Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Pagan Holy Day

One of my first dozen posts back in January was The Politics of (Spiral) Dancing. In it I shared the following quote from Isaac Bonewits:
"I repeat my proposal that we who live in the United States, currently the most powerful and therefore the most dangerous nation in the world, inaugurate a new Pagan Holy Day in the Neopagan calendar. Around every 4th of July, let us all invoke Lady Liberty, the Goddesses Freedom, Justice, Truth, and other appropriate deities (the Roman pantheon is filled with such personified abstracts and works well with the architecture and thinking patterns of the American government). Begin by reconsecrating the statue of Freedom in DC, the Statue of Liberty in NYC, or other local statues of Her. Ask Her/Them to increase Their influence, not just over Washington DC, but over all our state capitols as well, so that our legislators, executives, judges, and military/police will also act in accordance with Their highest ideals. In addition, let us cast our own spells, every year with Their help and guidance, to encourage our public servants to remember what they are: the servants of the entire public, members of all religions and none. (I have a page of Liberty Rite Materials that will provide some ideas and I would be happy to add more from my readers.)"
What he said. I will be at the Statue of Liberty on July 3rd, invoking Lady Liberty Enlightening the World to shine on America, protect our civil liberties and our democracy. This, and other rituals around the country will kick off the Gods Bless America Month.

What you can do:  

By July 30th, 2011:

• Bless, cleanse and consecrate your City/Town/Borough Hall, Courthouse, State Capitol- any Government building central to protecting and upholding democracy and liberty. Especially any site with a depiction of Lady Liberty or Justice.

• You can do this in whatever style you choose: silent prayer, meditation, intoning/om-ing, High Magick, Low Magick, Reiki and so on. It doesn't have to be a grand rite, it can be a moment of silence.

The only thing we ask is that you make an offering/leave a token to Lady Liberty as part of what you do. This can also take many forms: A flower, a stone, a crystal, a sigil drawn in the dirt, or made energetically, a promise to volunteer with or donate money to a cause for justice written on a piece of paper, and so on.

• Take a picture of your offering at the site (You don't have to be in the picture if you don't want to be) and email it to us at: Liberty@nycppp.org. We will post the pics on the web site. The pictures won't be sold and you will otherwise retain the rights to your picture. They will be part of a collage which will be printed out and taken on the return trip to the Statue of Liberty on Sunday, July 31st to complete the circle and gather the offerings in one place, at the gateway to America.


***ALWAYS FOLLOW LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS***

Our goal is to magically ensure Liberty and Justice for all, so breaking laws to make this happen is counter-productive!

Why should we bother? Because when you do not fight to keep your rights, they will be taken away. Do it for anyone who has ever been fired from or denied a job for their beliefs. Do it for people who love each other and are fighting for their civil right to marry. Do it for Tempest Smith who had no one to tell this young Witch that It Gets Better. Do it to protect yourself, your family and your friends and do it for America, your Home.

Please feel free to invite fellow Pagans and to repost this to email groups and spread this far and wide through the Pagan community.

Thank you. And Gods Bless America!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Blogging

Tonight, after my technical difficulties last week, I finally sent off my guest article for The Pagan Mom Blog. It's about Hermes and Hecate as a divine pair. I'm not going to post about it here, that would defeat the point of a guest blog. If she posts it, I will link to it here. If she doesn't want to post it, I'll post it here myself :)

As for having guest bloggers here: I would love to have a few (Dusio isn't a guest, he's part of the team :P). I'm going to post a question to a few of our fellows, I'm going to interview some fine folks, and I'm going to have a Trivia contest! By "Trivia" I don't mean silly bits of random knowledge that not too many people know (I suppose that's the theme of this whole blog haha!). I intend it to be a laurel for someone who can look into the past, the present and the future on a particular topic, as does the Lady of the Crossroads. But that's far into the future. First things first: Talk to the people I respect and ask them to share their insights on everything Italian.

Tonight we dashed outside to play with lucciolas! Fireflies! They were everywhere this evening. I don't like to "catch" them, so I'l put out my hand and invite them to land. Kiddo was too anxious and asked me to go chase them lol I find that if I stand still, put out my hand and call to them, they will come. Several checked us out tonight. Two tickled my hand, but wouldn't commit. Can't blame them. Next time!

I wish I could post a lucciola song, but alas I haven't yet found one on the interwebs. Here's one of the fun songs we sang outside tonight. It's a drinking song that could easily be Irish if played with different instruments. Don't worry, only I sang the happy saluting part:

L'acqua fa male
il vino fa cantare
Bevevano i nostri padri?  Si!
bevevano le nostre madri?  Si!
e noi che figli siamo
beviam beviam beviamo

The water is bad,
The wine is singing.
Do we drink to our Fathers? Yes!
Do we drink to our Mothers? Yes!
We who are their children,
we drink we drink we drink

It goes on, but basically, it's all about drinking and toasting, what they're drinking, and chugging the
whole keg. I picked this first video, despite the crappy sound quality, because the ladies are getting into it!
I've added a second option because in that one you can hear the military-esque cadence.





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Gates of Horn and Ivory

I was in the middle of blogging when my computer crashed. It hadn't auto saved yet and I haven't gotten to the end of a paragraph yet, so not too much lost. Looks like it wasn't time for me to post that post yet! Funny how that happens.

I've been going back and forth tonight about which topic to pursue: The name Mary as an epithet of the Sea Goddess? Workshop I'm working on with my Evil Twin? Revisiting previous posts and expanding? Aeneas? Cybele? You can tell I'm a bit out of sorts tonight. I'm being called to dream. I'm unusually tired even after sleeping in this morning.

I've rewritten this several times. I'm going back and forth with Mercury as one who guides through dreams and The Aeneid. Perhaps I should marry the two topics?

From The Odyssey:

He (Hermes) led them down dank ways, over gray
Ocean tides, the Snowy Rock past shores
of Dream and narrows of the sunset, 

From Karl Krenyi's Hermes: Guide of Souls:

Here Hermes is... the "ruler of dreams" (hegetor oneiron), not the
"leader of souls." To this we could perhaps compare the Homeric
passage in which the dream-like people of Phaiakia-a Hermetic
people, worthy of the world of the Odyssey-sacrifice to Hermes
before going to sleep (Odyssey, Book VII, 138); yet the last book
of the Odyssey, with the epiphany of the psycho-pomp, is again
removed into the distance of another world. Missing here, too, is
any hint of Phalakian mildness; we must think rather of the
deceit-fulness of misleading dreams. 

Moving back to the Odyssey for a moment, which Virgil used as a model for The Aeneid, we have Homer's famous metaphor, "the Gates of horn and ivory." It's a passage back from The Underworld which both Odysseus and Aeneas must travel to return from their sojourn with the dead. The "gates of horn and ivory" is a pun, a play on Greek words: the Greek word for "horn" sounds like the word "fulfil" and the word for "ivory" sounds like "deceive." Hence false dreams are ivory and true are horn. In The Odyssey, Penelope has a dream which signals Odysseus' return, but she doesn't believe it, calling it a false dream, passing through the gate of ivory. False dreams were thought to occur before midnight and so when Aeneas returns from the Underworld, it's allegedly before midnight, and therefore he goes through that gate. There are Inception-like discussions about whether or not the rest of the book is "true" but I'm not following that thread tonight.

I find it very interesting that the gates to the Underworld are the ones through which dreams pass as well. Dreams can deceive, they can say one thing and mean another. Sounds like our man, eh?

Off to sleep. It's after midnight; time to get some true dreaming underway.


Sogni d'oro!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where air fresheners go to die!

I read the Sookie Stackhouse series before it was turned into True Blood. I have to say that I've been pretty impressed at how they've taken a single line or two from the book and spun it into a whole storyline for a character. It's interesting to see what happens as the show departs further and further from the book series. The third book in the Sookie series, the one that this season is (loosely) based on is my favorite, so I feel a bit invested. I'm also invested because of the portrayal of Witches on the show.

Spoilers abound! Don't read on if you don't want to be spoiled! Plus a few comparisons with the book series because hubby is tired of hearing it from me:


I love that Lafayette has been to Pagan Festivals! "First your meditation group, then the Dallas Pagan Fair..." lol  I've been in a few occult shops where it smells like "where air fresheners go to die."

