Friday, February 24, 2012

D is also for ... Dedication

For this week's "D" topic, I am sharing a portion of my personal (re-)Dedication to the Goddess.  This is the very first page in my BoS, and though my actual dedication is much more involved, this excerpt reveals the very core of my intentions.

"To the Goddess in all Her forms, I dedicate myself.  Not only for the coming year, but always.  I desire nothing more than to know Her, and myself, and through that knowledge become a better person, mother and friend.  As I will, so mote it be!"

This was written several years after I initially dedicated to Her.  I have learned much in the intervening years, between my original dedication and this rededication, as well as in the years since.  I know, though, that I still have lessons to learn, and experiences to have and share.  My learning will never be complete, and I expect that as I enter new phases in my life, and my perspective changes, I will go through a few more "re-dedications" to show Her my renewed and continued interest, to express my passions, and to teach my children.

While there are dedications within a coven setting, there are many personal dedications we can experience.  I am sure many others have also gone through various dedications in their own paths.  We have so many opportunities, from our initial decision to learn more about the Pagan paths, to formally dedicating to a particular path, then if we change our path, we dedicate to the new one. We also may find ourselves feeling the need to rededicate from time to time as we move through life, becoming a spouse/partner, parent, aunt/uncle, work with new groups of people, then moving into the crone/sage stage. 

Dedication can and should be a very personal thing, though it is wonderful if it can be shared with those who understand and respect your decision in the matter.  A dedication, however, does not require anyone's approval or attendance, and can be done in a time, place and manner that suits the individual.  The only one who needs to witness is the Goddess (and God, if you so choose), and She will be pleased.

Friday, February 17, 2012

D is for ... Divination


What is divination?  Essentially, it is a means of fortelling future events, or clarifying current circumstances, often using metaphysical tools.  There are many, many types of divination, from the fairly well-known rune casting, tarot cards, pendulums, astrology and seeing omens, to more obscure methods, such as critomancy (using barley cakes), cromniomancy (using onion sprouts) and tiromancy (using cheese).*

My favorite techniques are Tarot and pendulums. At last count, I think I have acquired 7 different Tarot decks, each with its own unique personality and speciality. As to the pendulums, I tend to make my own and therefore own several - certainly more than one person really needs :)

Divination can be a useful tool in a witch's arsenal, but one should not rely too heavily on any predictions received.  The future is not set in stone and is subject to change due to our own actions, or those of others.  When receiving a reading from another person, it is smart to remember that they are a) only human and can make mistakes; b) they may not have the knowledge/abilities claimed; and c) your own interpretation, actions and reactions will determine much of what is to come, regardless of what anyone else says.

That said, divination can provide much needed insight into a complicated situation, and offer suggestions regarding how to proceed.  I've found that many times the most honest and helpful readings are those that simply clarify a given situation, perhaps helping someone to understand how they came to be where they are; what happenings transpired to bring about current events.

There are many places one can go to find divination methods, tools and how-to's, so I won't dwell on that here.  One thing I woul like to point out though, is that as good as a teacher is, or as well written as a book might be, the only sure way to properly interpret a reading using your favorite tool is to follow your instincts.  That doesn't mean that the teacher or author of a book is wrong, simply that their interpretation may not resonate with you.  It is important to recognize this, and to have confidence in yourself and your ability to accurately practice divination.

It is also important to know how the energy-exchange works.  You may hear from different sources that it is "wrong" to charge or to pay for a reading.  Then again, you will see many places, on the internet and in various venues, such as a Pagan Pride Day festival or a metaphysical store, where there are people who actively charge for these services (though they may ask for a specific donation amount, this is basically the same thing), and then there are those who truly only ask for a donation in an amount the seeker sees fit to give or offers free readings.  In my opinion, none of these methods are more right, or more wrong, than another.  Whether the individuals offering the readings rely on this as their only source of income, or they do it as a hobby, they are expending energy (time and effort) to provide a service that others want.  It is fair that they receive something of like value in return, whether it be monetary compensation, or they barter for other items or services, it promotes a healthy energy exchange, leaving both parties on equal footing when it comes to debts owed and paid.  It is not fair to expect that a diviner provide her/his services without expectation of any compensation.

Personally, I find that working with my cards restores my inner peace and calm.  Even if I do not do a reading, just handling the cards will ease my mind, and allow me to sort through whatever is going on in a more rational, yet spiritual, frame of mind.  I also enjoy doing readings for others, whether someone I know well, or a complete stranger.  I love the fact that I can help someone, even if just a little, to understand what's going on in her/his life, and figuring out options for the future.  I will be the first to admit I don't know everything.  I'm not always right.  Sometimes, whether due to my own frame of mind or a lack of sincerity on the part of a seeker, I will lay out the cards, and get absolutely nothing but gibberish back.  I won't try to pretend I can read that.  There are days when the cards will not divulge their secrets, and that's ok.  Maybe I'm not ready to hear it, or am not open enough to the answers I need.

Knowing that I will probably never know all there is about my chosen methods, much less all the methods out there, encourages me to continue to practice.  It may not make me perfect, but at least I'm working on it.

