Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feelin the flow

I've been working on an article for months. Well, not actively. I've been trying to work on it. I haven't been feeling the flow and I've been blaming the stress of event planning or of this thing or of that other thing. I think I just haven't tuned in to the Muses. I need a word with Apollo too.

Here is a devotional to the Man Himself. I'm going to sign off, light a candle and incense, tip a glass of wine, and get to work!



Orphic Hymn 34 to Apollo (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :

"To Apollon. Blest Paean, come, propitious to my prayer,
illustrious power, whom Memphian tribes revere,
Tityoktonos (Slayer of Tityos), and the god of Health,
Lykoreus, Phoibos, fruitful source of wealth:
Pytheion, golden-lyred, the field from thee receives its constant rich fertility.
Titan, Gryneion, Smyntheus, thee I sing,
Pythoktonos (Python-Slayer), hallowed, Delphion king:
rural, light-bearing Daimon, and Mousagetos (Leader of the Mousai, Muses), noble and lovely, armed with arrows dread: far-darting, Bakkhion, twofold and divine,
power far diffused, and course oblique is thine.
O Delion king, whose light-producing eye views all within, and all beneath the sky; whose locks are gold, whose oracles are sure, who omens good revealest, and precepts pure;hear me entreating for he human kind, hear, and be present with benignant mind;
for thou surveyest this boundless aither all, and every part of this terrestrial ball abundant, blessed;
and thy piercing sight extends beneath the gloomy, silent night; Beyond the darkness, starry-eyed, profound, the table roots, deep-fixed by thee, are found.
The world's wide bounds, all-flourishing, are thine, thyself of all the source and end divine.
'Tis thine all nature's music to inspire with various-sounding, harmonious lyre: now the last string thou tunest to sweet accord, divinely warbling, now the highest chord;
the immortal golden lyre, now touched by thee, responsive yields a Dorian melody.
All nature's tribes to thee their difference owe, and changing seasons from thy music flow:
hence, mixed by thee in equal parts, advance summer and winter in alternate dance;
this claims the highest, that the lowest string,
the Dorian measure tunes the lovely spring:
hence by mankind Pan royal, two-horned named, shrill winds emitting through the syrinx famed;
since to thy care the figured seal's consigned, which stamps the world with forms of every kind.
Hear me, blest power, and in these rites rejoice, and save thy mystics with a suppliant voice."

Michaelmas!

It's today. And isn't it a Catholic thing? So why am I blogging about it? Oh the silly questions, lets just get to it.

He's a defender, a psychopomp, the chief angel, the prince of the angels, the general of the army of angels, the one who defeated satan himself and cast him into hell. The holy wiki doesn't have much more on Him than Bible and Koran quotes. He's worshiped by all 3 Abrahamic religions. But does it really surprise anyone that he's so much older than that? His Imagery (wielding the sword, the scales, and standing over a man or dragon) is found elsewhere?

Mithras. The holy wiki does have something on this!

Mithras powerfully standing over a bull, about to thrust his sword/dagger into its flesh; this image is remarkably similar to later depictions of Michael standing over the devil, about to thrust a spear into him.

He was also a psychopomp!

Marduk
In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.
He battles Tiamat, pictured as a dragon. Who do we know stands over a dragon after defeating rebelling entities? Hmmm... Marduk is also syncretized with Jupiter who is also syncretized with Thor!

One of the epithets of Marduk is "the bull-calf of the sun" which related back to our friend, Mithra!

Miok, son of Thor is yet another candidate/aspect of this archangel. Also, Michael's day of the week is Thursday aka Thor's day.

Mukhla is a Sumerian apotheosied deity. From Makers of Civilization in Race and History By L. Austine Waddell:
"The Isan chronicle... confirms from independent Sumerian sources the historical human original of Saint Michael the Archangel, vanquisher of the great dragon..."

On this date I will venerate the epitome of the defender of faith. Just because the christian's co-opted him doesn't mean they own him. I'm just glad that his spirit has not diminished for lack of energy and offerings. He is powerful and one to call on for protection, defense, healing, and as a guide too. I'll leave off tonight with a few pictures for comparison ;)

Archangel Michael slaying a dragon

Marduk slaying Tiamat, the dragon

 
Mercury. He's not slaying anything, He just seems to fit



Thor slaying Jormungard
Mithras slaying the bull

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The value of nothing

No food, no sound, no light, no talking, no sight... Sensory deprivation is an excellent way to go within and prepare for ritual experience, or trance.

A dumb supper is held in silence because it forces the focus to your other senses so that you may commune with the dead. Fasting from food was recommended by many, including the Neo-Platonists, and even the Catholic Church. Part of it is the sacrifice involved, but it's really a matter of having your body attuned to the energy of ritual instead of busily digesting whatever it was you scarfed for breakfast.

Tonight is the first dark moon of autumn. Today I have fasted. Tonight I will shower off the day and go into my temple space where there will be no light and no sound. In the darkness I will journey. Tonight I will commune with the spirits of this land and with whichever deity wishes to communicate tonight.


This seems to be the week for inside info, so here is a song for when you are ready to break the silence. I've translated it into english. There's a specific rhythm for it, but if you just let it come to you with the intention of hearing through the noise it will work for you.

Lady of darkness
Lady of song
Lady to whom I belong
Help me hear
Help me see
Keep your presence close to me
Through the din, the dark, the bright
Guide my hand with your might
Touch my mind
Touch my heart
The center of your sacred art

If done slowly, it's a devotional, a staccato invokes Her aid in extrasensory perception.

Welcome to all of the folks who have recently found my blog. If you've come looking for the list of classes and workshops and open rituals, that will be up next week!

Travel

Here's an aspect of Mercury I don't think I've really discussed before (other than drooling over the statue of Him). Then again, I'm almost at the 300 post mark, so really, I don't recall everything I've posted about in the past 9 months. As the ruler of communication and commerce it only makes sense that travel is also within his domain: Messages travel from one person and/or place to another, goods must travel to get from farm to market or workshop abroad.

Here is a spell I was given. A friend and I parted ways in the city today. For me it was a quick jaunt to my abode, but he had a long trip ahead so this came to mind. It can be done for yourself or another, using me/my or person's name/their.

Mercury, Lord of Air and Sky
make my long trip hurry by.
Make my travel smooth and sweet.
As swiftly as your winged feet
Carry you from throne to land,
Over sea, across the sand
to destinations fair and bright,
Mercury, gently alight
me safe and sound
back to my home where I am bound.
Mercury, as I am true
Do now what I ask of you
My word you have,
to honor you.

When you get home, tip an offering. Coins, incense, food, etc.

Of related Mercurial interest: I was just looking up something Ovid had written and came across a picture of a vase where Mercury is wearing the cap  of Adoneus (aka Hades). I haven't found other references to the helm of invisibility being part of His travel retinue. Some say it's the same as his messenger cap, other sources say it's different, ie: Perseus returns all of the things he was loaned by the Gods to Mercury, including the Black Helm. Interesting point of conflicting lore. It seems minor, but nothing about Mercury is minor. ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ethics

This has come up a few times lately. I've been asked what "code" I follow. Ummm.... Hammurabi? There is no ethical prescription in La Vecchia. Like most of what we do, the magical is not separate from the mundane. Be a good person. There. A good person has respect for themselves and for others. There. That's it. You don't need all of the "don't lie, cheat steal, etc" because it's included. You also don't let others disrespect you. You especially don't let people get away with the serious stuff. To let evil go unanswered makes you an accomplice. There's no hand-wringing over working magic for yourself or others. You need something done? It gets done. Maybe there's a card reading or omen reading to pick the best course of action, but there's no fretting over whether or not we're interfering with fate or with "karma." THAT'S THE POINT!

Most people don't think to look for a dynamite recipe. Those who do, but don't know where to get the real info, wind up blowing themselves up and saving us the trouble of having to take them out before they hurt others. Same with magic. These days, any jerk can go on the internet and find a ton of spells which could blow some metaphysical shit up. No one is screening who gets the info and no one is taking responsibility for them.come  Unfortunately, we have to watch out for these jokers and handle them as we come across them.

