December 21, 2016 – Solstice Day, Honoring The Family

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We stand again, friends. The second flame rises with Belenus, with the Sun. He left us to journey through the below and rose again this morning, pulling a great quilt of rain behind him over the land. Today is not only a holy day of great joy, celebrating the return of the Sun to the sky, but it is also a night to honor family. Family takes many forms, particularly today. Family is blood and spirit, near and far.

Tonight’s ritual is devoted to all those relationships of special meaning to our hearts and lives. As the light of the fires grows on our altar we honor those who make our world shine by sharing it with us.

The lantern is lit, the flame shared to the first two candles of Yule.

On this, the second night of Yule we honor those people whom we call family.
Our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers,
our aunts and uncles and cousins,
our life partners and our children.
Whether by blood and bone or by heart and hand,
we honor those whom we call our tribe.
We call to the Earthmother that she may provide for them, to ensure they never know hunger.

An offering of corn meal is given.

We call to the Skyfather that he may shine upon their path, that they may know wisdom and direction.

Oil is censed for offering.

We call out to the Gods and Goddesses, that they know safety, security, and be made whole and holy, healed swiftly from all ails.

An offering of wine is made.

Kindreds all, accept our offerings!


This morning I woke up far, far too early. One one hand it was pretty necessary for me to witness the sunrise for my first observed Winter Solstice, but it was also necessary because I had to leave for work. It was one of those blessed moments of synchronicity coupled with a level of exhaustion just right enough to let the magic flow in and out.

As I have done for each day of Yule thus far I spent time on my commute for prayer, thought, and love and shared my sentiments as such with my internet friends and family:

“We’ve survived the long night without being devoured by wolves, the light of the sky is kindled once more, and we shake the coat of snow from our bodies as we stand again in the Earthmother’s embrace.

As we light the second flame of Yule we honor family. In this time of instant international correspondence many of us find our families more full than ever before. Family inspires and supports, embraces and throws, shouts and soothes. Family makes us whole. Life is ever so much more powerful when tied to many others.

Those I call family are nearly too many to name, but I wish to honor you all on this holy occasion.

Terri Jarvis, Earl Whitbeck, Mike Jarvis and Karen, the tree of my blood… For without them I would still be a mote of dust in the stars.

Linda Watson-Jacobs and her husband, Mark.

Kyle Jacobs, Tom, and Dave Morris.

My life-mate Tristan and those that brought him to the world, Debbie Gehman and Dave. Jay and Teo and their branches too.

Raymond Benninger and Michael for always being there for me.

John and David Jr Warriner and their circle for so many laughs and support.

Lauren Neuman, Grey Catsidhe, Michael Talvola, and so many other brothers and sisters in faith.

Laura Bertrand and her husband and son, a family I thought I’d never have in my adult years.

Of course all of my family at work in all lands and lines of businesses, whom I truly feel priveliged to know.

Blessings be too to my MMO families through the year. To Sword and Quill, my friends with the Thundering Hammer, dear old friends of The Broomstick Gang and of course all the magical girls of Tiro Finale who adopted me as an honorary magical girl early in 2014 when I was broken and full of despair, in fear I might never walk again.

Last but not least Matthew Johnson who met me many moons ago under false pretenses and is stuck with me whether he likes it or not. (I still feel embarrassed about the whole Marr thing)

Family is a strange and powerful thing. A field of many seeds, trees begetting trees, plants blending and blooming all together, giving shade for one another. Be you bear or squirrel or deciduous giant we still share this home together and we’d be but a barren wasteland without each other.

Blessings be to my family and the families of our families on this bright and beautiful day of praise.”

December 19, 2016 – Greeting The Winter Wanderer, Preparing The Altar

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Getting crowded for the holidays!

Happy Yule everyone! Many blessings and warm hugs to you all! It is on this day, the first night of Yule, when we greet the Winter Wanderer. They dance between worlds, even in these times when sunlight strains against the growing night, guiding guests to our flame.