But that circle... Someone did their homework. I wonder who the consultant was, or if they had an intern grab info off the internet. Miriam, the leader of the circle, said her bird, her familiar, died and she asked everyone to join her in a ritual to help ease the bird's spirit into the spirit world. The sigils around Minerva the bird (haha @ Minerva) looked like modified Goetic symbols.


I'm pretty sure that one was the Agare symbol. And considering there was a gigantic alligator in the preview (not that there aren't gators down there), I think I'm right: The gator is one of his symbols. Another was Mars and honestly, the third I don't recognize, it looks like a modification/combination. I could be wrong, it's not my forte, and tho I do like Agrippa's comments on The Aeneid, I don't like looking at a bunch of symbols before I get ready to go to bed. I will be looking at hearts and stars and cute baby animals before I go to sleep tonight.

She was speaking Latin. Stupid closed captioning said "(speaking foreign language)." Pft! Spell it out! At the end she called on the Angels of heaven and the demons of hell. I couldn't tell if she was saying the word for spirit, or cleanse, or the world. Either definition fits. Does it really matter if they made up something in Latin or if they ganked something from a book of necromancy? Not really the point I suppose, just a curiosity.

The books are from Sookie's point of view and in them Lafayette is long dead, so in the books this group gets on the radar as "zomg! evil witches! Let's git em!" It's nice to see that it's one scary leader and a bunch of earnest students (and a few fluffy bunnies in there too lol). I chuckled at how all of them prepared to work by brushing off their arms from elbow to fingertips.

I'm working on a post about Mother Goddesses and the meaning of the name "Mary" and its use as an epithet for The Sea Goddess (Mare or Mari = sea). No idea when or if it's going to get up here, I just don't want to leave all of you thinking I'm not at work here and just posting teh fluff!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Smack'd

Today I was part of a ritual in which someone was added to the group mind and another was removed. I find this formality a bit odd. I appreciate and understand its use and purpose, but again, this seems like a conceit, a false or forced step in a process which should be completely organic. I keep examining my feelings about things like this to see if they have changed. Hmmm... nope, not yet. (edit: I feel it necessary to note that this ritual was Wiccan and not Italian in the least. I "commune with the Wiccans" from time to time. Maybe it's just to note the difference? Back to the topic!).

One of the chants used in the ritual was a ditty I learned while spiral dancing with the Radical Faeries in front of the Jefferson Memorial almost 15 years ago:

Come and be one
Become one
Be one
Be

It's been a favorite chant used at NYC Pagan Pride too. Whenever I tried to explain the chant to someone, I would sing this:




Come and be one/I'm not the one
Become one, be one, be/Who's so far away

Think he'd heard the chant before he wrote the song?  Can you believe the HPs wouldn't let us sing it to illustrate the chant? ;)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dress you up in my love

Tonight I was sewing by hand. Actually, I prefer hand sewing to machine sewing. Tho I do remember Grandma sitting at her Singer table (the machine flips down into it when you're done) and watching her foot hit the pedal as she moved the fabric through. I was fascinated by how she coordinated her hands, the fabric, the pins and her foot!

This came up because earlier I was sewing a tabard for a group I belong to. Tomorrow is the group's anniversary and I wanted to have a spiffy frock for the celebration. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), the needle on my mini machine broke and I didn't have a replacement, or a way to get one. I decided to practice my hidden hem stitch. It took a while, and it's almost done, but I still have to finish the neckline, hem it proper and put in a few darts. It's kinda hard to pin yourself for alterations!!

Working by hand gives you a more intimate relationship with the piece; More of your energy is going into it. You take more time because you have to. Each stitch can carry an intention or a mantra whereby you enchant the piece for a specific purpose. And let's not forget the role of weaving as an act/symbol of parthenogenetic Goddesses like Athena and Neith and their Priestesses or Nymphs.

Back in the day, one of my favorite tops to wear out to a party or club was something I had made myself. I was in a good mood when I made it, and in the right frame of mind and I had unconsciously enchanted it for that purpose. The top was a favorite because it worked ;) You don't have to be adept at making your own garments, you can enchant them the same way you might consecrate a sword even though you didn't forge it yourself. I suspect most people have a favorite hook-up outfit, or the infamous power-tie, or a favorite pair of pants that make you feel a certain level of confidence. It's a piece of clothing you wear when you want to invoke, or evoke something specific. Lucky socks? First date underwear? Do you have a garment that does something for you?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Secret for Love...


Greetings again Loyal Horde,

Now that some of you have your Bergamot, I have another item for you to add to your magickal cabinet. Red is the color for deep love. So how about adding a red witch candle to the cabinet? As we all know candle magick dates back thousands of years.

This particular ritual calls for a red candle in the shape of a witch. Begin the ritual with a "love" oil. For me personally I would suggest any of the three most powerful love oils: Ambergris used as a perfume to attract love and as a sexual stimulant, Civet a very powerful love oil, or Musk an aphrodisiac and love perfume.

Begin the ritual by anointing the candle with any of these oils. Set the candle in a room where it will not be disturbed because this ritual can take up to many days. These words are spoken, "Red Witch, let this offering to you bring my lover, ( insert his or her name ) to me alone, and for evermore". The candle is lit and burned for ten minutes. Make sure you light it after sunset. After the candle is extinguished, the same words are again repeated. This ritual is followed each night until you secure the love.

This ritual has worked well for me in the past. But as the teachings of Aradia have told us: Accept love as it comes to you. Do not possess it, or attempt to control it, for it will come or go as it pleases. I have found this to be very true.

Many Blessings,
Dusio

la notte dell'Streghe

Tonight is Saint John's Eve. You know, the guy who had the wort! The John in question is Saint John the Baptist. His death is allegedly tied to Herodias who is allegedly related to Herodiana, Erodiae, or as many of us know her, Aradia. How he died isn't what is celebrated. He is said to have been born 6 months before Jesus and since that was fixed on the winter solstice, this saint covers the myriad of pre-christian festivals held around the summer solstice. Bonfires are lit, prayers are said for healthy, abundant crops, spells are worked for all manner of fertility as well, and thanks are given. It is also another magickal point of the year, like at the winter solstice, where magic is passed on from teacher to student. Certain things can be learned, certain doors open, or align on different planes and Aradia rides again.

The celebration begins on the solstice but continues for several days: After all, you have to see with your own eyes that the sun is waning. Us lazy modern folk just trust silly NASA ;) This is an incredibly magical time for the outdoor spirits: they are fully in their element, so to speak and can personally be given their due; We can walk outside now whereas in winter, many outdoor spots are inaccessible by virtue of inclement weather.

This is a time where many are first called to the the night rides. If you've woken up in the morning more tired than when you went to bed, or with aching feet, or sweating, you might have been called (if you think you might be ill, go see a doctor!).  Have you remembered your dreams? It might not be time yet to remember where you've been, but you will remember snatches of dream here and there, but not if you try too hard. Remembering can sometimes be like watching something with your peripheral vision- once you turn your head to fully see, you lose sight of it.

Marie Leveau held grand rites on this night as well. Here is an article which describes the ritual held in New Orleans on this night. An excerpt:

Marie Laveau was known for dancing with a snake in her St. John's Eve rituals. The snake was named Zombi, after La Gran Zombi, the main ancestral spirit of New Orleans. Zombi meant "god" or "spirit force" in the Congo, where many New Orleans Voudou traditions have their roots. The loa of Voudou (more commonly called ancestor spirits in New Orleans) are more like intercessors than gods. They are the spirits of powerful people who have died. After the death of powerful or important people, petitioning and "feeding" their spirits through ritual -- and sometimes sacrifice -- along with the power of collective belief, elevates them to become intercessors between humans and God. In New Orleans Voudou, after Papa Legba, the opener of the gates, has been petitioned to open the doors to the spirit world, La Gran Zombi frequently serves as a "channel" to the other ancestral spirits with whom practitioners want to communicate for the purposes of worship, divination and magick.


In ancient Rome, this was the feast of Fors Fortuna, the one who brings luck in all matters. There was a pilgrimage to Her temple which included walking by the Tiber River (funny how the rivers figure into it), much revelry and drinking. There were oracles dedicated to Fortuna which were especially consulted on this night, and this feast is still popular for its divination traditions today!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milestones!

Woooooah.... we're halfway there...

