Thursday, November 29, 2012

iPagan

artwork by Dan Reynolds
I missed the full moon.  That's a bummer, because full moon meditations and spells are my favorites.  I feel a sense of balance and peace after them that centers me for the rest of the month.  But, as often happens, day-to-day distractions make it easy to forget to make time for worship.  Even more so when, like me, you would rather practice alone, and there is no alone place to be found (maybe I should keep an altar by the toilet?). 
I've debated setting a reminder on my iPhone, but it doesn't seem right somehow--like a metaphysical cheat.  Still, inspired by this train of thought, I looked to see what apps are available to the practicing witch.  I searched under "pagan," and sure enough, there was an app for that. 
I was surprised at first to find anything at all, let alone over 80 apps.  They have EVERYTHING, from various Books of Shadows, to Tarot guides to god and goddess dictionaries.  I felt like a kid in a candy store (or a witch in an herb shop).  But that still doesn't answer the question, is it OK to incorporate technology into your practice?  Hmm.  Food for thought.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Shopping for the Pagans in Your Life


Whatever your religious bent, the winter holidays are just around the corner, and pagans are just as susceptible to commercialism as the next guy.  Besides, who doesn't love giving (and getting) gifts?  Here's an idea list for that special pagan in your life--


Jewelry's nice, and pagan jewelry can be found all over the Internet.  A charm might make a good choice since some of us don't want to flash our pentacles at PTA meetings.  One cool alternative I found was this fabulous locket--I wonder if you could keep a photo in it as well, or maybe a tiny spell?

http://www.gaelsong.com/product/146734/Pagan_Jewelry



Candles, candles, candles--There's not a pagan I know who isn't the Fire Marshal's worst fear, and they can be found ANYWHERE.  You could go the extra mile and spend on a specially blessed organic beeswax candle, but most witches I know like to anoint their own.  Small tea lights work well for day-to-day practice, or for general ambiance, colored tapers or votives are perfect for candle magic.  Include a cool candle holder and you will be golden.  I would hesitate to choose scented candles for other people--smell is such a personal thing...

Books are always welcome, but you really need to know your pagan's preferences before you go shelling out at the local B&N.  For example, I lean toward Celtic paganism in my beliefs and am fairly conservative in my practice (an it harm none and all that).  Joseph H. Peterson's Grimorium Verum would probably creep me out as a gift.  I'd obsess over what kind of witch you think I am (are you a good witch or a bad witch?), and I'd be afraid to get rid of it because, well...I am pagan and a certain amount of unhealthy superstition goes with that.  A better book gift would be a gift-certificate to their local bookstore or better yet, used bookstore.  I've found some of my favorite occult books at Half-Priced Books. 

I drool over the hand-tooled leather bound journals I often see in occult shops, but if your pagan is a vegetarian or vegan, this may not be the right choice.  Still, journals can be found in many styles and shapes--there's bound to be one out there.

Herbs are a great choice.  Whether used in cooking or in spells, the gift of a lovely, green, growing thing is always thoughtful. In the Victorian language of herbs, here are some meanings for the most basic herbs one can find at any nursery:

Oregano--joy
Parsley--festivity, joy and victory
Rosemary--remembrance
Sage--long life and good health
Sweet basil--best wishes or love is near
Thyme--happiness  and courage


A selection of incenses is thoughtful, but as I said earlier, scents are a personal thing so know your pagan well.  Ask the shopkeeper what their favorites are if you have doubts.  My local witch shop turned me onto this brand, and I have yet to experience an overwhelming smell.
incense--http://www.ramakrishnanandastore.com/index.php


I don't know a pagan who doesn't have a crapload of chotchkies around their home, many of which can be discreet and charming.  I have a collection of glass balls scattered around my living area which I  like to charge during full moons, and often use for meditation.  Small statues work as well.

Handmade gifts are always nice too, but that's between you and your skills.

If none of these individual ideas seem right for the pagan in your life, might I suggest a gift basket incorporating several small items?  Happy Yule and safe shopping.








Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garlic



I've got a sudden craving for garlic.  Is it because everyone in my house seems to have a cold?  Possibly.  Is it because I have a sudden (Twilight-inspired) desire to keep vampires away?  I don't know, maybe--but not the nice, pretty, sparkly ones, just the mean ugly ones.  Is it because I recently purchased a three-pound bag of peeled garlic?  Busted.  I don't know what came over me, but looking at this huge bag makes think I'd better start cooking.