Used to be that the teacher took responsibility for their student. You made damn sure who you were teaching because it's your ass on the line. You screen potential students. You made sure you knew them well before ever teaching them how to make metaphysical dynamite. And it's your responsibility to handle them if their work goes wrong.

That's all I have for tonight. Went to the San Gennaro festival and had a lovely time with the Hounds of Artemis. But now I'm wiped out. I might have to do another post on the magical importance of sleep!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thanks :)

Thank you to Diana. Thank you to Apollo. Thank you to Mercury. Thank you to Hecate. Thank you to Ganesh. Thank you to My Ancestors. Thank you to The Spirits of the Land. Thank you to Ra. Thank you to everyone who worked weather magic to make NYC Pagan Pride Day happen.

It went by so fast! Almost a year of planning and now it's done. Tonight is partly a brain dump and that's because my brain is fried. I was up at 6 am and at the park before 8 to get everything set up. The vendors and info groups were amazing- the old hands knew just what to do and the new folks were pretty on the ball as well. The belly dancers were SO AWESOME! I need to find video of the Isis snake dance they did. Jihan Arts and the Belly Dance Raks Stars.. Wow... I need to post about belly dance and Middle Eastern Goddesses at some point. There were raves about the workshops and the opening ritual and the closing ritual that Society of Diana hosted with our sister group, Hounds of Artemis. We invoked the Statue of Liberty and reclaimed her as a talisman for, well, liberty lol And protection.

I made an offering to my Patrons for their help and I'm gonna get to that now then go pass out. Back to our regularly scheduled epic posts tomorrow!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why?

Pagan Pride Day begins in less than 12 hours. I have been running around crazy for the past week, fielding tons of phone calls, emails and packages, updating facebook, the yahoogroup, the website, designing the t-shirts and having them printed, the programs, the schedule, etc etc etc. I'm not saying this to toot my own horn "oh gee look at how awesome I am and all that I do." I'm saying this because it takes a shit ton of work to pull off an event like this and no one can do it alone and no one does it just for fucks sake.

Why do I bother? I love my community. Even the McWiccans. I think there would be fewer McWiccans if there were more public events of this sort. If we didn't feel like we had to hide then people would never get sucked in by the ego driven folks who pose as Priests and Priestesses of the Gods and happen to attract followers just because they're the loudest ones in the proverbial room.

Our community needs to get over "you do it wrong so I won't talk to you or work with you" business. I might disagree with what other groups do and how they do it, but I'm not going to stop talking to someone because we don't agree on which direction is air. We need to stand together against the erosion of our civil rights. In that, at least, all Pagans are my brothers and sisters.

I also do this for the glory of my patrons. I don't want to convert others, I want those who serve Them as Priests and Priestesses to live a life free of fear and anxiety and providing them the opportunity to bring Them back into their full power. Which brings us back around to the topic of this blog! (And you thought it would only be a ramble! ha!)

The practice of spreading the name, and therefore glory, of a being who has done something for you is very Italian and continues today in the practice of publicly publishing a thank you in the newspaper. This is often done for Saint Jude. You'll see tiny classified ads in the back of a newspaper thanking him! Saint Expedite too. Saint Therese... So many others too.

See how I bought it back on topic! ;)

I hope everyone has a wonderful first full day of autumn and if you're in the NYC area, come on down to Pagan Pride Day in Battery Park! It starts at 11 AM and I will be leading the Harvest ritual at 4 PM!

Happy Autumnalia!

I don't know if "autumnalia" is an actual word or if I just made it up. Who cares? "Mabon" is a made up name too, so let's just roll with it.

Tonight I did a simple ritual, nothing pre planned, all from the heart. I made offerings and petitions, and told the story of this time of the year. However, tonight's rendition was a bit different than in times past. I used to romanticize the abduction of Persephone and Demeter's lament, and the wine and grain festivals and a young girl becoming Woman and Queen. Then I grew up, gained some perspective, and did some research.

Also, with what I now understand of this holiday as a time of parthenogenetic Goddess worship and the passing of knowledge, lore and magic from mother to daughter, woman to woman in a community of women, I just get angry. Now I see my once romanticized mystery for what it is- not just an abduction of a daughter, but the abduction of a way of life and a culture. These Mysteries were taken from Sicily to male dominated Athens exactly the same way Persephone was taken from Demeter, and that just frosts my cookies. On top of that, so many people go around calling it "Mabon" that if I rolled my eyes any harder they'd shoot laser beams. Why the rolling?

Well, let's stick some more Male mythology on top of it all, shall we?

For some, this is about a son, Mabon, being taken from his Mother and rescued by King Arthur. So why is it about the son and not the Mother? It's Her lament! And she is given back what she lost by a man. Just sayin. Modron is typically syncretized with Demeter too. Interesting.

Then we have the perpetual battle of the Holly King and Oak King, with one vanquishing the other through the year. All male all the time.

Don't get me wrong, I adore men and am having a red hot love affair with Mercury. But as this is the supposed to be the time of balance (the sun is even in Libra now- the literal sign of balance!), I have to ask: Where is the balance in all of these celebrations?

There is the matriarchal focus which I mentioned earlier, and others who unwittingly celebrate this holiday from an entirely patriarchal point of view. Is there ever any actual balance involved here?

After the Eleusinian Mysteries had concluded, there was a festival of Demeter and Apollo. These two are not often associated with each other. Don't you think they would be? In aspect as Mother Earth and Father Sky? If there is no sun, there is no grain. Apollo is mentioned along with Hekate in the lore of Eleusis, but only in passing (Hekate was hanging out with Apollo in the sky and they saw what had happened to Persephone). So how were Demeter and Apollo celebrated together? Were they? Anything about Demeter having a connection with male deities is either Zeus or Poseidon and remotely, Dionysus. However! There still stands the ruins of a temple dedicated to Demeter and Apollo as a pair on the island of Naxos:



This has been a lot of Greek talk tonight- so what did Italians do? Eat. Drink. Make offerings of bread and wine and fruit. Prep for the winter. There's no time to be high falutin when you're concerned with survival!
No matter which way you look at it, this is not the happiest time of year, a time to bid adieu to the blooming earth for a while, knowing that She will be restored. No wonder so many Pagans skip this holiday or just gloss over it!

No matter how you celebrate, no matter what you call it, I hope you have a good one :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pantastic!

This is part two from last night! Srsly, a part two when I said? Shocker!

Last night I posted about Pan and his associations, but I didn't post about how panic got its name. Legend has it that Pan's mother saw him when he was born and, well, panicked. She ran off, never to be heard from again. Hmmm, ok. Didn't she know she was getting involved with a deity associated with rams?

I've come across some nifty articles on the web, including this one which gives a basic background and literal dictionary definitions, but it amuses me! and this other one which is really in depth and journeys to Egyptian associations as well.

Panic, it is said, came from Pan's music. His dad did invent the lyre (and gave it to Apollo later!). However, I take it as a metaphor: His music is the sounds of the forest, those sounds you never quite recognize or know from whence they came. This music can also inspire other emotions, such as lust. There is a later legend, most famously provided by Ovid,  about Pan and Apollo throwing down in the first ever battle of the bands:

While Pan was boasting there to mountain nymphs
of his great skill in music, and while he
was warbling a gay tune upon the reeds,
cemented with soft wax, in his conceit
he dared to boast to them how he despised
Apollo's music when compared with his--.
At last to prove it, he agreed to stand
against Apollo in a contest which
it was agreed should be decided by
Tmolus as their umpire.

This old god
sat down on his own mountain, and first eased
his ears of many mountain growing trees,
oak leaves were wreathed upon his azure hair
and acorns from his hollow temples hung.

