Monday, October 31, 2011

Everyone is a Witch on Halloween

The streets were filled tonight with sorcerers and sorceresses and Druids and Roman and Greek and Norse Gods. Glindas abounded, as did denizens of Hogwarts. However, tonight the streets were ruled by Witches.

We are everywhere.

Including drumming and chanting in front of the preacher on the corner I blogged about last night; He was filled with hate, but the crowd was filled with love, especially love for the Witches who were dancing with joy. I attended a public ritual tonight where hundreds of people shared in the giving and receiving of ancestral blessings. It was a wonderful crowd. Yes, there were many tourists, but this was more than gawking at a spectacle, they were sharing in a special experience on a special night.

We encountered bored teenagers, slutty nurses/librarians/fairytale characters, steampunks, parents and babies, trick-or-treaters on the hunt for free candy, tourists on haunted tours, and those of us who were happy enough just to be able to walk around decked out in our pentacles and other symbols, and our robes, capes and ritual wear.

Some of those Witchy costumes were so good that I couldn't always tell if they actually were Pagan of some variety or just Pagan for tonight. No matter: Everyone is a Witch on Halloween!

Don't just scarf down candy tonight: Offer some to your dearly departed. Light a candle and give Them your thanks because without them, you wouldn't be here!

Sidewalk Preachers

It's a rant tonight.

These preacher people with their microphones or megaphones are all over the place right now, believing that their hate-speech is somehow "saving" people. If these assholes really cared about people they wouldn't be spewing such vile hatred from their mouths.

What good does it do to berate people for not living the exact way some random asshole believes they should? Don't like magic? Don't practice it! Think homosexuality is wrong? Don't have sex with others of your gender! Another don't: Don't be a hypocrite!!! These people are representing a religion who has killed and continues to undermine the lives of (when not outright killing) people whose choices they don't agree with! They do things in the name of Jesus and the kj version of the bible when they don't even know the history of either and don't want to know it. They can't answer intelligent questions about their beliefs, they just spew their hatred on all within hearing distance.

No, not every single christian does this, I don't lump them all together the way some do to us, but I have to agree with Dan Savage: if you're one of them and not trying to change things from the inside then you're a bigger part of the problem than the hate mongers.

You can only make choices for yourself, take responsibility for the path you walk with your own feet, and above all else, mind your own business. I think it is offensive to the Gods to kill animals. However, you're not going to find me outside of a steak house standing on a soap box with a bullhorn telling people how horrible they are and that they need to stop how they are living and repent. Why? It's not my business! MY choices are my business. If your way is so great, lead by example and others will see it and follow.

These people must serve some purpose. I suppose it's to remind us that we must be vigilant against the forces of ignorance and bullshit. Yes, I was happy to see the crowd giving this one jack ass with a bullhorn as much shit as he was dishing out. I was even happier at the number of people who just ignored him and went about their business.

That's what I'm about to do now. However, if he's back tomorrow, I reserve the right to cast a circle of silence around him. I will bring chalk with me. Ha! I will post about the circle of silence another time! Off to get some sleep and enjoy Hallows Eve!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Puttin on the Ritz

Something I've rarely seen discussed in connection with Hallows Eve is the use of costume/clothing as a magical spell for the coming year. I've mentioned enchanting clothes before, but this concept takes it a step further: What you dress up as, and therefore personify, is the energy you will bring into your life in the coming year. I remember Laurie Cabot wrote something about this in one of her early books.

I went to a Witches Ball last night all fancied up and just added a few props and tokens to personify Ariadne. I was dressed in Purple as befitting the wine God's wife; I had a purple minoan labyrinth drawn under my collar bone. I also carried a minotaur with me and red thread. It was a little silly and a little clever. It also wasn't the costume I'm wearing to ring in the second half of autumn (tho the weather appears to have decided it's winter already).

I will reveal my costume for this year on Tuesday ;)

Are you planning to dress up as something or someone else? Care to share?

Vocalizing

In the same week I have been to an event where we discussed plans for a completely silent ritual and another to where the attendees were admonished that if they don't shout and scream the chants or names or other participatory bits that they are insulting their ancestors and the deities they're trying to call down. 

The former was pitched as an exercise to work on running energy as a group and focusing on intent more than on "doing the pretty" and coming up with a fancy speech for every element of the ritual.

The later was part of a Strega influenced ritual and the other was a voodoo ritual led by the Dragon Ritual Drummers who are amazing! Thankfully, they stopped after each song to give some history on and to introduce the song after. Otherwise we would have had a room filled with tranced out folk. I had to focus to make sure I didn't get rolled by the energy.

I think my patrons and my ancestors understand that sometimes things have to stay silent and at other times I can "lift my voice." That phrase shows the pretty talk for what it can be: An offering. You can make offerings with your voice and not just with singing or poetry recitation. Speaking Their names, both deities and ancestors helps them to manifest on this plane.

So all of this brings me to the question, which I would love some feedback on:

How do you use your voice magically, especially in relation to devotion work and to spell work?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dowsing

While out and about tonight I had to procure a bottle of water. The choice was limited, but let's say the brand I grabbed inspired the title of this post as well as the post itself. The label had some promo stuff about water dowsing in ancient Egypt and Rome and implied that their company used such classic methods to source the water in the bottle I was holding. I don't really believe they had someone out there water dowsing, but it was nice to see ancient methods being portrayed in a positive way.


As I'm short on time tonight I'm going to punt and start off with a few interesting links then revisit this topic as soon as possible!

Wiki is a nifty springboard to other sources on this vast topic.

A history of dowsing (with many links of interest!)

Archaeological Dowsing

The US Department of the Interior has an article on water dowsing. This link takes you tot he download of the pdf!
 
 
 
"Some Sorcerers do boast they have a Rod,
Gather'd with Vowes and Sacrifice,
And (borne about) will strangely nod
To hidden Treasure where it lies;
Mankind is (sure) that Rod divine,
For to the Wealthiest (ever) they incline." -by Samuel Sheppard
 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Diwali!

I was lucky enough to be part of a Diwali celebration tonight! We did Lakshmi Puja and it felt wonderful. Perhaps I enjoy it so much because I'm getting back to my past life roots? Who knows lol What is Diwali, you ask? It's an ancient festival of lights and new year celebration. It's not just the celtic new year! lol

A bit about the significance of tonight's aspect of the week long festival:

The third day of Diwali festival is the most important one for Lakshmi-puja and is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. On this very day sun enters his second course and passes Libra which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an amavasya day it is regarded as the most auspicious.

The day of Lakshmi-Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya. The strains of joyous sounds of bells and drums float from the temples as man is invoking Goddess Laxmi in a wondrous holy "pouring-in" of his heart. All of a sudden that impenetrable darkness is pierced by innumerable rays of light for just a moment and the next moment a blaze of light descends down to earth from heaven as golden-footed Deep-Lakshmi alights on earth in all her celestial glory amidst chantings of Vedic hymns.

A sublime light of knowledge dawns upon humanity and this self enlightenment is expressed through the twinkling lamps that illuminate the palaces of the wealthy as well as the lowly abodes of the poor. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi walks through the green fields and loiters through the bye-lanes and showers her blessings on man for plenty and prosperity.

Lakshmi Pooja, or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is the main event on Diwali in North and West India. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness, and she will visit the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshiped on this day with offerings of haldi and kumkum (turmeric and vermilion). Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up Her path.

Lakshmi Puja consists of a combined puja of five deities: Ganesha is worshiped at the beginning of every auspicious act as Vighnaharta; Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in her three forms - Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of books and learning), and Mahakali; Kuber (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshiped.

Part of the Puja was the repetition, 108 times, of a special Lakshmi mantra. It was very interesting to tune into individual voices and then the group voice.


At the start Ganesh was invoked and addressed as he is the road opener. I brought a mango specifically for him. Part of the Puja was the repetition, 108 times, of a special Lakshmi mantra. It was very interesting to tune into individual voices and then the group voice.


