a Christian friend who doesn't celebrate Christmas or Easter. She's still a good Christian.

Just something to think about. :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Harvest Is Nearly Upon Us!

Also know as Lughnausgh (I can never spell it) or Lammas (loaf mass).  Basically, it's a time of harvest--reaping what you've sown and rewards for diligence and dedication.  This can be a spiritual reaping, too. Or celebrating Lugh.  I never did, so I don't know what goes into Lughnausgh.

Some folks see the harvest as a time of death.  Not me, not really.  Well, yes and no.  In terms of crops, many do die for the harvest, and many more are used or eaten, too.  I don't necessarily see that as death.  It is, but it's for life.  We're nourished by the sacrifice.  Circle of life and all that.  Like with any animal, I treat the plant with respect, making it's sacrifice as painless as possible.  Because as an Empath who's sensitive to plants, I can tell you, they do feel pain and fear.  Maybe it's an emotional or a chemical thing, I dunno.  All I know is that I can feel a tree's pain and fear, or what I perceive as such, when it's damaged or chopped up.  It's not a pleasant feeling.  Like animals, I try to make the experience as easy as possible, then treat the spirit with respect from beginning to end. 

Yes, many crops do die for the harvest, but their spirit lives on to sustain us.  Then that energy is recycled into the earth to give new life.  It's a time for rewards, to give thanks for sacrifice, and to celebrate life.

Having lost a good friend a week ago, I will also be reflecting on death, for her and myself.  I already understand and accept death, so I have no fear of it (thanks to my work with Anubis and Turkey Vulture).  I spend a great deal of my life grieving over the baby I lost in 2011.  I also do Spirit Work and Ancestral Veneration.  Death is a large part of my life (so is healing and coping).  On the long drive to Hester Fest, I'll be using that time to reflect on Death, Sacrifice, and Bat (a recent messenger). 

On Saturday, I've got a lot to do, but it is the beginning of the Harvest Season (to me), so I have a few months until Winter.  Here's my To Do List:

  • Harvest my rosemary, lavender, and white peony roots.
  • Bake bread
  • Offerings to Father Sun, Ceres and to the Land Spirits.
  • I'm going to my Uncle's for Hester Fest.  Hester Fest is a party honoring my late grandmother.  Every summer she threw what became known as Hester Fest at her house, and my uncle is continuing that party legacy.  I'll be partying it up with lots of family and friends.  As well as drinking in a friend's honor, in Dionysus' honor, for Ceres, Father Sun, and celebrating the harvest!  We have to be there kind of early, so I don't know how much I'm going to get done first.  
  • Celebrating Dibella and Sister Moon!

Doesn't seem like a lot to do, but....Hester Fest is going to take up a lot of my Saturday, and so is the driving.  At least I don't have to cook!  Although I might bring some wine, as is tradition in my family, and Ceres and Dionysus will enjoy it, too!

What are you planning for the Blue Moon and Harvest/Lammas/Lughnasagh?

(also posted on Pagan Place)

The Longer, The Better

There's just something about wearing a long skirt or dress that awakens something inside of me.  I love wearing them.  I feel beautiful, confident, powerful, feminine, and magikal.  Comfortable.  I don't feel obese.  I don't feel restricted.  Although sometimes I forget that I'm wearing a skirt, especially in public or around family.  Nudity actually doesn't bother me, it's just lady parts, but not everyone feels that way.  Gotta be considerate of others, of course.  Which is funny, because I dress modestly, I'm just so used to wearing skirts at home and not having to worry about a flash here or there, I don't think about.  I'm trying to be more mindful, though. 

I'm definitely going to be one of those ladies who tends to their backyard homesteads in a long, durable work skirt/dress (and headcovering).  Wearing a apron for a basket and such.  That's just going to be me.  Often I look out into my yard, and that's what I see.  I think it really has to do with my second strongest past life, the one from the 1800's.  As a lady working in the fields. 

Often, when I see Ceres, She's wearing a long dress, with an apron, similar to this image (#26). 

Plus, I often think of my ancestors who worked the fields.

I just feel more connected to that past life, to Ceres, to my Ancestors, and to nature and magik.  It just makes me happy.  :-D

And yes, I do typically perform yard work in my skirt.  Some may think it's impractical, but for me, it's not.  I have more freedom, it's cooler, and the insects can't attack my legs as well.

(also posted Witchbook)


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deity and the Divine: The Golden Eyed Goddess

July 2015

Here's my shrine for Ceres.  Not finished yet, but it's up and it makes me happy.  It hangs just outside of my kitchen...because there's no space on my walls in the kitchen.  I felt that either in or nearest to the kitchen was a better place for Ceres, than in the living room with the others.  Food, nourishment, family, and all that jazz.  At least until I can get a space set up outside, but all of that hinges on whether or not we're going to be able to purchase this house in the coming fall.  I'd like to have either a shed for Her or a place in the garage.  