Ack- Bon Jovi is stuck in my head! And likely now in yours too! I mean to post this the other night, but I got off on a tear about something or other, as usual, and didn't even mention it: I've blogged every day for half of the year. That went by really fast! I know not every post is a "winner" but that's not the point of blogging daily for a year. I don't know how I feel about this milestone, so I'll talk about literal ones:

The Golden Milestone and the Mundus, or the Navel of Rome, have been conflated and conflicted for ages. No one can agree on if they were related or the golden one was just a fancy version dedicated by Augustus Caesar. The Golden Milestone was the zero marker from which all distance to other cities was measured.

In reading about both and their relationship to each other, I came across this section of a book, Historical Tales: The Romance of Reality from 1896. (Seriously, one day I need to look up what major planetary aspects were going on in the 1890's because so many books about ancient Italy were written in that time frame). This is interesting, at least to me, because it's not just about the founding of Rome, but how it was consecrated, and how he went to the Etruscans to learn how to do it!

Far back in time as it was when this took place, Italy seems to have already possessed numerous cities, many of which were to become enemies of Rome in later days. The most civilized of the Italian peoples were the Etruscans, a nation dwelling north of the Tiber, and whose many cities displayed a higher degree of civilization than those around them. From these the Romans in later days borrowed many of their religious customs, and to them Romulus sent to learn what were the proper ceremonies to use in founding a city.
The ceremonies he used were the following. At the centre of the chosen area he dug a circular pit through the soil to the hard clay beneath, and cast into this, with solemn observances, some of the first fruits of the season. Each of his men also threw in a handful of earth brought from his native land. Then the pit was filled up, an altar erected upon it, and a fire kindled on the altar. In this way was the city consecrated to the gods.

Having just consecrated my own piece of land to a specific purpose, I thought the timing was fitting. I know this is likely just a story and there is no specific evidence supporting the idea that Romulus went to the Etruscans to learn how to consecrate his city (and no reason why they would help him to do this...). I thought it was an interesting idea. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take two of these and call me in the morning...

Gods are not pills you take for different ailments. Jupiter is not Excedrin and Flora is not Allegra.

This has been my facebook status for most of the day. Why? Someone posted to an email group asking which deity they should petition for help on a test. The above was my response. Stomach ache? Take ginger. Need to look good for your date? Take Venus. Bad breath? Peppermint. Traveling? Mercury.

Seriously, how did this perception arise where you go to a specific deity for a specific thing, even if you have no prior relationship? I think Jason Miller said it best when he used the following analogy which I will paraphrase badly:

If you need to borrow $50 and ask a virtual stranger, they'll probably tell you to go take a hike. If you ask someone you know, you're more likely to get it, there's a chance. If you ask your best friend, they'll give it to you no questions asked. The difference in each case here is the relationship you've built. Your best friend knows you're good for it or doesn't care because you have a history and affection for each other. The stranger? Not so much. They'll probably want some proof they'll get it back...

Anyway, the point is that when you build relationships, you have a better chance of getting something you ask for. To add to the original analogy... Your friends have contacts they can leverage on your behalf. If your patron is Athena and you need some help with travel, would it not be easier to ask her to petition Mercury for you? Even the Catholics do this: It's called Intercession. It's how they can get away with praying to a full pantheon of major and minor and local deities: It's because they're asking, for example, Saint Michael to intercede on their behalf with God.


Take the time to develop a relationship with deities and ancestors and the Lare and the Lasa. Develop these relationships as you would any other: Time, attention, dedication, following through, keeping your word, etc.  Offerings of energy and prayer and material things like lighting a candle or incense. All of this goes a long way towards reaching out. You can't be entirely goal oriented here, it's not necessarily a tit-for-tat situation, and no one likes to be used. Show your appreciation and gratitude and they will do the same in tangible ways.

Wow. I was just going to post about the solstice today! Looks like there was something else in store. I hope everyone had a wonderful solstice!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream...

What is really happening in this play? Yes, it's a big, bawdy comedy set in Athens complete with love quadrangle wherein the young lovers are entangled by fairy mischief, a wedding, and The Fairy King and Queen are fighting over a changeling: each claims him for their own. But what are the real consequences of this rift? It's in Titania's first speech. My notes are in italics.

Titania
...And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,


Ringlets! Circles! She just said they haven't done their usual ritual... Great Rite much?

But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.

It's Oberon's fault for trying to take her changeling!

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents:



The wind hasn't gotten its tribute and therefore the weather is fucked! Floods!

The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men's morris  is fill'd up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:



Nine Men's morris is a boardgame from ancient Italia. She's saying that it's not being played, like baseball was almost suspened during WWII. More importantly: No crops! The animals are dying off too. 


The human mortals want their winter here;
Their circle will turn the wheel of the year and usher in the harvest season. At this point, it's eternal summer and fucking up everything!

No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
The people are too confused and upset to pay homage to their Gods and The Moon is ticked off!

And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,


Another reference to their lack of ceremony screwing up the weather

And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
Heims is Old Man Winter/Winter personified. It's like the Holly King wearing the Oak King's crown. Chaos, I tell you!.

And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.
Again, the screwy weather, the lack of offerings to Deity, the crops failing and herds dying is their fault because they have not not turned the wheel!

We have a follow up reference after they argue about the changeling:

TITANIA
... If you will patiently dance in our round
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.

He declines and vows revenge. Fast forward past the angst filled lovers, mistaken identity, silly actors, and a wedding and now we've come to the end of the play. Happily, they finally get to their revels. Oops, spoiler :P I don't have to annotate this, just a summary: The fairies turn the wheel and bless all of the couples who were married that night and their future children:


OBERON
Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

TITANIA
First, rehearse your song by rote
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place

(Song and dance) <--- This would be their wheel-turning ceremony which sets the season to rights.

OBERON
Now, until the break of day, Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we, Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar, Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity, Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate, Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless, Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay; Meet me all by break of day.


One of my favorite quotes comes right before this scene, spoken by Puck Himself:

Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic: not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house


Ten years ago I directed a production of Midsummer and was fortunate enough to work with the best Puck ever, Shay Ansari. He crossed over several years ago, taken much too soon. I know he will be out this night with the Faery Band. Blessings on you, Shay. May you dwell on the bank where the wild thyme blows...


Monday, June 20, 2011

Lucifero

Luce, light
Lucciola, lightning bug
Lucifero, light bearer
Lucina, an epithet of Diana

Light. The Day Star. The Sun. Apollo. Apollo = Lucifero. No, not "teh ebil devil" of the Christians. This is another case of a new regime literally demonizing the Gods of the old ways. Please pardon the stream of consciousness ramble; We did the labyrinth dedication today and there was a LOT of libation happening through the evening. The dedication was wonderful. I have the most wonderful, magickal people in my life and I thank them for helping me make this happen. Apollo became a big part of the operation in a way I hadn't anticipated and that, along with some synchronicity and here we are tonight, with me ranting about TheMan turning the epithet of our beautiful Light Bringer into something nasty. Forget taking back "warlock."  I want to reclaim Lucifer as Sun God without it being about the satanists.

From Statius, a Roman poet:
"And now Aurora rising from her Mygdonian couch had driven the cold darkness on from high in the heavens, shaking out her dewy hair, her face blushing red at the pursuing sun – from him roseate Lucifer averts his fires lingering in the clouds and with reluctant horse leaves the heavens no longer his, until the blazing father make full his orb and forbid even his sister her beams"
From the Italian wiki:

Lucifero in Witchcraft
Dianus or Lucifer is a god of Stregheria , brother, son and consort of the goddess Diana , Lord of Light and the Morning.

Lucifero is the ancient name of a god Roman identified with the greek "Eosforo" (torch of Eos, or Aurora), and the Morning Star. Only later became associated with Satan .

Dianus Lucifer is also known as Dis (Kern) in the aspect of the god of death and the afterlife, and how Lupercus appearance of "Son of Promise," a bearer of hope and light.

He has three aspects:

The Horned Lord of wild forests and god of fertility and sensuality, and life and death.
The Caped: Lord of the head (of cattle) and plants. Rex Nemorensis: Kings and Lord of the harvest of animals, similar to the Greenman of the Celts The Elder: God of wisdom and guardian of the shrines.
In the cult of Stregheria Dianus Lucifer is the god intimately tied to the ancient mysteries of the Etruscan god Tinia , and the greek-roman as Pan , Dionysus and Apollo.

