Tuesday, January 31, 2012


There are alot of places you can go to read about the holiday of Imbolc, its symbolism, origins, activities, etc.  So, instead of boring everyone with info you can find almost anywhere else, I'll share what we'll be doing.  (Though not in any particular order...)

Each Sabbat, my kids and I read stories relating to that day.  For Imbolc, we'll be reading Kat Dyer's Meagan's Imbolc (http://home.comcast.net/~kdyer/meagan/imbolc.html), Lori Dake's Kyle's Imbolc Lesson (http://www.doomdiva.com/chipaganps/imbolcstory.html) and PaganDad's Grandfather's Story for Imbolc (http://www.pagandad.com/2009/01/childrens-story-for-imbolc.html).  After the stories, we'll talk about what happened in each one, and what Meagan and Kyle learned.  We'll also talk about what we can do in similar situations.

I try to cook at least a little something that correlates to the Sabbat, as well, and this year, while making a beef stew on Imbolc, I'll also be making a sunflower seed bread and honey cakes, with homemade butter.  -This is a new endeavor, so if it turns out, I'll post the recipes I used.  If not, well, let's just not dwell on that, ok?  Making Sabbat-appropriate foods gives me an opportunity to share with my fiance and his parents (yes, we're staying at his parents' house temporarily, while saving to buy our own- another endeavor I'm working on!) a little about what I practice and believe in at any given time.

In the meantime, since the breads will take some time to rise and bake, the kids and I will be making an Imbolc Crown (courtesy of PaganDad http://www.pagandad.com/2009/01/imbolc-crown.html).  I'll post a pic once it's done :)

I may or may not put together a simple ritual for the kids and myself.  If I do, it will be very simple and non-structured, but I'll post it anyway.  And, if I don't, well, ritual isn't everything, actually living and doing is much more important as far as I'm concerned.  If I don't get a ritual in with my kids, I'll wait until I meet with my coven sisters to get my ritual-fix.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

B is also for ... Belenus

So, who is Belenus, exactly?

In the mundane world, Belenus (aka Bel) is my almost 9yr old orange tabby.  Affectionately known as my Grumpy Old Man.  He's been with since he was about 6wks old, and got his name from a deck of Tarot cards I acquired recently before he came into my life.  He is named after the Warrior of Fire card in The Shapeshifter Tarot by D.J. Conway, Lisa Hunt and Sirona Knight.  Though he has never shown any indication toward being a familiar, he has, nonetheless, been a companion and a light for me, especially going through some difficulties.  Bonus- he actually seems to like babies and small children, as well as dogs!
These are all my cats, from left to right: Belenus, Taliesin, Nyla, Atlas, Willow  (not the greatest pic, but the best I could find at the moment)

Now, who is Belenus the god?

This is a little trickier to answer.  There doesn't seem to be much written about him, as he is primarily a Celtic god, and most of their traditions were passed down orally rather than written down for future generations.  Here is what I've been able to piece together:

The name Belenus means "Shining One", or perhaps "bright" or "brilliant".  He is a god of light, the sun and of fire.  He is often seen as a god of healing, crops and herds, protection, good luck and fertility.

Belenus is an unusual Celtic god in that his worshippers were so widespread.  References to Belenus have been found in many places, from Northern Italy, to Southern Gaul, Britain, the Alps, Rome, Spain, Scotland, Austria, France, and others.  There have been many carvings and other offerings dedicated to Belenus found at healing shrines.

Belenus is married to the goddess Belisama, whose name means "Summer Bright". While she is also associated with fire and light, her domain includes rivers, lakes and watercraft.

The Sabbat most commonly associated with Belenus is Beltane.  Now celebrated on May 1, there are suggestions that historically this holy day was recognized on the first full moon in Taurus.  Beltane marked the beginning of the summer season.  At this time, huge bonfires would be lit, and herds would be driven between two fires for purification and protection on their way to summer feeding grounds.  It is also said that healing plants gathered on Beltane have extra power.

