Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Name the High Holy Days and the dates they fall on.

The High Holy Days, more commonly called Sabbats, are as follows:
  • Samhain: October 31 and November 1
  • Yule: December 21 through 31
  • Imbolg: February 1 (this holiday can also be celebrated on February 2)
  • Ostara: The Spring Equinox
  • Bealtaine: May 1 (although this one can last through May 6 and be celebrated on any day or group of days within that time frame)
  • Midsummer: The Summer Equinox
  • Lughnasadh: August 1
  • Mabon: The Fall Equinox

What time do the celebrations start?

Almost all the celebrations start at sunset and continue through until sunset the following day. The exceptions to that would be Samhain, which is a two day celebration, and Yule, which ends with the common New Year.

Using the rituals given as a spring board, choose a High Holy Day and create your own ritual. Explain what you did and why you chose to do it.

Given the date today, I chose to create a Beltain ritual which my husband and I will follow tonight.

The actual ritual will be as follows:
  1. We will open the circle and call the quarters. At the same time, we will light our bonfire.
  2. We will call the spirits, thanking them for taking the time to be with us and for any guidance and assistance they can offer as we celebrate.
  3. We will state our purpose for being there and calling upon them. This is the time of the ritual where we will vocalize our commitments to the goals we have. Because this is a family ritual, we will state family goals, as well as some personal ones.
  4. We will honor the Gods and Goddesses, especially Rhiannon, Freya, and the Green Man (who are all associated with Beltain). At this time, we will scatter some seeds in our "back field" (we live in the country and have one!). The seeds we'll be leaving are cucumbers, lettuce, and pink violas. The vegetables are representative of the sexual aspect of the sabat, while the flowers are for the welcoming of summer. Eating of honey bread (being cooked RIGHT NOW -- yum!) and drinking of wine will also take place here, as will leaving some for the spirits.
  5. When that's completed, we will have a moment of silent prayer/meditation.
  6. Finally, we will thank the spirits and close the circle.

Afterward, we can sit and watch the fire and I have a few Enya CDs that I think will be relaxing background noise as we unwind and reflect on the celebration.

I'm looking forward to this!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Great Quote

"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility". Leo Tolstoy - writer / philosopher 1828-1910

Friday, April 18, 2008

Explain the 5 elements in Celtic traditions.

The five elements in Celtic tradition are similar to the five elements in other traditions: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit.  Of course, in the Celtic tradition, they are called by other names.

Earth, or Calas, is at the top of the equal-armed Celtic cross.  This is the dirt, rocks, trees...  all the substance we think of when we think of earth.

To the right, as you are looking at the cross, is Fluidity or Water.  As the name implies, everything dealing with or living in water is represented here.

At the bottom of the cross is Air, or Breath.  As the name implies, this element represents the wind, the breeze, even the very breath we breathe.

The final arm of the cross is Uvel, or Fire.  In addition to actual fire, this element includes the sun, and heat, and even light.

The center of the cross represents Spirit, or Nwyvre.  This is the element of the Divine that we, as humans, can not see or touch, but, if we are lucky, can sense.

How are these (the 5 elements in Celtic tradition) different from what you may already be familiar with?

I don't think the first four are very different at all.  Earth, Wind, Air, and Fire are common in all traditions I've seen or studied.  Even the element of Spirit is similar to other beliefs.  In the Celtic tradition explained here, though, it is slightly different — and more realistic to me.   I'm drawn to the fact that it includes the Spirit of humans, and not just the Divine.  I believe we are all connected to the Divine, and this view of the elements reinforces that belief in me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Druids and Bards: a research paper

The following was written for the Celtic Wicca class at the Magic Circle School. The assignment was to select two areas of Celtic society and write a research paper on them. Well, it was a little more specific then that, but you get the idea!

For this paper, I chose to focus on the Druids and the Bards.

According to Wikipedia, a Druid was “was a member of the priestly and learned class” ( Everything I was able to find about them hinted that very little is actually known, and what people think they know is actually pieced together and extrapolated from the few facts that are available. The term “Druid” probably comes from the Gaelic word “doire,” which means oak tree. The root of the word also means wisdom (

According to The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, Druidism can be a spiritual path, a religion, or a cultural activity ( op=modload& name=PagEd&file=index&topic_id=1&page_id=8).

According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom by Carl McColman, a Druid was an intellectual figure, held social prestige, and had political influence (p. 124). Druids probably also had extensive training in magic. McColman went on to say that Druids quite possibly also had training in sciences, law, philosophy, and medicine. The part that fascinated me, though, was the idea that the Druid class was also made up of “Anamcharas,” or soul friends (p. 128). These were the counselors and spiritual guides of the Celtic society. The book The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature by Jean Markale seems to be one of many texts completely devoted to the idea of the Druids being the spiritual leaders of their society.