First to the Shepherd-god Tmolus spoke:
"My judgment shall be yours with no delay.
Pan made some rustic sounds on his rough reeds,
delighting Midas with his uncouth notes;
for Midas chanced to be there when he played.
When Pan had ceased, divine Tmolus turned
to Phoebus, and the forest likewise turned
just as he moved. Apollo's golden locks
were richly wreathed with fresh Parnassian laurel;
his robe of Tyrian purple swept the ground;
his left hand held his lyre, adorned with gems
and Indian ivory. His right hand held
the plectrum--as an artist he stood there
before Tmolus, while his skilful thumb
touching the strings made charming melody.

Delighted with Apollo's artful touch,
Tmolus ordered Pan to hold his reeds
excelled by beauty of Apollo's lyre.
That judgment of the sacred mountain god
pleased all those present, all but Midas, who
blaming Tmolus called the award unjust."
-Ovid Metamorphoses

Pan wasn't just a lusty, frolicking goat-god. His sexual prowess inspires fearful stories as well:
Echo was a beautiful and musical nymph who could sing and play many instruments. She lived in the woods and denied the love of any man or God. Pan fell in love with Echo, but she ran away from him. He became so angry when she refused him, he created such a "panic" causing a group of  shepherds to kill her. And poor Syrinx! To escape Pan's pursuit, she was turned into reeds. Even then there was no escape as she was turned into his eponymous flute. Pan kept company with Dionysus and as such, are we surprised about the sex and music associations? Sounds like a party. Pan is also said to have been with every Maenad.

Why then, his is name the inspiration for a word which means "Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior?" He isn't just fear itself, he is nature itself: The uncertainty of finding food and drink and shelter and sex out in the wild, of continued existence, or the sun rising the next day. He is a primal deity, I believe, one which attests to our evolution. When we look to his Roman counterpart, Faunus, we find an indigenous deity who was present well before any capitoline triad. Pan is the wild. We came from the caves and the woods, the very place where he dwells and we no longer live there. Most of us barely know how to function without a cell phone, let alone make our way out in the wild. Now that is some scary stuff. Perhaps enough to cause a panic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Manic Panic (adult content)

Everyone has panicked at one time or another; "Oh no! I think I left my homework in my room!" or "I forgot the files for that presentation!" But panic attacks are an entirely different thing. They can come on without warning and without an obvious reason. I've been to the hospital for what was determined to be a panic attack. Thankfully, I have been able to use EFT (emotional freedom technique) to relieve panic when it does happen and to preempt them entirely. I like EFT, it's one size fits all acupressure and it's a good focus. If nothing else, you're directing healing energy to yourself and being positive.

Is there an Italian remedy for panic? Italians don't have panic disorders. That's why it was such a big deal on The Sopranos lol kidding. Anyone can have a panic disorder, doesn't matter what your cultural background it. Herbs help: Chamomile, lavender, wine, garlic. But when faced with Panic, it's not a bad idea to have a relationship established with the God of fear itself, Pan. The word panic comes from his name. The word "pan" might mean "all" now, but at some point, the word meant something more like "rustic."

Who's your daddy?

Pan's father is none other than Hermes. The identity of Pan's mother changes with the folklore. A Dryad? a Naiad? Is this a metaphor? Hermes + woodland = rustic ram deity? Does Pan = Hermes? Is Pan the "pagan" version of Him? Pan is a deity of the fertility of the flocks and herds and of the woods. We've talked here before about Mercury, Hermes, et al as fertility deities (and it is said He is also a deity of herds and herders). Pan and Dionysus are pals, according to the mythology. In the same body of lore, Hermes carries Dionysus to hide him from Hera.

I find it fascinating that Pan is also associated with Priapus, who we have talked about before, specifically as the sexual side of Mercury

We like to go back and forth here on the blog between Italic, Roman, and Greek deities and lore, so let's add to the fun (or confusion, whichever you'd like to call it) and talk about the Italian and Roman syncretic versions of Pan: There is Inuus and Faunus and Silvanus. Faunus is most often associated directly with Pan. Inuus might very well be an epithet of Faunus:
...named from his habit of intercourse with animals, based on the etymology of ineundum, "a going in, penetration," from inire, "to enter" in the sexual sense...

 There's actually a pretty nifty article on wiki about how Inuus is the inspiration for Lupercalia!

Faunus is said to be one of the indigenous deities of Italy, as is his counterpart Fauna. She is also said to be Bona Dea. He is thought to have once been a mortal who was consulted as an oracle after he passed. For his continued service, he was apotheosized. Funny, Pan is thought to be a deity of Prophecy too.

I'm going to leave off here as it's getting late. There is more to come! I haven't even gotten to the part about actual panic! Pantastic!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best.Italian.Ever.

No, the post isn't about me! It's about Leonardo Da Vinci! The Renaissance Man. One of the most famous artists in history. One of us. The man even has his own code! If you haven't heard of The Da Vinci code, just stop reading this now and go enjoy the delicious conspiracy theories. Even better, go get yourself a copy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the book it's based on. Conspiracies abound about this man. We don't know much about his personal life, only the writings he has left behind for us.

He was a neo-platonist, a vegetarian, and he wrote about finding a cave and being afraid of what was inside, but overcome by curiosity to discover what was in there. Sounds like one of my earlier posts on Parmenides or Empedocles! So what is this cave? Where is Vinci? Is it a literal cave? Was it a metaphor for initiation? I think it was both. Vinci is a small town in the hills of Tuscany. There could easily have been a literal cave near his home.

One of The Loyal Horde posted a link on facebook today about one of the many theories behind the Mona Lisa. I'm a conspiracy theory fan (it goes well with my being a syncretist- I like to world to fit together neatly!) so this just floated my boat. Here is an excerpt from the article she posted:

“The Mona Lisa's landscape is not a fantasy, but a precise survey map of Rome and its vicinity. The survey cleverly defines the two extremes of religion, marking the center of Christianity on the right side, and the center of paganism on the left. The dome of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican is one end of the survey, and the site of the cult practices of the goddess Diana at Lake Nemi is the other. A line between the two endpoints, 29.5 km apart, intersects the Tempietto of Bramante,” says Lund.


The Tempietto of Bramante is at the top of Janiculum Hill, the ancient, pre-roman cult center of Janus. It was officially annexed as part of Rome in the mid 600s BCE. What is it called in Italian? il Gianicolo. Sound like San Gennaro? Not a coincidence!

The author, Scott Lund, discusses the theory that The Mona Lisa is also Anima Sol (an anagram) which refers to Janus, and the "missing" columns of the painting which frame the rest as an arch, another symbol of Janus. I agree with the author that the Mona Lisa wasn't a commissioned painting for a rich noble- it took 16 years to complete! And she's wearing no jewelry. Seriously, you're rich and this is you photo shoot and you don't bling it up? Riiight. ;)

He has other interesting theories about the placement of the basilica, the tempietto, and Lake Nemi and how they line up. I'm not surprised. It makes perfect sense that Capitoline Hill, a male center of worship and Lake Nemi, a female centered area of worship have, directly in the center, Janus looking in either direction, both male and female. He gets into wormhole theories, which are still a bit beyond the scope of my practice (the most I'll think about ancient alients as deities is when I watch the movie Stargate!) but the article, and site, are worth exploring if only for the questions they raise.

Mona Lisa  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Olive Oil! (quickie)

Since I posted a recipe for an anointing oil last night, let's talk more about the base of the nifty concoction: Olive oil. Legend has it Athena won slot (ad naming rights?) to Athens because she placed an olive tree at the top of the acropolis and Poseidon, her rival for this competition, had created a spring. The olive tree was judged the better of the two.

Here's a link to a nifty article on the background of olive oil in Italy.
Olive oil has formed the basis of the renowned ‘Mediterranean diet’ for thousands of years, along with its medicinal properties. Homer, the great Greek poet, termed olive oil as being ‘liquid gold’ and Greek athletes would apply olive oil to their skin to render it supple as radiant. The olive tree is native to the southern Mediterranean but it is found in Lebanon, Iran and even parts of China. The olive tree was possibly brought to the Mediterranean by the Etruscans, who clearly delighted in its use. Ancient Etruscan vases depicted the scenes of the olive harvest and the tree was clearly a very special part of their mysterious culture.

Tribute to women of Witchcraft.