There are many names often associated with Belenus.  He is sometimes called Belenus-Apollo, and is equated with Apollo in Roman-Celtic regions.  Both solar deities, given the functions of healer and protector, Belenus has been called the Celtic Apollo.  Perhaps lending credence to the claim that these two gods are the same is Belenus' connection to Belisa, the name of a Henbane plant known to have psychoactive properties.  This connection may be correlated to Apollo's relation with the Oracle at Delphi.  There has been a suggestion that Belenus may also have had a horse-drawn chariot like Apollo, but there is not substantial evidence of this.

There are also connections to the gods Bile, Beli and Beli Mawr, though these gods are more closely linked to death, the underworld and ancestors, than to the sun.  Belenus has a tenuous link to the Egyptian god Ba'al, the theory being that myths and stories were carried by travelers between the regions.  Though there is a claim that this connection has been dismissed, I found nothing to back this up.  Additionally, there is an occasional depiction of Belenus riding a horse and throwing thunderbolts, connecting him to Jupiter and Zeus.

The only legend I could locate regarding Belenus is from the writings of Herodianos.  He wrote that when Maximus attacked Aquileia in 238BCE, it was prophesied that Belenus would protect the town.  In histories of the battle, the emperor's soldiers reported seeing an image of the god above the city, intervening on behalf of his followers.

In Wales, the Cymric tribe name Catuvellauni means "The Host of Belenus"; while their most well-known leader Cassivellaunos' name means "The Devotee of Belenos".  The name of the leader during the Claudian invasion of Britain, Cunobelinos, means "The Hound of Belenus".

Various spellings and versions of Belenus:

Belenus, Belanus, Belenos, Belanos, Belinus, Belinos, Belennos, Belinu, Belanu, Belus, Belan, Belen, Belyn, Bel, Beli, Bile, Ba'al, Belatucadros, Beltene, Bryth, Cym

According to one source (the reference for which I've misplaced, so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know!) "Belenos' name is derived from the reconstructed proto-Celtic elements *belo- (bright/shining), the deicific particle -n- and the maculine ending -os.  Thus Belenos is 'The Shining God'."

Associations for Belenus
Solar deity: sun, fire, light
Functions: healing, protection, crops and herds, good luck, fertility
Symbols: horses, the wheel, sometimes thunderbolts
Colors: yellow, green, white
Plants: wildflowers, Henbane, healing plants

It's a BOY!

Well, we went for the ultrasound on Thursday, and everything looks really good with the baby.  Found out I was (on that day) 18 1/2 wks, and he is developing normally.  It was practically a party: me, my fiance, both my kids, and my mom went.  It was a little crowded, but the kids were really good.

We got the good news that we'll be having a boy, which is what I told my honey originally, before we ever got pregnant, that my next baby would be a boy, and he argued that his first kid would be a girl...  Then, throughout the pregnancy, I've actually been unsure (though I was right for both of my others, I don't know why I doubted this time!).  I had been getting "girl-vibes", so I don't know exactly what that is supposed to mean.  Maybe just that my baby will be a little more sensitive or something.  No matter what, I'm sure he'll be absolutely perfect, and I can't wait to welcome my little one to this world!

(ps, I will get my 2nd "B" post up later today.  This has been a super-crazy week, with alot going on, so I'm running just a little behind.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

B is for … Bandaids

You're probably wondering how bandaids fit into the PBP.  I don't blame you.  I had a whole list of "B" topics to choose from.  But every time I thought about this week's post, all I came up with is "Bandaids are Magic".  Possibly, my 3 year old has something to do with this.  Have you ever noticed, when a child gets hurt, a bandaid almost always makes it better?  Talk about some powerful magic!  So simple, and yet, so effective.

Now, the question is why are bandaids so magical?

It’s not because they inherently possess magical properties.  Likewise, they usually are not charged with a healing purpose under the light of the full moon.  No, bandaids are magic because of the associations created during childhood.

Imagine this Scenario:
A child falls and scrapes her knee.  She cries.  Her mother (or father) picks her up, cuddles her  with loving words, carries her in to gently clean the scrape, put antibiotic ointment on it and cover it with a bandaid.  A kiss and "it's all better", and voila! The child has stopped crying and believes she is "all better" because she has a bandaid and a promise from her parent.

