I spent last Friday night in a bookstore, surrounded by stories of every genre. Surrounded by the voices of countless authors, and characters. Surrounded by creativity and the creation born of that creativity. As I always do in any bookstore, I read jacket after jacket, hard backed and paper backed alike, known authors and unknown. I flipped to the middle of stories so I could taste the language of the story, the voice of the characters, the creative energy of the author.
Some of the stories were exquisite. Some I began to get lost in even when I opened to a random page and began to read. Others I set down quickly, unable to find the thread, the voice, that would paint me the picture and transport me elsewhere.
Because story, really good story, is a teleportation machine. The words carrying the reader to another time and/or place.
I have been thinking about story a lot lately. When I was in late grade school (4th-6th grade), I attended a school with an emphasis on the world as a classroom. I took african dance and water polo for PE and studied architecture through field trips and design projects.
I also learned about storytelling as art.
A storyteller would come to our school and my class would file down to the library and sit around her as she told us fantastical tales from around the globe. Time has a way of warping the memory and I can’t be sure if she learned these during travel or from other storytellers. But I remember the way she told the stories. With movement and voice fluctuation and sometimes different voices for the characters. I cherished this. Always an avid reader the power of hearing a story told was delicious.
This is a memory that comes to me frequently when I think about story. This art of storytelling is one that has been utilized throughout time to transmit information both make believe and fact. To share history and wisdom. We remember story. We relate to it. We often make sense of our lives with it.
How many times have you gone to a gathering where someone shares a story about something that happened to them. (my husband, my uncle and my late father are all excellent story tellers so I’ve been privileged to quite few).
Last year as I was working on a divination course, I actually named it Re-story your life. Because story is how we relate to ourselves and our experience. (and divination is a tool to connect to information and story that runs through us)
It is also how we remember. I often ponder all the stories that have been lost with the passing of people. Those not recorded or remembered or retold. Story is sacred. And we each have one. Our lives are full of chapters and ever evolving characters, a myriad of plot lines tying our story to the stories of others.
Book Of Shadows
Keeping a book of Shadows is very much like keeping a story if your spiritual journey. This is a book where one can log their rituals, spells and reflections on their practices. Do you have a Book of Shadows (also sometimes called a grimoire)?
If not it’s a simple process to create one.
Choose a notebook. This can be as fancy or simple as you’d like, what’s most important is what is on the inside (you can’t judge a book by it’s cover after all).
You can use this book as is, or cleanse and charge it using smoke from dried herbs or incense or crystals. You may want to drum over it or tone into it to charge it up.
But again you don’t have to. This book is the story of YOUR spiritual practice and you get to create this in whatever way fits for you!
Within my Women’s Circle we track all our rituals for our celebrations that coincide with the Wheel of the Year holidays (holy days). Some groups keep a collective book of all rituals and spells.
Sometime ago I decided I wanted to create a Wise Woman Witchery Community Grimoire. The idea is that an actual notebook would be mailed out into the community and passed along from one women to the next with each adding a spell, ritual or meditation. I would love to get this started but I need your help.
If you choose to participate you will receive the book in the mail and have several days to add your contribution before you will be asked to send it to the next person. Your mailing address will only be given to the person who is to send it to you in order to keep your personal information private. Each person who participates will receive an e-copy of the Grimoire once it makes its way back to me. A hard copy will be available to you for the cost of printing and shipping as well.
To sign up to be a part of this creation you can fill out the FORM. Once I have ten people signed up I will send it to the first person.
Synchronicity has been afoot this week. And when these moments happen in my life, I perk up and listen, because I take it as a sign that the Universe is saying “Pay attention! This is important!”. So I’m listening. And the action I am being called to take is to write to you all.
The events that led up to this post are as follows:
On Thursday I was with a girlfriend on a walk at a nearby park. I was chatting with her about reaching out to folks and creating a community for Wise Woman Witchery. She brought up the suggestion that perhaps dropping the words “Witch” and Witchery” from my business name and offerings, might make what I'm teaching and sharing feel accessible to more people. She expressed her own difficulty in connecting with the word Witch, yet also noted that everything I was teaching and sharing deeply resonated with her.
I explained to her that this had crossed my mind, yet I strongly identify with the word “Witch” and the practices I teach and share are very much connected to this for me.
