A Wiccan Journey: Outdoor Ritual vs. Indoor Ritual.

The title is a bit misleading. I’m not going to compare to see which is better, rather the opposite. I want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and ways to overcome the disadvantages (if possible).

It only makes sense that outdoor rites be the norm, but if you live in a northern countries where there’s extreme weather during the winter, that might be easier said than done. In Canada, our cold weather (that includes snow) usually starts in December, and doesn’t really let up until April. Sometimes March if I’m lucky. That’s not too bad. It means I have seven months of possible outside rituals, weather permitting, of course.

I love outside rituals. There’s something calming about being outside at night. When we lived in the country, it was perfect. The only thing I heard were the wonderful sounds of night; leaves in the trees, the occasion animal, and maybe a stray car off in the distance. It has to be the most peaceful setting to conduct a ritual. Outdoor rites are simple to set up and require no cleansing of the space beforehand. This is the biggest advantage I can think of with outdoor rites. I have four stones that I’ve painted and have symbols of the elements on them. I place them on the ground facing the right direction, have a candle for each, some incense, earth, water, and a flame and that’s it. Once, I got really creative and gathered up sticks from around the house and placed them as the circle.

Now I live in the city, so the noise from traffic can interfere, which is why I tend to do them later on in the evening or closer to midnight. Being in the city also means your neighbours are closer. During the warmer weather, a few of our neighbours stay out longer, and more than once I’ve done ritual with them still messing around in their backyards. It’s difficult to focus when they’re playing music, laughing and talking, not to mention I’m keenly aware that they are there so it’s not as private as I’d like it to be. I had to really concentrate to keep my focus as I keep thinking they were watching me through their privacy fencing.

Indoor rites allows me to burn more candles and not have to worry about them blowing out or being knocked over. A room full of candle light sets an incredibly calm atmosphere and helps me to focus. I can also play music at a soothing level to add to the rite. It also gives me the privacy and quiet that I want. Well, until I’m visited by a cat. Once, my son came downstairs to get something to drink and interrupt. I let him know ahead of time now.

During the colder months, I go out and chant to the full moon, and then go back inside and do ritual. It’s a nice way to still connect with the outdoors without freezing. Inside, I use my altar and I set up a sacred circle. The rite takes a little longer because of the circle casting, but as I’m inside, I don’t have the elements to contend with. They’re also the task of cleansing a head of time. This can be as time consuming as you want. I’ve scrubbed down my whole work area with water that’s had vervain soaking in it. Now I just smudge.

Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor rites, the most important thing is to make it fun and personal to you. Sometimes, when I’ve had a busy day, I just stand outside with a white candle, chant for a few verses, say a prayer and that’s it. There are a lot of guides as to how you can do a ritual, and you don’t have to do exactly how they instruct. Pick and choose what you like. Make it as easy or complex as you wish.

Blessed Be, and stay safe.

Just because they’re dead…

…doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them.

With Mother’s day last weekend, a lot of people I know were out visiting family, and some of those visits included going to cemeteries. It’s hard to celebrate a special day when the person it’s meant for has passed on.

My aunt went to my grandmother’s grave. She goes twice a year; on Grandma’s birthday and on Mother’s day. She talks to the gravestone. I guess it makes her feel like she’s talking to my grandmother. I told her she doesn’t have to wait to speak to her at the cemetery, I’m pretty sure Grandma can hear her talk to her anyplace.

Family members that have passed come and visit us all the time. The majority of us never realize it, but if you tune yourself into them, you will notice their presence. It won’t be like they spontaneously materialize in front of you (wouldn’t that be a hell of a shock!), but it will be something simple, something you know and associated with them; the scent of their favourite perfume or flower or even a memory you’d forgotten. These are their ways of letting us know they’re around us.

It won’t happen right away either. It takes time and practice. The biggest obstacle facing you will be to release the negativity you may have. There is so much negativity surrounding communicating with spirits that it’s ingrained within our consciousness. Also, our loved ones take their cues from us. If the idea of receiving a sign from them is troublesome to you, they won’t do it. They want us to be comfortable, not scared.

If you are serious, then I would suggest start by looking over pictures of them. Remember the good times you had, and if the mood strikes you, reminisce with them like they were still alive and sitting across from you. It will take some time, but they will let you know they’re listening.