Garlic is a wonderful plant for magickal purposes.  It can be used in spells of protection, purification, and healing.  It is used to ward off negative magic and energy.   Garlic is excellent in spells involving Moon magick and those invoking the goddess Hecate.  Nutritionally, garlic is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of selenium, B6 and Vitamin C.  With all of this (as well as a three-pound bag of the stuff just sitting in my fridge) there is no excuse not to use it in all of my savory dishes to give them a nutritional and metaphysical boost.

In order to use the maximum amount of garlic, I've decided to roast it and make roast garlic soup.  It's wonderful, and perfect for a Full Moon celebration.  Originally, I found this recipe on the epicurious website.  I had duck stock, so I used it instead of the chicken, and I used more garlic than the recipe called for since, hey, I had it on hand.   The lemon seems like a random idea, but trust me--it's worth it.
For the original recipe go here:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Garlic-Soup-with-Parmesan-Cheese-100669

Roast Garlic Soup
  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 18 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 lemon wedges


Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Garlic-Soup-with-Parmesan-Cheese-100669#ixzz2Co0fJpS6
  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 18 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 lemon wedges


Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Garlic-Soup-with-Parmesan-Cheese-100669#ixzz2Co0fJpS6
26 (or more) cloves of garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil

1/4 stick of butter
two medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 t fresh thyme
18 garlic cloves, raw
3 1/2 cups of duck stock

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350F.  Roast the 26 (or more) cloves of garlic with the olive oil in foil for 45 minutes to an hour (the cloves should be browned.)
Later:
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Saute the onions until translucent.  Add thyme and raw garlic cloves and continue to cook a couple more minutes.  Add the duck stock (or chicken, if you must) cover and simmer about 20 minutes, until the garlic is soft.  Add the roasted garlic and then puree the soup until smooth (I used a puree wand and it worked like a charm).

Serve with cream and Parmesan with the lemon wedge on the side.  Don't skip the lemon!






Sunday, November 18, 2012

Air Filter Purification Spell


There must be something in the air this weekend.  I'm feeling crazy nesty.  Maybe it's the coming Yuletide season (and it's infinite opportunities to bake and decorate), or perhaps it was this weekend's Leonid Meteor Shower (how cool was that?!!).  Maybe Mercury is in retrograde (it totally is!).  Whatever.  The inspiration to do household maintenance has hit, and what better time to insert a little discreet witchery?

Looking up, I was appalled by the amount of ew which had collected on my air-intake vent.  When was the last time I changed those filters?  Oh well, where others see chores, I see possibility.

Negativity Trap Spell
-New air filter (my AC guy recommends using the basic cheap blue ones--the air conditioner doesn't work as hard drawing air, and it's better to change the filters often.  Makes no diff to me, but we don't have any asthmatics here either.)
-Lemon or orange furniture polish  (This was also on the advice of my AC guy--spray the new filter with furniture polish to increase it's efficacy in filtering dust, etc.)
I know, I know--store-bought furniture polish doesn't seem very magickal.  You can whip up your own essential oil spray if you like, you'd be able to fine-tune the spell and more power to you, but as this is home maintenance, why not work with what's convenient?

Center yourself and focus on your intent:  you are creating a trap for the negative energy circulating through your home.  If spells work better for you go for it.  I usually recite a simple phrase three times, maybe something like "peace circles, anger trapped."  Imagine your filter/trap working and remember to switch out the filter every month (I like to do this around the waxing moon, but obviously I forget often.)  Anoint (spray) the filter with furniture polish--Lemon enhances energy and can be used in purification spells, Orange is good for purification but better at lifting moods.  Replace the filters and give thanks.  Blessed be.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Autumn Tarot


As I was driving home from the store, a bright orange autumn leaf did a full-on cartoon style flutter-in-the-wind, gracefully flitting this way and that, just before it plastered itself onto my windshield.  It sat there through two stop signs before going on it's merry way to bless the windshield of some other hapless pagan on this glorious autumn day.

I love days like this--just a little too cool, a little too bright, the trees are showing their color, and my flowers are all dying.  Autumn makes me want to bake something or clean or, better yet, sit by the fire with a cup of coffee and read Tarot.

I wanted to do something different with my reading today.  I've got an itch to embrace change, possibly inspired by the weather, or maybe even my intrepid orange leaf.  Change is a part of life's circle, and autumn reminds us of this.  So I used the magical power of the Internet and found a wonderful article on Llewellyn's website (linked below).  In it, the author talks about a spread called Box of Change presented by Thalassa, the producer of the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium.
tarotseptember 

To read this spread, shuffle your entire deck (including the five cards the positions are named for) and lay the cards out in order. 