I had a wonderful time and give thanks to those who made this event possible.

May you light a lamp to banish the darkness!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ancestry

This is the perfect time of year to search for ancestors and knowledge of your family tree and family history. If you know how to listen, you can pick up when your ancestors reach out to you. How they do that depends on your sensitivity, your favorite forms of communication, and how urgently they want you to have the information.

Tonight I have discovered several things about my family that I did not know. Not all of it has been confirmed on this plane- I am still searching for evidence and records of certain things, but when you hear "Medici" whispered on the wind (or shouted loud enough to wake you from a nap, ahem) and some digging shows that one of your ancestors was a member of the Medici court, well, that's confirmation enough for me. I'm not claiming the Medici family as my ancestors, just sayin that's how we got onto this topic tonight.

More funtastic information has come to light on my Mother's side of the family. My Maternal Great-Grandmother's surname dates back to before the renaissance. My Maternal Great-Grandfather's surname originates, not in Naples, as I had believed, but in Sicily, specifically in Enna. I've always felt that my connection to Sicily goes beyond adoption, but I thought the connection was conferred from the family tradition I was brought into. Nice to know there's a blood connection as well.

I've also found an alternative version of the history of my own last name which not only connects it to a Templar (which the last round of research did) but discusses Templars as being rooted in the Fratres Arvales, which I blogged about the other day. Gotta love synchronicity. The author of this piece also goes on to talk about an Etruscan connection to the Paternal side of my family. Absolutely none of this is confirmed at all. I thought my last name had Greek origins and a fun legend, but this distant relative has come up with something else entirely, which I find fascinating.

Tonight my family tree has been flipped horizontally. I thought the Etruscan connection was on one side of the family, and the Sicilian side on the other. Since little of this has been confirmed by mundane research, I will take the information back to the ones who inspired tonight's search and ask for direction:

Why do I need to look here now?
Which resources can point me towards further information?

I will start with a tarot spread and likely add a pendulum reading as well.

Anyone else out here doing this kind of work? Are you communicating with your ancestors at all? More now than usual? Do you seek them out at this time of year?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Raphael

Today is the original feast day of Archangel Raphael. He is the healer, the element of water and the personification of the western gate.

Interesting wiki note: "The Hebrew word for a doctor of medicine is Rophe connected to the same root as Raphael."

This is a time to purify and heal with water: Steam in the shower, take a ritual bath with appropriate herbs, soaps or scents, swim, if possible. I like to drink blessed water:

I charge a pitcher of water with energy using different stones or tools, depending on the need. Sometimes I call upon deity to fill and bless it, sometimes I will do a day long novena over it (once an hour for 9 hours). You can even set it up within a crystal grid to bring in the energy of the stones. Once completed, I sit in sacred space, in a meditative state and literally drink in my intention. This isn't a sit-n-sip or think about your day and to do list kind of drink; Nor is it a drunken frat game where you chug it all down. This is reverently and consciously and on several planes bringing into your life and your physical body that which you want, or conversely, removing what you don't want. It can be a powerful exercise. It should be enough water for you to handle easily, but not so little that it takes no time at all. I use a liter of purified water.

And for hand dandy reference, here is the Novena to Saint Raphael the Archangel:

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael,
great prince of the heavenly court,
you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace.
You are a guide of those who journey
by land or sea or air,
consoler of the afflicted, andrefuge of sinners.
I beg you, assist me in all my needs
and in all the sufferings of this life,
as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels.


Because you are the "medicine of God,"
I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul
and the ills that afflict my body.
I especially ask of you the favor
(state your specific request or intention here!)
and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be
the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Raphael, of the glorious seven
who stand before the throne of Him who lives and reigns,
Angel of health, the Lord has filled your hand with balm from heaven to soothe or cure our pains.
Heal or cure the victim of disease. And guide our steps when doubtful of our ways.

If you know the artist who created this lovely Gabriel image, please point me to them, I was sent this image and I don't know who to credit!

Liquore Strega


One of Italy's largest selling liquors, Strega has been produced in Benevento since 1860. Giuseppe Alberti named it Strega (witch's love potion). Strega is a liquor with digestive qualities. It is made up of 70 herbs and spices which include Samnite mint, Ceylon cinnamon, Florentine iris, Italian Apennine Juniper, fennel, and saffron. The saffron is the key to Strega's signature yellow color and the mint and juniper are two of the most pronounced flavors within the herbal mixture. Strega is aged in ash barrels to allow the various flavors and aromas to blend. Only two people left in the world have this secret recipe.

Strega is the Italian word for 'witch' and the liquor is sometimes referred to as such. The name is appropriate because the town of Benevento has long been considered the City of Witches and folklore says it has been a gathering place for the witches of the world. The same company that makes Strega also makes Torrone, which is honey, egg whites, herbs,and roasted almonds.

Another thing about Strega, for those who read The Godfather novel by Mario Puzo, when Tom Hagen has the unpleasant task of telling Don Corleone that his son Sonny has been ambushed and killed, he is found in the den drinking Strega in order to calm his nerves before he gives the tragic news to the Godfather.

One day I will give my personal opinion on the mafia and it's correlation with Italian witchcraft. Mens mysteries and the secret society of La Costa Nostra. Secrets will always be a part of our heritage. And for good reason.

Blessings,
Dusio

Passion

I don't mean the "adult" variety, I mean the inspiration variety. This exercise in daily blogging has shed light on what my passions are, where my interests lie, and which things need to fall by the wayside.

When I think of "passion," I think of the primal impetus to make something happen- a kind of need, where if you don't get to do this or pursue your true course your entire body vibrates with anger at the denial.

I think of Mars. I've mentioned his origin story here before, but it was mostly about Juno and how She brought Him into the world. Basically: Juno wanted a child, she took a certain flower, inseminated  herself with it, and Mars was born. Tonight is more about Mars Himself.

In Roman lore, He was more bent on bloodshed than on war itself, the latter was just a means to achieve the former. However, He started out as a God of the land and fertility. I think that within his origin story we find something akin to what I'm talking about: His "father" was a flower, therefore He was a God of vegetation. Makes sense. But if we go deeper into the symbolism of the story, we find that Juno, in her drive to conceive a child, makes it happen (for the most part) on Her own. Her drive, Her need, Her passion was so great, that Mars was born out of will power and desire. He is the embodiment of this drive.

He is the embodiment of that which makes the seed seek the light. He is represented in the first sign of the zodiac- the beginning, the drive to live. The first house of the zodiac is about early childhood and establishing roots, just like the seed. Also similar to the first chakra, which is about survival and the right to be and to have. It also correlates to the color red, a color associated with Mars. Some say the red is for the bloodshed He enjoys. I think it is the same red of Passion. The kind that gets your blood going.

Looks like I'm not the only one of this opinion. Aside from wiki conjecture,  evidence remains of pre-Roman practices regarding this fertility deity and the will to be: The Brotherhood of Arvales sang and danced the following to ensure the health and prosperity of their people (Note that is a name associated with Mars, or at least His Sabine counterpart)

Oh! Help us, ye Household Gods!
Oh! Help us, ye Household Gods!
Oh! Help us, ye Household Gods!

And let not bane and bale, O  Marmor, assail more folk!
And let not bane and bale, O  Marmor, assail more folk!
And let not bane and bale, O  Marmor, assail more folk!

Be full satisfied, fierce Mars, Leap the threshold! Halt! Beat the ground!
Be full satisfied, fierce Mars, Leap the threshold! Halt! Beat the ground!
Be full satisfied, fierce Mars, Leap the threshold! Halt! Beat the ground!

By turns address all the Half-Gods.
By turns address all the Half-Gods.
By turns address all the Half-Gods.

Oh! Help us, Marmor!
Oh! Help us, Marmor!
Oh! Help us, Marmor!

Bound, Bound, and  Bound  again!
Bound, Bound, and  Bound  again!