March 20 – Ostara/ Spring Equinox

AWiccanJourneyI found a solitary Ostara ritual last week, and I’m going to preform this later on today. I should have been up at 1am to do this, but I’m sorry, I love my sleep too much.

It’s a beautiful ritual, and simple, which is what I like. I think that’s why I prefer being a solitary. Sure, covens are great and sharing the experience with others is wonderful, but I like doing things my way.

The picture used is from my front door this morning, just as the sun was trying to break through zombie fog.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ostara Ritual for Solitaries

Ostara is a time of balance. It is a time of equal parts light and dark. At Mabon, we have this same balance, but the light is leaving us. Today, six months later, it is returning. Spring has arrived, and with it comes hope and warmth. Deep within the cold earth, seeds are beginning to sprout. In the damp fields, the livestock are preparing to give birth. In the forest, under a canopy of newly sprouted leaves, the animals of the wild ready their dens for the arrival of their young. Spring is here.

For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of the season. Think about all the colors you see in nature at this time of year — bright daffodils, crocuses, plump tulips, green shoots — and incorporate them into your altar. This is also a time of fertility in the natural world — the egg is the perfect representation of this aspect of the season. Symbols of young animals such as lambs, chicks, and calves are also great altar adornments for Ostara.

In addition, you’ll need the following:

Three candles — one yellow, one green, and one purple

A bowl of milk

A small bowl of honey or sugar

Perform this ritual outside if at all possible, in the early morning as the sun rises. It’s spring, so it may be a bit chilly, but it’s a good time to reconnect with the earth. If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

Begin by taking a moment to focus on the air around you. Inhale deeply, and see if you can smell the change in the seasons. Depending on where you live, the air may have an earthy aroma, or a rainy one, or even smell like green grass. Sense the shift in energy as the Wheel of the Year has turned. Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. As you light it, say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more,
and the vernal equinox arrives.
Light and dark are equal,
and the soil begins to change.
The earth awakes from its slumber,
and new life springs forth once more.

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. As you do so, say:

The sun draws ever closer to us,
greeting the earth with its welcoming rays.
Light and dark are equal,
and the sky fills with light and warmth.
The sun warms the land beneath our feet,
and gives life to all in its path.

Finally, light the purple candle. This one represents the Divine in our lives — whether you call it a god or a goddess, whether you identify it by name or simply as a universal life force, this is the candle which stands for all the things we do not know, all those things we cannot understand, but that are the sacred in our daily lives. As you light this candle, focus on the Divine around and within you. Say:

Spring has come! For this, we are thankful!
The Divine is present all around,
in the cool fall of a rain storm,
in the tiny buds of a flower,
in the down of a newborn chick,
in the fertile fields waiting to be planted,
in the sky above us,
and in the earth below us.
We thank the universe* for all it has to offer us,
and are so blessed to be alive on this day.
Welcome, life! Welcome, light! Welcome, spring!

Take a moment and meditate on the three flames before you and what they symbolize. Consider your own place within these three things — the earth, the sun, and the Divine. How do you fit into the grand scheme of things? How do you find balance between light and dark in your own life?

Finally, blend the milk and honey together, mixing gently. Pour it onto the ground around your altar space as an offering to the earth**. As you do, you may wish to say something like:

I make this offering to the earth,
As thanks for the many blessings I have received,
And those I shall some day receive.

Once you have made your offering, stand for a minute facing your altar. Feel the cool earth beneath your feet, and the sun on your face. Take in every sensation of this moment, and know that you are in a perfect place of balance between light and dark, winter and summer, warmth and cold — a time of polarity and harmony.

When you are ready, end the ritual.

Tips:

* Instead of “the Universe”, feel free to insert the name of your patron deity or the gods of your tradition here.

** If you’re doing this rite indoors, take your bowl of milk and honey and pour it in your garden, or around your yard.

Link to original site and more information on Ostara:

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/ostarathespringequinox/ht/OstaraSolRite.htm

Enter the Sign of Aries

AWiccanJourneyMarch 15th begins a new year in the zodiac calendar, and while many consider Aries to be the whole month of April, it really starts half way through March. Oh, btw, I’m an Aries. 😀

Aries, being the first of all the zodiac signs, represents freshness. Since it is closely associated with the beginning, it is seasonally associated with Spring-fresh, full of life and energetic.

