Tag Archives: spirituality

embracing beautiful imperfection

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The last few weeks have been pretty busy. We moved at the first of the month, and about a week ago we decided to have a house warming/blessing party and set a date for it this month. I’ve never had a lot of get-togethers at my home. I’m not naturally outgoing or extroverted, so I rarely entertain or even have friends over. However, I feel that my nature is changing as I grow older, and as a result of leading an active Pagan group. So I look forward with more excitement than nervousness, I suppose.

We settled in and unpacked rather quickly because I don’t work outside the home, so I was able to get a lot more done. Then began all the little home improvement projects and decorating. I really enjoy this type of work, and I started picking up the pace on it when we set a date for the housewarming, because I wanted everything to look nice for the party. There are many things that won’t be done on time though. There are things that we will have to put off for the sake of finances, or because warmer weather is needed, or just because things like painting the concrete den floor would need a lot of drying time, etc. So we will be having our housewarming with our house in sort of an unfinished state. But I think that’s exactly the right way to do it. Housewarmings need to be soon after the move in date, when the transition still seems fresh.

We chose an older house to live in, just like we chose so many imperfect things in our lives deliberately. There is something about imperfection that makes me live more fully, to dig deeper into the work of life. It just makes everything more interesting. Also, it lets me be more relaxed and comfortable. I want my friends to feel relaxed and comfortable too when they come over. I think sometimes I give the impression that I’m some kind of Pagan homemaker-craftster-supreme. While I have had a lot of neat ideas that I’m proud of, I’ve also had a lot of inactive days and not-so-successful projects. Sometimes I plan out things and blog about it, and then in real life it doesn’t come to fruition, or at least not in the kind of detail I aimed for. But that’s okay. I accept that life isn’t perfect and that the idea of perfection is unreal.

I’ve always rooted for the underdog. It occurred to me recently that maybe the reason is because celebrating and choosing imperfection in others (and in things/situations) is a way of fully and lovingly accepting my own inner imperfections.

beautiful inperfection

The 8th Night of Yule

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The eighth night of Yule is sacred to Skaði and Ullr. Skaði is a jötunn goddess associated with winter, skiing, bow hunting, and mountains. Likewise, Ullr is a god of archery, hunting, and winter.

8th Night of Yule

Now, if you’ve ever been to the Ozarks, you will have noticed that we don’t have much of a winter most years, so you may wonder why someone in this part of the world would want to honor these particular gods. Well, we do live in the mountains, which would put us under Skaði’s domain, and in recent years we have had a few fierce ice storms sneak up on us.

And let us not forget the hunting aspect of their powers; if you have any hunters or archers in the family, this may be a good time for them to do a blessing for their hunting equipment and/or archery gear. If you live on of near a mountain, that would be an ideal place to leave offerings and libations.

Quite a number of poems and invocations for Skaði and Ullr on the Odin’s Gift website. Choose your favorites to use in a simple blót or ritual dinner. For the kids, the night can take on a snow theme; have them make paper snowflakes to decorate the home and altar. If you do have enough snow outside, consider making some snow ice-cream. Our meal for the night is Hunter’s Stew, Pan Rolls, Snow Ice-Cream or Snowball Cookies.

8th night of Yule

explaining polytheism to kids

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In this world dominated by monotheism, it can be difficult raising children in a polytheistic faith. Although you don’t want to dictate what your kids believe, it is reasonable to give polytheism a fair and equal representation so that your children can make a informed decision on what to believe.

When kids are young, they are more likely to believe what we believe, but soon mainstream school mates and playmates challenge those beliefs. So it becomes necessary to provide some logic and reasons for our ways. Here are some basic ideas that can uphold polytheistic belief:

nature is complex and diverse
Nature, life, the universe… is so amazing, intricate, and complex, it makes more sense that its creation was a team effort, rather than the masterpiece of one divine being. Metaphors and examples of the many creating something big and complex can be found in nature, as well as in humankind’s advances.

absolute power doesn’t exist
Monotheists commonly claim that their deity is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and all-good (omnibenevolent). However, if this were true, there would be no evil in the world, because such a god would not have allowed it. It wakes more sense that there is a group of deities that share power, and are not omni- anything, but are helpers to nature and humankind. Such deities may have different strengths, interests, and areas of influence.

many spirits, many gods
If one believes that the soul (and personality) survives the death of the body, then logic dictates the existence of spirits in some sort of spirit world (or transition state before reincarnating). If a multitude of spirits exists, why shouldn’t a multitude of deities exist as well? Perhaps some of the gods are old and wise ancestral spirits who have evolved over time.