Card 1 is Wheel of Fortune, representing what is causing the change
Card 2 is Death, representing what is wrong--this is what needs to be let go of in order to move on.
Card 3 is Tower and it represents a warning.  It is what you don't see coming.  Be aware of potential SNAFUs on the horizon and change may proceed more smoothly.
Card 4 is the Hanged Man.  It is an area of your life in flux that you need to sit back and let happen.  It's like the weather, now move on.
Card 5 is Judgment and it represents what needs to be done.  Basically it is the opposite of card 4 and you should be proactive in the change that is coming.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twinkie Paganism


While surfing the Net for juicy pagan stuff (you know you do it too), I stumbled upon multiple references to the "infamous Twinkie Pagan essay."  Intrigued (I mean, who wouldn't want to read something cool enough to stand out in an ocean of pagan search hits), I Googled it and discovered Michael Poe's "Figment Website" (http://figment3spade.tripod.com)
It's loaded with enough pagan articles to waste even the longest afternoon--get comfortable.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from "Twinkie Paganism."  The term Twinkie evokes (at least to me) images of blondness and sweetness and very little substance.  In the article, however, it basically described a newbie.  Worse than that, a newbie desperate for attention.  We've all met them, usually at Renaissance festivals or in Portland, OR, and they are the extreme opposite of the discreet witch.  But I think that instead of Twinkies, the better Hostess cake here would be the Snowball.  It's way out there on the outside--all pink and coconutty and not quite right--kind of dark on the inside, AND it still has that substance-free cream filling that the Twinkie boasts.  But the basic message was still solid--don't be a Twinkie (Snowball) Pagan.

http://figment3spade.tripod.com/idiots/twinkie.html

Enjoy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Moon Ritual for November

 New moon is the time for growth and beginnings.  I tend to get my hair cut early in the moon's phase to encourage growth (though I'll be honest and admit I've never noticed a difference), and in the garden I'll plant nonroot vegetables during the new moon.  In my home, I perform cleansings--emotional, domestic, personal, spiritual--during this time to make room for the new clutter that comes with life.

November's new moon falls on a Tuesday, making it an excellent opportunity to open up peace talks with folks you've been feuding with (and we all have those), or encourage positive energy in your relationships.

Once everyone's left the house and I have a little privacy, I do a quicky cleansing--physical and psychic--which usually involves uber-cleaning the kitchen (a task I truly hate, but it's the center of my world, so I try to focus on my new moon goals as I scrub other people's dishes), straightening up the rest of the house, making a cup of tea (I think mint today), lighting a purifying incense and centering myself as I picture old, stale energy leaving my home and new, fresh energy entering.  On special occasions I'll do the big cleanse, but life is hectic and my goals are small this month--the health, happiness and peace of my family as the holiday season approaches.

I'll do this for the length of time it takes to enjoy the earth, wind, fire and water aspects of my tea, give thanks to the Universe for--well--everything, and get on with my day. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Autumn Pagan

Autumn is the best time of year for those of us still "in the broom closet."  We can let our pagan imaginations run wild as we decorate for the season, and while the cauldrons and gargoyles do get put away after Samhain, the candles and incense and all of the blessings of nature get to stay out.

This year I downsized the Samhain decor somewhat--I simply couldn't get into the spirit no matter how often I played Danny Elfman's "This is Halloween."  Still, this worked out well for me once I started putting all of the bats, crows and spiders away.  Normally I have to lug three or four storage bins up to the attic.  This year I was down to two(ish).  Much of what I decorated with I could leave out without raising eyebrows--pumpkins, autumn garlands, berries.  Candles, of course.  The "Evil Cauldron of Love" (as we like to call the candy bowl) has been replaced by the "Evil Pumpkin of Love," and miscellaneous winter squashes are left out in the hope that I will cook them...eventually.  In the garden, the Jack-o'Lanterns have moved on and the mums have been moved from their pots on the porch to fill in the autumn garden.

 There's a purity to this time, and a simplicity to the rituals that is a relief to me.  In the mornings I can sit quietly by the fire (earlier now that Daylight Savings has kicked in) with my coffee, and center myself for the adventures of the day.  In the evenings, a stick of incense and a glass of wine are all I need to give thanks for surviving the day's adventures and for the blessings I've been given.  All of this in front of my family or even guests.  Autumn, for me, has become a time for the discreet witch to let it all hang out.  Blessed be.