They are ruled by planet Mars and have natural imbibed elements like assertiveness and spontaneity. People born under Aries enjoy a leading and proving job role to whatever comes their way and prove themselves to be an aggressive and focused masters. They are headstrong, undaunted and possess the courage to take a stand for their values and ideas and do not get along well with others pushing their assesses on them. They are competitive and egoistic for which they lack social graces and are governed by state of being carried away by overwhelming emotions. (gee, ya think…)

Strength Keywords:

– Independent

– Generous

– Optimistic

– Enthusiastic

– Courageous

Weakness Keywords:

– Moody

– Short tempered

– Self-involved

– Impulsive

– Impatient

Aries and Independence:

Aries personalities are independent. Being the first of the zodiac signs, they venture out and are go-getters, often leading the way. Their upbeat and magnetic personality often entices others to follow their lead because Aries personalities bring excitement into others’ lives.

Your Biggest Strength: Your courage to overcome fear

Your Potential Weakness: Not finishing things you start

Find more information on Aries at;

http://zodiac-signs-astrology.com/zodiac-signs/aries.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/horoscopes/astrology/aries/about/

http://jennifercopley.suite101.com/aries-personality-profile-a58145

March Full Moon

This Thursday is the full moon. It’s known by many names but I think Worm Moon describes it best. As we enter into a new season, the ground is beginning to soften and the earthworm is busy stirring up the ground. This also brings the robins back as well. It’s interesting to note that the last March full moon was a Super Moon. I didn’t realize that until the other day.

Usually the worms don’t move in this part of the world for at least another month. In March, the ground is still very much hard and frozen, but this year may be different. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Other names for the March Full Moon

Chaste Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon, Moon of Winds, Plow Moon, Worm Moon, Lentzinmanoth (Renewal Month), Lenting Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Moon of the Snowblind

Nature Spirits: Mer-people, Air and Water beings who are connected with spring rains and storms

Herbs: broom, High John root, yellow dock, wood betony, Irish moss

Colors: pale green, red-violet

Flowers: jonquil, daffodil, violet

Scents: honeysuckle, apple blossom

Stones: aquamarine, bloodstone

Trees: alder, dogwood

Animals: cougar, hedgehog, boar

Birds: sea crow, sea eagle

Deities: Black Isis, the Morrigan, Hecate, Cybele, Astarte, Athene, Minerva, Artemis, Luna

Power Flow: energy breaks into the open; growing, prospering, exploring. New beginnings; balance of Light and Dark. Breaking illusions. Seeing the truth in your life however much it may hurt.

I would suggest spell casting along the lines of planting the seeds of good intent.

Astral Projection/Travelling/OBE

I was part of a discussion on Agent Query Connect about OBE a few weeks back and I thought I would do a post about it today. I want to make a few things clear before I start; first, I am NOT an expert on this subject. I don’t really think someone can be, but I can talk to you about what I’ve learned and experienced.

Astral Travel/Projection and OBE happen when the conscience side of our brain becomes dormant. This is why all experiences happen when we are asleep.

The first is OBE or Out of Body Experience. This is the most common and the one people hear the most about. You hear stories all the time about people who (usually during surgery) find themselves floating over their own body. It can be a frightening experience, but to be truthful, it’s quite harmless. With an OBE your spirit/soul does leave your body. You are consciously ‘awake’ but not physically. That part of us that makes you who you are detaches and you float harmlessly around.

The second most common is Astral Travelling. This is when your spirit leaves the body and travels, either to the other side, or some place on the planet. Again, this is harmless and is sometimes interpreted as a dream that ‘feels real’. While it isn’t possible to train yourself to do this, it is possible to train yourself to recognize when you’re doing it. Like I said, it will be a dream that feels real and you feel at home or very peaceful. I’ve heard that we travel on average of three or four times during the week.

Astral Projection is not common and difficult to do. Like Astral Travelling, your spirit leaves your body, but you make contact or are seen by another person. It can be brief, just walking past someone or a few words spoken to that person, and they believes it you in the flesh.