Some of these ideas are simplistic, I admit, and not without fault. But they are compelling on certain levels, and meaningful to contemplate. Older children and teens may want more thorough arguments and would benefit from reading “A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism” by John Michael Greer.

One great tool from Greer’s book mentioned above is the “cat analogy”. From age four, most children can understand the use of metaphor in a story, so the cat analogy can be very useful in explaining the logic of polytheism compared to other types of belief. To summarize the story, there was once a village with five houses. A researcher decided to go door to door and ask the villagers about their beliefs…

At the first house, the villager believed in one great Cat (which he had seen once), and left kibble out for him. He believed that other households left out kibble for a “false cat” that didn’t exist and that hobos probably ate that kibble. (This villager was a “mono-felist”.)

At the second house, the villager believed in one Cat (which he had also seen once, but looked different from what the other villager described), and believed that other people were not only worshiping false cats that didn’t exist, but inadvertently worshiping lesser evil creatures… and that evil sewer rats probably ate that kibble. (This villager was a “mono-felist” as well, but with a more sinister view of other beliefs.)

At the third house, the villager believed in one great Cat as well, but believed that Cat may look different to different people (mainly because they didn’t get a good look at Cat). This villager also claimed to know how Cat really looks, and what kind of kibble he prefers. (This villager was an inclusive “mono-felist”.)

At the fourth house, the villager believed that all the other villagers were delusional, that there were no cats, but only figments of their imagination. (This villager was an “a-felist”.)

At the fifth house, out on the edge of the village, this villager acknowledged that there are many cats. She had seen them and fed them on many occasions. (This villager was a “poly-felist”.)

village

There is much more detail of the story in Greer’s book, plus much discussion of it. Some points you might like to discuss after telling the story: On what do the villagers base their beliefs? Which one is based most on observation and experience? Do any of the villagers’ views involve special pleading?

Some other ways to reinforce a Pagan mindset (if not the logic) in young children are:
~to read mythology (see my recommendations for Norse and Celtic mythology for children),
~to talk about your own relationship with the gods and spirits,
~point out the gods’ influence in nature and in our lives and give thanks,
~teach prayers, blessings, and devotionals, and
~sing songs about the deities. One helpful resource for this is The Heathen Songbook Online. I especially like “My Gods, Your Love” and “All the Gods Are Here With Us”.

explaining polytheism to kids

Pagan Medallions

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Most of the time, I don’t wear jewelry unless it is meaningful to me in some way; my wedding band, a gift from one of my children, or something that reminds me of my spirituality. Pagan jewelry and pendants are not something you can get at any corner jewelry or department store. You usually have to seek out a new age or occult shop to find them. Whereas, other religions can find their symbolic jewelry, pendants and medallions anywhere. It’s not fair, I know. But think of it this way; it just gives us more opportunities for craft projects! You can make your own Pagan medallions depicting any deity. It takes surprisingly few materials and is relatively inexpensive.

Materials:
a bezel
deity image
small scissors
mod podge
small paintbrush
(pourable) liquid glaze

Use an internet image search to look up a deity image for your medallion. I especially like the classic look of Johannes Gehrts’ Norse deities. Save the image you want and use a photo editing website like pixlr-o-matic or befunky to change the tint of your image to your liking. Shrink it to the size you need and print it out. Using small scissors, carefully cut out your image to fit the inside of the bezel. Brush a thin layer of mod podge on the inside of your bezel. Press the image into the bezel. Use the blunt end of your paintbrush to make sure its pressed down on the edges and all over. Brush a thin layer of mod podge over the image. Now this is very important: let it dry thoroughly and completely. When image is dry, carefully pour the liquid glaze into the bezel to cover the image evenly, turning the bezel back and forth to make the glaze go where you want it. Do not try to use a paintbrush or other tool to move the glaze around. Lay your medallion somewhere that it won’t be disturbed for at least 24 hours. Don’t be tempted to touch the surface too soon, or it will leave a fingerprint. When medallion is completely dry, attach to a necklace or bracelet.