Following that idea, The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids lists an interesting timeline of the Druids and their role in the spiritual health of their society ( The website states that spirituality existed in Europe more then 25,000 years ago and changed relatively little for the first 20,000 years or so. The spiritual practices of this time focused on the “circle of life” — the rebirth of the God through the Goddess. One of the most common way to show that — at least that have survived — are the mounds. One great example can be found at New Grange in Ireland, where a shaft is oriented to the Winter Solstice sunrise, so that the dawn rays can bathe the initiate in sunlight after his or her vigil through the night.

The site goes on to say that by the 16th Century, “the key text of Druid spirituality, transcribed from the oral tradition by Christian clerics, talks of the spiritual and magical training of a Druid, in which he is eaten by a Goddess, enters her belly, and is reborn as the greatest poet in the land. So from over twenty thousand years ago to the sixteenth century, we see a common theme - which we find again in the training of Druids and poets in Scotland up until the seventeenth century. There, to awaken their creative genius, they were told to lie in darkness for days, and after this period of sensory deprivation, they were released into the brightness of the world.”

McColman states that it was this era of translation that combined many of the Druid beliefs into the Christian tradition. He claims that The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids has held an important role in bring Pagans and Christians together in the name of religious tolerance (p.133). He states, “Druids can fill a unique role as ‘religious ambassadors,’ especially between Christianity and neopagan religions such as Wicca.”

Again, though, this is because of the modern Druid, and not truly historic one of which so little pure information is known. This is in part because modern Druidism is embraced as a philosophy, more than a religion (McColman, p. 133).

In his book, McColman lists nine steps to becoming a modern Druid. They are as follows:
  1. Become environmentally aware.
  2. Read all you can.
  3. Meditate.
  4. Take responsibility for your life.
  5. Make contact with other aspiring druids.
  6. Engage with the spiritual world.
  7. Let go of your cherished illusions.
  8. Become well rounded.
  9. Serve your clan.

In my opinion, though, these combine the steps most members of society should be taking no matter what spiritual path they pursue — changing “Make contact with other aspiring druids” to “Make contact with other aspiring (whatever path you are on).”

The second path I chose to research is that of the Bard. Whereas the Druids were the spiritual leaders and intellectual “workers” of their society, the Bards were the entertainers and intellectual “fun guys.” These were the poets, musicians, and storytellers. Bards were the ones who not only shared the history of the society, but also gave people an escape.

According to one web site I found, “The Bard was a repository of histories, stories, legends, songs and poetry of his people. Wherever the bard travelled, he was honoured and given certain diplomatic impunity. Before the invention of the printing press, books and scribes were very costly, and recently news travelled very slowly and inaccurately. The bard, due to his education in oral tradition, could be relied upon to know the latest news from his court, whether crops had failed to the south, or which roads were safe to travel. For some villages and towns, the bard was the only reliable source of information (”

The Bard allowed artistic endeavors to flow and often used those endeavors for spiritual purposes (McColman, p. 94). One reason this resonates so well with me, is that I believe artistic talents —painting, drawing, writing, music — are all gifts from the Divine.
Interestingly, Taliesin, Britain’s chief Bard, believed the same. In the story of Gwion Bach and Cerridwen (which can be found at various websites and books), we learn three things. First, talent is a gift. Gwion Bach didn’t ask for his responsibility in stirring the pot, nor did he ask for shape shifting powers. He received that wisdom because it was his destiny, and the talent to shape shift for the same reason. How different that story would have been where it not for those talents and gifts? The same can be said for OUR talents. How different would art be without Monet? Theater without Shakespeare? Music without Bach?

The second lesson we can learn from the Bard is that if we don’t use our talents, we can die. If you believe that your talents are gifts, then they must be used to better our lives, the lives of those around us, nature, the earth… the list goes on.

Finally, at least as much as if not more than any other, shows us the beautiful relationship between art and magic. In the story of Taliesin, he left listeners “spell bound” with his tale. The same has been said for many artists of all genres.

Those are the Bards. They use their art to change the world. There is a spiritual element to their creation and they show us that.

Just like he did for Druids, McColman lists nine steps to becoming a modern Bard. They are as follows:
  1. Make the pursuit of wisdom and spirituality a priority in your life.
  2. Befriend your inner genius.
  3. Claim your gifts and take them further.
  4. Play at least one kind of musical instrument.
  5. Get to know the history of your people.
  6. Get to know the myths that shape your path.
  7. Master the art of storytelling.
  8. Ask for Divine help.
  9. Put yourself out there.