Translated by Frances Bernstein

This dovetails nicely with my recent Hail to Venus! While searching for a picture of this pair, the 80s song "Don't disturb this groove" popped into my head and I just didn't know how this could ever be a theme song for Them. Of course, I had to listen to it and right there in the lyrics we find this:

On a mountain, by a fountain
Flowers blooming everywhere
With Venus and Cupid the picture's very clear....

LOL! Yes! Wisdom from the 80s! Hope you enjoy this divinely inspired song virus!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The best real estate in Brooklyn

Today I took a stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery. It contains the highest land in Brooklyn with amazing views. It's the cite of a Revolutionary War battle, and resting place for thousands. Edward Ferrero, founder of The Apollo rests there, as do many other famous folks. 

There are hundreds of mausoleums, tombs, obelisks, pyramids, and all manner of memorials and monuments.The rolling hills, the hillside mausoleums, so many with Roman or Greek architecture, made me wonder if this is what cemeteries looked like in ancient times. The mausoleums reminded me of the Etruscan houses of the dead, but with stained glass instead of frescoes and pictures of the afterlife instead of scenes from daily life. 


My first stop was to the top of a hill where there where three incredibly tall obelisks, which from afar looked like the left, right and middle pillars.




From Hermes Guide of Souls by Karl Kerényi:
He guards not only gardens but graves. Wherever he is
placed is mortis et vitai locus, the place of life and death.
This epigram, which so succinctly and precisely describes his
vital place in the realm of death, derives from the time of the
first Caesars (CIL, VI, 3708); it agrees, however, with the
Phrygian usage of placing phalli on graves as markers.



Green-wood was the model on which Central Park was designed. There was a lack of public green spaces, so the cemetery also served as a park. It was finally named a landmark and hosts tours of the cemetery as well as letting people into the mausoleums. There are also performances and movie screenings and other events. I find this funny because about 10 years ago someone tried to do this very thing, specifically the movie screenings and music performances in the chapel, pictured above, and they were vilified as if they were personally desecrating graves. How times change. He had it right- it was intended to be a place for the living as well as the dead.




I also stopped to pay my respects to Minerva and The Altar of Liberty, set atop the highest point in Brooklyn, and, appropriately, hailing the Statue of Liberty.This was done intentionally. Minerva's raised hand is exactly in line with Liberty's raised torch. There was a big dust-up about a proposed condo building which would have come between the two. The Goddesses prevailed and the building was redesigned with a cut out so the two would remain within hailing sight of each other. 


Take your own tour:


Friday, October 21, 2011

Venusian

It's Friday here and I've realized that I have not given enough love to Love Herself, Venus. On my recent trip to the Met I perused the Cyprus collection and really paid attention to the Venus statues and votives there, as well as the ones in the rest of the collections.

So here's an offering to Venus, my Libra patron, in the words of Sappho:


A Hymn to Venus
by: Sappho (c. 610-570 B.C.)
translated by Ambrose Philips

O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles;
O goddess, from my heart remove
The wasting cares and pains of love.

If ever thou hast kindly heard
A song in soft distress preferred,
Propitious to my tuneful vow,
A gentle goddess, hear me now.
Descend, thou bright immortal guest,
In all thy radiant charms confessed.

Thou once didst leave almighty Jove
And all the golden roofs above:
The car thy wanton sparrows drew,
Hovering in air they lightly flew;
As to my bower they winged their way
I saw their quivering pinions play.

The birds dismissed (while you remain)
Bore back their empty car again:
Then you, with looks divinely mild,
In every heavenly feature smiled,
And asked what new complaints I made,
And why I called you to my aid?

What frenzy in my bosom raged,
And by what cure to be assuaged?
What gentle youth I would allure,
Whom in my artful toils secure?
Who does thy tender heart subdue,
Tell me, my Sappho, tell me who?

Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
He soon shall court thy slighted charms;
Though now thy offerings he despise,
He soon to thee shall sacrifice;
Though now he freezes, he soon shall burn,
And be thy victim in his turn.

Celestial visitant, once more
Thy needful presence I implore.
In pity come, and ease my grief,
Bring my distempered soul relief,
Favour thy suppliant's hidden fires,
And give me all my heart desires.


I feel her more, I think, as The Lady of Roses. Interesting that Etruscan Turan, who syncretizes with Venus, is Goddess of gardens, among other things. I've never been the greenest thumb, but I did plant roses for Her this past summer. Let's see how they fare in the spring!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Etruscan Birth Goddess?!?

A few friends shared an article today about a recent find from an archaeological dig in Italy. The piece of pottery found is unique because it is from an Etruscan site which was a residence, a home, not a burial chamber, and depicts a woman giving birth. It also dates to 600 BCE. Totally worth the read! Highlights:



Poggio Colla is one of the few sites offering insight of the Etruscan life in a non-funerary context. It spans most of Etruscan history, being occupied from the seventh to the second century B.C.
Centering on the acropolis, a roughly rectangular plateau, the site was also home to a sanctuary: numerous votive deposits indicate that for some part of its history, it was a sacred spot to a divinity or divinities.
The abundance of weaving tools and a stunning deposit of gold jewelry discovered in previous excavations, have suggested that the patron divinity may have been female.

In this view, the ancient depiction of childbirth becomes even more interesting, according to Greg Warden, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU and a director of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project.


"Might it have some connection to the cult, to the kind of worship that went on at the hilltop sanctuary?," Warden wondered.
Perkins speculated that the woman giving birth could be a representation of an Etruscan goddess, suggesting that Poggio Colla was the location of a cult-site for an Etruscan fertility goddess.
"She would represent a new Etruscan myth, as we know of no Etruscan goddess who gives birth in Etruscan mythology," Perkins said.

A few observations:

Of course they haven't found representations of women giving birth at burial sites. Those sites were set up as houses for the dead supplied with things as if they were still living. Very pyramid-like.

This doesn't necessarily imply an unknown Goddess. The shard could be from a votive piece, buried at the site of the temple asking for a healthy birth.

We know little of Etruscan lore, but what is out there labels Uni the Mother Goddess and the one to petition for Fertility. She is syncretized with Juno, aka Iuno. Iuno... Uni... Hmmm... Also, like Iuno/Hera, Uni is related to the hero the Romans call Heracles and alleged to be his Mother, not his step-mother. There is art depicting the relationship too.  So yeah, we might know of an Etruscan Goddess who gives birth ;)

Here's an interesting article on Uni, tho nothing is cited.

A link within the article above leads to a story from 2010 about the discovery of an Etruscan home, not a burial site. Also, religious sites have been discovered, including temples. Looks like the Etruscans are revealing their whereabouts as well!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pagan Origins of Birthday Celebrations!

Here are a few excerpts from an interesting looking book on the Pagan origins of birthday celebrations, called The Lore of Birthdays by Ralph Linton.

Originally the idea was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one's personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one's bed on the birthday eve.

The traditional birthday cake and candles also have their origin in ancient Pagan idol worship. The ancients believed that the fire of candles had magical properties. They offered prayers and made wishes to be carried to the gods on the flames of the candles. Thus we still have the widely practiced birthday custom of making a wish, then blowing out the candles.
The Greeks celebrated the birthday of their moon Goddess, Artemis, with cakes adorned with lighted candles.
Since it was believed that the positions of the stars at the time of birth influenced a child's future, astrological horoscopes came into being, purporting to foretell the future, based on the time of birth. 'Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes.
The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born. The Romans also subscribed to this idea.

This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint.


I've also seen mention made of gifts for the birthday celebrant likened to sacrifices and offerings given to deities.



I suppose, instead of christians asking if it's appropriate to celebrate a birthday in a Pagan way, Pagans should be asking: Should we celebrate a personal birthday in the same way we celebrate our Gods? Are we engaging in hubris and elevating ourselves to the status of deity? Are we celebrating the divine spark within and therefore it is justified?


I'm obviously cool with celebrating a personal birthday, so I pick the later ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Go shorty... It's your birthday...

Well, tomorrow is! No, not yours... Mine!