 Pagan Medallions

the importance of worship

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I write this mainly for new Pagans, but we all need reminders now and then…

Beliefs are only ideas floating around in your head, unless put them into practice. It is important to practice your spirituality through worship. Now, don’t misunderstand… when I say “worship” I mean it in the Pagan sense; hailing to, offering libations, and praising with arms raised, talking to the gods and spirits… not bending down with clasped hands and pleading prayers. Its important to practice your beliefs through worship even if (or especially if) you’re feeling a bit agnostic about the existence of the gods/spirits. Many Pagans struggle with feelings of agnosticism. If this is you, tell yourself that the gods are a metaphor for life and practice worship as an act of connection and comfort (or even psychological experiment). Many people who have done this have experienced dreams, visions, and other mystical experiences that have enriched their spirituality.

Some would say that worship strengthens the gods. Others say that the gods are powerful and do not in any way need our worship. But even gods desire the give and take of “social interaction” that worship provides. Think of it as being like a social call to elder family members. If you don’t ever visit your kinfolks, they will be like strangers to you. If you stay away, never visit nor call, over the years you will lose contact and not even know if they are still alive. So it is with the gods, and it is up to us to make first contact and to keep it going. We are strengthened by worship; it gives us a feeling of well being and connection and builds upon our relationship with the spirit kindred.

Worship doesn’t have to be elaborate rituals. It can be as simple as hailing a deity, pouring libations or lighting incense, and giving thanks or sharing a joy. If you’re not comfortable with spontaneous prayers, you can memorize something simple (like Sigrdrifa’s Prayer) and use it often. Do the gods tire of hearing the same prayer over and over? I think not any more that we would tire of a loved ones voice reciting a favorite poem.

To get things going, or revive your practice, see these articles: A Heathen Kitchen Witch’s Blót, Celtic Pagan Daily Spirituality – when there’s no time for ritual, and Celtic Paganism in daily practice. Many of the ideas listed there could apply to other cultures as well, with a few adaptations. If you cook often, see my article Stovetop Hearth Rites to bring worship into your time spent in the kitchen. If you think you’d like using prayer beads, see my system of Druid Prayer Beads. The prayers from it can be used individually, and are actually a song.

So get out there and practice, and keep at it. If you tire of one way of worship, change it up. Good worship should leave you feeling energized and whole. The options are as plentiful as the spirits.

revering nature

magical decorating on the cheap

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A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating

World Tree and Maypole

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“The single tree, fenced or walled off, with or without an altar beside it, is a universal feature of European sacred culture, and indeed it appears throughout Eurasia and Africa. In Minoan Crete the icons show people dancing in the walled-off area around a single fig or olive tree.”
–Prudence Jones & Nigel Pennick, A History of Pagan Europe

People danced around living trees in Spring rituals long before trees were felled for maypoles. In fact, attaching ribbons and weaving them around the pole did not come about until the Middle Ages. Contrary to popular belief, the custom of the maypole didn’t originate with Celtic peoples, but in German culture.

The most common explanation of the maypole is that it is a phallic symbol, and that symbolism does seem to befit the season; in the fertile onset of Summer, the Sky Father fertilizes the Earth Mother. However, the greater symbolism is that the maypole is representative of the axis mundi, the World Tree, Irminsul, Yggdrasil.

I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.
-Hávamál

And so Odin received his wisdom and power- from his initiation on the World Tree, at the center connecting point of the universe. The World Tree is the backbone of our universe, the connection to all the worlds, the cosmic pillar that upholds everything. It is symbolic of all life and is a connecting force like a web. No wonder it is one of the most common motifs in mythology around the world.