On Friday I started listening to a podcast, from my friends Anna and Sara over at the Sisters Enchanted. The whole topic of this podcast is “Witch Misconceptions” You can listen in here (I encourage this as it is a great podcast and completely on topic with what I am about to share, plus Sara and Anna are fabulous women and have created and maintained a pretty darn awesome community)
Today (Saturday), I woke up and checked my email to find I had a message from a community member asking me about my use of the word Witch and expressing her own feelings of uncertainty about the word.
The thing is, “Witch” is loaded. It has been tossed around as a slur. Women (and men) have lost their lives over accusations of being a “Witch”. The word itself can conjure images of green faced, wart covered cackling hags or women in the woods luring children into their homes in order to cook and eat them. We may think of Witches as women casting hexes or curses. Or we may think of them riding off on their broomsticks or cavorting with the Devil.
Yet, Witch has also been reclaimed by many women and men to reflect their following of Earth based spirituality. Wicca and Wiccan practitioners often use this word to describe themselves.
But not all Witches are Wiccan. And I have yet to meet a Witch who worships the Devil or eats children. Of course, there are light and shadow sides to every word, every belief system and to humankind in general. We all hold shadow and light.
I will spare you the long historical story of the Witch word. If you are interested in learning about this there are a myriad of books on the topic.
Today I want to share with you my identification with the word Witch and how this connects to my spiritual practices and most importantly to the work I am doing at Wise Woman Witchery.
First of all, I am not Wiccan. I practice some things that are found in the Wiccan belief system, but this is not how I identify my path. My spiritual practice has been formed over time through experiencing many different earth based practices and different takes on some of the same practices.
When I hear the word Witch, my associations are naked feet on the earth, herbs and herbal medicine, living in rhythm with the cycles of nature (for me part of this is following the Wheel of the Year), using the tools of divination as a way to tap more deeply into one’s intuition and the messages of Spirit/Source, and tuning into and honoring the energies of all things (including place, stones, foliage, animals, people and spirits/guides). The Witch path for me is so embedded in my day to day that making Magic in my life can be as simple as stirring love into the food I’m cooking, calling a friend or loved one when they randomly pop into my mind, lighting a candle and saying an intention or a prayer, or anointing myself with oil and an intention as I prepare to move through my day. It is also gratitude for all things.(I am well known for talking to and thanking animals, trees, rocks and plants aloud and sometimes in public). When I make tea or medicine from plants I am making magic (this is a callback to my many potions I created as a child).
When I clear space or energy, meditate for calm or for information, connect to my Helping Spirits and Wise Beings, do a tarot or oracle reading or hold a crystal or stone to share in its energy, I am practicing Magic. And when I am whispering a prayer, lighting a candle, taking an intentionally deep breath to clear my own tension or anxiety, choosing my Wonder Woman underwear or bright red lipstick for an extra energy or confidence boost, I am also creating Magic. This Magic lives in me (and you!) every single day. I choose to bring it to the surface in my daily activities and actions (to be honest, I’ve done this for so long now I can’t imagine living a non-magical life), and it is this Magic that for me I equate with being a Witch.
When I state that I am a Witch, I feel the Magic that lives in me and in every being and I feel empowered by the connection this energy creates.
All that being said, this might not be the right word for you. Even as new women have come into my women’s circle, (a place where we cast a circle and do ritual on a weekly basis) some have struggled with the word Witch. (Remember how I said it is a loaded word?). I have had family members be concerned, confused and even put off by my use of the word (You should have seen me trying to explain Witch Camp at a family gathering). I believe our spiritual paths are ours. It is important to take what resonates and leave what doesn’t. I trust that this is how we create and nurture our own Magic and empowerment.
If Witch doesn’t fit, don’t claim it. You may resonate with all the practices and information I share and yet not consider it magic or not resonate with the word Witch. In fact that word may be very uncomfortable for you. That’s ok. You get to decide what sits right for you. You get to claim the words and practices that nurture your Spiritual and Sacred Self. And I want to support you in this!
I hope that I have been clear in my explanation of my own association with the word, and that this has opened a door to allow you explore and accept my offerings in a way where you are comfortable to take what fills your cup and leave what doesn’t. After all, you are the Wise Woman in the story of your life, and in my book the most sacred and magical thing you can do is listen to your Wise Woman voice!
Happy Winter Solstice Wise Women!
The darkest night and shortest day are near here in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is such a celebratory time in so many cultures across the globe. There are many holidays and rituals connected to this period of time when Winter begins its descent.