Our home’s honored gatekeeper, Nantosuelta, receives offering and thanks this night for her jet-feathered companion flies beside her, perches atop her dovecote, and sings in the night. A beautiful and wise guide for those seeking passage, indeed.

Too, this night, we prepare the vessels for the flame that will slowly spread across the altar as each evening of this season greets us. I wanted to truly provide an adequately festive increase in offering and light for this very special time and as a result I find the altar increasingly more crowded than ever. A protective, sealing bowl has been brought to cat-proof more robust offerings overnight, that those coming to join our home may enjoy them without fear of mischief or harm. The twelve candles in addition to the center flame have also been added and blessed, prepared to light the way in coming nights.

On this night all the lights, all the tools brought here for Yule are gathered and blessed with clean water.

May you be made pure that our words and offerings be pure.

The candles and tools are censed with oils.

May you be made sacred so all passing through you are sacred.
May our words and offerings pass through you to attain the holy,
as blessings and gifts to the Kindreds.
So be it.

The lantern is lit, the vessel from which we shall light each of the twelve candles of Yule.

We begin by lighting the first flame of our Solstice rite,
and bless this space in preparation of the work to come.
On the eve of the Yuletide season we greet you, Winter Wanderer.
You who dares walk between the realms in this time of darkness,
when the spirits of all worlds move freely among us.
We humbly offer these gifts of wine and bread to nourish you on your travels,
and bid welcome to those whom you lead to our fire.
May the light of our fire shine bright for all who come in peace,
friends and kin all.
Winter Wanderer, may your travels bring blessings of prosperity and love
in every place you rest.
Winter Wanderer, accept our offerings!

It is with these words, these gifts, and this warm flame that the altar is set and this space is made whole and holy for this most beautiful of seasons. May all come together around the flames of Yule, hand in hand, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers and children all, to welcome the rise of the sun once more to the Earth Mother’s snow-laden, slumbering embrace.

Sidenote: I witnessed the sunrise and sunset both today. It was the first time I’ve seen both in a day in quite some time, if ever. It was something to behold. I pray it never leaves my heart.

Travelling on the bus to Her

I was just now on the bus to work and thought it would be an excellent time to do my morning devotional. My mentor suggested strongly that I attempt to work it in to my commute, as it’s largely time spent alone and I cannot do much else besides sit.

Well… I sat and did my breathing while listening to an mp3 of nature sounds. A forest stream, my favorite. I performed the Two Powers meditation and found my center… And then I went to my sacred space, my mental grove. I came from my childhood bed, turned left down the hall, stepped out onto the grass and followed the cliff down, West. I passed the skunk cabbage and the tractor path to the pond and found my way under the canopy of massive trees that covered the space near where the Kayaderosseras passed our home.

I sat, a distance from the creek, and watched.

Artio entered from the left side of my view, from the East. She walked with a Bear, her self as well. Bear was a deep red-brown as was Her long, wavy hair. She wore a loose white gown and walked barefoot through the creek.

She sat up on the crossing log and played her toes through the clear water. Bear, too, played. She rolled and splashed a moment, playing with the pebbles shimmering under the water.

Artio then turned to face me, smiling. She was radiant. Bear approached and all my focus was on her. I could feel pressure, like the air had all been compressed down on me. I had felt this before, when Bear came to me and mauled me, tore at me.

This time Bear did press down on me. Her massive head was all I could see. Teeth and claws and blood filled my vision but also an embrace, a mother’s lapping of the tongue. Playful and gentle shoving. The shoving intensified, pushing me in lazy arcs like a dog with a ball. Then it was toward Her. Best pushed and pushed til I sat at Her feet and She sat both before me and beside me.

Artio spoke, sitting on that log, looking down at us. Her voice was soft and motherly.

“You were seeking me.”

I thought of saying words but I didn’t… Or I couldn’t. I felt that sort of… Black miasma swirling around my mouth like chains of viscous wind.

“You are beautiful.”

“You are not strong…”

“…but you will be.”