Trees connect the world we live in, in very non-metaphoric ways as well. They hold together the soil, clean the air, and produce the very oxygen we breathe. Without trees, we most likely wouldn’t be here. It is a most essential symbiotic relationship. If you look at a river system from the air, it looks like a tree. Our lungs and nerve systems look like trees as well. We have the power of the world tree within us. As above, so below, so without, so within. The ancient Norse knew this, for in the mythology, the first people were from trees- they were driftwood in which Odin breathed life.

tree of life prayer

Pagan Spirit Revival

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It is difficult, at times, to be a Pagan in a monotheist society. In some areas of the U.S. (the bible belt, especially), you may feel isolated, like you’re the only Pagan in the world. You may feel a lot of pressure to conform, or even hide your beliefs. These pressures may even shake your faith. You may even begin to think it would be easier to believe in nothing at all. My fellow Pagans, I write this to remind you. May it offer hope and inspiration if ever you feel lost…

“He who wanders in the woods perceives how natural it was to pagan imagination to find gods in every deep grove and by each fountain head. Nature seems to him not to be silent but to be eager and striving to break out into music. Each tree, flower, and stone, he invests with life and character; and it is impossible that the wind which breathes so expressive a sound amid the leaves – should mean nothing.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1822

the divine in nature

Not hearing the voices of the gods/spirits? Go into nature. Merely being in the presence of trees (forest bathing) is scientifically proven to be good for you; mentally, physically, and spiritually. So, rest assured, you benefit from just being there, without even trying. Be still and just be. Notice everything around you. The most ordinary things are magical. It’s all a matter of perspective. Mother Nature is truly amazing. The Gaia theory proposes that the earth is self-regulating; that it actively keeps conditions just right for life to persist! What a strange and wonderful thing is this we call existence.

Norse Pagans had a practice called Uti Seta, or out-sitting. They would go out and sit on a grave mound or high place to do divination, trance-work, or magic. If you don’t have the answers you seek after meditating out in nature, consult the runes. Many of us are used to the popular notion of divination being a window to our own subconscious only. Runes are, after all, Odin’s gift to us; our life-line to the gods, lest we forget.

revering nature

If your modern adult mind can no longer grasp the ancient idea of a world full of gods, then think of them as “powers”; like electricity, rich life-giving ecosystems, natural forces. We know those things exist because we see, feel, experience them. According to the Gaia Theory, natural forces are working together to actively regulate the Earth’s systems to maintain life. So I find it no great leap of faith to believe that these powers, and Earth as a whole, are sentient.

And what of us, and our ancestors? Is there life beyond death? We have only to observe the cycles of nature to know our answer… day follows night, waves ebb and flow, and ebb again, and the seasons roll around in an ongoing circle. So it is with us, for we are a part of nature. Energy animates us, and energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. We are eternal. I can only think that our energies join with the powers I mentioned above, or go out further into this universe or into others. Perhaps quantum parallel universes are what the ancients knew as the Otherworld or Valhalla. Energy returns to the source, like electricity completing a circuit.

ancestors

Our Pagan ancestors were not superstitious idiots. Norse people had their own devices for navigating the seas that were every bit as accurate as our modern instruments. Neither was their lore merely what it seemed on the surface. Norse myth, like their language, was is rich in metaphor and meaning. In Maria Kvilhaug’s lectures on youtube, she so eloquently explains some of these deeper meanings, along with the idea that the Norse may have had pantheistic beliefs in addition to being polytheists. In Myth and Reality – Hidden Knowledge in Old Norse Myths pt.6, she describes a near death experience that drastically changed her world view. I find it quite a convincing idea that knowledge of the gods arose from people’s near-death experiences.

Paganism is compatible with science, and science is awesome, my friend. If you understand the metaphors used in the Norse creation story, it reads more like the big bang theory (see Soundwaves and the Big Bang in the Poetic Edda). Pantheism is especially in line with science. The universe was born, not created. All that exists is related. We are all truly “star-stuff”.

“There are as many atoms in each molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. This is true for dogs, and bears, and every living thing. We are, each of us, a little universe.”
– Niel deGrasse Tyson

“As above, so below. As within, so without.”
– Hermes Trismegistus

All the cells of your body are working together for your continued existence. Your consciousness, sentience, is their god. So too may it be with other powers in the universe. Don’t fall into the mind-set of the monotheist who becomes angry with his god when bad things happen. The fact that bad things happen does not disprove the existence of the gods, it only disproves the existence of omnipotent-omnibenevolent ones. We are co-creators with the gods, and I think a bit of chaos exists in the universe as well. Life is not perfect, but it is magnificent.