Tonight is Bethmas Eve! Forgive me for the quickie as bday activities are rollin' already and I want to start playing with my presents!

I realized that today marks 20 years since my Sweet 16 party. It is also the anniversary of when I was initiated and came out as Pagan. My party theme was "astrology." Each table's centerpiece was a different astrological sign; the balloons were red, white, and black; the favors were large clear "crystal" balls on gold pedestals with a rose in the middle which said: "May your future come up roses." In Brooklyn, in my family and circle of friends, astrology was no big deal. All manner of fortune telling was perfectly acceptable and not particularly strange at all.

What boys will do for a girl


For some reason, during that summer season of Sweet 16s, it was popular for the boys to get together form a 10-man pyramid lol
So I even had a magical pyramid that night.





 It was the year I became a vegetarian, the year I told my Mother I would no longer be participating as a catholic, explained to her what my path was now, and it was the year I made my full time dedication to this path and to Diana. I'm vegan now, I'm a Mom now, I'm a Priestess now, and I'm finally understanding the magic which has been woven into the modern religious tradition which most Italians embrace. I'd like to think that our Ancestors put it there so that despite what the politics became, and what the abuses of power were, the magic would still be alive, still grow, still touch us, and still make miracles happen. What the church couldn't suppress, it adopted. Look at just how much of our magic still lives because the people wouldn't let it go... (That's what half of my blog posts are about! lol)

I'd like to think I've learned at least some of what my Elders were trying to teach me. There's so much more. Guess I'd better stfu and get to work, huh?

Tomorrow? Perhaps the Greek and Roman origins of Birthday Cakes!

Danger! Danger!

I was reading a very interesting thread today about the dangers inherent in working magic. Are there dangers? If so, what are they?

Some believe that your "level of power" limits what you can accomplish and how much damage you can do.
I mostly disagree: Children have started fires, and children have injured or killed others or themselves when playing with a gun they thought was a toy. What is their level of mundane "power?" Not so much, but they can still do some serious damage.

If you have the ingredients, you can make the recipe. That's when sht blows up.

It's true that there are certain doors which are open only to initiates and certain streams of magic open only to those tapped into that flow, but there is enough information available out there, enough streams waiting to be tapped by the casual passer-by. The main safety check we, as Witches, have had is secrecy. This is a major drawback to mainstreaming. However, most folks stop at the shiny happy neon feel good and don't explore further. And that's ok. Some, however, go right for the serious stuff.

So what can happen to the practitioner? Karma kicks em? The spell blows back onto them? They're possessed by forces they didn't understand? They made a deal without realizing the implications? Nothing? All are possibilities. I don't really believe in the three-fold law. I do believe that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

I'm going to leave this as food for thought tonight. I'll get back to the part 2s I promised as soon as I can!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Jim

Today is the 14th anniversary of my Grandfather's passing.

My Grandfather taught me how to bake. He taught me how to cook without a recipe. He was a soldier in WWII, like many Italian men of the era. He was there at the Battle of the Bulge. He helped liberate one of the concentration camps. He worked for the VA Hospital and after he retired, volunteered there. He was also a major blood donor. He had a rare blood type and donated as often as possible, something I need to do again. 


I would have liked to go to the cemetery today, but didn't get there, so I lit a special candle for him, said a prayer for him too, and later sorted through my Grandmother's pictures. I found pictures of my Grandfather that I've never come across before, including pictures of the whole family at the feast of Saint Rosalia, the patron Saint of Palermo, where my Grandfather and his family are from. The pictures are from the 1950s and it looks like the entirety of Brooklyn was walking the streets in the procession!

A bit about this saint:
According to legend, Rosalia was born in 1130 of a Norman noble family that claimed descent from Charlemagne. She retired to live as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died in 1166. No one knew anything about her demise.
In 1624, a horrible plague haunted Palermo, and during this hardship St. Rosalia appeared first to a sick woman, then to a hunter named Vincenzo Bonello to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the city. He did what she had asked in the apparition, and after the procession the plague ceased. After this St. Rosalia would be venerated as the patron saint of Palermo, and a sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.
She has two festival dates, July 15th when her bones are processed around the city of Palermo, and September 4th, the festino.

I know of another Saint whose main sanctuary was a mountain cave and whose fest processed to the sea... Our Lady of Mount Carmel. One and the same? I don't know. I do know that Saint Rosalia has the most interesting iconography: She is typically depicted wearing brown or black, wearing a crown of roses and holding a cross and carrying a skull, book, and scourge. She is also the Saint to pray to when praying for the dead. Skulls are an ancient tool of communicating with the dead. More on that another time, I'm off to toast my Grandfather!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gaea

Thanks to an unexpected half hour delay this evening (the main source of the annoyance), I had the chance to reread the first few chapters Dion Fortune's Psychic Self Defence (a minor contributor to said annoyance). Yay for ebooks. I like the book, and can really hear her voice in the writing. I don't have a problem with the language and looking up 1920s references can be fun, however I do tire of her tone about Pagans and Witches and "Left hand path" and North being evil and other such references. I understand, it was the 20s when she was writing this, but still- I don't like to do that much work just to get to the valuable information, the diamonds from the mine, as it were. Hence, my annoyance. The comment about the Ancients believing the direction of North is "evil," or the source thereof, really irked me. It set off a mental chain reaction about the ancients in question which lead to the Olympians "battling" the Titans and how Gaea (aka Gaia) was thought of as evil.
Gaea, in Greek lore, is the personification of earth: Mother Earth. Her union with Ouranos, aka Father Sky, produced all of the heavenly deities. Her union with the sea created all of the sea gods. Her union with Tartaros created all mortal creatures. As always, Theoi.com has the details, so here are a few more highlights:
She was the first being. When Ouranos tried to "imprison Her children in Her womb" she rebeled and helped the titans overthrow him. When Kronos imprisoned the others, Gaia helped Zeus overthrow Him. When Zeus sent her sons to Tartarus, She tried to overthrow the Olympians with the help of the Gigantes and Typhoeus.
Gaia was worshiped at Delphi long before the "arrival" of Apollo. Quoth the holy wiki: 
The name Delphoi comes from the same root as δελφύς delphys, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia, Grandmother Earth, and the Earth Goddess at the site... Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since she was a child of Gaia. The shrine dedicated to Apollo was originally dedicated to Gaia and shared with Poseidon. The name Pythia remained as the title of the Delphic Oracle. Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one deity setting up a temple on the grave of another.
Crete was another center of Earth Goddess worship. I remember a lovely post from She who Seeks, which I linked here back in March. Here is an excerpt of the exact thought I had started typing, but you should go check out the entire post and blog too!
"I think the myth we know today is a later patriarchal version interpreting (and distorting) much older symbolism. We know that bulls were sacred to the Goddess in ancient Crete. "Minotaur" means "moon bull" so it was probably a revered symbol of the Divine Feminine in Crete's early days. In the myth's patriarchal version, the Minotaur becomes a symbol of death and evil which must be slain. Scholars also believe that Ariadne was originally the Great Goddess Herself but was downgraded in the patriarchal myth to simply being the daughter of the King and a priestess in the temple. She betrays her people and her religion to help Theseus, who callously uses and deserts her. So, given these later patriarchal distortions, it's not really surprising that a unicursal labyrinth gets recast as a multicursal maze. It moves the plot along, creates suspense and sets the context for Ariadne's betrayal. In fact, this Greek myth as a whole may be understood as a metaphor for the ascendancy of patriarchal culture over the Goddess-centred culture which preceded it."
Yeah, that! 
I especially recommend checking out the Cult of Gaea section on Theoi.com. I'd love to know how drinking bull's blood proves virginity.  Actually, I wouldn't. So nevermind. 
More tomorrow!

Friday, October 14, 2011

An acquaintance posted this video on Facebook today. She's not Pagan, specifically, but she is Italian and I feel like we understand each other better than many of the Pagans I am close friends with. She and I have grown up with many of the same experiences and traditions. When I say that Brooklyn is a religious experience, I'm not joking. This video talks about what has been lost, culturally, as Italians have become Americans. It's nothing that I haven't said before, but the video really brings it home. These could be my family's home movies.


Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled, so you'll just have to surf on over to share in the fun.

Part two of Ephesian Letters will have to wait. I'm off to watch my home movies and raise a glass.

The Ephesian Letters and Temple of Diana

What are they? They're a collection of ancient words and no one knows what they actually mean:

“Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui Phobantia Semne.”


There are other words too, but this sentence is the one currently in fashion. It's taken from one of the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) called the "Charm of Hekate Ereshkigal." I don't know why Hekate's name is in there because all references, including imagery are of Ereshkigal. The two were certainly conflated, but Pesephone has more in common, it seems, with Ereshkigal than Hekate does. Mmmm syncretism... The translators of the PGM seem to believe this is a statement of initiation and translates to "I have been initiated, I have seen what lies in the dark (virgin, bitch, etc) and I have returned." Makes sense- this charm is about the Goddess of the Underworld and escaping punishment there- those who are initiated get some benefits, and this was supposed to be one of them, including the Mysteries of Eleusis and of Samothrace.

By the 4th centure BCE they were already noted as famous. In fact, "aski kataski" was slang for Magic. 


Many modern practitioners, including Sortia d'Este, have associated the Ephesian Letters with Hekate because of a reference to a dog here and Brimo there... However, the very charm which references Brimo (which was an epithet applied to many Goddesses including Diana) is called the Bear Charm. Artemis is associated with the bear, not Hekate. Brimo, as an epithet has also referred to Diana, Demeter and Persephone as well as the Furies.

The Temple of Diana/Artemis at Ephesus is where these magic words were carved. Where were they carved? On the statue of Diana!!! Not on a statue of Hekate. This is why they are the Ephesian letters, because they were carved on the Cult Image at Ephesus! No disrespect to the Lady of the Dark Moon, I just want to give Diana her due.

Here are some ancient references to the then already famous Letters. You'll find others here:

He walks around those getting married, speaking the Ephesian warding magics. 
–Menander, Kock Com. Att. Frag. III, 108.


Androkydes the Pythagorean, indeed, says that the so-called Ephesian letters, which were well-known among many, were of the order of symbols. And he said that Askion is darkness, for this has no shadow; and Kataskion is light, since it casts a shadow with its rays; and Lix is the earth, according to the ancient name; and Tetrax is the year, according to the seasons; and Damnameneus is the sun, the tamer; and Aisia is the true word. And truly the symbol signifies that the divine things have been set in order: darkness to light, the sun to the year, the earth to every kind of genesis of nature.
–Clement of Alexandria, Stromata V, 8, 43


So now the question is: Are you going to use a phrase when you don't know what it means?  Are you going to claim to be an initiate if you haven't been initiated (assuming that is the correct translation)? My answers tomorrow in part 2!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Witches Rune


Good evening all,

Perhaps a little added help to your spell work during this lovely season.

WITCHES RUNE

Darksome night and shining moon,
East, then south, then west, then north,
Hearken to the Witches' rune;
Here I come to call thee forth.
Earth and water, aire and fire,
Wand and pentacle and sword,
Work ye unto my desire,
Hearken ye unto my word.
Cords and sensor, scourge and knife,
Powers of the witch's blade -
Waken all ye unto life,
Come ye as the charm is made.
Queen of heaven, Queen of hell,
Horned hunter of the night,
Lend your power unto my spell
And work my will by magic right.
By all the power of land and sea,
By all the might of moon and sun,
As I do will, so mote it be;
Chant the spell and be it done.

Doreen Valiente (1922-1999)

BB Dusio

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Full moon in Aries

I was going to post this yesterday, but was asked to post The Halloween Witch, so here it is!

I was born as the moon waxed full in Aries. This is my favorite moon of the year! This year the full moon is within a few degrees of my natal full moon which makes it conjunct, so double yay! This is a tiny bit of a brain dump because I am high on energy and haven't properly grounded yet.

I was typing out a prayer I used as a toast during ritual tonight and three things happened at the same time: As I typed Diana's name, the clock struck midnight and a dog outside somewhere started barking! I'm still giggling about that.

Queen of the stars, all-wife Diana hail! Deck'd with a graceful robe and shining veil; Come, blessed Goddess, prudent, starry, bright, come moony-lamp with chaste and splendid light,
Shine on these sacred rites with prosp'rous rays, and pleas'd accept thy suppliant's mystic praise.

 –Orphic Hymn to Diana.



Speaking of giggling... Ever since I began working with Mercury in earnest, my flow in ritual has changed, especially when I'm working with others, and especially when I'm working with others who are being too serious. It's like my goofball factor is proportionally inverse to the others' stick-in-the-mud factor.

This is not to say I can't be serious. When the work is important, the work gets done. But quite often, people need to lighten the fuck up. When I'm working on my own, there's no goofing around. Laughing at myself, perhaps, but it's not quite so mischievous. That is one aspect of Mercury which isn't routinely called upon: The Trickster!

Those who resist will be pursued! Can't find the funny? It will find you! Best to embrace it, to have a release for it. I was recently reminded of the old axiom "be careful what you wish for:" I was musing that I want to work on a show. I used to work in theatre but I left it many years ago for several reasons. However, it's not something you can really get over- it's like that ex boyfriend you hook up with occasionally long after you've broken up. I had really only mused that I'm in the mood to do a show. I didn't really refine that idea out loud. I talked about this with a friend, wondering where the feeling was coming from and how I could scratch this itch. I received an email the next day offering me a job on a show. Which show? Hansel and Gretel! Ummmmm erf... headdesk. Do I really want to do a show about a Witch who tries to eat children? Especially when it was changed from the original version where the parents were the real bad guys? At least the libretto includes fairies who protect the children. I suppose it all depends on the concept of the production. So I get something I wanted... kinda... Love you, Mercury. You are full of awesome ;)

The Halloween Witch

The decorations are out there. Lots of wrinkly, green women in pointy hats. A friend asked me to post this  tonight and this full moon is as good as any time, so here it is, written about 18 years ago:

The Halloween Witch

Each year they parade her about, the traditional Halloween
Witch. Misshapen green face, stringy scraps of hair, a toothless mouth beneath
her deformed nose. Gnarled knobby fingers twisted into a claw protracting from a
bent and twisted torso that lurches about on wobbly legs. Most think this abject
image to be the creation of a prejudiced mind or merely a Halloween caricature.

I disagree, I believe this to be how Witches were really seen. Consider that
most Witches were women, were abducted in the night, and smuggled into dungeons
or prisons under the secrecy of darkness to be presented by light of day as a
confessed Witch. Few if any saw a frightened normal looking woman being dragged
into a secret room filled with instruments of torture, to be questioned until
she confessed to anything suggested to her and to give names or what ever would
stop the questions.

Crowds saw the aberration denounced to the world as a
self-proclaimed Witch. As the Witch was paraded through town en route to be
burned, hanged, drowned, stoned or disposed of in various other forms of
Christian love all created to free and save her soul from her depraved body, the
jeering crowds viewed the results of hours of torture.

The face bruised and broken by countless blows bore a hue of sickly green. The
once warm and loving smile gone, replaced by a grimace of broken teeth and torn
gums that leers beneath a battered disfigured nose. The disheveled hair conceals
bleeding gaps of torn scalp from whence cruel hands had torn away the lovely
tresses. Broken twisted hands clutched the wagon for support, fractured fingers
with nails torn away locked like groping claws to steady her broken body. All
semblance of humanity gone this was truly a demon, a bride of Satan, a Witch.

