Advice from a Tree

6 Witchy Preparations for Spring

This is a great start to the year. We too had to neglect our compost over the winter (we started shoving it in the fire instead). As for revitalising, the blog is one of my revitalised projects this year. 🙂

Ayslyn's Corner

Fear less, hope more;

eat less, chew more;

Whine less,

Breathe more;

Talk less, say more;

Love more,

and all good things

will be yours!

~Swedish Proverb

Show of hands how many of us are about ready for winter and snow to be over? I know that I am. I’ve confessed before to being notorious winter-phobe, and even though I can grudgingly admit that over the past several months I have found a kind of detached beauty in snow… yeah, that doesn’t mean I want it to stick around.

Here in Chicagoland, if past years are anything to go by, the cold will hang on through April, though hopefully we’ve gotten most of the snow accumulation past us. I’m probably still jumping in the gun in beginning my spring preparations, but I’m sure you’ll agree it gets tedious being trapped inside all the time. So, here are a few things…

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Living in mixed households; Where is the love?

I was looking through stuff I was going to post to the blog and this is the last entry that never ended up on the blog. I intended to post it some time in November 2012 in response to Ayslyn’s post on her blog. I had to change a little little detail in it but other than that it is completely intact, as is my opinion on the matter. 🙂

Pagans and non pagans

When I hear about the stick (trouble/mischief/trolling) that some pagans get for being pagans it can really annoy me, but in general we can easily say “it’s because they don’t understand”, “they just don’t know any better” or “they’re just closed minded is all”. We can get away as easily as when people give us stick for our other personal or political views, or our habits and tastes in music.

That’s the way I cope with it on a daily basis. It’s a bit like when you support different football teams sometimes – you can say some pretty nasty things about the other team but at the end of the day you don’t feel like that about the people personally. It can be just a bit of banter sometimes.

The “thing” and how I get around it at home

At home, my paganism is my “thing”. OK, OK I’m lucky enough to live with a Dad who follows Druidic beliefs and an agnostic mum who just says “why is it so important to believe anything?” (why must we believe things completely and exclusively? Why can’t we just live our lives as we like and forget about who’s right and wrong?). My sister was also part of my first coven. My little brother is a sort of student (?) of mine now… I just shove books his way and hope that works for him, because I don’t think I’m ready to teach a soul.

Anyway, at home we just treat my witchiness as my “thing”. My Dad’s “thing” may be to over study things, so he has an “anorac thing” and is really into fire engines, armoured vehicles, the world wars, wars, pirates… cool things really. (watch out if you wake up late, he has a second world war air raid siren…) My older brother’s “thing” is computer games, my middle brother’s “thing” is mechanics and my littlest brother’s “thing” is books and mythology.

The most important thing is Compromise.

You have to start off and accept:

Not everyone is going to think your “thing” is important.

When my brother (middle) bought a Landrover and started to dedicate a lot of time and money to it I just thought it was a complete waste. Of course, he got loads of fulfilment from it.

At the end of the day, when I’m outside doing a ritual and it’s only Dad who doesn’t think it’s weird, I can understand.

Don’t expect your family to feel the same way you do about the things you do.

Another thing is this concept of “My family just doesn’t understand”. OK, a lot of families clearly don’t. I did a google search for Wicca lately (looking for websites to show my brother) and found several that were giving advice to parents on how to deal with the demonic forces that were making their children turn to Wicca. Yup, it’s quite clear that some people still don’t get it. We just believe something different.

But I think there’s a small portion of us who are lying to ourselves. Sometimes our families are just concerned about us; maybe we’re deceiving ourselves. My Mum has often voiced her concerns about this. (I come from a family of people who might have been considered natural mystics and mediums on my mother’s side, but they never really went into it) My Mum once said “Your great aunt never needed to do all those rituals and spells (I think she actually said something more along the lines of “aerie faerie stuff” or something) but she still just knew things”. Of course I then agreed and said I understood her point of view but explained why I do rituals and spells. (1. personal beliefs, 2. raises energies)

Your family might actually understand what you believe but think you’re leading yourself on (fooling yourself, that is). Ask yourself; might you be? I frequently asked myself that and it lead me, sometimes, to the revelation that (at points) I was going about it all completely the wrong way.

Just remember; the best way of finding your inner self (which is the goal of a lot of people who decide to take a pagan path these days) is not necessarily the way that someone else is doing it. Don’t get caught up trying to follow somebody else’s path if it’s leading you nowhere. That was one of my biggest revelations. XD Seems a bit obvious though, doesn’t it?

Be truthful to yourself.

OK, getting stick for being a pagan annoys me (and sometimes entertains me) but there’s something that really upsets me.