This is the day the Sun is reborn. The days begin to lengthen and we are reminded, even as the days continue to be cold and ice finds its way to many of our home landscapes, that spring will come again and the earth will awaken.
The Wheel of the Year is based so much on survival and this holiday is no different. We gather with family and friends this time of year and part of this comes from the need to check on others during this cold season. Reaching out to a neighbor or loved one or friend to be certain they have what they need for the long winter months and that they are warm and well, was a necessity in the past. The other part is that celebration of the return of the light.
There are so many stories and fascinating history that resides within this holiday (as well as some of the traditions of Christmas) but I am not going to fill your inbox up with these at this time. (Perhaps I'll save that for a blog next year).
Today I want to offer you some ways to celebrate this season.
This year the Winter Solstice is on Saturday the 21st. This is the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year.
Host a Story Telling Party-
Back in the days before we had television people would often gather and tell stories or sing songs. Invite friends to gather for a potluck and sit in circle. Take turns sharing stories or singing songs. It can be really fun to tell stories to each other especially under soft lighting and when cozied up in a circle.
Sing your heart out. Maybe you sing winter songs, or maybe holiday carols. Walk down the street and knock on your neighbors doors. Or ask people over to have a sing along. Either way, the joining of voices is not only lovely to hear, but also raises energy and builds connection.
Keep a candle or fire burning through the night
I do this every year. I have small glass lanterns that I set small pillars in before bed and leave burning outside (on the cement patio) through the night. I call it my welcome back the sun ritual. I think of it as a light to guide the sun back to us.
Welcome the morning sun after the longest night.
I am an early riser and see many sunrises throughout the year, but there is none quite as lovely as the one after the longest night. If it's not raining I go outside with my tea and sing the sun up (The Sun was born again today, we greet the sun's first morning ray, we sing and celebrate the light the sun is born the longest night. this song is by Diane Baker, from "Circle Round and Sing! Songs for Family Celebrations In the Goddess Traditions). Or dance the sun up and revel in energy this brings.
You can also light a candle with an intention of what you want to carry through this winter to nourish you.
We have several traditions within my women's circle. One that we have done off and on through the years is to sit in darkness and allow all the words that come to you about darkness to be spoken. When these start to fade and you have said all that comes to mind, light a candle and do the same for the light. Then spend some time journaling about this experience.
Decorate an evergreen, outdoors.
I recently saw an article about decorating a tree outside with edible items for the birds. I love this idea. Not only are you decorating an evergreen, which is a symbol of life in the midst of winter, but you are also creating an offering to the wildlife to help sustain them as well. This is such a lovely idea to do with children (or as an adult). You can smear pine cones with peanut butter and add birdseed, carve out oranges into bowls and fill with birdseed and string popcorn as garland.
What traditions do you hold Wise Women? What rituals do you choose to do to celebrate this time?
Wise Women, the darkness of the season in the northern hemisphere, invites us to journey inward and reflect, while the holidays invite us out to socialize and gather. At times during this paradox, our own self care and magical practices can fall away as we are immersed in the hustle and bustle. Inspired by the goody filled advent calendars of my childhood, I have created a calendar to count down to 2020. Each day an invitation for reflection, connection and/or spiritual practice has been offered. I hope you will join me in taking an intentional action each day to connect to yourself and to Source. You can access and download the FREE calendar HERE.
Today's calendar task was to journal using the prompt "During the shortening days I..." Below is what came from this prompt for me when I set a timer for ten minutes and just wrote. I am sharing this with you because I am often awestruck at the places I go when I just allow time and maybe a little prompt to guide me.
During the shortening days I find comfort within bottomless cups of steaming tea and cable knit wool sweaters. My feet stuffed into knee high socks and felt lined boots keeping me dry and warm. Between the bouts of rain at night the sky clears and the crystalline stars sing like hardening ice, the moon chiming in, a song of remembering, a song of cycles. Birth, death, rebirth and all the growth in between. A song of belonging. This song reminds us that we are all made of Stardust, that the song and light live inside each of us. In the darkness I somehow find this easier to remember. In the cool air, I feel more alive, more in touch with my inner realms. The connection feels effortless. Perhaps as the winter looms and the plants are dying and the earth prepares for rest, that liminal space between worlds is more open and accessible, more vibrant. During the shortening days I find myself in a state of both reflection and growth. I am joyful, yet quietly so. The scents of pine and frost, damp earth and wood smoke invite me into myself. The labyrinth of my being beckoning me inward, to the altar of my soul’s purpose. Into that deepest corner of my being that is home.