I'm a Leland fan, despite his faults, and am including this bit of Italian creation lore from Aradia:
Diana was the first created before all creation; in her were all  things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into  darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son,  herself and her other half, was the light.
Oh you know there will be more on this another time! In the meanwhile, feel free to get this awesome cameo for me! Or at least join me in my admiration ;)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Honoring The Sea Goddess

I attended a concert tonight where Alessandra Belloni and company honored Aphrodite/Yemanja/Anahita/Black Madonna as The Sea Goddess. They sang songs from Italy, Brazil, and new compositions inspired by those places as well as Hawaii. The performance was dedicated to honoring Her and healing the waters of the world. We got up to dance too :) I was mesmerized as she played various frame drums. Her hand was like a hummingbird! I'm inspired to pick up mine again and get back to practicing!

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be dedicating the labyrinth and spent this afternoon cleansing and consecrating the crystals and stones which will become a part of it. I'm pretty tired after my funtastic adventure so I will leave you with a different performance of one of the songs from tonight


Saturday, June 18, 2011

High and Low

I've started some work, and it's multi layered. It involves meditation, energy work, petitions, and journeying. Seems like I'm focused on the "high" magic and Dusio is focused on the "low" magic. Good! While I often work in the low magick realm, I've been really into working on the high end lately: spirit communication, contact with deity, focusing/directing energy, etc. I started working more in that vein when I didn't have access to the materials- no place to burn incense or light candles. As a massage therapist trained in traditional chinese medicine and energy work, I was able to take my knowledge and practice of eastern ways and apply them to my western concepts.

For those interested in some of my current exploits:
I've been given a chakra clearing/balancing/energizing technique and have been practicing it myself before sharing it with others. It's nothing earth-shattering- it's not a new way to work with chakras, but a different approach to the energy which isn't entirely rooted in India. In fact, I don't even like to use the work "chakra" so I'll often substitute "energy center." The gestures I have been given relate to the Snake Goddess/Priestess of Crete and the votive statues of worshipers, as well as the modern concept of DNA and the caduceus as a tool of manifesting balance.

Sounds complicated? It's really not, there's just a whole lot of imagery connected from different points in time. Our ancestors might not have been able to map dna, but there are gestures and energy practices that sure do imitate the pattern of it!

I need to smudge more. I'm doing that with sage, with sound (singing bowl, bell, etc) and will move into draining any remaining negativity by letting it flow into paper and burning it. Crumpling a piece of paper is very satisfying. Before I do, I write a message or a sigil to pull away that which is unwanted. I compact it with my hands and let the paper fill with the unwanted energy. as soon as it is filled or the energy reaches its peak, I put it into the fire and let it burn away. Best done outside and standing where the smoke won't blow back onto you!

Someone posted this on a Stregheria FB group, but hasn't mentioned the title of the piece or the artist. Can anyone fill me in? First one to answer correctly wins a point. Points are redeemable for bragging rights.


I'm off. Hopefully Dusio will post about more practical matters. I have a slew of posts on deck, but they're turning out to be the long term kind, not the fun facts, so I don't want to list promises of posts I'm not sure I can keep! I'm getting ready to finally finish up The Aeneid. If anyone cares to catch up with me, it's a free google ebook too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The most random post ever

Today I visited my friend and her almost 2 month old baby. It was fun! it made me want to post all of the babeh superstitions and practices of both old and new. But playing with a 2 month old, and driving 90 minutes to see her, took the wind out of my sails. I will say this: New cars are treated much the same as new babies: red ribbon for protection, coins for prosperity...

I've been hearing talk about last night's especially energetic moon. It was pretty rockin allright. Even the muggles were talking about it today. That old, gnarled tree with the bare branches reaching up into the twilight sky... it's always there. It's not always that form: Sometimes it's lush and green, sometimes not. Depends on who is leading the train, I suppose.

After talking about the Italian version of the Wild Hunt with a friend, a few things crystallized for me: My relationship to it, and participation in it is different now that I'm a Mother. Some might think it's sexist that the men get to run off and join the train while women, for the most part, have other roles to play. I'm fine with that. I'm needed here. My attention, my focus is on this plane and it's hard for me to be away from it in any capacity. Journeying in short bursts is fine, and something I do weekly. However, I have more control in a journeying situation, as opposed to being part of the roving horde.

Dusio posted! I'm excited- he has a few tricks up his sleeve (or in his shoe as the case may be), that I don't. I'm looking forward to reading more from him!

Can't believe we're almost 6 months into this!

Secret of the Streghe


Good evening fellow followers,

Beth has been riding me to post a blog for a long time now. I have decided to toss the socks and shoes and test the waters. With the economy is ugly as it is, I thought it might be appropriate to divulge a little known Italian style money drawing.

An elderly strega card reader who has been reading since she was a teen, was employed by me a few years back. She had a tremendous following from the 5 boroughs of Manhattan all the way up to Dutchess county in New York. She has worked with many police departments which of course they would never admit but used her services when they had missing person cases. On the flip side of the coin she also had many shall I say, connected Italian guys who also frequented her on a regular basis.

Well she has shared a little secret with me years back. There is a pure oil that many of you are probably aware of called Bergamot. Well it seems the Italian connected guys never left home without it. Of course you can dress a candle with it, burn it in a diffuser, and many other possibilities I am sure. But their preferred method was a few drops in their shoes. Whenever there was a meet up, a business deal, anything to do with accumulating money, the standard question was: Ya got da Bergamot?

Poo poo it if you like, but this woman was booked solid day after day 7 days a week. You can be sure she was one of my best customers for Bergamot. I used to buy it by the case.

As Clemenza in The Godfather said: "Leave the gun Take the Cannoli". I say: "Ya got da Bergamot"?

Many Blessings,
Dusio

Drunk on Moon Shine!

Not the Dukes of Hazzard revenuers-are-comin' kind of moonshine! I did some work tonight, on a technically not-eclipsed-to-me barely waning moon, at sunset. I started in the hour of Mercury and concluded during the hour of the moon. Here's a fun site where you can calculate planetary hours and read more about them.

I didn't write a script. I rarely do unless others are involved and required to do and say certain things at certain times. You learn by doing. When you learn it well enough, you start taking on roles. When you have taken on enough roles enough times, you take the lead. It's like music theory: when you know the notes and the chords, you can create a sweet sounding tune.

I had work to do tonight and wanted to take advantage of the waning moon, the waning sun, and other releasing, removing influences. I opened the space, I called in Guardians, Patrons, Ancestors and the Land Itself. I made offerings of incense, water, and wine. The birds squawked, the dogs barked and the lucciolas lit my way. I was well attended and supported and it rocked. My words were from the heart. My gestures were a mix of old keys and the flow of the moment. I didn't have to plan what to do, I just brought out the ingredients I needed and was guided. When I saw the moon rise over the trees I was awe-struck. I felt like a little child standing there swinging my cauldron of incense. I felt how large the moon is, and the energy and how great She is, how all-encompassing. I felt connected to the core of our practice and I knew there were others out there honoring Her in all of Her forms. ::waves:: I saw you, and you, and.... you were there too! lol

I forgot to eat something afterward because I was so moonstruck that I dashed inside at the last possible minute to get kiddo to bed. Once he was prepped for bed, I took him to look at the moon rising above the trees. He loved it, but it was bad timing because he couldn't fall asleep for a long while after! I'm still bouncing around. I need to ground and to sleep! As fun an adventure as it might be, I don't want to go to sleep this buzzed!

Before I go, I wanted to share part of a fun chat I had with a friend tonight. We were discussing The Foletti and the work of RJ Stewart and Orion Foxwood. I mused that someone should write faery work from the Italian perspective since everything out there seems to be Celtic or Scottish. His reply:
"Other than the folletti, the nymphs and the satyrs, we Italians really don't have fey per se.  Well, we do... they are just the Dead."
I half agree and 1/4 disagree. But that's its own post!