These actions are not to be feared. Sometimes there are difficulties involved getting back into our bodies, and these are experienced as being held down or trapped and you can’t move. This occurs because your conscious self is beginning to wake and you are literally ‘stuck’ between conscience and unconscious. I’ve had that feeling a couple of times and it’s bloody frightening! The thing to do is remain calm. Don’t try to fight because you’re only fighting yourself.

Have you ever experienced any of these? I love to hear about it. I find the subject fascinating!

New Year’s Eve Ritual.

With the stressful part of the holidays now over, we can relax and look forward to the beginning of the new year. 2012.  It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already into the second decade of the new millennium, but we are. My how time flies. So much has happened in the last twelve years. So much of our lives have changed. It’s nice to look back and smile at all the good times, but what about the bad? We have to take the good a long with the bad, but it doesn’t mean we have to dwell on it.

Tomorrow marks a new beginning, but sometimes old problems or negativity follow us and taint our shiny new year. Things that aren’t a real problem anymore, might still dig at us and we can’t seem to let them go even if we have to. I created a ritual just for this occasion. Use it if you like. It’s quite simple and it may help to expel any left-over negativity.

The important thing about this rite is giving yourself permission to let things go. We’ve all said that things don’t bother us, but deep down inside they still do. That is our fault, no one else’s. We HAVE to allow ourselves to release left-over anger or resentment in order to truly release the negative energy.

Once we’re in the right mind-set, find a place that’s quiet and where you won’t be disturbed. I like to sit outside. The dark and cold seem almost fitting for this rite. Plus, I heard a wolf last year. Try to do this close to midnight, say 11:45. Light a white candle and watch the flame. Breathe in deeply and exhale deeply a few times, letting all the tension drain away. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Once you feel you’re relaxed, start going over all the negative times you’ve experienced this year. You have to own them before you can dispel them. Accept the ones that were your doing, acknowledging this out loud. Something like;

“I accept that I was really horrible to [name here] over [incident].”

Then, say;

“I forgive myself, and allow myself to release any undo anger or resentment over [incident].

Do the same with people in your life.

“I release any anger or negativity I have with [name of person].”   

Get all of your unwanted baggage out in the open. If you have a lot, then start this rite earlier. The key is to have this all off your chest by the time the clock strikes midnight. Midnight is the beginning of the new year and you don’t want all that crap following you into 2012.

Saying this out-loud is affirming your desire and helps to focus your energy in letting go. If you want, take a deep breath and exhale after each spoken release. Feel the emotion you have drain away, and feel the weight left off your shoulders. I do feel lighter afterward.

When you’re done sit and relax. Meditate on the good emotions that you hope to have in the new year. Feel pleased with yourself that you’ve released this negative emotion. Stay in this meditative state until Midnight and then a few moments afterward. Be calm as the year rolls in. If you hear people marking the time, allow yourself to revel in their merry-making.

Stay in your place for as long as you like after the New Year has arrived. When you’re ready, sniff out the candle and go back inside, or to bed, or whatever.

Have a great night, and see you next year!

Winter Solstice/Yule Ritual

AWiccanJourneyI think that’s what I love about my path. What I do one year might not be the same the next. I’m a simple person. I like to do simple rites to celebrate the turning of the yearly wheel.  I put this together over a few days. It’s quick and easy, and the best part is that it is versatile. The prayers and other parts I got from Scott Cunningham’s books, and the first part I got from a spell a day email I think from Llewellyn Books, but I can’t remember.

Ritual

After a cleansing bath or shower, set up your altar so that it has a representation of the four elements (earth, air, fire, water), representation of the God and Goddess (candles or statues, or whatever you use), and a white candle in the center. There should be something for the Simple Feast. I like to combine food and objects, ie. using nuts and cookies for the Simple Feast as well as having them depict the element of Earth.

For this rite I used walnuts/cookies for the element of Earth.

Sandalwood incense for the element of Air

A small red candle for the element of Fire

A goblet of fruit juice to represent Water.