I am cranky today. In fact I was cranky yesterday too. Let’s be real. We all get this way sometimes. My heightened sensitivity just before my moon leaves me edgy and tired. I am raw and open yet trying to continue with my life as if I am a super hero with an endless supply of energy. I mean who needs sleep right? At 4:30 this morning when my alarm went off I was pulled from a deep exhausted dreamless rest and contemplated staying in bed. Afterall, my first client isn’t scheduled until 1. Yet my to do list for work and home is very long and if I miss the 6am workout class I can pretty much guarantee I will not be working out hard, if at all. Why workout hard just before my moon, when I’m tired and feeling weighted with exhaustion? The answer is simple. I ALWAYS feel better when I workout. I may have to drag myself into the routine, but no matter what I feel better afterward. My brain feels better, I can organize my thoughts better and my body (even when feeling like a limp noodle) feels better than it would otherwise. So I got up. I ate my toast and drank my tea. And my inner critic was a little harsh with my tired self in order to get me into my gym clothes and out the door. But by 5:25 I was in the car and headed to the gym. And by 7 am I was on my way home to my massive to do list. And I’m doing it. I’m cranky about it but it’s slowly getting done.
I have talked to two girlfriends this morning. Both in similar stages of their cycles. And I found myself wondering where our red tent is. Where is the time for us to slow down, be quiet, gather, hold and be held by other women? How is it that we live in a world made up of at least half women, the majority of which have bled, will bleed, or are currently cycling and there is no space for this. Instead we take pills to stop our cycles completely, or (just like I did this morning) power through when all we really want/need to be doing, is resting. When maybe going for a long walk or taking a hot bath or spending some time just laying on the floor might actually fill our cups in a way that “powering through” does not. Don’t get me wrong, I am in fact a grown ass adult and am responsible for myself and my own actions, yet I find myself pondering why it is so difficult to slow the heck down and be gentle with myself instead of plowing through the to do list. It could wait right? Maybe?
My trek to the gym was necessary on several levels, but the way I went about it and all the tasks afterward may not have been the kindest or most loving way to take care of myself.
My point in writing this is to share a little of my own humanness with you all, and to maybe inspire you (and myself) to pause and ask yourself what it is that you actually need whether you are on your moon or not , and see if there is a creative way to make that manifest.
Our bodies are reflection of the earth. They are sacred and magical in all their workings and they allow us to connect with source through our connection to the moon cycles, the tides, the seasons and the pulse of the earth that can mirror our own.
So how do we honor this? What are the steps that we can take to follow the direction we are given when we listen to our bodies. What do you do Wise Woman to listen to your body? Do you have things you do to honor the rhythms and cycles of your being? And perhaps most importantly, how do we support and hold each other in this?
Samhain is the third harvest ritual of the year and marks the descent into the dark time. At equinox we celebrate that moment when there are equal parts of day and night, at Samhain the nights have already begun to outlast the days and at this point we celebrate the completion of harvest and the move toward winter.
It is a fire festival that sits opposite Beltane on the Wheel of the Year. At Beltane we talk about he veils being thin, and often reference the opportunity this provides for us to connect with the fairy realm.
At Samhain the veils are also thin, yet this time is a sacred honoring of our beloved dead. We have an opportunity to connect with our ancestors, our deceased loved ones, and, some people believe, the souls of those to come.
As the earth quiets and many plants die back for their own period of regeneration/hibernation, we find ourselves honoring this final harvest of the season, the last stores of winter that will support us as we ourselves regenerate and hibernate through the winter.
This holiday is also considered to be the Witches new year. This is the pivoting point where the earth dies back making space for the new birth to come. It is a time to celebrate both death and birth, the cycle of being.
How to celebrate
There are so many ways you can celebrate Samhain, but the following are some of my favorite.
What better way to celebrate a Harvest, than to feast!
Leave an offering plate. In my circle, we always feast at the end of our Samhain ritual. During this time, we dish a plate for the ancestors and make sure they have a place at the table for this.
You can make an offering plate and set it on your altar, or create a space at your dinner table for your ancestors and/or beloved dead.
Host a Dumb Supper. Invite friends and loved ones over for a dinner party. Partake of this meal in silence, in reverence for those who have come before.
Alternately host a celebration potluck dinner where each person brings a dish that reflects either their heritage or a food that a loved one who has crossed over, used to make. Then spend the dinner sharing stories about the food you brought, why you chose it, and stories of your beloved dead.