Sitting there, I have an old hand scythe that belonged to my grandma, a gift from my husband's grandma of two children harvesting melons (the kids also represent Ceres' children), a bottle of local honey; a bottle of flax meal, brewer's yeast, salt, and corn kernels; a piece of raw amber, and a white candle.  Given that Ceres is more so associated with wheat and grains, I feel that I need some wheat sheaths up there, and maybe thisHarvest Spirit.  Of course, there are two images of Ceres that I absolutely adore and wouldn't mind having hanging in that blank spot on the wall:  Thalia Took's Ceres and thisDeviant Artist's Demeter.

Ceres is the Roman Goddess of Agriculture, Grains, the Harvest, and Fertility of the Land.  She is the Greek Demeter's equal.  She's kind to humanity and showed humans how to farm the land and harvest their crops.  Yet, She also brings drought, death, infestation, and famine.

Like how Artemis has Nymph handmaidens who aid Her, especially in the care of Her hounds, Ceres has helpers in the fields, by the names of: "Vervactor, Reparator, Imporcitor, Insitor, Obarator, Occator, Serritor, Subruncinator, Messor, Conuector, Conditor, and Promitor" (Wiki).

A bit of UPG, as of right now, I only associate Ceres with the harvest seasons, instead of all seasons, like Demeter.  As I've written before, unlike Hestia and Vesta, I don't see Demeter and Ceres as being the same Goddess, because I don't feel any connection to Demeter.  However, I feel one to Kore/Persephone and Dionysus, but not to Prosepina, Libera, and Liber.  Weird, right?  But until those Deities actually come wanting a follower, I won't delve into their stories as much.  Although Dionysus apparently likes to hang out on Full Moons.  I'm just flowing with with it.  AND I do feel that many of the symbols are the same, just not their individual selves... (I'm still exploring this).  Harvest deities tend to have the same symbols associated with them, no different than most other deity groups.

She's a Goddess of the people--of Farmers, of Homesteaders.  I don't feel that Ceres is just connected to crops, but to all aspects of farming, from animal husbandry to the fields, and the processes from beginning to end, from seed to the kitchen (from here, the preparation of food then belongs to Hestia).  Ceres reigns over every domestic harvest, plant and animal, throughout the year (whereas Artemis reigns over the wild harvests).  For me, until I have a garden/backyard farm of my own, my main focus of honoring Her will be in the late summer and fall, which is also my main focus for Artemis, as these were the times my family and I would hunt.

As I mentioned in Amber Waves of Grain, I find it important to honor and celebrate the workers--they are the backbone of our country--of life, really.  Like on the Fourth of July, I didn't just honor the soldiers, but also farmers.  Everyone who helped with the birth of America, who helped make America what it is today, and continue to make it a better place.  This past fourth, I also gave offerings to Ceres, a Patron of Farmers, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Some of these associations are UPG:

  • Festivals/Sacred Days:  Full Moons, The Cerealia (April 19th), Fourth of July,  The First Harvest (August 1), Fall Equinox/Second Harvest (September 20-22), The Last Harvest (Thanksgiving).  There's a couple other days, but I need to do more research, because of some of it confusing to me, with the different perspectives out there.  
  • Patron of: Farmers, Homesteaders, Ranchers, and other terms for these works who supply us with food, drink, hides, fabrics, and so on.  
  • Symbols: Farm Equipment and Tools (shearers, scythes, tractors, shovels, saws, etc), Cornucopia, Wheat Sheaves, Torch, Harvest, Grains, Nourishment, Community, Golden Eyes, Fertility, Barns, Fields, Baskets, Drums, Violins (due to Red Dead Redemption, actually.  In the game, the ranch hands would rest around a fire and one would usually be playing a violin), Burlap.
  • Plants: All Crops (domestic veggies, fruits, herbs, edible flowers, edible seeds, grains, roots, etc.): Wheat, Acorns, Oak Tree, Poppies, Cloves, Apples, Pumpkins.
  • Animals: All Domestic Animals and Work Animals; Pigs, Cattle, Mother Bear, * Lions, Ants, Snakes, Bees, Outdoor Cats.
  • Scents: Soil, Corn, Patchouli, Myrrh, Frankincense.
  • Stones: Amber, Moonstone, Emerald, Moss Agate, Pearls, Carnelian.
  • Metals: Copper, Mercury, Silver. 
  • Energy/Actions: Reaping, Rewards, Endurance, Gratitude, Diligence, Patience, Motivation, Preparation.
  • Offerings: Sow/Pork, Flour/Grains, Bread, Honey, Soil, Seeds, Water, Milk--really anything listed above, I'd think.  I think objects found or harvested might be better than store bought, but that's just me.  Although I don't exactly have a goat or a cow to milk, or a sow to slaughter, so some store (preferably farmer's market) items are fine.  