Greetings All,

I had found this on You Tube and just wanted to share. Some of you have probably already seen it, some of you probably are not really fond of everyone listed here, but I thought some may be interested in the folks you do know and do recognize. I realize it is not a very deep and intense video, but hopefully you will be able to take it at face value and realize it is a tribute to your fellow female Witches and be able to understand their willingness to come out of the closet and just be who they are in their specific denomination of the craft.

Blessed be the witches,
Dusio

Anointing oil (a quick recipe)

I've been asked to post something about olive oil and plan to do an in depth post on this magical stuff another time. For now here is a recipe for an anointing oil. When I touch it to my third eye, my experiences are more intense, especially with journeying. It's not a flying ointment, more like protection while you're flying. It won't get you there, but it will help open the way and help keep you safe.

Anointing Oil

Ingredients
(measurements are approximate)
• 1 oz Unrefined Organic Olive oil
• 1 tsp Powdered Clove. I powder it myself from the whole herb.
• 1 flower's worth of pesticide-free Red Rose petals washed, dried, ground into powder
• 24 drops Bach Flower Remedy: Walnut

The clove is for warmth, driving away negativity and to increase memory.
The rose petals are for increasing psychic awareness, amongst other things.
The walnut is for protection, especially during times of change. 

After I powder the clove and the rose petals, I combine the powders. Then I add the Bach Walnut drops to the powder and mix them into a paste. If you need more drops to absorb the powder, use more drops. Then I slowly add the oil.  Mix it slowly, so you don't just whip up a lot of air bubbles. I know the proportions are right when it's thin enough that the oil pours. I really don't use recipes, I learned to cook by sight so trying to translate this into measurements has been really difficult!

Those who join in my autumn rituals will get to experience this wonderful concoction!

Sweet sorrow

Today I was drawn to wear my Apollo ring. It's not one I specifically procured in His name or in His honor. It's one which was gifted to me many years ago and over the years I've only worn it on occasion. At the beginning of this summer I felt a powerful call to wear it. It was around the same time that Apollo was becoming more of a presence in my life. I've written before about how He surprised me with His involvement in my labyrinth consecration! He is also the one who gave me my name. It is not one I share outside of mia famiglia, tho I do believe that will soon change.


I have been complaining about the earlier sunsets and now, we've almost reached the balance point. After that, I think I will miss Him in a way I haven't experienced before, hence the title of this post. I've always been very Goddess centered because there is too much male = God energy in the world. However, I need to balance that energy within myself first. This transition into the next cycle of the year has been a strange one for me. I have gone over some of my posts from the summer and there was a definite theme running through it.


Many Pagan groups, especially the ones who celebrate "Mabon" appear to be very focused on the male journey. The King is sacrificed for the land, he goes away, he is conceived once again, the Goddess is pregnant, and then she gives birth. He grows up, faces challenges, is proven worthy of the Goddess, they mate, the King is sacrificed, and around again we go. The amount of focus on it seems incredibly Christian. Every Sunday they celebrate this sacrifice. Maybe that's why I'm tired of it when it comes to this time of the year. Maybe it's because I don't see it as the King being sacrificed for the people. It's really about Mother Earth. The wheat grows from Her body. And why is the wheat a he? The tree flowers, the flower turns to fruit, the fruit falls, is buried, sprouts and a new tree is born from the death of the fruit. The Sun, or Father Sky assists, but all of this takes place in and on Mother Earth.

In my tradition, the cycle of the Goddess is the focus and it's not only a mimic of a life cycle, it's a shift in focus, or power. We are transitioning into Her aspect as the Dark Mother. This is the time of the Greater Mysteries, of the transformation of Proserpine from maiden of flowers to Queen of the Underworld. I've posted before about this time of year and how we're supposed to be "going within" and using this allegedly not busy season to focus on spiritual improvement and exploration.


I'm going to leave off here about the cycle of the year and pick that up again another time, when I have proper examples and pictures to add! Part 1!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crescent Cakes


A piece of the Charge of Aradia:

I am the spirit of witches all, and this is joy and peace and harmony. In life does the Queen of Witches reveal the knowledge of spirit. And from death does the Queen deliver you from peace. When I shall have departed from this world, in memory of me make cakes of grain, wine and honey. These shall you shape like the moon, and then partake of wines and cakes, all in my memory. For I have been sent to you by the spirits of Old, and I have come being that you might be delivered from all slavery. I am the daughter of the sun and moon, and even though I have been born into this world, my race is of the stars.

I have recently been in a circle where there were no crescent cakes and the members rushed off to another circle with no consideration of these cakes and wine. I guess I am rather old school, but I will raise the question if you believe in the La Vecchia Religione and the Gospel of Aradia I'm not quite sure how one rushes off to a Wiccan ceremony without completing your Streghe ceremony. We are already a minority as Italian Americans especially because we are not following a Roman Catholic religion. We are struggling to define an Italian American spirituality free from the strict boundaries of Roman Catholicism. The Celts and Druids already feel the Roman Italians are to blame for our conquering Europe with our Catholic beliefs. We are such a minority of Pagan Italians we absolutely must stand the course.

By the Old Ways,
Dusio

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tuning In

Last night I lamented not feeling connected. Tonight, I just want to chill. I want to shut it all down and have some silence, but at this point in the year, things start to get "noisy." As the veil thins, contact gets easier- not just from this side, but from the other as well. Between my work and THE work, sometimes it gets to be too much and I need a moment to myself. ALL to myself.

Turning it on and off and on again is another kind of skill. It's different from shielding. Some people work so hard to turn it on and make and maintain a connection that the idea of turning it off, even for a while, can be scary. I've answered questions that haven't been asked, or laugh at a joke someone hadn't told. I used to cut people off halfway through a sentence because I'd already heard the rest in my head and didn't realize they hadn't actually said the words yet. It was too much at the time, so I turned it off. It was really the first time I'd tried. It can be viewed as telescoping your chakras closed, or visualizing walls going up or a grid going dark. Sometimes you just need a drink! Alcohol can make things quiet, but not always and not for everyone. It depends on how you react to the stuff.

Sometimes, like anything else, it just takes practice. You need to be careful when trying to turn up the literal or proverbial volume to drown things out. Cranking up the ipod is just adding to the din. Staying really busy can stress you out. I've used mantras to drown out chatter, but the real skill comes in being able to convert and move into a state of mental and physical silence. While exercise might tire you out, it also gives you an endorphin boost and makes you sweat. It opens you up more, I think.

Hematite is a lovely, effective stone. I have a necklace of it which is just long enough to fall to the base of my neck. It's not a choker, it doesn't hang down. When I put that on, I'm locking everything out of my head. Mine! I don't wear it long or often, but it is useful to have.

Another useful tool along the same lines, is a decorative necklace in which you can put something- put dirt from your home in it. Talk about grounding! Wear that the same way as mentioned above. Again, not for too long. Just to take a break. Maybe 20 minutes. Once you're in the zone, you don't need it as often. This is one of the times where I recommend a tool as opposed to relying on doing it spontaneously or with only your own energy. When we draw energy into us to use for whatever purpose, we're still drawing in. When you shield really hard you're still using energy, but it is more difficult to draw it in so you use your own reserves. Having a necklace or talisman which will put the breaks on instantly is of tremendous value. It gives you the time and space to clear your head and to recharge so if you need to keep it going, your reserves are on full.

A cousin of mine is off on a retreat right now. 10 days of silence! From speaking, from working and from electronics. Sounds pretty awesome. And quiet! However, they're using this kind of silence to open up and receive, to bring in da noise. The kind of quiet I'm talking about is being alone in your head. Sure, the connections, support, help, past work- it's all there, but it's just put away while you... hmm float? Not in water; The visual I have right now is an astronaut in outer space. They're anchored to the ship by a long cord, but otherwise they're just out there floating amongst the grandeur of the stars. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trust

Italian Witches are some of the most magically paranoid people I know. Everything is as secret as possible. Unless you're seeking help from your magical family, you keep you work to yourself. Having grown up in that environment, it's hard for me to trust others, especially about work I might be doing. When I'm doing a ritual with people I don't know very well, I shield myself. My energy goes out into the pool, gets mixed with the others and sent out towards the intention of the day. But I wouldn't take that in. Or charge my items with it.