You can create one for those that have come before, sit in front of it and take time to speak their names. Remember.
Because the veil is thin we also honor the little souls that have made their way into this world this year. Make an altar for them and speak their names too.
Journey to the Isle of the Apples
In some traditions the Isle of Apples is the place where souls go, once they leave their body before they return to this realm. My own experience of Samhain rituals has often involved a journey (or guided visualization) to this place to connect with a loved on who has passed or an ancestor. Over the years I have been surprised by who I have met on the Isle. Often it has not been who I expected at all.
You can create your own journey by listening to music or drumming and envision yourself stepping into a boat and journeying across the water to the sacred isle. Then spending some time once there discovering who comes to meet you and visiting with them. Thank the before you go and climb back into your boat. When you leave and head back to the mainland, be sure to check your boat for anyone who might have hitched a ride. It has been said that sometimes souls journey back with you in order to be reborn (this might be fine if you are wanting to get pregnant).
Spirits of the Land
During this time of thinning veils, I encourage you to take a few moments and leave a offering for the the spirits of the land. This that have walked the land you call home have left their imprint there. Thank them, honor them. You can leave offerings of food, biodegradable ribbon, letters written on paper that you bury, flowers, seeds or bulbs. Spend some time on the land and see if they have messages for you. What better time of year than now.
However you celebrate, a blessed Samhain to you Wise Women!
A Blessed Autumn Equinox to you!
The season is changing Wise Women, and fall is officially beginning on Monday September 23rd. I wanted to get some celebration ideas out to you a few days early so you can plan accordingly.
This is my favorite time of year. I have always loved Autumn above all the other seasons. There is something about the smell of the air, the shift in energy from outward to moving inward, the shorter days and longer nights…all of it is just pure bliss for me. Some refer to this season as the season of the Witch. To me, this is the season of coming home, literally, as in spending more time indoors and cozy, and also coming home to myself. Just as the earth begins to slowly turn her energy inward as the crops begin to die down, so too does my own energy turn inward and I become more reflective.
The Autumn equinox, like the spring equinox is a day of balance. Equal parts day and night create a sense of in betweenness. That moment before the energies shift, and, in this case, the darker part of the year begins in full. Between now and Winter Solstice we will be feeling the longer nights and shorter days.
The equinox is the second of three harvest festivals on the wheel of the year. The first was Lammas and the next will be Samhain (which is also so much more than a harvest festival).
The Autumn Equinox is often referred to as Mabon. However, this is not an ancient name for this festival. Instead it was a name given to it by Aiden Kelly a Wiccan follower on or around 1970 and refers to the name of a God in Welsh mythology.
I find that for myself, my thoughts turn to Persephone at this time of year, as in her story this is when she is making her descent into the underworld to rule below until Spring comes again.
Both the story of Mabon and Persephone are easy to find if you want to learn more.
This turning of the wheel is often a harvest associated with apples. I know in Northern California many of the apple trees have already shed their fruits, while other varieties are heavily weighted by their harvest. The apple is often referred to as the fruit of life. It holds a place in the creation story in the bible and has found its way into other stories over time (think, Snow White and the poison apple). The apple holds at its center the symbol of a star. The pattern inside a cut apple is a five pointed star. (A pentacle). This is a symbol given the meaning of all the elements and spirit too with each point representing one of these.
Some ritual and celebration ideas to use apples for include:
1. Make apple dolls-peel an apple and carve a face into it. Stick it on a dowel and allow it to dry. As it shrivels its feature will come even more into being. You can dress this doll and set it on your altar as a symbol of the harvest and nourishment to carry you through the winter. It is also a symbol if the cycle of life as this “doll” begins as fresh full fruit and slowly withers. Eventually in Spring your doll can make it’s way back to the earth to nurture the soil and help begin the growth cycle again.
2. Create apple candle holders. Carve out the center of an apple to make space for a votive candle to reside. This can be a fun craft project (especially with kiddos) or you can turn this into a ritual by carving the candle holders with the intention of lighting your way through the dark seasons and having enough harvest to carry you through the months the earth is quiet.
Because this is also a celebration of balance and harvest, here are some additional ways to celebrate.
1. Have a harvest feast. I think I mentioned this at Lammas as well, but now there is even more to harvest and what better way to celebrate than to gather your friends and/or family and to share in this bounty. You can think of this as the Witches thanksgiving and be sure to offer gratitude for all we are gifted (food and otherwise).