He also waxed eloquent on a few definitions for his readers so I thought to share them with mine:
"Guided meditation: An exercise utilizing the imagination to program the subconcious mind & train the mind in preparation for REAL astral journeys.
Pathworking: Originally, a journey along the paths upon the Tree of Life. Broadened to include journeys centered upon core concepts & set imagery to help students internalize a teaching.
Journeywork: REAL astral work. Journeying is NOT scripted, though it may revolve upon a theme OR a particular area of focus.
Likewise, anyone who says (like Llewelyn books tend to do) that astral work leaves you feeling refreshed when you come to... is a fucking moron. You don't feel perky and happy go lucky! You feel like you are recovering from a jagermeister shot (at least 8) induced hangover AFTER being run over by an SUV."
Word! It's called work for a reason! Unlike the cacasetenze I spoke of the other night, Nemesis is a weaver of words and wise beyond his years. I'm glad to know him and glad to point you to his books. Maybe, if I ask real nice, he might guest blog?


I've repeated myself enough tonight! I'm off! Time to ground! Here's some Moon Love!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summery Spells

I've been jawing a lot lately about philosophical blahblah. Tonight, let's talk some practical work. What's the occasion? My labyrinth is done! Well, all of the bricks are planted. Yeehah! I had planned to plant a few every day, figuring I'd be on my own with the project, but hubby came to the rescue and he and I along with our kiddo dug up a ton of dirt and planted nearly 300 bricks. In two days. Funny, I felt that Hubby was necessary to the project, and not just for the hard labor part of it (tho that was pretty awesome lol). The Man of the house had a role to play too. I was very happy when he started without me today. We both agreed that he has as much "authority" over the labyrinth that I did. We even went out together to search for the centerpiece. It started to drizzle lightly as we finished the last 10 bricks. Then the sky opened up and it rained! I wanted the rain today, actually. to water the labyrinth and make it grow! More like the land needed the water to settle the dirt and bricks into place. It really looks like the labyrinth has always been there. Now to mow... But I digress! you came for some information.

Here's a fun divination/talisman working;

What you need: Bowl of water, Candle, lighter.

What to do: Light the candle, concentrate on your question then quickly spill the melted wax into the water. You'll be able to discern the answer to your question by the form the wax takes. If you like what it "says" you can save the wax as an amulet. Just take it out of the water and either hang it on a string or put it on your altar or carry it in a pouch, wrapped in something to keep it safe. If you don't like the looks of it and feel it's a bad omen, you can bind it with string, you can melt it away, or you can toss it behind you into a running body of water and walk away. The modern version  if you're not near a running stream: flush it and close the lid.

Firefly incantation for luck:

"Lucciola! Lucciola.
Viene a gara!
Mette la briglia
A la cavalla,
Mette la briglia
Al figluolo del re,
Che la fortuna
Venga con me,
Lucciola mia
Viene da me!"

I've added this one because it's almost summer and time for the fireflies to come out and play! It's about chasing the fireflies to get and keep luck. It's a fun incantation. I'm sure Leland included this one in either Aradia or Etruscan. Mine is a bit different, I think. It's a fun poem and it's adorable to hear the kids chasing after them calling "Lucciola!"



To Add Some Glam:

I use California Baby Calming Powder as the base of the mix. It already includes chamomile along with sage and lavender. To that I add: powdered red rose petals. Make sure your roses are organic. Even better: grow your own! You can also add a pinch of rosemary, not powdered. It will give a more subtle scent while still adding its energies. 


I mix the ingredients under the light of the full moon and put a garnet or rose quartz stone into the powder, letting it sit half in and half out. Leave it in the moonlight and remove it before sunrise. Put the powder, including the gemstone, back into the shaker or into a powder holder- the 1940's kind with the big puff. If you have one of those to store the mix, even better. There's something just plain glamorous about them! It needs to be opaque, not just plain glass.


To use: While showering, turn counter-clockwise 3 times (slowly, don't fall in the shower!). Let any negativity or unwanted energy wash down the drain. After drying off powder yourself with the mixture while repeating 9 times:

Desiderari è la mia arma,
di incantare è la mia meta.
Fate togliere i miei difetti,
fare la mia biddizza grazia.


(Desire is my weapon,
enchanting is my goal.
Fairies take away my flaws,
make my beauty glow)
You can substitute "di incantare " (to enchant) for a specific intention. A lover (un amante), power (potenza), wealth (avere i soldi, ricchezza) and so on. I find the original works best because "enchanting" covers most things. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Darth Strega

Tonight we watched Return of the Jedi. In having to explain to a child what was going on between Darth Vader, Luke and The Emperor, I realized something:

The Jedi are stupid.

Seriously. Don't use your hate or fear or anger? What kind of hippie crap is that? There couldn't be Italian Jedi. We embrace our dark side, we use whatever emotion we need to use to get the job done, or the situation taken care of.

If Luke had been Italian? That Emperor would have been toast AND Luke would have saved his father. Dude is about to kill everyone you love and destroy the rebel alliance, sealing the fate of the universe? Toast. Luke killed a lot of bad guys who were threatening his friends, like Jabba the Hut. I bet there were plenty of innocent creatures in Jabba's place when Luke blew it up. Why didn't that make Luke turn to the dark side? Pft.


Yeah, I know: Vader had to have the opportunity to come back to the good side. I think if Luke had taken on the Emperor and stayed "good" that Vader would have joined him anyway. Then there could be sequels. They could have started a new, more powerful line of those who used The Force, a combination of Jedi and Sith. One that integrated the "good" and "bad."

Why is it an either-or proposition? Why can't you use your "dark" emotions to do what needs to get done without it consuming you? Is it because this movie is a simplistic parable wherein the bad guys are wholly bad and the good guys are wholly good and you can't be a bit of both? Feh.

I will say this: Never underestimate what a parent will do for their child. The Emperor was so overconfident in Vader being completely in his dark side pocket, that he didn't realize that instinct can still take over.

This is a silly rant about a silly movie, but it does lead to a more pertinent topic: Embracing what many have come to think of as "dark" in regards to witchcraft. There's a huge difference in the Strega and Wiccan mindsets, and I've talked a bit about it here before: The Wiccan Reede is just some advice. If you do something and think it will come back, you still do what you have to do. The difference is that you own it.
When you don't know how to swim, it's more dangerous to be near a pool. My evil twin pointed out that if Anakin had been taught to use his dark side, he wouldn't have gotten sucked in by the Emperor in the first place.


In other news, half of the labyrinth has been planted and I hope to have the second half done tomorrow! I have a headache, I think from using neck muscles that haven't been used that way in some time! I'm calling it a night and hope to post a proper post tomorrow! Perhaps some psychopomp and circumstance! I'll leave you with more philosophical debate about the trilogy:


This next one is really funny and really disturbing all at the same time. Too soon? I can't embed it, so you'll have to surf over to college humor yourself!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Parolacce! The bad words! (a post for the adults)

Today we passed by this lovely location. Hubby saw it first and laughed out loud as he went for the camera:




Heeheehee!

The way I heard it in my Italian neck o the woods was "fangool." The "proper" way to spell it (as if Italian should be written and not experienced! pft!) is: vafanculo/ It literally means "up your ass" tho it's generally used as an "F you."When saying it in front of the kids, it was changed to vafanapola: go to Naples! I have no idea why Naples was the choice of location. I suppose it just sounded good. Or maybe because my Grandmother's family was from just outside of Naples and she's the one I heard say it most often.

My two favorites are the ones I heard most, and both are from Sicily:

managgia (ma-NA-jah) Also heard as "managgia d'diavolo" Damn, or damn it to hell/the devil. It's hoping the person receives the mischief they just caused. You are literally damning the person or thing it's directed at.

minchia (MEEEN-kyah) Basically the Sicilian way of saying "oh shit!" tho it's more literally equivalent to "dick."

These two are my recent favorites:

cacasentenze: He shits sentences. You know someone like that: Pedantic, thinks everything they say is gold, never stops talking just because they like to hear their own voice, when what they really are is full of shit. cacasentenze!

non mi rompere le palle: Don't break my balls!

Surprisingly, about.com has an extensive list of words, categorized by letter! 

There is a whole other school of Italian profanity that goes into the blasphemous category: bestemmie. It involves cussing the various Catholic deities and saints. There's a link on the holy wiki about it, but scant references, including a "comic cult" that would cuss at deity. I don't know about said "comic cult" but it wasn't uncommon, even in pre christian days, to bind a statue. For example: The statue of Saturn was bound every day of the year except on Saturnalia!