Public rituals can be a tricky thing, energy-wise. You don't know who will be there or what energy they will bring to the proverbial table. At an event ritual, like a fair or Pagan Pride day, what you're really counting on, for a successful ritual, is common intent, plus many voices saying the same thing which equals repetition, which equals invocation.

I'm a firm believer that these kind of rituals should be quick, to the point, raise a lot of energy quickly, and have the leaders of the ritual direct it towards the goal. Otherwise the focus is lost quickly and the whole thing degenerates into a theatrical production with no power behind it. 

I know that I have been unfocused lately. In the past, it's typically been a joy to blog every day. This week, I'm just not feeling it. Others who work with Mercury in his various forms have told me that they also feel the same way: Two peas in a pod for the longest time, then all of a sudden... He's off and busy taking care of other things. Well, not to say there is nothing there, but it's something I have to actively call up as opposed to the usual being together an in sync. Like when someone you live with is off on a trip; You have to pick up the phone to call them instead of just talking to them across the room. I have been feeling the lack of His presence lately and it has been reflected in my blogging, so apologies for that. I know I need to give myself over to the joy of blogging daily and learning something new and exploring the things I love. I decided that last night and today I came across three different statues of Mercury. He's still around. Right now I just have to pick up the phone.


Speaking of phones... what do you think about technology in ritual? Skyping in? Magic over the phone? ipod as index card you can read in the dark? I'm pondering a post on that!

Charmed, I'm sure

One of my favorite ways to set the energy in a space, especially at home, is with scent. Take a small cotton bag,  and depending on the season and purpose, add in different herbs. place a small folded tissue with a drop of scented oil in the bag. I like to write an intention on a small piece of paper, fold it, and add it to the bag. Sometimes I wrap it around the scented tissue to diffuse the intention as well as the scent.

You can be obvious about it, or hide it- hang it over your door or from your fan, or tuck it in a corner.

We're getting into the cooler months, so to warm up a space and bring comfort, some camommile, and cinnamon is nice and easy. To bring extra energy to a space, add cayenne. To add a layer of protection, add rue and salt to a red bag. I haven't done a big correspondence list because those are pretty easy to find in books and on the internet.

Folks talk a lot about aromatherapy, and about mojo bags, but I never see these two put together and it's such a simple way to bring magic to your home. Many years ago scent jewelry was a big thing. I have rings and necklaces for this purpose which belonged to my Grandmother. You put a dab of "perfume" on a piece of tissue or cotton and insert it in the jewelry. It's the perfect wearable spell- a little intent, a little oil, and a little magic. It can also be used with an ointment. Those are fun to make! I will get into the practicality of making your own magical ointments another night!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wine festivals, dancing and the Sea

I have blog ADD tonight! Too many topics that I'm interested in and none of them are really popping out for me to concentrate on. Here is a bit of what's on my mind:

Last night I wondered what was going on in the rest of Italy while Rome was indulging itself in the Ludi Romani. In Tuscany, specifically the Chianti region, they were harvesting the grapes and pressing them, beginning the vintage for the following year. My search for information on the festivals and impending-autumn traditions of the region led me to Wine Therapy! Not just drinking it, but apparently bathing in it and using it as a cosmetic goes waaaaaaaaay back in recorded history. It's named amongst Cleopatra's beauty treatments too.



Another festival which just passed is the festival of Madonna a Mare, Madonna of the Sea, which takes place in the Messina region of Sicily. A golden statue of The Holy Mother is processed to the beach and set on an illuminated boat where it leads a boat procession. Hundreds of  fishing boats follow and the Madonna gives a Benediction of the Sea in the bay.

Not surprisingly, there are other, similar festivals which happen in Sicily at the same time:

The northern coastal city Altavilla Milicia, population 5000, gives thanks to the Madonna of Milicia. According to tradition, endangered fishermen threw her image into the tempestuous sea, which very suddenly became tranquil. The city renders homage to her with a great party.

In the northern coastal village of Baucina, population 2000, twelve groups of girls represent episodes in the life and the martyrdom of the patron saint, Santa Fortunata. Fifty believers carry a very heavy urn on their shoulders. Legend says that the Saint assists or hampers them depending on men’s level of loyalty.


As you may have gathered in previous posts, I am a fan of Italian traditional, magical dancing, particularly the tarantella and the pizzica. I was researching Puglia and it's history of Pizzica and came across this really cool article about a summer solstice pizzica festival. A pizzica rave! A few highlights:

Tinged with voodoo, pizzica folk music has added rhythm to one of Italy's cultural hotspots

A record 200,000 revellers –mainly young – attended this year's two-week series of concerts

Fast, hypnotic and tambourine-driven, the pizzica derives from a centuries-old concoction of faith healing and peasant culture, mixed with a whiff of Italian voodoo.

"The music is so closely tied to the local culture and identity, to joy, life and death, that it would be tough to turn it into a plastic, tourist experience."

Yeah, well, don't doubt they'll try.  Add another thing to my Italy to-do list!

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow I hope to have a special field report!

Ludi Romani

Another effing festival? Seriously? Yeah. The Romans liked their festivals. They had so many because they also liked the festivals of the deities they co-opted from the regions they conquered and assimilated.

The Ludi Romani was the biggest festival in Rome. Sources debate the origin date, but it's ballparked around the 5th century BCE. Allegedly it started out as a quickie festival, only on the Ides of September, but with an influx of cash, the festival grew larger. Some sources claim they were held annually, others claim they were sporadic for a time but eventually became an annual event.

There were chariot races and plays and concerts and gladiatorial contests and feasts and sacrifices. Actually, I stated all of that backwards: The festival started with a procession to the temple of Jupiter where a cow was sacrificed. I've also read that the procession went from the temple to the Circus Maximus. Its likely both are correct: The festival evolved over the years in length and entertainments presented. During this festival was the Epulum Jovis, a banquet where the statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, the Capitoline Triad, were adorned and sat at the table with those feasting. They were served the food on the dishes and their priests were their, as one site put it, "gastronomic proxies."

This site has some nifty information as well as the picture of a coin which shows what the Temple probably looked like.

What I can't find is the end date for the Ludi Romani. When were they no longer celebrated? Or are they still celebrated in some form? 

Aside from the historical stuff you can look up on wiki as easily as I can, what I want to focus on a bit is the legend of how the games began: Tarquinus Priscus, later known as Tarquinus the Elder, was the 5th King of Rome. However, he was from Etruria. Legend has it that he was denied political office in Etruria because his father was a Greek immigrant, so he went to Rome to find his fortune. That he did! Further, the legend tells of an eagle swiping his cap when he entered the city and placed it back on his head. I wonder who started that one! He became friends with the 4th King and when his friend passed, Tarquinus talked the senate into declaring him King. Apparently it worked. The Ludi Romani were allegedly started in honor of Tarquin's winning a military victory, which one is debated. He created the Circus Maximus for chariot races.

Little remains of the Circus Maximus, but from the evidence we have, it was effing fabulous! Biggest. Arena. Ever. I've come across a site which claims the last games held at the Circus Maximus, not specifically the Ludi Romani, were in 549 CE. A thousand years of games. Today? Pft. They knocked down and rebuilt Giant Stadium AND Yankee Stadium in the past few years. Take a gander here, and you'll be able to see what's left, which is barely the footprint.

Circus Maximus depicted on the back of a coin

So now the question is, why oh why was Rome partying while everyone else in Italy was bringing in the last harvest and preparing for winter? The games were free to all, but was this just a festival for the wealthy? More tomorrow, perhaps on what the rest of Italia was up to in September!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mysterious Moon

The ancient calendar of Athens was lunisolar- it was based on both sun and moon. We know that their new year started on the first new moon after the summer solstice. We also know that the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated from this full moon until the new moon. Tonight begins the Descent of the Goddess.