Light the God and Goddess candles (if any) and the red candle while saying out loud;

Longest night and shortest day,
Magic comes bright.
We gather now on this longest night,
Honoring darkness, praising light.
Dancers hail the
standing stones,
As growing solar light returns.
Ancient ones at Newgrange gathered,
Awaiting dawns first light.
Hidden tombs and
carvings old,
Illuminated by solstice
sunlight bright.
World round, grateful souls
Celebrate this night of returning light.
May we see this shaft of brilliance,
A sign of summer growing.
Cut the evergreen adornments,
And build the sacred fire to coax the Sun higher.
Yule log embers and torches bright,
Warm our dreams this magical night.
Memories and ancient secrets
Of the Druids come to me tonight.
May this increase my wisdom now,
The ancestors guide my spirit.
Magnifying brilliance and promises to come,
Spirals dance in solstice first light.
Visions planted, now on this night,
Grow strong and clear with the light.
Holly, mistletoe, ivy, pine,
Magic be, on this day.
So mote it be.

Stand before your altar and gaze at the candles. Say these or similar words.

I sorrow not, though the world is wrapped in sleep,

I sorrow not, though the icy winds blast,

I sorrow not, though the snow falls hard and deep,

I sorrow not, this too shall soon pass.

Light the white candle and say:

I light this fire in You honor,

Mother Goddess.

You have created life from death,

warmth from cold,

The sun lives once again; the time of light is waxing.

Welcome, ever-returing God of thr Sun

Hail Mothr of All!

Now comes the meditation. You can stand if you want, or sit. I sit on a chair just because getting up from the floor hurts my knees. Think about the warmth of the sun. Imagine it growing stronger, feel the warmth on your face and what the growing warmth will mean to you. After a time, stand again before your altar and say:

Great God of the sun.

I welcome your return,

May you shine brightly

u[on the Goddess.

May you shine brightly

upon the Earth.

Scattering seeds and fertilizing

the ground.

All blessings upon you.

Reborn one of the Sun!

Traditionally, you do acts of magic here. Go ahead if you want. I say prayers for my family and what I hope for them for the coming year.

After my prayers, I thank the God and Goddess and sit down to eat the Simple feast. I eat the nuts and cookies, acknowledging the nuts as the seeds of my intent for the new year, and the cookies as the product of my hard work. I drink the fruit juice and acknowledge the festive part of the season. When I’m done, I thank the God and Goddess for their presence.

Remember not to blow out the candles. Use a snuffer or pinch out the flames, and DON’T leave the candles unattended.

~Blessed Be~

Superstitions and Nature

A few months ago, a bird flew into our home. Somehow, it got fell down the woodstove chimney, even though we have a cover on it, and I had a bugger of a time getting it out. After an hour and much coaxing the poor thing flew out an open window. I let the cats back into the living room and sat back down to write, only to discover our female cat-Molly, had discovered a second bird hiding in the corner with my knitting things. I didn’t even see it fly in! This bird was easier to get out. It flew into the kitchen, hit the window and fell into an empty pizza box. I closed the box and took it outside.

When things like this happen, I look them up online because you never know. It could mean something. What I found wasn’t pleasant. The superstition goes, if a bird flies into your home there will be a death in the family. Three weeks later, Husbands grandmother died. Like the first bird, she wasn’t going to go make it easy either. She was sick for a long time. December would have been the tenth anniversary since her first heart attack. The first thing that popped into my mind was the birds. And there were two.

I’ve been on pins and needles lately, trying to figure out who could be next. I know that sounds really morbid, so I didn’t say anything. There are a few elderly family members, and my ex-step father is really sick (but would he count as he’s an ex?), and does this superstation include extended family members?

This morning I got my answer. My FIL’s brother died suddenly last night. Massive heart attack. He’d had two previous, but they never did anything. This death was unseen and quick. Just like the second bird.

We all know animals have betters senses than humans. Could it be that they try to warn us of impending danger or troubles? Do they have access to knowledge we don’t? Documenting these occurrences came about because someone saw a connection, so why is it, in an age when we’re trying to get back to Nature, that we dismiss any kind of connection?

Nature is so much wiser than we are, and we need to listen to Her more.

November 22 – Sun enters Sagittarius

Today is a special day. It marks the time when the Sun travels through the constellation of Sagittarius. Anyone born from November 22nd to December 21st are considered Sagittarius’. Is this your sign? Click the links to find some interesting facts about Sagittarius.

http://www.astrology-online.com/sagittar.htm

http://sagittariustraits.com/

Let me know if you’re a Sagittarius. I don’t think I know any.

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