There are some great songs for giving thanks and for honoring the harvest. You can look these up on YouTube if you need ideas. Singing together is a really lovely way to connect.
2. Get crafty- Why not craft your own broom? This can be looked at as a tool of balance representing both masculine and feminine energies. It can be crafted by found items.
3. To play with the idea of balance you might also make a nature mandala. You can do this on your own by gathering items from the land (or your garden) and then creating a mandala out of these items. It is also a fun activity to do in a group, with people moving into the center and placing items as they feel so called. When doing this with a group you might ask everyone to bring items from their yards or gardens to co-create this mandala with the shared energy of everyone’s home spaces. Alternatively, you might choose to go for a hike together choosing items along the way. Remember all items must be earth based as the idea is to create it and then allow it to go back to the earth.
4. Make medicine- Each year at the equinox my circle makes a collective batch of fire cider to help us sustain health through the winter months. I made my own batch last year too in order to have a little extra on hand for the cold and flu season. Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar based medicine with immune boosting properties. This is Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe. There are many variations on this recipe so if this one isn't to your liking, I encourage you to explore and find one that sounds just right for you!
Happy Autumnal Equinox Wise Women! May your harvests carry you through the dark months.
Each mark on my body is a story. Each intentional one, a spell. A moment etched into my skin of an emotion, a promise and intention.
I hadn’t thought of it this way before. I didn’t know the magic I was delving into each time I invited a needle and ink into my flesh. And yet I did. This is a ritual that lives in our DNA. Our scars are part of our story. Whether intentional or otherwise.
My stretch marks tell the story of my growth, of my own up and down relationship with food and exercise and wellness. The scar on my chin is a reminder of that time I fell on my face in class and bled all over my new dress in the second grade. The white lines that run across my forearm are a tale of my teenage angst and heartbreak. While the one on my knee is a reminder of all the falls I took training for half marathons and that somehow I always manage to land on my left side.
Then there are the tattoos. The peace sign that lives on my hand. That came into being when I was 14 with a needle, thread, india ink, some marijuana and an idealistic mind that the world could be saved with peace and love. If we could all just figure out how to get along. That story was etched in a haze at the downtown square by a friend I considered close to my heart yet knew not at all.
The Celtic knot on my ankle that I wore the symbol of for a year before getting it. A shout out to my Celtic heritage and a welcoming in of fertility and eternity into my soul. The Celtic band that surrounds it came later as I wandered the streets of London, freshly graduated from college. And somewhere just before that London wandering, in that strange surreal space of time, hungover from celebrating my graduation, I chose to add a Chinese symbol for friendship on my shoulder. Matching tattoos and locations with my dear, dear friend, one who knew me as only one who spends countless hours creating our lives over coffees and bottles of wine and pizza box poetry could. A symbol that holds the story of our many transits around the sun as we birthed ourselves into who we wanted to become.
Years passed. New scars emerged. The kind you can not see. The ones born of loss and struggle. The lines, that like scars will not fade, that mark my face and tell the story of my emotional landscape.
And still more intentions were brought into being. A triple moon, a bond in my skin, linking me to one of my (circle and soul) sisters. A reminder of our intertwining stories, from before this life and into all the future ones we will share.
Then came death. My father’s death shook me and the snake came to visit me and soon I knew this being must have a place on my body too. This was a story that needed to be imbedded. This was a spell of remembrance that called to be cast. I answered the call and the moon cycles and snake messenger brought balance to my ankles. Creating a new sense of groundedness. Matching bands tying me to the earth with the weight of their stories. Completely different stories but living in the same book.
This year brought the gift of a feather and star pressed into my forearm. A tale told of two friendships that bled into three. One spanning 30+ years of my life the other the past decade, and their friendship born from the tendrils of my connections with each of them and location. This feather is a connection across the miles, linking me to these women in the pacific northwest.
And finally the Mule deer and my most sacred Mamma cat came into being. A glorious piece of art on my upper arm from a tattoo artist who told me the story of tattoo as spell and offered me tarot cards from her altar. A most amazing artist who exchanged stories with me about the power and medicine of cat’s as she etched a tale into my skin of grief, loss, love, remembrance and belonging.
Our scars are our spells. They are both the intention made manifest and story of who we are.
What is the story etched into your skin Wise Woman?