I've wanted to talk about this and to not talk about this. I feel like this mystery cult was stolen from Sicily and somehow resent it. I'll get over it and come to a greater appreciation and understanding, but that's how I feel at the moment.

In rereading the papers on and history of Lake Enna and Pergusa in Sicily, I realized something: This is the time of year the Lake would turn red:


Situated in the province of Enna in a vast grain-growing region of Sicily, Lake Pergusa is one of very few natural lakes that remain on an island famed in antiquity for its wetlands. Pergusa's basin was formed eons ago because of the sudden sinking of the earth's rock layers and is fed only by rainwater and underground tricklings, which are slightly salinated and sulfurous. Italian scientist Sergio Angeletti has noted, "This lake represents a marvelous example in microcosm ... of the formation of the ocean four to five million years ago."

The lake periodically undergoes a remarkable reddening phenomenon because of the presence of a red, sulfur-oxidizing bacterium (Thiocapsa roseopersicina) in its waters. During summer months of years in which the sulfur content reaches a critical level, the bacteria proliferate to such an extent that the lake's waters turn either partially or entirely a deep red color, and the environs smell of sulfur for miles around. Over a period of several weeks, the bacteria reduce the sulfur level; they, in turn, are eaten by a tiny, transparent crustacean; and the lake returns to its normal color. The phenomenon, which has been documented only since the twentieth century, was studied in 1932 by Italian scientist Achille Forti, who dubbed Pergusa "the lake of blood."



If you haven't read Margurite Rigoglioso's research on this, you simply must. The above quote was taken from her well researched paper. I've posted it on the blog before, but it deserves to be posted again. Tonight is a quickie because I need to go prepare for tonight's full moon festivities! Tomorrow I hope to post about what's going on in the rest of Italy at this time of year, especially Rome's Ludi Romani.

I was going to leave off tonight with a quote from this paper, but I can't pick just one! If you haven't yet read Persephone's sacred lake and the ancient female mystery religion in the womb of sicily. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion | September 22, 2005 | Rigoglioso, Marguerite, please do. There will be a quiz later. With prizes. The prize is knowledge of a fascinating place and perspective! 




Saturday, September 10, 2011

Everyday Tools

Growing up, the magical tools were everyday things around the house. The "athame" was the old bread knife, which, when you think about it, was perfectly appropriate. It wasn't set aside for "magic" it was there to cut the bread! But it could also cut away The Evil Eye. Scissors? In the crazy drawer of tools and bits n bobs everyone has in their kitchen. No special place, not wrapped in a scented cloth... The mortar and pestle? There on the shelf. Used to grind herbs for cooking as well as for cooking up something or healing. There were things that came out at certain times of year: The New Year's Eve bell to clear the energy from the previous year, the drinking vessels that came out only for certain occasions... the recipes that are made only at certain times of year... So many Italians have this in common: The rhythm of daily magical life.

I've read elsewhere that all tools should be set aside for magic and nothing else. I disagree, at least in part: What gave those items their power and meaning was their daily mundane use- their place as an integral part of daily living. Yes, there were things reserved for certain occasions, but the tools that have been most dear to me are the ones that were just plain ours. The objects I use to connect with my ancestors are the ones said ancestors had on their person the most and aren't necessarily the fanciest. I prize the every day dishes of my family more than "the china" which I've never seen used.

I gave a very rushed, 30 minute presentation today at North Jersey Pagan Pride about Witchcraft in Italy. I talked a bit about the differences between La Vecchia and the typical forms of modern Paganism: In Italian family traditions, the mundane is magical; The two are irrevocably intertwined. Time isn't typically set aside for magic as a separate part of life. You went to make dinner, you lit candles. You made dinner, you offered part of it, and while making it you knew what effect the herbs used would have on the people eating it as well as the words to say to enchant it. After you cleaned up the dinner mess, you cleared out the energy. Any tools that I have set aside for no purpose other than magic are ones which happen to be used in my daily devotions. They are part of my every day life.

Some of this has to do with hiding out from the inquisition; It was necessary to blend in for survival, as Carlo Ginzburg's The Night Battles will attest. Happily, we don't have to do that as much anymore. Some of it is a matter of wealth- unless you're rich you can't afford to have certain things set aside. Most importantly, regular, intimate use means these object are being fed energy and given a purpose.

I believe there is no magical working that can't be done without a tool. However, a tool is supposed to make it easier. How can a tool make it easier if it has no stored energy? Consecrating it isn't enough- one magical zap and it's good to go forever? Not so much. You need to cultivate a relationship with it, and make it part of your flow of energy if you want it to serve you properly. Tools are supposed to be extensions of ourselves and our energy. Setting it aside to deal with it sometimes just doesn't get you there. It's like trying to drive somewhere without putting gas in the car first.

How lucky! A rambling rant! Blame it on the sun. I picked up more today than new students, new clients and raffle prizes, I brought home a sunburn! Working with Apollo is not the same thing as using sunblock.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Feasts!

There are many feasts in September. Sometimes they're called festivals or street fairs, but to an Italian it's a "feast." That's why there's always so much food! ;)

This weekend we have the Hoboken Italian Festival. This is, I believe, a misnomer. It should be called The Feast of The Madonna of Molfetta, or The Feast of Madonna Dei Martiri (Madonna of the Martyrs). Here is the page explaining the origin of the festival. Whatever the story is, the pattern has remained the same since ancient times: Miraculous event happens or is petitioned, a celebration ensues, celebration is continued yearly ad infinitum! This is half the reason the Roman calendar gets so confusing- there are overlapping holidays and events!

Here is an excerpt from the Italian web site for this Madonna, explaining it:

7, 8, 9 September - Exhibition and festival at sea
The festival at sea, commonly called the festival of Médonn coincides with the exhibition of Molfetta, granted in 1395 by King Ladislas of Durazzo who actually granted eight days "free from taxes" September 8 to 15, decreased during the centuries to the current 3 days. Opportunity for profitable trade for centuries, especially of animals and artifacts of the place, has now transformed into the celebration that we all know.
Since the beginning of the city of Molfetta, which has always characterized by a strong link between the navy and the Madonna of the Martyrs, was to reinforce this relationship by proclaiming the Madonna of the Martyrs protector of sailors.
On September 8, 1846 the statue was placed on two racks sailing and transported to the quay.
Thus began the tradition of the festival at sea, which is repeated every year with great concourse of people, including many emigrants who returned for the occasion from all over the world in his native country.


Basically, Italian immigrants from Molfetta settled in and around Hoboken and kept up the celebration of their homeland. I hope to make it to the festival at some point this weekend, especially for the traditional singers and dancers.

Next week starts the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy. He is the patron of Naples. I have family from Naples who settled in Little Italy about 125 years ago, well before this feast was started. I feel no particular connection to that figure, but I do like the celebration! I will post more about that next week!

Tonight I'm prepping for a workshop I'm giving tomorrow on The Witchcraft of Italy. It's a quickie workshop, so I'm going to pare it down to the basics: Everything is Italian! There, now you can go home ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Greased Lightning!

The planet Jupiter is now retrograde. Astrologically speaking, it's not considered that big of a deal because Jupiter is retrograde for half the year, every year. However, there is a shakeup around the 5 days or so it takes for it to slow down and turn retrograde and later turn direct once again. This Jupiter storm coincided almost perfectly with the storm of Mercury going direct. In the days it took Mercury to stabilize into direct motion, Jupiter was slowing. So many people complained that it felt like Mercury was still retrograde!

In astrology, the planet Jupiter rules many things, including luck: It's the difference between the football hitting the goal post and going in, or hitting the post and bouncing off. What do you think is more likely to happen when Jupiter is retrograde? Yeah. No goal.

Last night we had a storm which inspired this post. The lightning was amazing- the likes of which I haven't seen since I was in the Berkshires at Mount Greylock and the lightning danced with the top of the mountain. Wow!
Lightning striking the top of the Washington Monument
Here's more info on the Iuppiter, aka Jupiter, aka Dies Pater.... lots of akas.... "Iuppiter originated as a vocative compound of the archaic Latin vocative *Iou and pater..." Our Father much? ;) The link is to the Nova Roma entry for Jupiter. I respect their research and typical attention to detail. There's also a great list of epithets!