Brightest Blessings, All!

*For a more complete list of divination methods, please see

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Child's Morning Prayer

To go along with the Bedtime Prayer, my kids and I have also developed a Morning Prayer.  A short, sweet reminder to ourselves regarding ethics, and a request to the gods to be with us.  Enjoy!

Mother of the Earth
Father of the Sun,
As we begin our day,
Please watch us as we work, learn and play.
Help us to remember
to do what is right,
And bring us home
safely tonight.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

C is also for ... A Child's Bedtime Prayer

This is one I wrote when my son was real little, and suffered from night terrors & was also terrified of bath time.  It seemed to help; at least, when we remembered to say it, the terrors were less, and it still provides comfort for both of my children.

Father of the Forest,
Mother of the Moon,
As this day ends,
We thank you for family and friends,
For everything we've seen
and everything we've done;
For everything we've learned,
and everyone we love.
But most of all,
For loving and protecting us.
Please watch us as we sleep,
And bring us dreams sweet.

Feel free to use this with your own little ones, or to share with friends!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Imbolc Crown

(based on the directions found on PaganDad's site)

We started with a medium sized grapevine wreath, I think about 6-8 inches in diameter, a 6ft length of ivy, some white and yellow silk mini daffodiles, green, yellow and silver ribbons and four 6inch white taper candles.

Other supplies included a glue gun, scissors, and a small wire cutter (the one we have is part of a jewelry-making tool kit).

After warming up the glue gun, we started wrapping the ivy around the wreath, gluing the starting point into the wreath to hold it in place.  Next, we cut the flowers from the stems (using the wire cutter), and began weaving them into the wreath all around, leaving a small clear space for the bow.

Then, we cut two lengths of ribbon, one green and one yellow, tied them into bows and glued them together, then onto the wreath.

When we got to the candles, we cut the silver ribbon into four pieces, and wrapped the candles partway down.  Since I couldn't get the candles to stay glued to the wreath, I ended up using two twisty-ties per candle, and attached them that way in the center part of the wreath.

Once it was done, it made a lovely centerpiece for the dinner table.

Imbolc Recipes

Sunflower Seed Bread

You'll need:
1 cup warm water (almost, but not quite hot)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional flour as needed
3/4 cup unsalted shelled roasted sunflower seeds*
1Tbs sunflower seeds
1 beaten egg white


In a large bowl or mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1tsp sugar.  Set aside until foamy.
Add remaining sugar, oil, salt, 3 1/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup seeds.  Mix until well blended.  Knead until a smooth, elastic dough is formed.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
Coat a 9x5 bread pan with cooking spray.
Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured board.  Knead about a minute to release trapped air, and shape into loaf.
Place in pan, cover, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with remaining seeds.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until done.
Remove from oven and immediately turn onto wire rack to cool.

*Notes: I couldn't actually find unsalted seeds, so I used salted ones and it turned out fine.  Also, instead of greasing the bowl, I poured about a little vegetable oil in my hand and rubbed it over the dough.

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk

You'll need:
1-2 pints of heavy cream (aka heavy whipping cream)


Leave cream out to warm up 50 degrees or so.  Pour cream into a mixer with whisk attachment.  Cover mixer with a towel to contain splatter.  Begin mixing and gradually increase speed to med-high or so.  Check the cream every so often.  When it starts looking like whipped cream, you will probably want to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula.  Keep mixing until the butter separates from the liquid.  Once it's separated, use a mesh strainer over a bowl to drain the butter.  That liquid is fresh buttermilk (aka sour milk).
Rinse the butter with water, then, using the rubber spatula, press the butter curds together.  If you want to add salt, herbs or honey, you can do it now.
Store butter in a sealed container in the fridge.

The whole process only takes about 15-20 minutes.


You'll need:
6 cups flour
1 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
2 Tbs vinegar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mace


In a smaller bowl mix dry ingredients, set aside.  In a larger mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, add egg, beat until light.  Add honey, milk and vinegar.  Add dry ingredients, mix thoroughly.
Chill 1 hour, or longer. 
Roll dough out to 1/4" thickness.  Cut into 2"x3" rectangles (or shapes of your choice) and place on buttered cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes.  Frost with plain vanilla frosting.

Warning: The dough WILL be sticky!

Notes: Turn out onto generously floured board, coat rolling pin and hands with flour. Otherwise, the dough will stick to the board.  I also had to bake mine for about 14 minutes, so just keep an eye on the cakes checking frequently for doneness.
I omitted the frosting, but did think a cream cheese frosting would be yummy on the cakes.

Imbolc - Part 2

It's been a few days, but I wanted to share a little bit about how our day went.  It started out as a lazy morning, but turned into a pretty busy day.  We started by going to breakfast, since my fiance was at work, it was just the 3 of us.  I excused Dragon Boy from lessons, seeing as how it was a holiday for us, but that doesn't mean he didn't learn anything. 