These are the types of things I personally feel the need and desire to do personally. So where I believe society, as a whole, should follow the steps listed for Druidism, I find myself also drawn to these steps of the Barb because those are the things that bring me inner peace.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today's Question: What wish will I be granted?

Deck: Circle of Life

Card:The Tower

This card is rust colored! No doubt about it. Two angels (demons?) are hanging from the tower and looking below. Presumably, they're watching the chaos they've started. The LWB says "When all seems to come to an end, instead of letting desperation consume us, we must think of the evil we have escaped."

In response to today's question, I think this card is reminding me that even when things look like they'll go forever, it could have been worse.

Father's Eyes by Amy Grant

Another Great Quote

Watch your 'Thoughts,' they become words. Watch your 'Words,' they become actions. Watch your 'Actions,' they become habits. Watch your 'Habits,' they become character. Watch your 'Character,' for it becomes your Destiny.'

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today's Question: What is my middle path?

Deck: Circle of Life Tarot

Card: Ace of Pentacles

This card shows a dragon with a "baby pouch" on it's back. Inside the pouch is a little boy with spots/markings that match the dragon's. Five acorns are in the background and the dragon is holding a ball of some kind with it's tail. The pouch covers the dragon's wings, but the dragon doesn't seem to mind. Maybe the dragon realizes it has to make a sacrifice (clip it's own wings a little) for the good of the boy. The LWB says "a careful assessment of your resources is often the first step to acquiring knowledge."

What does that mean in response to today's question? I think I'm supposed to step back, look at the resources I have, and decide where to focus those resources. My child, I think, needs to be let go a little, so that my own wings can spread just a little.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Response to an e-mail

I don't practice Wicca, but do believe and practice witchcraft. They aren't exactly the same thing, and I can't explain Wicca the way I can witchcraft as it relates to Christianity.

First, let me say witchcraft isn't a religion. It's a way to worship and live. Wicca is a religion with it's own set of rules and beliefs. I'm a Christian witch. I believe Jesus was God's son. I believe He was crucified and buried and on the third day rose from the dead. I also believe in the virgin birth. I believe, though, that God isn't just a "father" -- not just a male. There has to be a female as well for us all to be made in the image of God.

Now for my other shocking statement: Jesus was a witch. I completely believe that. Well, if He were around today, that's what He would be, anyway! He preformed miracles. He believed — and preached — that everyone had the power and ability to preform those miracles. He believed God was present in nature. He commanded the weather, and formed a relationship with the elements. He could channel spirits and talk with the dead. He foretold the future. And Christians are to live like Him, right?

Does that help? Or did I just raise more questions for you? If so, please ask and I'll do my best to explain where I'm coming from and what I believe.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I hate it when the cards teach a lesson: Part 2

Here's the information about the car accident on April 1.

Another Great Quote

"Once we realize -- no matter what we attempt in life -- the 'worst' we can do is learn from that experience, then the whole idea of 'failure' fades from view and, in its place, freedom appears." --Guy Finley

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today's Question: How can I find the calm that is my inner strength?

Deck: Circle of Life

Card: I literally had two cards fly out of the deck -- the King of Swords and the Knave of Chalices

The King of Swords shows a man's head and shoulders surrounded by some very fierce animals -- a snake, an eagle -- things with pointy beaks and forked tongues. The man is in the midst of a "war yell." The LWB says this card means "those who are capable of imagining the future can often decide it."

The Knave of Chalices shows an older woman (sprite maybe?) carrying a basket filled with water. There are birds helping to carry the woman and the load she's carrying. The LWB says "knowing how to meditate, even on our victories, is the privilege of the wise."

I look at these two cards and am reminded first of my husband with the King of Swords. The "war yell" thing is so him! The birds helping to carry the burden in the Knave of Chalices card reminds me to share my burdens. I think these cards are telling me that I will find that calm inner strength when I share my burdens with my husband.

I hate it when the cards teach a lesson

45 minutes after yesterday's post, my daughter called. She'd been in a car accident. Her jaw is broken and wired shut. Her car is totaled.

Stuff can be replaced. She can't.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Today's question: What is the vehicle to my next adventure?

Deck: Circle of Life Tarot

Card: 4 of Chalices

This card shows one broken vase (actually, the vases remind me of ancient native American pottery) with water pouring out to the ground. There are three other vases, presumably full. A women (water sprite?) is gazing into one of the full vases. The card reminds me of the phrase "don't cry over spilt milk." According to the LWB, the card means "we must not think excessively about what has been lost, but instead appreciate what we have." I think my next adventure, then, is one of moving forward and possibly cutting some ties to the past. This is a round deck, and the first time I've used it.