I revere this Halloween Crone and hold her sacred above all. I honor her courage
and listen to her warnings of the dark side of man. Each year I shed tears of
respect when the mundane exhibit their symbol of Christian love.

poetry by angel © 1993

Monday, October 10, 2011

There's something fishy about this symbol

We know that most Christian symbols and images have Pagan roots: The cross, Mary's titles and dress, the rosary, the chalice/wine and bread, crossed keys, the dove, the lamb, the egg, the triskele, the halo, the palm, sea shells, the stag, the triangle... Also... The Fish! Another symbol for us to reclaim!

Hubby passed along this nifty article (again the atheists come through with the research!) and I want to share excerpts with the Loyal Horde:

But contemporary Jesus worshippers might be surprised, even outraged, to learn that one of their preeminent religious symbols antedated the Christian religion, and has its roots in Pagan fertility awareness and sexuality. Barbara G. Walker writes in "The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects," that the acronym pertaining to Jesus Christ was a "rationale invented after the fact... Christians simply copied this pagan symbol along with many others." Ichthys was the offspring son of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia or Delphine. The word also meant "womb" and "dolphin" in some tongues, and representations of this appeared in the depiction of mermaids. The fish also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus (who has a fish amulet covering her genital region), as well as the tale of the fish that swallowed the penis of Osiris, and was also considered a symbol of the vulva of Isis.
Well before Christianity, the fish symbol was known as "the Great Mother," a pointed oval sign, the "vesica piscis" or Vessel of the Fish. "Fish" and "womb" were synonymous terms in ancient Greek,"delphos." Its link to fertility, birth, feminine sexuality and the natural force of women was acknowledged also by the Celts, as well as pagan cultures throughout northern Europe. Eleanor Gaddon traces a "Cult of the Fish Mother" as far back as the hunting and fishing people of the Danube River Basin in the sixth millennium B.C.E. Over fifty shrines have been found throughout the region which depict a fishlike deity, a female creature who "incorporates aspects of an egg, a fish and a woman which could have been a primeval creator or a mythical ancestress..." The "Great Goddess" was portrayed elsewhere with pendulous breasts, accentuated buttocks and a conspicuous vaginal orifice, the upright "vesica piscis" which Christians later adopted and rotated 90-degrees to serve as their symbol. 

Go check out the article! Quiz tomorrow!(j/k, no quiz!)

Happy Italian Heritage Day!

"Columbus Day" was started during a time where information was not as readily available as it is today and folk heroes, especially American folk heroes, were little more than myth and legend and all good school children believed in them and all good American adults kept on believing without question.
This date (October 12th, or the 2nd Monday in October) doesn't celebrate Columbus' birth or death or commemorate his life in any way. It is the date he is alleged to have landed in the Americas. I understand the reaction to a holiday attached to his name- he did some really bad shit. I get it. And I have zero interest in honoring the man. But what people need to understand is that this day isn't about him. It's about Italian pride. Italians claimed him as a folk-hero because he was the most famous Italian at the time to do something all Americans could appreciate, "discover" America.

Nowadays, we have more information. And we have more heroes of Italian descent. For many years I have proposed changing the name: Other countries celebrate it as The Day of the Americas, so why can't we do that too? Despite others having gotten there first, October 12th, 1492 is the birth date of The New World. Yay Libra!

Columbus Day was celebrated unofficially as early as 1792, the 300th anniversary. In 1892, on the 400th anniversary, it was celebrated in NYC with the now annual parade. So what was a-happenin in 1892? This was the start of the great waves of Italian immigration which would last though the 1940s.

How were Italian Immigrants treated? They were treated well, you think? Are you fucking kidding me?

In the U.S., during the 1800s and early 20th Century, both Jews and Italian immigrants were subject to extreme prejudice, racism, and, in many cases, violence. During this time, both groups were seen as non-Anglo and non-white. In fact, Italian Americans were the second most likely ethnic group to be lynched.

Lynched. Killed. Here's an excerpt from an article  on this immigration boom:

Between 1880 and 1920, nearly four million Italians immigrated to the United States (Ital 1). As was the case with most European emigrants during this period, land pressure was the central “push factor” in their emigration. A rising Italian population increased pressure on the land. Between 1861 and 1901 Italy’s population doubled from 6 to 12 million and then increased to 18 million by 1916 (Ital 2). In southern Italy the land problem was most acute, as nearly all the land was owned by small elite who ruthlessly exploited the landless peasants working the land. It is therefore not surprising that the overwhelming majority of Italians who immigrated to the United States came from southern Italy. Indeed, in the decades between 1890 and 1910, about 85% of Italians who immigrated to the United States were from southern Italy.
...The Legion of the Knights of Romulus published Pro Norbis (For Us), a monthly review, which sought to promote Italian culture and to combat the view that Italians were ignorant (Ital 21). This struggle was common among Italian Americans who, as an ethnic group, encountered the greatest bigotry and discrimination of any European ethnic group. In general, the American press portrayed Italians dangerous, cruel, bloodthirsty and lazy (Ital 22).

Surf here for specifics of lynchings. An excerpt:

Six times in the 1890s Italians fell prey to American mob violence. Three of these tragedies happened in Louisiana.[2] The most famous case resulted from the fatal shooting of New Orleans Police Superintendent, David Hennessy, in October 1890. Before he died, the chief reportedly whispered, "The dagos did it." Authorities attributed the crime to the Mafia and soon arrested a score of Italians. After a public meeting in downtown New Orleans on March 14, 1891, an angry mob that included numerous prominent citizens descended upon the city jail, and meeting no resistance, systematically shot or clubbed to death, eleven of the Italian prisoners. When an investigation excused the mob's actions, the Italian government severed diplomatic relations with the United States and briefly contemplated war.

The Knights of Columbus was the answer to the discrimination of groups such as the KKK. Naming the group, and the day, after Columbus was a bid to point out that it was one of us who discovered the land these bigots now enjoy, so stfu and stop discriminating against us, because without us, your bigoted ass wouldn't be here. Basically ;) Quoth the holy wiki:
The name of Columbus was also partially intended as a mild rebuke to Anglo-Saxon Protestant leaders, who upheld the explorer (a Catholic Genovese Italian working for Catholic Spain) as an American hero, yet simultaneously sought to marginalize recent Catholic immigrants. In taking Columbus as their patron, they were sending the message that not only could Catholics be full members of American society, but were, in fact, instrumental in its foundation.
As I've said for years, I'm perfectly happy to change the name. The name has outlived its purpose. There is still widespread discrimination against Italians, especially thanks to a culture which places stereotypes on pedestals. The Godfather and The Sopranos and Strega Nona and Cake Boss are all wonderful. However, they're idealized when they're the heightened, dramatized reality. No one really wants to see a movie about my family arguing over dinner. (Do you? I'll get right on that...)

While changing the name is ok with me, taking away this holiday or moving it to another time is not. Don't try to take something away from Italian-Americans, especially our claim to pride on a national level. At least this is a SECULAR holiday, and not one named for some saint who "drove out the snakes" by forcing his religion on everyone in the Irish countryside. Oh, and Patrick was Italian (Roman parents). But I digress!

A day to celebrate Italian Heritage is especially necessary when we need to live down the piece of shit that is Jersey Shore. The best revenge is to erase Columbus from the day, not to remove the element of Italian Pride. Try that and you'll have a lot of pissed off Italians. Including me.

So without further ado, here is a list of Italians and Italian-Americans you can feel good about celebrating tomorrow:

Severo Antonelli (1907–1995) legendary figure in Philadelphia Italian American history and the subject of one of the largest ever one-man shows at the Smithsonian Institution
 
Antonio Meucci (born 1808) credited by the Congress of the United States with the invention of the telephone.

Charles Joseph Bonaparte, member of Theodore Roosevelt's Cabinet and founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Geraldine Ferraro, (born August 26, 1935), the first woman in U.S. history to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency of the United States from a major political party

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman in U.S. history to hold the office of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Rachael Ray, chef and Emmy-winning television personality

Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli, as in the chocolate ;)

Frank Zamboni Hockey wouldn't be the same without him!

The Jacuzzi family developed the deep well water pump that led to the famous whirlpool bath.