The most common spell to sell a house involved burying Saint Joseph upside down in the ground until you get what you want, then you take him out and give him a place of honor in your new home. I think it's more a Sicilian practice than a mainland one, but threatening deity, ie: withholding offerings, or using a statue, talisman or other fetish to punish or bind them, is completely valid. The practice recognizes your own spark of divinity and how we, as divine beings, can approach deity other than as sniveling supplicants. Is it the best way to do things? Who knows.... it depends on who you are and what kind of relationship you have with deity. I prefer to work together. I don't like to be threatened or have my hand forced, so I wouldn't really do that to others unless it was extremely necessary.

That's all I have for tonight. Until tomorrow... fatti i cazzi tuoi! (mind your own dick!)

Come to the dark side; We have cookies.

I'm in the mood to muse about Summer. Is it me, or is there something about the impending Summer Solstice that seems a bit urgent? I haven't looked at the astrology surrounding this turn of the wheel, but it just feels "thick." I know there are a few eclipses coming up, but those don't directly touch the USA. The difference is slight, but significant. I'm wondering if this feeling is because I have several submissions and a major project coming due at that time? Is it because it's already been August hot? lol

There is a lot on the summer horizon and I'm looking forward to what I'm planning. In addition to having workshops and classes and attending a few as well, I've decided to take this time to do some serious personal work. Some people call it confronting your shadow self and tend to leave that for the winter months. I say shine on! Let's bring it out into the light! In  a way, Summer and winter have been reversed: When you had to work the land, your busy time was now, in the warm months, growing and harvesting food. The autumn was spent preparing it for the cold season. Once it was cold and dark out, people stayed in, had a chance to sit and think. Well, more of a chance anyway. I know I'm oversimplifying, but that's just to make my point: We've gotten used to summer being vacation time and winter is something you slog through every day doing your usual work. I'm having a staycation and using it to work on improving my skill set and ridding myself of that which does not serve, on all levels. An emotional garage sale LOL! One pile of anxiety: 50¢/oz! 2 old notions (not the sewing variety)/$1!

I've just taken a quick peek at what Astrogrrl has to say about the upcoming aspects and between 2 more eclipses and Saturn stationing direct, I think I nailed this one. Take a look for yourself! Not only am I on in regard to the this planetary energy, I've just outlined in the above paragraph what it means to have the full moon transit your 12th house:
Full Moon in the Twelfth House emphasizes our need for solitude to recharge, decompress, and rest. The full moon cycle may be a time... to reconnect with our subconscious drives, psychological self, and shed light on the deepest parts of us. Escape into our selves, uncover what has been hidden, and unravel the mystery that is the self.
Yeah. That too. So what do I say? I told myself so! Ha! Do go check for yourself where the full moon is about to land in your chart, and where Saturn is stationing direct and where Mercury is changing signs! Apologies for the quickie tonight, I'm still recovering from The Fun with the Nun!

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Got me to a Nunnery!

I'm writing this in the passenger seat of my car. Hubby is driving us home after a visit to his aunt, a member of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius. I spent the day with a Nun! :-o She entered the order when she was 21 and is now 80. She has been a nun for almost 60 years. That's devotion.

"zomg does she know you're a Pagan???"

Not only does she know, she attended our Pagan wedding ceremony- the one my mother in law threatened to boycott because it wasn't a catholic ceremony. When The Nun said she was coming, MIL had no room to boycott. After all, a Nun is holier than thou! In playing card parlance: MIL was trumped.

So I was in a nunnery today where three different orders of nuns are housed: Her order mentioned above, Carmelites, and Dominicans. I jokingly asked her if there were rivalries between the three orders like the Jets and the Sharks LOL

Today I was able to appreciate the devotion to The Mother, by whatever name she is called. I got to see a variant on a tradition that has been handed down since before the Vestal Virgins: An organized group of women, dedicated to The Mother, using high magick to heal others and bring forth positive change in the world.


Coolest Nun ever. She couldn't be cooler even if she could fly.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Busy Bee

That's what I am tonight! I'm writing up new classes, workshop proposals, details for a Datura Press fundraiser, updating NYC Pagan Pride info and reaching out to vendors, workshops, musicians and volunteers. I'm also working on the dedication of the labyrinth, and a New Moon ritual. Also working on  guest blog posts for other fabutastic blogs.


This link will download a pdf regarding the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Bee/honey. Interesting, basic article which sheds light on how closely related Demeter and her priestesses were to bees and honey. Marguerite Rigoglioso discusses how bees were a major symbol of all parthenogenic Goddesses including Diana. Speaking of MR... There is a podcast coming up next month with Marguerite Rigoglioso on Virgin Mother goddesses of Antiquity and specifically about Bees and their symbolism. I've just set a reminder for it! Can't wait!

Ancient historian, Pausanias, writes about the connection of Hermes and Honey in his Description of Greece :
"Each month the Eleans sacrifice once on all the altars I have enumerated. They sacrifice in an ancient manner; for they burn on the altars incense with wheat which has been kneaded with honey, placing also on the altars twigs of olive, and using wine for a libation . . . The traditional words spoken by them in the Town Hall at the libations, and the hymns which they sing, it were not right for me to introduce into my narrative. They pour libations, not only to the Greek gods, but also to the god [Zeus Ammon] in Libya, to Hera Ammonia and to Parammon (from Ammon), which is a surname of Hermes."
In the Homeric hymn, Hermes and Apollo are involved with the Thraiae or Bee Nymphs, pictured here, who have a connection to the Delphic Oracle. I started talking about this in my review of Cult of Divine Birth.

I've also been reading about how bees were treated and revered in ancient Sicily: They were considered members of the family! They were told the family news of the day, and offerings of cakes or food were left whenever there was a celebration... the same that is done for the Lare.

ok, busy bees, I'm off for the night!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Day of Firsts

First things first (haha and no the jokes don't get better from here): I want to be a responsible blogger and give credit where it's due, so I'm slowly, during daylight hours, going over past blog posts to make sure they are credited and cited properly. If you happen to see a photo in need of a credit or an excerpt in need of a link, please let me know! I usually write these posts late at night, well after I should have been sleeping, and I want to keep on top of things. Now, onto the funtastic day of firsts!

Congrats to Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom for placing 1st in the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms contest! And thanks for launching me into 29th place! 12 of the top 25 blogs are Pagan and 17 out of the top 30 are too! Wow. Thanks also to Circle of Moms for organizing this. I have so many wonderful blogs to read now and more people have found their way here!

Tonight I was really touched by a note I received from a reader. She said the blog made her feel connected. Yay! I appreciate that so very much- it's the best compliment anyone could give me. Being a Strega amongst Wiccans is being a minority within a minority. It can be very frustrating at times; No matter how much we love our Wiccan, or other Pagan friends and compatriots, there is something lacking when you're not amongst your own, when you have to change something to fit in, even tho it's supposed to be a safe place. Because so much of Italian Witchcraft is based in Family, we can feel disconnected in a fundamental way. It can make you feel off kilter- like you're on a boat but haven't gotten your sea legs yet. I think anyone with a strong family connection feels this when they've been away from the family fold for too long.

Today we sat down and watched Star Wars with our son for the first time. He's rather sensitive to conflict (there are some nick jr episodes he won't watch because there's too much drama), so we didn't know how he'd like Star Wars. He likes the Star Wars toys he's been given in the past (especially any Lego version lol) The only scene that bothered him was the one where they're stuck in the garbage compacter. That was the one that bugged me as a kid too. Throughout the whole movie, much of the violence is abstract, almost cartoon-like: it happens to alien looking things or something explodes with fireworks type effects. In that compactor we have an unseen water monster who grabs the hero we identify with and tries to drown him. Then people almost get crushed! Yikes. That's the most realistic scene in the movie, emotionally speaking. Come to think of it, that scene still bothers me! He and I have talked about "The Force" in the past, about how everything is connected by energy and how to use it... it was fun to see him relate to that in a new way and to discuss why Darth Vader was "bad" even though he used the same energy that Obi Wan did. It's all about how and why you use it. We also talked about Han Solo being a "gray" or "shady" character who had been selfish until he found friends. Yes, we watched the one where Han shoots first! What kind of crappy bounty hunter could Greedo have been to miss at point blank range? Pft. Han shoots First! Overall, he liked it and wants to watch it again. Except for that garbage scene. Can't blame him!


Another first: This is the book I helped to write. I think 8 or 9 of my pieces were published in this book, now preserved at the NYPL. Squee! Can't wait to get down there and hold it! Happily, I've been able to read it already and have finally gotten the chance to see what my cohorts did that night!