Yesterday I joined with two of my dear friends and offered readings to three women from the Wise Woman Witchery community. Veronica, Mary and I have been taking classes together and practicing our psychic and mediumship skills for years now, yet this is the first time that we had the opportunity to do this with people we didn’t know, outside of a class environment. It was a powerful experience. I was humbled and deeply grateful to the women who offered us their time and opened themselves up for whatever came through. We had some technological glitches along the way and yet even with these, information came and we were able to share it (a day later, but still the messages went through).
This was also another reminder to me that the more we flex our intuitive muscles and trust the information we receive the easier it becomes to access it and the stronger the messages grow.
I encourage you, Wise Woman, to take the time to listen to your intuition. To invite your guides in to share information with you. To use whatever mediums aide you in this (divination tools, pen and paper, nature), and open yourself up to hear what it is you are being asked to listen to. You know and have access to so much more than you think you do.
The air is changing. Although the hottest days of summer are here, sometime in late July the smell of the air begins to shift. There are whispers of Autumn in the predawn hours. The scent is the promise of the harvest. It is the reminder that even in the midst of all this abundant growth, a dying off is about to begin. All we have intended to this point is coming into being. We are about to reap what we have sown, celebrate this growth and begin our preparations for the fruition of this growth to carry us through the winter.
Lammas is the first harvest festival (and means specifically “loaf mass”) and one of the 4 Fire Festivals that make up the wheel of the year. This festival falls between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. It is also referred to as Lughnasadh, named after the god, Lugh. (This means Lugh’s assembly). There are several stories that explain Lugh’s correlation to this holy day. Lugh is a Sun god and it has been said he originated this celebration. I have read accounts of Lughnasadh being the funeral feast Lugh held for his foster mother, Tailtiu who died from exhaustion after clearing a forest to create farmland in Ireland, thus tying Lugh to the harvest through the work of his mother and the honoring of what she made possible. There are also stories that suggest that on her deathbed, Lugh’s foster mother requested that competitive games be held each year at this time to ensure an abundant harvest.
This is also a time for gathering, coming together and deepening community. What better way to build connection than through feasting and outdoor games? Many fairs are still held during this time of year and we often find contests for produce, preserves, livestock and handicrafts at these.
This is a celebration of gratitude for the crops and the fertile abundant earth. It is a time for us to pause to examine what we have planted (both physically and through the use of our intentions) and begin to harvest that which has grown.
So how will you celebrate Lammas?
Perhaps you have a tradition already?
Here are some ideas for you! (and remember intention makes the mundane magical!)
If possible get at least some of your ingredients from a local source. Most of us are not growing wheat in our gardens, but we may have access to other grains grown locally, or honey. Or perhaps you make herb bread using herbs you have grown. Celebrate this first Harvest by baking up a fresh loaf or 2.
Make Corn Dollies
I have read that traditionally these dolls were created by using the last husks of the harvest, yet this tradition is also tied to Lammas, the first harvest. The idea is to take dried husks and form them into the doll shaped forms. You can decorate these with cloth, or herbs or beads, or whatever else calls to you. These dolls are used as protection in your home for the coming calendar year and should be kept or hung somewhere safe. When a year has passed burn the doll in the Lammas fire of the following year.
I do not grow corn, but I do grow a lot of herbs, so my “corn dolly” each year is made from the herbs in my garden, dried and shaped into the semblance of a doll.
This is a fun activity to do with friends and have everyone bring elements from their own yards and gardens then share these with each other to create dolls imbued with the energy of those you love.
Host a potluck outdoors
Late Summer is always full of the scent of BBQ. People are often coming together to feast and have fun. Why not host a gathering and ask people to bring a dish to share. Incorporate outdoor games that everyone can participate in. This harkens back to those gatherings of times of old and also facilitates a sense of community and connection.
Share your Harvest
Talk to your neighbors and friends. Find out who is growing what and who has an overabundance and host a produce sharing event. (we have neighbors always have an abundance of lemons earlier in the year and gravenstein apples and plums now, while we have an overabundance of zucchini and often tomatoes). Share your abundance!
Harvest berries and make jam or preserves. These are sweet treats that can be accessed throughout the fall and winter months and will bring a breath of summer into your home at that time.
Make a gratitude list
The harvest is something to be grateful for. Yet there are many things to be grateful for. Fire up this energy by bringing these things into awareness. Share as you feel comfortable to inspire others to practice gratitude as well.
Happy and Blessed Lughnasad Wise Women!