When people effectively love you less for your faith. I haven’t experienced this much before. It’s definitely been a barrier between me and some of my friends; I dropped it into a perfectly good conversation once and disappointment dawned on my friend’s face. He was an agnostic and immediately I saw his face read “you believe all that angel, astral projection, aura fluff?” (as if he had a stereotype of pagans being very impressionable people and that we’ll believe any “fluff” we hear). The moment his face changed I was more disappointed than he was – willing to sign off all the years he’d known me to be a very intelligent person (if I do say so myself) on the basis of my religion. Lovely.

However, the real problem is when families pretty much disown their kids or distance themselves from offspring because of their paganism. I could not possibly offer advice for this, but at the end of the day if your parents don’t want paganism practised in their house then don’t practice it in their house. It’s their home and they deserve to feel safe and secure within it, and as if it’s respected.

Honesty is the best policy, because you may one day find yourself drowning in lies, but at the end of the day sometimes you have to keep it to yourself no matter how wrong it feels. Only you can decide whether you have to come out of the Broom-Closet.

Blessings

Rowan

x~x

Seasons

I didn’t know what to come back with today. Some people may have noticed a slow creeping return. I’ve learned recently though that blogging about aspirations for a blog, telling everyone your great goals of re-inventing your writing, does not get the job done. The only way to tackle your first post back is having something to say other than “I’M BACK!!!”

Seasons.

It’s pretty much all I talk about, and it’s quite important to paganism. When you’re developing your craft/path you experiences centre pretty much around sabbats and esbats. They’re your learning exercises in a way because they’re basically the framework of tangible practice. They’re the way you most easily get to test what you know. Seasons are always relevant where I live and with the way I live, as you may have guessed.

It’s hard to imagine a world where seasons are irrelevant. However, they are irrlevant to so many people. Mum and I were talking this morning about an old traditional recipe that has been mutated by the development of a society that doesn’t need it any more.

Cawl is a traditional Welsh dish – THE traditional Welsh dish – which is simply a stew/soup that could contain anything. The idea was that it would go on in the morning and be ready in evening when people came in off the fields. I remember days when we had it boiling on the old Aga for days and just helped ourselves whenever we got hungry. I mentioned new potatoes as a potential ingredient for some people and she told me how she thought it was sad.

New potatoes were a March-April thing when she was young. It meant spring. It was exciting and different. It was a lesser Christmas of its own. Now we indulge in things like new potatoes and strawberries and raspberries at any time of year often at the expense of the environment and the impoverished. It makes these things less special, less exciting.

I think I’d be a hypocrite, if I didn’t get myself closer to the seasons – closer to the Earth – and quick. What I consider sacred and magical centers around these things.

Oh and by the way I’M BACK!!!

BB

Rowan

~x~

Making Mabon your own

There’s been a bit of confusion with some people on where to draw the line between making your craft your own and making it up. The phrase “go with your heart/instinct” is quite popular and well used but also vague. Sometimes people feel their faith is being attacked by misinformation, and some have gone as far as to say that people are just too lazy to do proper research into a subject.

I like the saying “it’s a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable but it’s a lot wrong to call it a suspension bridge” (nabbed that from Big Bang Theory). In my opinion that’s quite true in Wicca.

I hope to do a little series of posts/videos on the topic of making something your own, without going as far as making it up, maybe to clear it up a little for anyone out there who’s lost, confused or feels that people seem to act unfairly against what their doing but no one seems to send a solution. This is quite important to me as I felt when I first started on this path, without a mentor (or at least without one who had a presence in my life for more than four or five days a year!), that people often criticised you if you got something “wrong” but still said to you “it’s okay to go with your instinct”. I didn’t understand how both of those things could be true simultaneously.

For the first post on this I’ve made a video about what I did for Mabon and made a list of links to other people talking about their beliefs and activities at Mabon. Hope you find something good. 🙂

This is a great video from Feathers And Flight, with a reasonably alternative view of Mabon, I love this video!

Here’s a must see video that really got me thinking about the term Mabon and it’s use, and got me researching deities again. ^.^

If that video interested you, here are a couple of links to what I found about the Mabon the god;

A fairly simple one and a more in depth one.

Here are some blog posts from other bloggers talking about Mabon traditions and what they did. 🙂

Here’s our blog post

And here are some more 🙂

The Hidden Children of the Goddess

Hyacinth Noir

Ayslyn’s Corner

A Year And A Day Wicca

Neferet

And Ayslyn’s Corner again XD

There was one I really wanted to link to and I only read it yesterday but now I can’t find it and I can’t remember who it was by. 😦 Nevermind. 😦

This post is a bit late to be useful for anyone on Mabon, but it’ll still be here next year!

Enjoy

Rowan

x~x

Mabon

Mabon, around the 21st of Sepetember (this year it’s the 22nd), is the autumn equinox (when night and day are equal) but also some call it the pagan thanksgiving. It is a time for reflecting on the year and being grateful. For the modern pagan that might be promotions at work, grades in school or college or having good friends and family around you. But, our ancestors, whatever faith they followed, found themselves pinning their hopes on the physical, edible, harvest rather than the intellectual, financial or spiritual harvest that we are grateful today. We may use this day to reflect, but it was a crucial time for them that could mean life or death in the harsh cold.