I've started a post on my Fairy garden, and it, like so many others, has lead to deeper research on the Foletti. However! Since I have chiseled about this previously, I will now do a quickie on my Fairy Garden!

When I talk about Fairies, I don't mean a bunch of tiny smurf-like creatures. Whenever "they" want to make something seem unimportant, "they" diminutize it. Did I make up that word? I digress... The garden is more of what someone might call a "memorial garden" but it's not to honor someone who has passed, it's a space for us to honor the Spirits of the Land who are very much with us. There is a copper beech tree in the middle of the space. I've placed a small stone bench on either side of it. Because of the tree and the others nearby, there is very little sunlight in this space. I have forget-me-nots, a fern, and a few hooks upon which to hang baskets of impatiens. A friend recently offered periwinkle too! I'm not really going for "magickal" plants here, nor is this section my Italian Garden (you know... tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, rosemary, rue...). This is a place to connect, to leave offerings, to sit and spend time and give love and energy. I'm trying to care for it, make it pretty, and starting to be more consistent about the offerings I leave and the time I spend. It's a place to be still and to listen. It's much different than the area with the labyrinth- that one is all about movement, especially since it's by the road. That is a walking meditation. The Fairy Garden is one of stillness. I leave offerings of shinies, of food, of wine, and tending the space is an offering of time, showing my willingness to work on our connection. I don't know what it means that I found a broken blue egg on the ground just before the wood which delineates the space. I left it on one of the benches thinking The Spirits would know what to do with it, and now it's gone without a trace. I suppose they did know.

I'll leave you tonight with this excerpt from Leland's Aradia:

The Children Of Diana, Or How The Fairies Were Born

All things were made by Diana, the great spirits of the stars, men in their time and place, the giants which were of old, and the dwarfs who dwell in the rocks, and once a month worship her with cakes.

There was once a young man who was poor, without parents, yet he was good. One night he sat in a lonely place, yet it was very beautiful, and there he saw a thousand fairies, shining white, dancing in the light of the full moon.

"Gladly would I be like you, O fairies!" said the youth, "free from care, needing no food. But what are you?"

"We are moon rays, the children of Diana," replied one

We are children of the Moon.
We are born of shining light;
When the Moon shoots forth a ray,
Then it takes a fairy's form.

"And you are one of us because you were born when the Moon, our mother Diana, was full;
yes, our brother, kin to us, belonging to our band.
"And if you are hungry and poor and will have money in your pocket, then think upon the Moon, on Diana, unto whom you were born; then repeat these words -

"'Moon, Moon, beautiful Moon!
Fairer far than any star;
Moon, O Moon, if it may be,
Bring good fortune unto me!'

"And then, if you have money in thy pocket, you will have it doubled.
"For the children who are born in a full moon are sons or daughters of the Moon,
especially when they are born of a Sunday when there is a high tide.

"Full moon, high sea,
Great man shalt thou be!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Prisencolinensinainciusol

My Italian is improving. After last night's google translate Apollo chicken debacle, I've been diving into the language more. I suppose immersion is the best technique for me. Now I just have to ge to Italy! Until then, I'll keep working through texts and listening to Italian pop songs. But wait, this one is supposed to sound English! I realized my listening comprehension was improving when I watched this youtube video of an interview with artist Adriano Celentano. He's been a huge star in Italy since the 60s with a long and consistent string of albums and movies. As for the song mentioned in the title, this is what the holy wiki has to say:
In an interview, Celentano explains that the song is about "incommunicability" because in modern times people are not able to communicate to each other anymore. He added the only word we need is prisencolinensinainciusol, which is supposed to stand for "universal love." Celentano's rationale for the song was that, after releasing albums about ecology and social issues, "having just recorded an album of songs that meant something, I wanted to do something that meant nothing."

According to various unofficial sources, it's an Italian style pop song written in complete gibberish to express how Italians hear the English language. The artist saw kids rocking out to American songs despite not understanding the words, and this was his answer (beware: It's fascinating and yet can make you queasy! Also, beware the super cheesy 60s music video!)




Hopefully back on track tomorrow with some fun and perhaps fascinating info on Italian Fairies and my Fairy Garden!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A secular moment

I like to occasionally peek in on what the Atheists are up to. Pagans and Atheists share a few common goals, ie: environmental causes, civil liberties, and keeping big religion in check. They even have to deal with much of the same persecution as Pagans do in the way of "coming out" to friends and family, or being preached at and prayed for. Why not work together? If the Atheists can promise to not sneer, the Pagans can promise to... um, wait, we don't judge atheists, do we? Likely not as much as we're judged for believing in the unseen, but that's a whole other topic.

One of the group members posted about the desire to end 501c3 tax exemption for religious institutions. I happen to agree. No religious group should, just because they're a religious group, be exempt from paying their fair share. If a group was created for the sole purpose of sheltering, counseling, getting food and clothes to those in need, I'm fine with that, but it doesn't have to be based around a religion. 

This is the exact copy of the code from the IRS.gov website:

The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.  The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
 
Despite being more religious than most people I know, I don't want the gvt promoting the advancement of religion, especially when they get to decide who gets the promotion. The person who proposed the ban stated that the religious exemption meant lost tax revenue and was akin to the government financially supporting religion.

I made the point that for-profit corporations exploit giant tax loopholes and thanks to those and their lawyers, pay almost nothing in taxes compared to their revenue. Many churches are like big corporations: Take away their tax exempt status and they'll just lawyer-up and exploit the loopholes like any other big corporation does. Why not work together across religious lines to right this wrong (the loopholes)? I was getting some static from the original poster about fighting on two fronts, and honestly, after his mini rant, it looks like he wants to take it away just to have it taken away because to him, religion = bad.


What do you think: Should religious groups be tax exempt? Considering all of the secular things included in the 501c3 code, does that make it "fair?" Should I shut up and get back to the Italian stuff? You got it:


Here's something distinctly Italian, not so ancient, but still, a few hundred year old revival o a few thousand year old practice is intriguing! Opera. The first opera, or what we think of today as opera was written in Italy in the late 1500s. It was based on the lore of Apollo and Daphne and called Dafne.


Funny side note: I was being lazy and using google's translate feature. Because the site I was translating used a space between the first letter and the rest of the character's names, Apollo became A pollo. In Italian: A chicken. It took me a minute to realize this. At first, I wondered if this was some new evidence of poultry sacrifice to the Sun God! Then I realized the problem, reverted to the original Italian text and began to work through it!


Apollo and "Cupid" are griping at each other. Apollo isn't giving the later respect ie: mocking his toy bow and arrow. Cupid reminds Apollo he's a God too and put the Love whammy on him, causing him to fall for Daphne, a Nymph and quite possibly a Priestess of his sister, Diana. The Opera was written to, allegedly, attempt to reproduce ancient theatre. There is a chorus and it was believed at the time that everything was set to music, especially the part of the chorus. 


I know this isn't that big of a "wow" post- it seems like more of a "wew-hew" in that sarcasm font, but it has made me open up to something I haven't really been into exploring on this blog: The Renaissance! I've been all about the ancient, but why not the first serious ancient revivial? Perhaps it's because this took place in the rich northern part of Italy while Sicily was being taken over by other countries? There is a big divide between North and South in Italy. Perhaps it goes back to the Latin League and the Etruscan attitude towards Trinacria and its role in Magna Grecia? Ancestral grudge lol


I'm working on a fun garden post for tomorrow and something groovy for the kiddies too! An Italian Fairy Garden!

The Heroine's Journey

I've been working a post about The Hero's Journey as illustrated by the lore of Proserpine and Demeter. However, you don't hear much about what happened once She descended. There are clues in the tale of Inanna, and a lot of talk about it lasting 3 days, during the dark of the moon, her ordeal, but most of what we have of Kore's tale involves the Greek Mysteries where Demeter is searching for her lost daughter. I think this whole thing is bunk and more about the relocation of the mysteries to Greece and the insertion of the Patriarchy into what began as Women's Mysteries. I also find it interesting that Hekate is associated with Ereshkigal, who appears as Queen of the Underworld and "older sister" of Inanna and eventually releases Inanna back to life, and Hekate escorts Proserpina back to the surface, in some portrayals it seems like Hekate is facilitating an escape.