Best Jupiter quote ever, unintentional tho it might be:
"Now if the Attendants be bright as the Sun, quick as Lightning, and powerful as Thunder; what is He that is their Lord?" -Thomas Comber, 1676
Let's leave off tonight with His Orphic hymn, which is thought to have been, in it's original language, used as an invocation during the Mysteries of Eleusis.

The Orphic Hymn to Jupiter
Thomas Taylor 1824

Fumigation from Storax
O Jove, much-honour'd, Jove supremely great,
To thee our holy rites we consecrate,
Our pray'rs and expiations, king divine,
For all things to produce with ease thro' mind is thine.
Hence mother Earth and mountains swelling high
Proceed from thee, the deep and all within the sky.
Saturnian king, descending from above,
Magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Jove;
All-parent, principle and end of all,
Whose pow'r almighty shakes this earthly ball;
Ev'n Nature trembles at thy mighty nod,
Loud-sounding, arm'd with light'ning, thund'ring God.
Source of abundance, purifying king,
O various-form'd, from whom all natures spring;
Propitious hear my pray'r, give blameless health,
With peace divine, and necessary wealth.

Kyphi

Nemesis has been talking a lot about his latest batch of Kyphi and it has inspired not only tonight's post, but my own kyphi efforts as well.

What is Kyphi? It is, as Nemesis puts it, "The chai of incense!" Kyphi might be the phonetic translation of the Egyptian word for incense.  Plutarch, our favorite historian and Priest of Apollo, makes mention of a 36 ingredient Sun Kyphi, and a Moon kyphi. It was used as offerings, as aromatherapy, as a salve, or as a drink depending on the ailment.

Here is an article from Sevants of the Light school on the history of kyphi

"Kyphi is a mixture composed of sixteen ingredients; of honey and wine, raisins and galingale, (pine) resin and myrrh, aspalathos and seseli; moreover, of mastic and bitumen, bulrush and sorrel, together with the two kinds of juniper berries (of which one is called major and the other minor), cardamom and sweet flag. And these ingredients are not mixed by chance, but according to instructions cited in holy books, that are read to the incense makers while they mix them."
Plutarch, "De Iside et Osiride" ("On Isis and Osiris"), ch. 80.



This is a page of recipes with information about where each recipe comes from. It includes the ingredients etched into the walls of the temple of Edfu, but not the quantities. I'm a google-queen, but I doubt I'll be able to copy and paste the translated liturgy of Edfu here so we can all chant as the ancients did. The temple of Edfu has the recipes as well as sacred texts preserved on its walls. I've found talk on the internet about translation projects, but have not yet tracked down what sounds like academic papers. But you know I will!!!


I use the Edfu recipe. It takes days to make and longer to set. There are herbs and raisins to grind, wine to ferment, and honey to boil. Honey??? Actually, I don't use honey. I use agave. It's that vegan thing again. Agave is golden about the same consistency, and just as sweet. Sacred bee, sacred tequila... either way, it's all good! Oh, and then you have to form it into small balls and let em set for a few months. The longer, the better.

You can find recipes and instructions in the book Sacred Luxuries by Lise Manniche.

Years ago I used to love buying Tazo teas. It wasn't just for the taste, but because the ingredients always listed, along with whatever herbs were in the bag, "The mumbled chantings of a certified tea shaman." I loved the idea of someone chanting or infusing the herbs with energy.
They no longer list this as an ingredient :(

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ancient Ghost Town

One of the reasons behind my daily blogging is to set aside time to investigate and research and to contemplate what I know and what I only think I know. There is so very much on this topic- it's a huge body of water with a great number of tributaries. There's no way I'm going to parse all of this tonight, so come take a trip on my train of thought...

When I made my offerings eariler, I found myself in a prayer pose which I recall my Aunts using, even the ones who went to Church (tho not as exaggerated). Almost no one else in the church did this, certainly not anyone who wasn't Italian (It was a mostly Italian parish anyway!). From there, it was a quick leap to the Minoan figures of worshipers. I remember how striking they were when I saw them in person:


I took this picture in the Heraklion museum.

I meditated tonight before blogging and was reminded of my dance with Ereshkigal. I didn't really understand why until, when searching for pictures of the figures of worshipers, I came across pictures of the Minoan Snake Goddess.



I wound up looking at these pictures side by side for the first time. I've known about Ninhursag, but somehow I've never connected these two pictures before.



Ninhursag, meaning "Lady of the Mountain," is the Sumerian Earth Goddess/Mother Goddess. Her attributes were later subsumed into Inanna/Ishtar. If you are unfamiliar with this Goddess I highly suggest this article. "In art, Ninhursag is often depicted with a tiered skirt, often with a horned head-dress. She sometimes carries bow cases at her shoulders, and/or a mace or staff with an omega motif at its top."

What really has me in a tizzy tonight is this article I've found on the links between Egypt and Crete. I would love to just post the entire article here on the blog. Instead I'll summarize it and add a few excerpts of interest, tho I have to say the entirely article is fascinating and makes a lot of sense. I would love to hear from those who work with the Egyptian pantheons weight in on this. Happily, I know a few and will ask them to comment.

Points to ponder from the article:
Was Crete an Egyptian colony, with care for the dead their primary occupation?
Were the "palaces" of Crete actually temples?
These were made of gypsum, when limestone was available.
No artifacts of daily living or waste have been found in the complexes
The stairs showed little sign of travel
There are identical processional paintings, of the same age, found in both Crete and Egypt; They speak of an island, identified in Egyptian sources as “Keftiu” – Crete.
The Phaistos Disc, found in Crete, might be a version of the Egyptian the snake game, Senet, which became an important funerary object and a metaphor for ascending to Heaven.

An excerpt:

The bull was important both in Crete and Egypt. In Egypt, the animal is linked with the deceased king, whereas the bull is depicted on all Minoan monuments, though its specification function is unclear, because of the absence of any knowledge on the Minoan religion. The palaces depict lilies and lotus flowers, plants that had an important, religious function in Egypt.
The Minoan palaces have a depiction of what is known as “bull leaping”: people performing acrobatics on a leaping bull. Experts have identified that this form of acrobatics is physically impossible – humans and bulls cannot interact in such a manner. The question is therefore whether these scenes depict “imaginary” scenes, i.e. scenes that might occur in the Afterlife?
The name of king Minos is identical to the first king of the Egyptian First Dynasty, Menes. But in the Homeric legends, Minos is not so much king, as a judge, “wielding a golden sceptre while dispensing laws among the dead.” If Minos ruled Crete, Crete was therefore an island of the dead.                  

YES! It makes such perfect sense to me.

Talking to hubby about our time in Knossos and about the rest of our experience in Greece in general, we both agreed that the "palace" felt very different than the other sites we visited. It was quieter in a way. I don't mean lack of tourist quieter, I mean energy of life quieter. We explored out of the way places like Eleusis and popular places like the Parthenon and Delphi- It wasn't a matter of how many tourists were around, it was the quality of the energy. There was a palpable difference. Despite the presence of people and a booming tourism industry, Knossos felt like a ghost town. According to this article? Literally.

And this isn't even getting into the Labyrinth, or Ariadne, or the Goddess cult on the island before it was colonized by Egypt or claimed by Greece! Another time!

Thanks for following my train tonight. Here are a few more pictures from that trip:

"Horns of Consecration"

The Prince of Lilies doesn't look Egyptian at all...

I thought this was just darn cool.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sunflowers!

"The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose."

Sacred to Apollo, this flower turns its face to the sun on his daily journey through the sky. Sunflowers bloom all over Central Italy and can be found in Etruscan art. Tuscany is filled with blooming fields of sunflowers during the summer, so say my cousins.

There are two competing myths about Helianthus, one sadder than the next. In the simple version. Clytie loved Apollo, but he did not return her love. She stared up at him as he journeyed through the sky, pining away for Him. The Gods took pity on her and turned her into the sunflower, who still follows His path.