A bandaid has the ability to heal, not because we, as adults, think so, but because our parents said so when we were kids.  We then pass that magic on to our own children by repeating the same rituals of comfort we experienced as a child.  Even as an adult, when I happen to slice my finger while making dinner (which, unfortunately, happens all too often), the first thing I do is locate a bandaid.  There is still a sense of comfort and care in that simple action so many years later.

These comforting words and actions of a parent, that make such an impression and have such a lasting effect, well, that is the true magic.  Still, if you ask my kids, bandaids are magic, no matter what you say.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"A" is also for ... Artemis

"Artemis was the image of a woman moving through her life and assuming different roles at different times; she was a veritable encyclopedia of feminine possibility."
-from The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

Artemis was, and is again today, a very prominent Goddess.  She was widely worshipped, by a variety of peoples in various locales.
Though popular myth dictates Artemis was a daughter of Leto and Zeus, in actuality, Her roots date back to Neolithic times.  Artemis has ties with the Ancient Earth Mother Goddess.

It is generally known that Artemis is a Greek goddess, and a relatively minor one, at that.  However, it has been noted that today's version of the Goddess is based on the "scholarly" reports of Her, and does not quite match the view of the majority of Ancient Greeks in their folklore.  She is thought to be a Virgin Goddess, Huntress, and also the Goddess of girls and women in childbirth.

   *It is important to note here, that the term "virgin" as it is applied to Artemis is often misunderstood.  Today, this word means that a woman is physically a virgin, that she has not been sexually involved with a man.  However, in older times, the word had an entirely different meaning.  When a woman was referred to as a virgin, it meant that she was whole in herself.  Independent; not reliant on any man to support her, or to dictate to her.  It did not mean that she avoided all sexual encounters.  When Patriarchal societies began taking over Matriarchal culture, this misinterpretation was intentionally perpetuated in order to detract from the Goddesses' importance, making way for male deity figures to take over.
Artemis' priestesses and followers include the Amazons, Alani, Arktoi and Melissae, to name a few.

·         Amazons: The Amazons were strong, independent, Goddess-identified women.  Like other women (namely the mythologized Maenads, Nymphs, Oreads and Dryads), the Amazons chose to leave Patriarchal societies, to live free and independent of men.

With the Amazons, it was common for a woman to dedicate herself to Artemis for a time, serve with the Amazons as a warrior and Priestess, then return to her home to have a family.  Some women did, of course, dedicate their entire lives to the service of Artemis.

They understood, on a deeper level, that Artemis is just one facet of the Great Goddess; one that was reserved exclusively for female worshippers.

"But heed now this charge I give you.  Speak of me to all your sisters who yet know me not.  For though I have come first to you, I come also to all your sisters who dwell with men.  For all are equal in my sight all love is equal in my sight.  So go now and tell your sisters of me that they might also tell their brothers… that all may know me.  For I am all love and all life."

-from She Lives! by Judith Laura

"The Amazons were proud, capable women who firmly worshipped the Goddess.  They bowed to no man for any reason.  If history has recorded them as war-like and man-haters, consider that men of strictly patriarchal cultures persecuted and killed them for their beliefs, then wrote the histories.  The Amazons refused to submit to the loss of their freedom and rights, therefore they were considered to be dangerous and unnatural.  Their extinction was brought about by the Greeks and other patriarchal societies because of the Amazons' fierce defense of the matriarchy and the rights of women."

-D.J. Conway (exact source unknown, taken from my Coven's website The Sisterhood of the Silver Bow; also found on the website Artemis Potnia Theron the Soul of Wild Things)

·         Alani: "'Hunting dogs'.  Greek name for the Scythian tribes who worshipped Artemis as the Divine Huntress. […] Artemis was often called the Great Bitch, and her hunting priestesses were the 'sacred bitches' who chased, killed and consumed boar-gods and star-gods like Phorus or Actaeon.  Thus, to Christians, 'Son of a bitch' meant a devil worshipper- that is, a pagan devotee of the Goddess.' (Artemis Divine Huntress, by B. Walker; www.amazonation.com/DivineArtemis.html)

·         Arktoi: In Attica at Brauron (also spelled Vrauron, depending on the source) there was a Bear Cult of the Goddess Artemis.  In this cult, young girls served as the "Bears of Artemis", or Arktoi.  They participated in a ritual called Arkteia, in which they imitated she-bears, and ended by throwing off their saffron-colored robes, to stand naked before the Goddess.