  There is so much out there about The Hero's Journey, especially since Star Wars was modeled on the steps, that I don't really want to recap it here, so I've linked to the wiki basics. If you don't want to surf over, there's a fun graphic illustrating the trip there and back again:

ie: Luke Skywalker is called to adventure by Leia (hologram message on R2D2), he's aided by the droids, mentored by Obi Wan, it goes on and on. The Matrix follows the formula too as does The Lord of the Rings. Actually, most movies and legends follow this archetypal formula.


Back to my Goddesses: There isn't much written about Kore in the Underworld because it is the crux of Initiation itself: It's removing each earthly accoutrement, confronting your dark side/your shadow self and surrendering yourself to transformation. It's also so much more, and despite it being incredibly individualized, initiates, true initiates- not the ones who are socially promoted for reading 10 books and making an origami tree of life- will recognize each other. There is a knowing, an understanding that you come to that cannot be imparted to someone who has not been through it, and need not be imparted to someone who has. Mothers understand this. Motherhood is an initiation.

In the Descent of Inanna, we see the steps she goes through to get into the Underworld, but we still do not know where her essence was when she was "dead" for those three days. Where did her spirit go? Since she's in the Underworld why didn't she just appear there and haunt her sister? What did she face? What did she do? What did she see? Perhaps the same thing every initiate sees: what they need to.

I feel like I've been on my own journey tonight, examining the similarities between the descent of Inanna and the descent of Proserpine. Funny how I've known both of these epics in great detail for so long but have never put them side by side and compared. In the Greek version she's taken against her will, but as per the link above to the Women's Mysteries, I don't believe it. I'm of the school that, like Inanna, Proserpine went of her own accord to learn the Mysteries and return to Her people with knowledge thereof and her dual role as Goddess of Spring/birth/fertility and Winter/death/barren is because She, as Innana did, merged with Her Shadow self and returned the wiser for it.

However, we also have Ereshkigal, who is established as the Queen of the Underworld. Wouldn't she be the appropriate counterpart here? Are Proserpine and Demeter sisters instead of mother and child? Does it matter? What does the familial relationship imply?

All very interesting, but now that it's after 2 am, I'm going to sleep on it and I hope you do too. I hope you ponder The Mysteries and ask the questions and challenge your own perceptions.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Loose Ends

I'm at loose ends tonight. It's been a really productive day in terms of NYC Pagan Pride planning, homeschooling fun, catching up with friends, laundry and cleaning, and an all around mundane kind of day. I'm exhausted right now, so instead of delving into my latest blog post project: Astral travel, the Wild Hunt, and Shape-shifting al Italia, I just wanted to review my day.

This is less of a diary entry and more of a peek at my daily practice. Despite having an incredibly "normal" day, it was still filled with Magic.

Morning devotional aka Greeting my Gods. It's a personal prayer and ritual of gesture and gratitude. It doesn't take long, just long enough to connect.

While making breakfast, I light the candle next to my stove. I light it off the burner. It feels like the same gesture of old- lighting it off the hearth fire. Every time you light a candle in remembrance, you're relighting every candle that has ever been lit by and for your Ancestors.

Cleaning involved certain soaps that cleansed energetically as well as physically. I tell ya tho, I wish I had those Fantasia mops, only with better control over them!

I went outside with kiddo to play and walked the garden, connecting with the plants and trees and the land itself.

Had discussions with my kiddo about gnomes, earth energy and how to feel and use it, the relationship of energy to our Ancestors, and touched on the other elements too. We also talked about worms and dragonflies and watched a cave-hopper walk around. 

I read the sunset for omens of tomorrow's weather: The redder the sky, the hotter the next day will be. Farmer's Almanac has all sorts of fun weather lore.

Back again to my altar, I did my evening devotional, which is much the same as the morning one.

Here I am writing this blog, and connecting with all of you through space and time is a magickal experience.

Tonight I'll meditate before going to sleep, which will be right about................now.

Before I go pass out, I wanted to put it out there that I'm happy to answer questions and take requests for blog topics. Bonna notte!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday roundup and Marrying the Sea

The labyrinth is now walkable! The bricks are still above ground, but I think I'm done with the troubleshooting today. I just have to fill in a few more bricks here n there, make sure the lines are neat n clean and spend a day getting it done. I'm glad I've had to take my time prepping it. It goes along with the old saying: measure twice cut once. In this case, it's dig once. Thankfully only 4 bricks had to move. Once it's prettified, in it goes! If hubby didn't insist they be in the ground for mowing purposes, I'd leave them on top. But I'm not the one who mows and he's a good sport about what I need to make happen and often helps me get it done or gives me the time and space so I can get it done.



My email wasn't working so I've missed notifications :-o I think I have it fixed now. I will be able to resume snarking in comments! \o/

Here is a wonderful post from one of the Moms in the Circle of Moms faith blog listings called Parenting by the light of the moon. She and I seem to share many basic opinions on Witchcraft and she has a wonderful reading list up which includes some of my favorite and most recommended books. To quote:

Witchcraft is one of those annoyingly authentic things that can only be transmitted from person-to-person. It is one of those stubborn religions that needs energetic information passed from initiate to student as well as words. It is not self-help disguised as the Craft and most importantly, it is NOT FOR SALE.


A post that is a new favorite of mine is from the Kitchen Witch blog, yet another bloggin' Mama I seem to have lots in common with. There is a reason why these two women are in the top 25 faith blogs. Any parable that has "yes, it's about you" attached to it sets my snarky heart a-flutter. Yay for fellow AP, lactivist, ranty Mamas!

And so I don't leave you without a dose of the dolce tonight:

Hubby gave me some blog fodder the other night but I wasn't in the mood. Plus, I don't want to make this blog Catholic-heavy. However, I've realized it actually fits the theme I had been working with recently, so let's tie it all together. My Mother-in-law was quite angry the other day; It was supposed to be the Feast of the Ascension celebration at church, but that had been moved to the following Sunday. She was, I presume since I got this second-hand, livid. The date is when it is and that is that. Funny, this might be one of the few things she and I have in common! I understand the practicality, but still hate the practice of celebrating an event on the weekend, at everyone's convenience.

So who cares about the bee in my MIL's Sunday bonnet? It led me to something much more interesting. The Feast of the Ascension, for those who don't know, is supposed to take place 40 days after Easter (which is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox), and celebrate Jesus rising bodily into heaven. In Venice they have a different celebration: The marriage of Venice to the Sea, Festa della Sensa. The Doge processes to the sea, throws a gold ring into it and prayers are said for the sea's tranquility and abundance. Sounds like a wedding to me! Venice is called La Serenissima, serene waters. There is a page here with information on how, when and why it started. I believe this particular public ceremony began this way, but it has much deeper, more ancient roots. Here is an interesting excerpt from that page which I plan to address:

In 1177 the two largest European powers of the period signed a peace agreement in Venice which ended the long struggle between the Papacy and the Empire.
This came about principally due to the diplomatic involvement of Doge Sebastiano Ziani.
Pope Alessandro III, as a mark of his gratitude to the city, gave the Doge a blessed ring, pronouncing "Ricevilo in pegno della Sovranità che Voi e i successori Vostri avrete perpetuamente sul Mare" (Receive this ring as a token of sovereignty over the sea that you and your successors will be everlasting). He then imposed the wedding between Venice and the Sea "Lo sposasse lo Mar sì come l´omo sposa la dona per essere so signor" (Marry the sea as a man marries a woman and thus be her Lord).


I've only briefly touched on the idea of Goddess as Kingmaker in the past 160ish posts because this isn't a 101 blog. I assume folks have some idea about paganism when they get here, and I'm happy to answer direct questions if anyone wants more clarification. It's a concept that cuts across Pagan cultural lines: The Goddess is the one with the power and chooses her King/Consort as with Diana and the Rex Nemorensis. Inanna was a kingmaker as well as Macha. It's the Goddess-on-Top version of the Hieros Gamos, the Sacred Marriage.

Remove the implied "lord over her" misogyny from that quote and think of it in terms of "Lord and Lady" and here you have a hieros gamos: The male ruler of the land has been given his power by the Sea, La Serenissima. If she didn't want him to be the ruler, she would have dashed his ship for trying to sail on her. He is honoring Her with the offering of the ring. I think Venice might be in trouble today because they no longer ask, it's more of a shotgun wedding :P


Timing-wise, it happens around the same time as la mattanza. What is it about this time of year and the sea?