Samhain 2012

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My altar setup for the Samhain rite: owls for wisdom, pumpkins, dried Indian corn, and a pomegranate, horns for the God, my blackthorn athame, a Pythia statue from Greece for the divination, my Voyager tarot, and three candles for the Goddesses Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate

Samhain this year promised to be a very intense experience, as indicated by all things astrological. Saturn in Scorpio—Saturn, the planetary ruler of karma and lessons, in the sign ruler of the Underworld—a full moon in Taurus two days before and opposing Saturn, Venus in Libra triggering the Uranus/Pluto square and squaring Pluto itself, the moon trine Pluto… that’s a TON of intense aspects all at once. Deeply emotional yet possibly deeply healing aspects. For more information on this full moon just prior to Samhain (and therefore holding a great deal of influence over this sabbat), please check out this post on the excellent astrology blog, Empowering Astrology.

Because the themes of these planets coincided so well with the usual themes of the Samhain holiday, I decided to combine two aspects into one ritual: divination and honoring the ancestors or loved ones in spirit. Both of these are common activities at this time of year. And as my pantheon is mainly Hellenistic (as in the syncretic Hellenistic time period= Graeco-Egyptian, with a dash of India), Persephone and Hecate naturally became a part of the ritual I was to lead.

My coven is small—we’re a pentagram of five—but this was to be only my third time leading ritual; I’d previously led our Candlemas/Imbolc holiday and one full moon. So you could say I was a little nervous crafting a rite for Samhain and *this* Samhain, in particular. I started off thinking I would do something focused on Anubis, but this was not to be. (Probably a good thing, since I haven’t really forged a relationship with Him.) In the end, I combined our normal casting structure with elements of two different rituals I found online. Turned out quite well, I think—I know at least I felt attuned with the powers of these Goddesses and, hopefully, my fellow witches did, too. For the actual ritual, continue on to Samhain 2012, Part II.

Our ancestors altar (also the South quarter, due to limited space)

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“This Ambiguous Concept of the Sacred”

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I’m reblogging this article because it’s a beautiful, thought-provoking commentary on the Japanese response to disaster in their land (the 2011 earthquake and tsunami) and how this response relates to Shintoism and Buddhism. It also perfectly sums up my own feelings on suffering, character, and transformation.

From Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Jeffrey L. Richey: Disaster in Japan.

Reflections on Priestesshood

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As part of my coven’s Samhain ritual, we did a divination. One card each, pulled from my beloved Voyager Tarot, to represent our paths or focus for the coming year. I pulled the Priestess card and am now reflecting on what this means for me and my life.

A priestess is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a woman authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion” or “a woman regarded as a leader (as of a movement).” Wikipedia gives these key terms as interpretations attached to the High Priestess card of the tarot: knowingness, love, relationships, wisdom, sound judgment, serenity, common sense, intuition, mystical vision, introspection, otherworldliness.

I’ve definitely been feeling the need to embrace those last characteristics. As a Fish, mysticism is not out of the realm of my own experience. A knowingness, intuition, and vision have always been a part of my inner and outer worlds, sometimes in unexpected, sometimes in unwanted ways. Unexpected… past life dreams of myself as a priestess of Isis in Pompeii, desperately trying to save our holy instruments and relics before the Fall. Unwanted… a prophetic dream, years beforehand, of an earth-shattering, near-fatal assault on my person, from which I still struggle to recover.

The serenity and introspection have seemed to slip away little by little lately, as I find myself living more fully in and as a part of the world, embracing its very material joys and pleasures and experiencing physical sorrows and frustrations. A lot of things are being stripped away from me now, not necessarily of my own volition, and I’m being forced to deal with things I’d rather deny and escape from. In this process, I can feel a certain shimmering, a glimmer of the beauty and simplicity that could be my life, will be my life, once I find courage, discipline, and momentum to finish the game.

I think of the number 7, its numerological meanings, and the between worlds presence of the High Priestess— and I want that. Perhaps I will lead more rites, create them, channel Godly energy, perform more divinatory spells, and bless my hearth and others’ with herbs and lovingly cooked meals. I wish for the manifestation of my home to be as temple, for my life to be joyful and contemplative at the same time. I wish for the spaces in my day to be filled with poetry, Nature, magick, Deities, music, yoga, meditation, love, nourishment, and both study and practice. Peaceful ecstasy and wild attunement. I know it is “in my cards;” I just need to play my hand.

And furthermore

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I’m also going to try to do the last few months of the Pagan Blog Project and give a little update on what has been going on in my life since… 2008? Sheesh.