There are two primary myths surrounding this practice.  The first is that Agammemnon killed a stag which angered Artemis.  She demanded that Iphigeneia be sacrificed in retribution.  At the last minute Iphigeneia threw off her robes, which Artemis accepted as the sacrifice, and rescued her.  Iphigeneia spent the remainder of her life in service to Artemis.

The other story is much simpler.  In it, two men, one of whom had a young sister serving in the Temple of Artemis, killed a bear that was sacred to Artemis.  In order to save the people from destruction, the Atenians were required to consecrate their daughters to Her.  Thus, the young girls served as Arktoi.

·         Melissae: Literally, "the bees".  The Great Mother was also known as Melissa, or "the Queen Bee".  In Ancient Greece, the priestesses of many goddesses were called Melissae.

Artemis is given the title Melissa in this passage by Porphyry: "The ancients gave the name of Melissae (bees) to the priestesses of Demeter who were initiates of the chthonian goddess; the name Melitodes to Kore herself: the moon (Artemis) too, whose province it was to bring to the birth, they called Melissa, because the moon being a bull and its ascension the bull, bees are begotten of bulls.  And soulds that pass to the earth are bull-begotten."

Marija Gimbutas explains his statements as follows: "…we learn that Artemis is a bee, Melissa, and that both she and the bull belong to the moon.  Hence both are connected with the idea of a periodic regeneration.  We also learn that souls are bees and that Melissa draws souls down to be born.  The idea of a 'life in death' in this singularly interesting concept is expressed by the belief that the life of the bull passed into that of the bees."  (Priestesses of the Bee: The Melissae, by Linda Iles)

Though the title of Melissae was not unique to priestesses of Artemis, in Her association with the Bee we can see Her link back into ancient history as the original Great Earth Mother.

The worship of the Goddess did not arise from Her myths, rather the other way around.  Many people, in many places, revered Artemis in some aspect.  They had many names, but their love and devotion to Artemis was the same.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I feel like I should be posting more, but I'm really at a loss as to exactly what I want to write.  Several topics have come across my mind, but only partially formed.  There are many things I'd like to address, in addition to the weekly PBP posts.

Usually, I am a bit of a perfectionist.  I like to know exactly what I'm doing, before I do it.  I like to have everything organized in a logical (at least to me) manner, before moving forward.  Instead, I'll use this post to introduce some of the things I am likely to write about in the future.

First, my kids.  They are, naturally, a huge part of who and what I am.  I will probably write alot about them.  Being a Capricorn, with two fire-sign children (Aries and Leo), tends to generate some interesting experiences.  Speaking of my kids, we'll call them Dragon Boy and Fairy Princess (they chose those names themselves :).   Dragon Boy is almost 7 and Fairy Princess is about 3 1/2.  Dragon Boy has alot of Challenges - with a capital "C" - which I'm sure I'll get into later.  Fairy Princess, on the other hand, is a perfectly normal 3yr old, who's main challenge is a tendency to copy her big brother.  In about 5 months or so, we'll have a new addition, which we're looking forward to (the baby will probably either be air - Gemini - or water - Cancer).

Moving on, I will probably talk about homeschooling a bit.  Due to many of my son's issues, a traditional school just doesn't work for us. 

I'm sure I'll mention my fiance occassionally, too.  He is not Pagan, but is ok with my choice.  He was raised in a loosely Christian family, who have all been very accepting of my religious choice, once they understood basically what it is.  When I tell him I'm going to one of my Sister's houses for an Esbat, he's like "what"? But if I say we're doing "witchy stuff", then he knows what I mean, and doesn't ask any more questions.  But, he is a wonderful man, and I am lucky to have found him.

And, of course, I'll be talking about "witchy stuff".  Sometimes it might not seem magical, but I am a firm believer that magic exists in everything we are and do.  I cannot separate being a witch from being a mom, from being a wife, from being a friend, and that means that Pagan-related topics might end up sounding a bit, well, mundane at times.

So, please bear with me as I work all these various ideas into cohesive thoughts that can be shared and understood by those choosing to read.