Martin Scorsese

With apologies to Adam Sandler, here is my ode to Italian Heritage Day, aka Columbus Day


Pull out the Cabernet,
Here is Columbus day
Celebrate the Italian way
On this auspicious Columbus Day

Columbus Day is la feste d'Italia
It's not about just one man but Italian-American culture

When you feel like the only kid in town who eats Sunday dinner at 3,
Here's a list of Italian-Americans, just like you and me:

Martin Scorcesse waves the triskele,
So does John Travolta, Madonna and Liza Minnelli

Guess who eats together at Sardi's in the city:
Leonardo DiCaprio  and James Gandolfini

Hulk Hogan is half Italian; So is Stallone, Rocky's "stallion"
Put them both together--what a huge and ripped Italian!

We don't need meat on Friday or to claim a President
Cause we can tarantella with Alicia Keys and Weird Al Yankovic - Both Italian!

Our ancestors paved the way, it's time for Columbus Day,
The owner of the Baltimore Ravens, hey!- celebrates Columbus Day.

O.j. simpson-- not Italiano!
But guess who is- DHS Director Janet Napolitano



We got Lady Gaga and Peter Criss from KISS
Springsteen's a quarter Italian-- our singers don't miss!

Some people think that "Bugsy" Siegal is,
Well, he's not, but don't you know- Gary Sinise is!


So many Italians are in show biz--
Homer Simpson isn't, but the guy who plays him is! (Dan Castellaneta)

Tell your friend Johnny Ray, it's time to celebrate Columbus Day
I hope I get a raise in pay, on this really great Columbus Day.

So wear your horn every day, and toast with cappuccino today,
If you really, really wanna- hey!, have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Veil! The Veil!

There's always talk at this time of year about "the veil between the worlds" and how it's now at it's thinnest. Eh... sure, but it ebbs and flows. It's never static. It's also just as thin at this time in April/May, but at that point most Pagans are thinking about fertility. Truth is, you can reach across "the veil" at any point during the year. It might be easier during April and October, but it's never that hard the rest of the year, you just need to know how to get (and stay) in touch. Here are a few tips and trick. Nothing earth shattering, but add them all together and you have the start of an Ancestor practice:

Ancestor Altar
This is your base of communication, especially when starting out. Once your practice is in full swing you'll find you don't need to be at your altar to get in touch with your ancestors.

This should be on the west side of your abode (house apartment, room, etc) and include pictures and tokens of your family members who have passed and things they liked. The best offerings are the little things. Grandma liked gardenias? Leave one on the altar, or burn a gardenia scented candle. Don't forget to add family patrons to the altar. Grandpa had an affinity for Saint Anthony? It won't hurt you to put his prayer card on the altar too.

I like to keep water on my altar as a means of communication. I've blogged about this previously- it's an offering of willingness to keep in touch, especially through dreams.

Commit to a time frame of offerings: Every night from new to full moon, or once a week for 9 weeks, or once a day for 9 days, or during a certain moon phase, etc. And stick to it!

Meditation
This cannot be overrated. Meditation isn't only about tuning into the neutral channel. You can have a directed, focused meditation: Contemplate your literal blood and how far back it reaches. Focus on a specific family member you would like to communicate with and recall every detail you knew about them. Alternately, you can set an intention to contact an ancestor you don't know, as in the case of adoption, and once you do reach the neutral channel in your meditation, have that person fill the proverbial airwaves. This isn't the kind of thing you do when you first begin a meditation practice, it's 202 not 101. For the 101 crowd, meditate on your ancestors before you go to sleep, especially as you are falling asleep. I recommend this only be done with those you knew in life who were loyal to you and loved you. No inviting strangers into your dream world!

Journey
I have a wonderful Ancestral Temple Journey I will be teaching and recording. Here is another 202: If you have an astral temple, an astral workspace, a dreamscape you return to: Build a place for your ancestors. This is a wonderful way to reach them outside of dreaming and reinforces the intent of contact and communication.

Divination
Tarot especially is a wonderful way to communicate with your ancestors. When in sacred space, you can ask ancestors to join you and interview them. Pendulums also work for this purpose.

And don't forget offerings to cthonic deities like... you guessed it! Mercury and Hecate! Mercury is a psychopomp and opener of the ways and deity of communication. Why not call on Him in this work? Yeah, I'm biased, and spreading the love. Whichever pantheon you work with, don't forget to include appropriate prayers and generally building a relationship with those deities which facilitate communication with ancestors. They can be wonderful allies on this type of journey.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Ada Lovelace

Thanks to my Evil Twin for inspiring tonight's blog post! Today is Ada Lovelace day.

Ada Lovelace was the only "legitimate" child of Lord Byron (Have I mentioned I adore him? I can still recite several of his works by heart). She was also the first computer programmer. From the Finding Ada site:
Ada Lovelace is widely held to have been the first computer programmer. Close friends with inventor Charle Babbage, Lovelace was intrigued by his Analytical Engine and in 1842, she translated a description of it by italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. Babbage asked her to expand the article, "as she understood [it] so well", and this was when she wrote several early 'computer programs'. 

Quoth the holy wiki:
In 1953, over one hundred years after her death, Lady Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished. The engine has now been recognized as an early model for a computer and Lady Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.

Science and tech fields have often been seen as the province of men. Ada Lovelace day was created to recognize the contribution of Women to these fields. My nominee for the year is...

Kara Cooney. Yeah, she's famous, but so what? I don't think it's against the rules to laud someone who is famous. She is an Egyptologist, a professor, a PhD, and has done some wonderful, well balanced work on ancient religions in her Out of Egypt series. She speaks of The Gods (of all religions) and their adherents as current practices, not past practices. I find that incredibly refreshing. Also, She's half Italian- Her Mother's family is from Abruzzi and Naples ;)


Saffron (Mercury and Minoans)

“ Your lips drop sweetness like honeycomb, my bride, syrup and milk are under your tongue, and your dress had the scent of Lebanon.
Your cheeks are an orchard of pomegranates,
an orchard full of rare fruits, spikenard and saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon.”
—Song of Solomon

I've been on another chase tonight- watching a show about Crete, Knossos, Thira, and what happened to the Minoans- how and why did they disappear? I've discussed this on the blog previously. I've also posted about sacred bees and their role at Knossos.

While watching this documentary, they showed frescoes from Knossos which depict women harvesting saffron. It's something I remember seeing and later reading about, but I never really thought about it. Saffron is harvested from the stamen of the crocus. It's also sacred to Mercury.
According to Ovid, Krokos was a boy loved by the god Hermes. After his accidental death the god transformed him into the saffron flower. Its red stems were described as his spilt blood.
In the book Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions, superstitions and folklore of the plant kingdom  By Richard Folkard, there are many references to saffron and its uses in Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Jewish and Indian cultures. This link takes you to to the precise page with the entry for crocus. It's well worth the brief read, especially since I can't cut and paste the highlights here!

It takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound of saffron. No wonder it's the world's most expensive spice! During the Renaissance, Venice stood out as the most important commercial center for saffron. In that period saffron was worth its weight in gold. Saffron was used to scent the baths and public halls of Imperial Rome. It is an important component of many an ayurvedic recipes. From an ayurvedic text:


Saffron is bitter, greasy and it cures head ailments and heals wounds. It is pungent, stops vomiting and gives brightness to the body as well as cures the three ailments. Saffron is bitter, pungent and heaty. It stops phlegm and cures gastric problems. It heals wounds, eye and head ailments. It serves as an anti-venom. It also gives brightness to the body.
This matches up with how Pliny describes the herb. There are still recipes describing the use of saffron, especially for wounds, eye cures, and gastric issues. It's fatal in high doses, so I'd recommend sticking with your favorite Indian restaurant as your primary intake source ;) However, some saffron rice would make a nice offering to Mercury!