The second tale comes to us from Ovid with thanks to theoi.com:

"She [the Persian princess Leukothoe] was his [Helios the Sun's] one delight. Not Clymene, not Rhodos now had power to hold his hert, nor Circe's lovely mother, nor the girl, sad Clytie Clytie, who languished for his love, though scorned, and at that moment nursed her wound. All were forgotten for Leucothoe . . .
Clytie was jealous, for she loved Sol [Helios] beyond all measure. Spurred with anger against that paramour, she published wide the tale of shame and, as it spread, made sure her [Leukothoe's] father knew . . . [and through her tattling about the death of the girl.]
But Clytie, although her love might well excuse her grief and grief her tale-baring, the Lord of Light no longer visited; his dalliance was done. She pined and languished, as love and longing stole her wits away. Shunning the Nymphae, beneath the open sky, on the bare ground bare-headed day and night, she sat dishevelled, and for nine long days, with never taste of food or drink, she fed her hunger on her tears and on the dew. There on the ground she stayed; she only gazed upon her god's bright face as he rode by, and turned her head to watch him cross the sky. Her limbs, they say, stuck fast there in the soil; a greenish pallor spread, as part of her changed to a bloodless plant, another part was ruby red, and where her face had been a flower like a violet [i.e. the heliotrope] was seen. Though rooted fast, towards the sun she turns; her shape is changed, but still her passion burns."

I prefer the less depressing version of the story! Ovid liked his dramas. It's always interesting to investigate the politics of the day and compare it to what was being written in terms of mythology at the same time. I digress! What can a sunflower do for us?


On the magical front:
Seeing a sunflower gives us a psychological lift; It is bright and tall and is said to relieve depression and increase fertility if worn or if the petals are eaten
To ward off nightmares plant them in a window box outside your bedroom window
To attract happiness use the petals in a bath.



Just as magical, and wonderfully practical: In Japan sunflowers are being planted to help remove radiation from the soil. And it's working.

Sunflower is also the name of one of the best veg restaurants ever! If you happen to be in northern VA stop by there!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Are you worth your salt? (some Adult content alert!)

This phrase comes from the Romans, who paid their soldiers, at least partially, in Salt. The word salary comes from the Latin world salarium, which translates to "payment in salt." The ancient world over, salt was a highly valued commodity, traded on par with gold. The Romans built roads specifically for making the transportation of salt more convenient. One such road, the Via Salaria, led from Rome to the Adriatic sea, where salt was produced by evaporating sea water.

I came across several interesting bits in the book The Etruscans outside Etruria by Paolo Bernardini and Giovannangelo Camporeale. There is speculation in this book that the Etruscans contributed salt to the trade economy for wine in particular.

Salt was another of Etruria's great resources. It was either mined, as in Volterra, or extracted from seawater in evaporation ponds that were set up along the Tyrrhenian coast. Between Ostia and Pisa the location name Saline is often found, a name testifying to an activity that had extremely ancient roots in the area. Indeed, wars between Rome and Veii that date back to the time of Romulus were fought over the possession of saltworks, which were quite productive near the mouth of the Tiber.
The role of salt in the greater economy must not be overlooked, though its traces are mostly hypothetical. Salt would explain the arrival of a substantial quantity of Euboean (Greek) pottery in Veii and Rome during the eighth century; sources date the wars between these two cities over the possession of the saltworks at the mouth of the Tiber to this same period.

Pythagoras was pretty keen on salt too: "Salt is born of the purest parents: the sun and the sea." He also said that "salt was the emblem of justice; for as it preserves all things and prevents corruption, so justice preserves whatever it animates, and without it all is corrupted."

Hippocrates lauded the use of sea water and salt baths for healing, as did texts from ancient China. Ghandi began the non violent revolution against Great Brittain with the Salt March. In short: The Brits controlled salt production and made it illegal for anyone else to produce it, even for themselves. You can read more about this on the holy wiki.

From The folklore of common salt: http://www.sacred-texts.com/etc/mhs/mhs32.htm
In Sicily, too, it is sometimes customary for the priest to place a little salt in the child's mouth at baptism, thereby imparting wisdom. Hence the popular local saying in regard to a person who is dull of understanding, that the priest put but little salt in his mouth. A similar usage is in vogue in the district of Campine in Belgium. The use of salt at baptism in the Christian Church dates from the fourth century. It was an early practice to place salt, which had been previously blessed, in the infant's mouth, to symbolize the counteraction of the sinfulness of its nature.

Here's a Roman folk tale called The Value of Salt

Enough with the history lesson! Let's get to business!

Salt protects. It was used in mummification and in meat production to preserve. So wouldn't it protect metaphysically too? One of the things we look to when we commune with The Horned God is protection. We wear a horn. We flash the mano fico. This highly valued, magical protection powder we are talking about now is white and salty. Have I drawn enough of a picture? No? It's divine spunk. There, I said it. The preserver and protector in mineral form. A man's ejaculate is a reflection of the divine male spark. Salt is the stuff of life. Marry it with the waters of our mother's womb and there we have the primordial ocean from which Love herself, and life sprang forth. Too much?* After my Priapus post you know we don't shy away from these topics here :)

Many magical traditions use salted water representing the union between male and female, the ultimate means of cleansing and preserving all in one. Salt in the corners of the room repels negativity. Salt before your door will negate anyone or thing trying to bring evil into your home.

Aside from constantly tending the fire, the other main job of the Vestal Virgins was to make the Mola Salsa, the salted cake. It was used to purify sacrifices and alternately burned as an offering. I find it interesting that this tradition was introduced by Pompilius, the second King of Rome, who happened to be Sabine. The cakes were less like KFC biscuits and more like, say wafers. Also interesting is the fact that many nunneries used to produce the communion wafers.

The salt and grain was, and is, used to purify a space. In modern times, when moving into a new home, bread and salt are brought in to ensure protection and prosperity.

Don't want someone to return to your home? Put dash of salt in their shoes. Can't get their shoes off surreptitiously? Throw the salt on their tracks as they leave.

Salt can be used to delineate sacred space aka cast a circle.

You can trace sigils in salted water to root protection wards on your body or property or windowsills. Keep some in a small pouch in your car, tied with a red ribbon.

We haven't even gotten into the uses of black salt yet! I'll direct you to  Lucky Mojo who has a whole page on the uses of salt. http://www.luckymojo.com/salt.html

And don't forget: *Take these blog posts with a grain of salt ;)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Devotional Spell

Dusio and I have once again been conspiring. He's trying to inspire me to post more "low" magic. The blog takes me where it takes me. Tonight tho, I'm starting to get into that groove. So thanks, Dusio. This dovetails nicely with his latest post on devotion and why, I think, I was moved to post it.

While I am not at liberty to post the entire ritual here, I have been given the go ahead to post this part of it; a devotional prayer, invoking Diana as Queen of Witches. It can be used as a novena, it can be used to invoke Her presence and aid in spellwork, to bring Her power in the heavens down into the materials, and to carry the intention of the materials into all realms where they can take effect. You can use this for most work, including healing, revealing, and appealing.*

If it fits your fancy, you can change the first line to Ave Madonna (My Lady). It's important to keep the rhyme, otherwise I'd say use whichever title or name you're most comfortable with. I've posted it in Italian because that's how it was given. If you want a pronunciation guide I suggest translate.google.com. You'll be able to click an icon and have a listen.
Ave Diana!
Angeli si corona.
I tuoi figli ti adoro.
Dammi quello che chiedo.
(your request goes here)
Ti offro fiori,
rose e gigli,
Sotto la luna
le stelle ei pianeti.
Con la mia volontà e il tuo
Questo sarà il mio!



Hail Diana!
Angels crown you,
Your children adore you.
Give me what I ask.
(insert request here)
I offer you flowers,
roses and lilies,
Under the moon,
the stars and the planets.
By my will and thine
This will be mine!


*(revealing = divination, appealing = love or glamor)