Brightest Blessings,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"A" is for … Acknowledging My Path

I've decided, as a first post to my new blog, as well as the first in the Challenge, to write about my journey to this point.  It could just as easily be titled: "How I became Pagan", or something similar, but in the interest of sticking with the letter of the week, "A", I choose to "Acknowledge My Path".

I was raised Mormon.  As a child, my family got up every Sunday and went to church for three long hours.  We fed the missionaries dinner in our home fairly often, and spent time daily reading the scriptures together.  I was baptized when I was 8.  At that tender age, I believed in the Church.  I wanted to go on a mission, and marry a returned missionary in the temple, because that's what I was told I wanted.

At the same time, though, I spent most of my free time playing with my friends in the fields and woods surrounding our home.  I believed animals could talk, if I listened hard enough.  Trees and flowers whispered and shared secrets, if I sat quietly enough.  And, there were the bright, flittery people could only glimpse occasionally while at play.

When I was ten, my family moved from our home in Alabama to Salt Lake City, Utah.  By age 12, I was beginning to question the dogma and doctrine I had been spoonfed my entire life.  Why couldn't women hold the priesthood?  Why must a woman support, answer to, and generally be subservient to her husband?  Why did the Church preach tolerance of all people, then reject those of other religions or alternate sexual orientations?  So many, many questions, yet so very few answers forthcoming.  When I asked these questions of youth leaders, the response was usually some version of "trust the Lord, pray, and read the scriptures".

Not very reassuring to a teenage girl who had been doing these things all her life, and hadn't gotten the answers she needed.

Time went on, and I found, by accident, a fictional novel in which a girl my age came into possession of a very old deck of Tarot cards.  As you can imagine, most of the things that happened to the heroine are products of the author's imagination.  However, there were miniscule grains of truth, which encouraged me to learn more.  Needless to say, the library by our house did not carry a large selection of Pagan books, though I was able to find a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason.  Well.  My mother was none too pleased with my new interest, and I received a typical "it's evil, read the scriptures and pray" lecture.

I couldn't pursue the desire for more knowledge until after I graduated high school and moved out.  I was finally free to begin a personal search for what I believe. A year later, in 2001, circumstances brought me to Newport News, VA, where I met a girl who not only became a very good friend, but also was the first actual person to introduce me to Paganism.

As soon as I had a name for what I am and what I do, it was easy to embrace Witchcraft as a way of being.  I started meeting people, reading everything I could get my hands on, performing solitary circles, rituals and spells.

Eventually I told my parents.  Once my mom understood it was not just a teenage rebellion, and became open to understanding my choice, it was easier to talk to her about Paganism, discuss religion in general and to openly question the religion I was raised in.  It took quite a bit longer for my dad to accept my choice, but the breakthrough came a little over three years ago.  We were talking about something, and he made a very casual remark along the lines of "can't your cards tell you?"  Since then, while it is still not something we talk about, religion is, at least, no longer a barrier between us.

I have never been "in the broom-closet" per se, so have never experienced "coming out" that so many others have.  I never saw a reason to hid my beliefs, though I can understand why others do have that need.  Either I have been lucky in that respect, or I am just too darn stubborn to know when to keep my mouth shut…
Many things have changed in my life over the last several years, causing my journey to change directions, hit a few bumps, and, at times, to come to an almost complete standstill.  Divorce, kids, new relationships and moving more than once have all taken their toll.

Now though, as I write this, I can proudly say I am a mom of 2 1/2 (one on the way!), engaged to a wonderful man, daughter, sister, friend.  And yes, I am a Witch.  I proudly acknowledge my chosen path, and actively make an effort to learn and grow, trusting the Goddess to aid me, just as I help my children in their efforts to learn and grow.


I've been a witch for over ten years, and a mom for seven.  I've thought about starting a blog off and on for awhile now, as a way to record what I do, share knowledge, and connect with new people.  The "Pagan Blog Challenge" (started by Rowan over at One Witch's Way - http://onewitchsway.com/about-2/about-rowan/) provided the perfect impetus to jumpstart my own personal endeavor.

I expect to take some time getting the hang of this blogging-thing, and will be changing things around to see what works.  I'm excited about this new project, and hope to learn and grow through my efforts here.