After breakfast, I stopped by my mom's house to borrow some mace before heading home to start our baking.  I'll post the recipes we used in a separate entry.  We started with our Sunflower Seed Bread first, since it had to rise.  The kids got to help measure, pour and mix, taking fairly equal turns.  Dragon Boy got to man the camera (we ended up with some pretty interesting pictures!).  Anyway, here's a pic of the finished product:

After the bread was set to rise, we made our first ever attempt at homemade butter.  Success!  It actually came out a little sweet tasting, and it was really easy to do.

Then, we tackled the dough for the honeycakes.  This one ended up being really sticky :)  but lots of fun.  When I stuck this one in the fridge to chill, and the bread dough was starting to look about ready for the next steps, I realized I coudn't find a single bread pan in my mother-in-law-to-be's kitchen.  So, we climbed back in the van and ran back to borrow one from my mom.  I'm lucky she lives so close.  On our way, we stopped at the library to return the books that were due, and I had to promise the kids we'd come back Monday or Tuesday to get more.

Back at the house, we finished getting the bread dough ready for baking, letting it rise one more time.  While it was rising, we started dinner, a baked beef stew and got it in the oven then got the bread in the other oven (I love that fact that my MIL has two ovens!).

Once all that was set, we made our Imbolc Crown.  I didn't print or write down the directions, so we kind-of winged it, but it turned out really pretty, and was a nice centerpiece when we sat down to dinner.  The kids had a blast helping put it together.

And, finally, we brought out the honeycake dough, rolled it out and cut it to bake.

Dinner was a huge success, almost the entire stew and bread were eaten.  I had made some of the butter into honeybutter for the bread, and then my fiance put some on the honeycakes as well.

After dinner and baths, we finally had time to read Imbolc stories, though we had talked about the meaning of it throughout the day.  I wanted to read 3 stories, but we really only had time for 2 (the Grandfather story and Kyle's Lesson) because the kids were so tired by then.  We read Meagan's Imbolc yesterday before bedtime.

Friday, February 3, 2012

C is for ... Children in Magic and Ritual

A common theme I see on alot of Pagan websites is "How to include children in magic and ritual", often posed as a question.  My take on that, though, is "How do I not include my kids?"

Magic comes naturally to children, as any parent can attest.  They see wonder in the sunrise, a bird's flight, and the stars that shine at night.  You can watch them in their imaginary play and see how easily magic is incorporated into all they do.  The key, is to help them realize what is true magic, and what is not.  For example, a rainstorm just when the garden is getting too dry is magic; most of what Harry Potter does is pretend.  Dragon Boy is getting pretty good at distinguishing the difference :)

Talking about magic in our home is as natural as discussing a math assignment.  It's so much as part of everything we do, that it doesn't have to wait for specific times to learn about it, or special occasions, or ritual time.  When I cook, I stir clockwise, I add ingredients in a clockwise direction, and I always visualize the food tasting good and being nutritious and beneficial for everyone eating.  When I clean, whether it's a dish in the sink or the bathtub, it gets scrubbed in a counterclockwise direction to get rid of dirt, and to magically cleanse it of any lingering negative things.  And, while I am not a strict adherent of 'An it harm none, do as ye will' (preferring the addition of 'An it cause harm, do as ye must'), I'm quick to whip it out when the kids are intent on causing each other bodily harm.

When it comes to ritual, it never has to be anything too elaborate.  Get a simple straw broom from the dollar store, and your child will happily cleanse the circle area for you.  My son has done this for the last 2 1/2-3 years, and he doesn't just sweep the floor, he sweeps the air in a circle around the area we plan to work.  I never taught him that, he did it automatically.  And you know what?  It works!  Giving each child a special place to sit, a special task to do, also makes it easy for them to feel involved.  For example, we divide our items we plan to use, and as I direct the placement, each of my kids gets to put things where they belong.  I light all candles, but at the end, they take turns blowing out directional candles, and we all release our Goddess Candle together.  Ritual has to be short.  We talk about our goals for the ritual/spell/whatever-it-is-we're-doing before-hand, and we each take a minute to say what we'd like to achieve and ask the Goddess and God to aid us.  To release the circle, we blow kisses to the sky.  This doubles as a way to say thankyou to the deities for their presence.

Another thing with circles and children (and animals), is that the drawn circle doesn't have to be rigid.  At least in my opinion, children and animals are innocent enough that crossing the line won't disrupt the energy, or cause a break in the protection, or have any other undesireable consequence.  (For that matter, I'm not too strict on cutting doors for exit/admittance, for adults who are already involved in the ritual, either, but that could just be the way my coven and I work.)

With kids, it pays to be creative and flexible.  If you're out collecting an ingredient for your next magical working, whether or not your children will be involved, allow them to help you get ready.  I recently had the job of collecting pine needles for a working with my coven.  I took my kids to the park where they had a blast finding and collecting the needles for me.  They didn't need to know they were intended for a wellness incense, all they knew is that I needed their help and it was fun.  They were so full of happy energy, that can only positively affect the power of the pine needles in their purpose.

So I guess my point here, is that you don't have to plan out, step-by-step, every ritual or magical discussion with your kids.  Just letting it come naturally will result in kids who can experience magic without props.  Though, there's nothing wrong with a prop-filled ritual from time to time!