* My two-year-old actually reminded me to work on this post by pretending to be a lion.  Lion reminded me of the savanna, savanna of wheat fields, wheat fields of the Golden Haired and Golden Eyed Goddess.  I wanted to go outside and gather long grasses for Her shrines, but then a storm rolled in, so I'm sitting here working on this post instead.  But at least I'll have something this week!

Working with Her, also has me thinking a lot of about my Ancestors who worked on the fields and had their own farms (even those of today).  It has me thinking a lot about the land and the history of peoples who once walked and worked it, going back through the centuries.  I often picture myself in 1800 period clothing, working with crops and animals.

I also find myself thinking a lot about Artemis, the Harvester of the Wilds (plant and animal) (the similarities I feel that She shares with Ceres), and Her relationship to the fields and the home.  Which has me realizing that I have my own Triple Goddess set up: Artemis, Ceres, Hestia.  Maiden, Mother, Crone.  Wilds, Fields, Home.  All, to me, deal with nourishing the family, protecting the home, and coexisting with the land and nature.  (although Hestia doesn't quite fit my take on a Crone, necessarily, nor do I associate the waning moon with Her).

I got lots on the brain, including plans for the First Harvest.  We'll be spending it celebrating 'Hester Fest' at my Uncle's, in memory of my grandmother, but I'll still be able to do something in the morning for Father Sun and Ceres.

My Pinterest Board: E-Shrine: Ceres.

(Also posted on Book of Mirrors)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Keeper of Keys

It's no secret that I love keys, especially skeleton keys.  Been a love of mine every since I can remember.  Even before Hestia entered my life.  I have a lot of skeleton keys around my house, from my handfasting broom to my ancestral shrine.  I prefer authentic to replica, and do own many authentic skeleton keys that have been in the family and used by my ancestors for generations.  My grandma gave me some when I was in middle school, and my aunt gave me more after grandma died last fall.

Those are in various locations of the house, charged with special intention, and dedicated to the Keeper of House Keys Herself, Hestia.  I've only given one away, to my brother, as part of a Christmas ornament, being sure to tell him that the key is very special.  Ancestors matter to him, too.

December 2014, gift to my brother

But I do have replicas, wooden, and pendant skeleton keys, too.  Eventually I'll find uses for them, but for now, they hang on a threaded ring, above Hestia's shrine.

I do have plans for one of them: Harry Potter Winged Key.  I have one key, as a key chain, that I got in high school, but I don't like how the wings are arranged on it.  I definitely do not agree with the artist on this one.  ;-)

As for one of the wooden keys, I might turn it into a necklace pendant.  The others will hang until a craft pops up.  Can never have too many keys in my opinion.

In this picture are three that have been on my key chain collection for a long time.  Right to left, is that Harry Potter key I mentioned, then the big golden one is a souvenir from a ride in Orlando, Florida, I think the ride was called...Haunted Hotel of Terror....or Haunted Tower of something.  I don't remember but it was a fun ride.  Once I saw the key, of course, I couldn't pass it up.  I bought this one in the summer after my Senior Year, as a trip with two other friends.

Then comes the medium gold key with the heart.  This key is what started the keychain collection.  I got this key as a gift for being a good bus rider in elementary school....2nd or 3rd grade.  I cherished it.  It was the first of my keychain collection, but now I'm moving it from the collection to a spot with the other skeleton keys.  I might actually give this one a special place on Hestia's shrine.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Amber Waves of Grain...

Earlier while working on an Independence Day board on pinterest, I found myself really thinking about farmlands, those who built this country from the soil up, and how they're just as important to be honored and celebrated as our soldiers and heroes.  

By having Ceres and Artemis in my life, I've realized how important it is to celebrate the harvest--not just for food, but for the hard, dedicated workers that bring us nourishment: Farmers, Gardeners, Ranchers, Hunters, Butchers, Fishers, etc... often these folks are overlooked--and they're extremely important. Most of the time, I think all people can see are grocery stores and corporations.
Often we don’t see the people behind the product.

For the sabbats that I celebrate and honor the harvest, I won't just be thinking of the earth, the sun, the moon, or the deities, but also of the men and women out in the fields, in their gardens, in the stables, slaughterhouses, in the woods, out on the oceans and lakes, who're making sure that we're fed.  I'll be giving thanks to those folks, too.  

(also posted on From the Mud)