“Return now.”

And then I awoke, seated on the bus.

I am still reeling a bit from the experience but it certainly affirms some elements I’ve been aware of. My desire to be beside Her, to serve Her. My desire to grow. Her encouragement fills my heart so much. And Bear, so aggressive and so loving. Every encounter with Bear is terrifying or nurturing or both. I both cherish and fear every encounter.

This was the first time I can recall seeing Her so clearly, hearing her voice. Bear’s force has been stronger in the past but never before had I sat so close to Her shining radiance.

It was a hell of a day to start a Wednesday, I tell you that.

Swing and a Miss

Tonight I attempted to do a full, vocalized ritual at home with the intent of blessing our home and warding off illness and harm. I worked from a script from the ADF website, a ritual utilizing the COOR and written by Ian Corrigan. It was sloppy and awkward and, though I made a more hearty offering with flour, tea, a biscuit, and syrup, the magic felt weak. The pale omens served only to confirm it. The improved offering was a small step in the right direction but my part in it was poor at best.

The omen:

Two, south and distant. Straight and solid.
A pair of threes, side by side, listing to the east, a mirror of each others facing.

I found the two, directly ahead, nearest the Fire, to tell me that my blessing, while granted, comes weak. Weakly as my confidence in the doing. I find the threes, side by side, nearest the offering bowl, indicating a warming, transitioning sentiment towards the increased giving, but it stands to fall one way or the other, leaning towards the negative/ “We see you’re trying, but you need to do better.”

If I’m to work this ritual I need to, I think, shape it slightly and commit it deeper to memory. I will do a little more work before I next attempt a full ritual like this one. In the meantime I have come across some lovely small devotional prayers I will begin to work into my daily worship.

Found Prayers to Nantosuelta and Artio

I saw searching around for a picture I could add to the altar to more properly make a place for Her on my altar and ended up finding a lovely little morning devotional to Her. This comes from Workings of a Modern Day Pagan and Vervenna Marianna.

Hail to the Goddess Nantosuelta
Queen of Earth
Keeper of  Fire
Bringer of fertility, abundance and blessings
Goddess of the hearth
Oh Mighty Mother
I pray that you may guide me
And gift to me your blessings
Teach me your ways 
So I may teach and heal those around me
Show me the path through your forests green
And fires bright
So that I may follow in your footsteps
Through this day and onwards.”

I rather like it. I’ve yet to have any sort of morning ritual as of yet. This seems like a good place to start, though!

EDIT: Shortly after posting this I found two more wonderful prayers from the Tumblr blog Fieldstones that I just loved:

To Artio
Artio, goddess, bold of spirit, strong of heart,
fair one, gracious one, queen of the wilderness,
mistress of bears, I call to you this day.
Gentle goddess, you face without fear the greatest
of beasts, unarmed and ungirded you enter
the den; in hand you hold the fragrant blossom,
in arm you bear the finest fruit, ripe and ready,
honey-sweet as when it was plucked from the tree.
Artio, mountain-goddess, through tangled wood
and stony stream you run, fleet of foot and graceful
of carriage, firm of will and noble of bearing.
Artio, long-beloved goddess, I honor you.

 

To Nantosuelta

Gracious Nantosuelta, holder of the home,
abundance is your blessing, contentment is your gift.
Well-crowned goddess, draped in fine raiment, garlanded
in gold, in you we see the riches of the world.
We know you, goddess, as we know honey
on the tongue, as we know warm grass on bare feet;
you are as heady, goddess, as the sweet new wine.
The dove is yours, Nantosuelta, white as milk,
fragile and free; yours too, O goddess, is the raven,
yours too the way of that coal-black bird. Nantosuelta,
in arm you bear the plentiful horn, in hand you grasp
the chalice; for your gifts I honor you, O goddess.

All of these prayers are so beautiful, and speak in tones and ways that I, too, see my beloved Goddesses. My thanks go to you both for these sweet words that I may yet love Them better with each passing day.