After this day, the day retreats and leaves us to the cold cloak of the night. The God prepares now for his death, at Samhain, while we prepare for the times when the weather is cruel and the land is baron.

However, don’t mistake the coming months for times of isolation and misery. In this time – the winter time – people somehow are closer; for those who are hemmed in by ice and gale are surely hemmed in together. These were times of storytelling, sharing and drinking.

In the usual pagan paradox, we’re not just looking back but looking forwards.

It may seem hard to keep in touch with the cycle of the seasons when new technology has supplied us with a monotony of bounty after bounty, a constant stream of any food we could wish for and any item we dream of as long as we can pay the cost. But, you don’t have to till acres of land or toil in the kitchen drying meats to make your own winter preparations.

Take stock of your winter coats, gloves and hats and get the thicker curtains out to air, ready. Around this time you could try your hand at brewing herbal or fruit wines and beers, which are drinks that keep longer than others and do not freeze as easily as water (this would have been quite useful for our thirsty ancestors).

Live your craft.

I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a household where we are so close to the elements and so aware of the seasons. When it’s cold, we have to prepare for ice, with snow chains and bottles of water in case the pipes freeze. When it is windy, it roars night and day. When it rains, we have to dig ditches for flood waters to run away from the house. Our winter preparations even include mending our Green Goddesses, in case we’re snowed in again. (They’re good for towing out the post man XD and at one point we were using them to go shopping)

My herb garden harvest has been poor this year – continuous rain meant my strawberries rotted on the plants and a rogue herd of sheep left me with very little of anything except about half my usual mint harvest. 😦 Our most important harvest of all, however, is fire wood. In the winter we might go through over ten chords of wood. Between us in the large house, with between 6 and 8 people living there, our tenants next door and my brother living in the caravan, all depending on wood for hot water and heating, we need a lot! We do most of the processing ourselves, which means we have to band together and work really really hard if any of us intend on having baths at all.

The job is hurried this year; poor weather in the summer and everyone having their own things to do now college has begun again it leaves us with tiny little pockets of time this September for us to prepare and store wood that needs to last us right up until February, when the weather starts to improve again.

Mabon is an important time for me and I think I feel closest to the seasons at this particular time of the year. My gratitude at Mabon is for the sunny days we need for cutting wood and the strength of our family and friends who help us.

Thank you

Rowan

x~x

Calling ourselves Witches

I don’t want to get stuck discussing labels (whether we should call ourselves witches, wiccans, pagans or magi I have explored but really I don’t think it should cloud what we are). However I’ll discuss the word “witch”. Yes, this topic is a little overdone but who cares! XD

I’ve been reading a lot lately, taking my books over to my boyfriend’s house, and in the first section of every book on witchcraft (almost every) there’s a big chapter on history. In some books the history used to go in depth about the “burning times” and sometimes these were quite fictional accounts of history. But most books these days talk about the times that the Witch seemed to be very important.

I’m not talking about the Medicine Women, the Wise Ones or the Cunning Folk, and I’m not talking about the Priests and Priestesses, the Druids or Shamans. I’m talking about Witches. A witch was a person who used supernatural forces to cause harm to others, whether it’s diseases in cattle or crops or infertility or whatever.

A witch wasn’t a person who gave medicine (everyone was happy to take the medicine); it wasn’t someone who divined the future or talked to spirits (these were people sometimes also used to track down witches!). Whether anyone was actually a Witch back then I have no idea! Whether anyone actually intentionally or successfully used magic to cause death, disease or misery I don’t know, and I’m very doubtful. Everyone knew how to perform curses. Nails in bottles, etched copper plates and poppets are methods carried on and still used today (not always for curses, but to cause an effect).

Believe it or not I’m actually neutral on the use of “Witch” as a name. I use it all the time, sometimes I use other names. We all know what they mean to us. 🙂 What I actually find most interesting is the times that they lived in, in the UK. There was a great big cultural scramble. They had generations of invasion and conquest. They’d seen so many cultures come and go and no real stabilising periods so naturally the cultures mixed and didn’t have anything cohesive or coherent to say it was a religion or faith, or even what it was. There were still people who put horse shoes in their houses. There were still people who hung elder and honey suckle above their doors. There were still people who left dishes of milk for spirits. And that was part of the culture, regardless of religion.

Why it’s interesting to me is that we call ourselves, right now, Witches. Right now, we live in a world of globalisation (in a sociological perspective, whether globalisation is good or bad I will not explore but to us it seems to be quite good). This makes our society as multicultural as before, if not even more. We can Feng Shui our houses, balance our Chakras, prey to Indian gods et c. And the fact that the Witch has returned in a similar cultural climate really gets me thinking.

 

Anyway, just a thought put into a lot of words!

Hope you enjoyed

Rowan

x~x

 

(ps, here’s an interesting video I found that really got me thinking about this stuff)

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