From Alchemical Properties of Foods:
Saffron is considered the most perfect of all spices. It comes from the stigma of the stunningly beautiful violet crocus flower. During a two-week period in autumn, three stigmas from each flower are handpicked and dried. It takes 225,000 stigmas from 75,000 flowers to produce just a pound of the herb. Eating saffron dispels depression and eliminates psychological inertia, and it was once thought that you could die of "excessive joy" by eating too much of it. Drinking the tea is said to bestow the gift of clairvoyance and greatly enhance the body’s healing powers. Yellow safflower is often used as a cheaper substitute for saffron, but true saffron has a deep red color and imparts a golden yellow hue to the food to which it is added. The alchemists considered saffron the gold of the plant kingdom and believed it carried the "signature" of the great transmuting agent for which the alchemists spent their lives searching. According to legend, Hermes created saffron when he accidentally wounded his friend Crocus, whose blood dripped to earth and sprouted as the flower that bears his name. Saffron was sacred to the Egyptian supreme god, Amen, and the Egyptians grew it in their sacred gardens at Luxor. Persian priests were said to have controlled the winds with saffron, and Persian women attached balls of saffron to their bellies to facilitate safe pregnancies. Saffron was also sacred to Eos, the Greek god of the morning light, and the spice has been described as the dawn’s light solidified. In the Middle Ages, it was sprinkled over the beds of newlywed nobility to ensure a fruitful marriage. Alchemist Roger Bacon believed that saffron delayed the aging process, and some modern psychics believe its odor and taste release the transcendent essences of childhood.
Saffron-as-medicine is also mentioned in an Assyrian text from around 700 BCE. It was part of the collection of Ashurbanipal's Library (which was long before the one at Alexandria). This is the same collection we have to thank for the Epic of Gilgamesh. Here is a recipe for a salve allegedly made by the royal perfumer for Gilgamesh himself (ancient massage oil?):
"At first light, I gather balsam from the forest, saffron hidden in the dusty grass, flowers from the river's left bank, essential oils of the fir cone, oil from the calamus root, and a young turtle's shell ground up fine. Blessed with balsam's heat, on the altar do the flowers burn, until the heavens hear our plea, then they are crushed and stirred: For seven sunrises and seven sunsets does the mixture purify, and then it is rubbed upon the limbs and while singing praise, as this is proper toward the God."
Speaking of Alexandria, this ties in nicely with last night's post which included Alexander the Great. From the holy wiki:
Persian saffron was heavily used by Alexander the Great and his forces during their Asian campaigns. They mixed saffron into teas and dined on saffron rice. Alexander personally used saffron sprinkled in warm bath water. He believed it would heal his many wounds, and his faith in saffron grew with each treatment. He even recommended saffron baths for the ordinary men under him. The Greek soldiers, taken with saffron's perceived curative properties, continued the practice after they returned to Macedonia

Let's bring it back around tonight with an article from a 2004 published in the New York Times:
Until now, the earliest known use was around 1000 B.C., with visual and written evidence for the myrtle, the lily, the poppy and others. Now, scholars say, the dating of a volcanic eruption and botanically accurate wall paintings indicate that saffron has been a versatile medicine since 3,500 years ago.They base their case on frescoes at Thera, a Greek island in the Aegean, that have been thought to depict a goddess overseeing the production of perfume or spice. Instead, the scholars say, the frescos, from 1500 or 1600 B.C. -- the exact date is a topic of debate -- show the goddess presiding over the manufacture and use of a drug from the saffron flower.

It's believed this flower originated in Crete. I've posted before about Knossos being a city of the dead, where mummification took place and where sacred rites were held. It just occured to me that Hermes is associated with the bee nymphs which are associated with Crete, and with the crocus/saffron, and is a guide of souls. The information tonight might not be new, but my perspective is. I'm off to dream about this!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Libya

Tonight's blog isn't a political rant or treatise on the astrological implications behind the protests there and the occupy wall street movement here. Libya has just plain been calling to me.

Tanit has been on my mind. So has Jupiter. So has Alexander the Great. I've been pondering an in-depth post on each of these, but the research has been taking a while. Some things are just in-depth. Seeking the connection between the three has been of interest to me as well. My family lineage traces back to Carthage and Leptis Magna, as well as from other areas in Libya. I don't write this blog just to present research papers or book reports, the point is to sit and do the work. Recent posts have been very light lately because I haven't wanted to post about the aforementioned topics because I didn't have enough under my proverbial belt to do it. Some of it is just private. I do, however, want to share what's been on my mind:

Alexander the Great's mother claimed that his real father was Zeus and came to her as a snake. While he was heading around and about conquering the world, he paused at Siwa Oasis, a spot in ancient Libya (now modern Egypt) where there happened to be an oracle dedicated to Ammon. Ammon was nearly identical to Jupiter and Zeus and syncretized nicely. When Alexander asked the oracle if Zeus was his dad, he got what he took as a yes and allegedly considered himself divine thereafter. I'm working my way through two books about Alexander the Great and the founding of Alexandria in Egypt. I'll get back to you as further developments warrant!

Over the years, my relationship with Jupiter has been... well, it hasn't really been. I don't work with him and I know that's because I was burned out on that as a catholic. The Ponifex Maximus, the most important religious position in the religion of ancient Rome, was eventually subsumed by the emperor. The title is still used today for the pope. So is the political side of the title. Vatican City is its own country. But I digress! I was burned out on dealing with a father-figure. I tip a nod during general libations, but that has been the extent of our relationship for a long time... until recently. It's been interesting and when I understand it a bit better I hope to fill you in.

I found a few well put together articles about Tanit on line, but searching books hasn't yielded much. Much of what I have is my family lore.

Tanit, or Tanith, is the Great Goddess of Carthage, worshipped there as its chief Deity. She is a Sky Goddess who ruled over the Sun, Stars, and Moon; and as a Mother Goddess She was invoked for fertility. The palm tree is Hers, as the desert version of the Tree of Life; and as symbolic of the life-force of the Earth the serpent is Hers as well—in fact Her name means "Serpent Lady". She is identified with both Ashtart (Astarte) and Athirat and Her other symbols include the dove, grapes and the pomegranate (both symbolic of fruitfulness and fertility), the crescent moon, and, like Ashtart, the lion.

She was the "Lady of Carthage" and her consort is Ba'al and syncretizes nicely with so many different Goddesses:

She was identified with Aphrodite, Demeter, and Artemis by the Greeks and with Juno by the Romans, especially their Juno Lucina, Goddess of Light and Childbirth. The Romans also associated Her with the Magna Mater, the Great Mother, Rhea or Kybele.

Her symbol looks like the Isian knot!

Son of Neptune Book Review

Loved it! I read it in a day!

Yes, I know it's a kid's book, but I really love almost anything Rick Riordan writes. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is a favorite of mine. It's all about the Greek Pantheon and their children, the demigods. In this spin off series, he tackles the Roman pantheon!

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see a good description of Rome proper, the buildings, the clothing and armor, the major and minor deities, the temples, auguries.... and even the Lares! Yes, there was a comical treatment (Mr. Riordan seems to like making ghostly characters the butt of jokes), but I was delighted to just see them addressed as part of the every day life of the citizens.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was how they drew the distinctions between the Greek and Roman deities such as Greek Hades and Roman Pluto, and Greek Ares and Roman Mars. He illustrated the differences very well, including how Pluto was also a deity of wealth, not just death.

I was disappointed in the simplified "Romans imported the Greek Gods and perfected them" explanation. In The Lost Hero, the first book of this spin off series, Heroes of Olympus, there was the promise of a much deeper, much more clever connection between the two pantheons, much the same way Riordan explained the vast differences in Egyptian lore in his Kane Chronicles books.

We also get to experience some of the military jargon of the Roman army, including one of my favorite words: Cohort.  I love talking about my cohorts! Where'd the word come from? Italy! Ha! It's a military unit, 1/10 of a Legion.

The last nifty detail I will mention is that each of the Roman demigods gets a magical tattoo when they become an official member of the legion:



Senatus Populusque Romanus.

The Senate and People of Rome.