Sacred Hallows Within

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One night not too long ago, I awoke and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ve begun to develop a spiritual split personality. You see, I am a member of a Neo-pagan Druid organization (ADF), and have also started attending a Unity church. The bulk of my beliefs reside with the former, but I get a lot of good vibes and inspiration out of the latter. However, there are many incompatible beliefs between the two systems. So my insomnia, for the most part, was my brain trying to mesh, or find more common ground between; Unity and ADF. I’m still working on that, but one of the things that popped into my head that night was an idea for a Gatekeeper invocation in which the Gatekeeper is are the Three Kindreds themselves (as a collective), and the Hallows are within one’s own being.

I believe that it is important to acknowledge the Three Hallows at the center of our world, but I also believe that also, we all have the Three Hallows within us…

In modern Celtic tradition, the term “fire in the head” is used to refer to a visionary experience or divine inspiration. In scientific terms, we really do have fire in the head…
“Everything we do (and think, for that matter) is governed by impulses firing across synapses, or spaces between certain cells that guide communication in the brain.” –Julia Layton

The heart has long been thought of as the center of the body. Since water makes up about 92% of our blood and it’s the heart that pumps that blood, naturally, I associate the Well Hallow with the heart. The age-old idea that the heart is also the center of emotions (and in turn, emotions being a catalyst for healing) is now being studied in metaphysics by organizations such as the Institute of HeartMath.

The nervous system of our human bodies resemble branches on a tree. Just as branches reach out to sky and roots dig deep into the earth, our bodies connect us to life and all it’s experiences. To me, part of what it means to be Pagan, is to live fully in spirit and body, for spirit and body are one.

Sacred Hallows Within

Mamma’s Homemaking Tips

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To all you mammas and papas out there about to begin a life of magical homemaking, I offer you some tips and advice from years of being a homebody.

setting up house
Try to get a new broom when moving house. It symbolizes a fresh start, leaving all your “dirt” from your previous residence in the past. (If you must bring your old broom with you, bring it through a window instead of the front door.)
Carry in bread and salt with you upon first entering your new home. Sprinkle some of the salt at the doorstep to ward of evil spirits. Make sure you never run completely out of salt in your home. Salt preserves, purifies and protects. Before you move your stuff in, sprinkle some salt on the floor, then sweep (or vacuum) up.
You may want to sage your new home or sain with juniper and water. You can do a full house purification and blessing either before or after you‘re completely moved in, and household altar set up.

cleaning
No one wants to spend all their time cleaning, but it is unhealthful (physically and spiritually) to live in a dirty cluttered home. There is a middle way of keeping everything reasonably clean while still having time for other activities. Consider scheduling your time to get a little housework done every day, instead of devoting a whole day to cleaning. Spend the rest of your time having fun with your kids.

Homemaking Schedule
Keep your cleaners natural and simple. (See my previous article, Natural House Cleaners.) Vinegar is used in a lot of my household cleaner formulas. I’ve found that soaking citrus peels in the vinegar I’m going to use for cleaning formulas makes it have a more pleasant smell and gives it a bit of a boost of cleaning power. You could experiment with various herbal vinegars and essential oils in your household cleaners for magical goals (test first to make sure they don’t stain surfaces).
Leave no clutter in your wake, and encourage other family members to do the same. (For example, if you sit down to have a snack or read a book, when you get back up, look around… put away any clutter in your immediate surroundings; the book and the apple core, of course, but also anything else that’s out of place.) It’s easier to clean as you go than to clean a huge mess. Have a place for everything and keep everything in it’s place. (Read “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” by Deniece Schofield.)
Along the same lines, I’ve found that the best time to do light bathroom cleaning is immediately after taking a shower; the bathroom surfaces and mirror are already damp, just wipe with a clean rag (spray with a cleaner beforehand, if you feel it needs it). I keep a soap-dispensing scrub brush in the shower for touch-ups, filled with a mixture of ½ dish soap and ½ baking soda.

cooking
If you love to cook, like I do, keep a binder of your favorite recipes; ones you’ve clipped from magazines, tried from pinterest, and especially ones you’ve devised yourself. (You may eventually pass down copies of this book to your children.)  My binder has become a family cookbook that not only contains favorite family recipes, but also the traditions surrounding the food and holidays.
I used to plan meals far ahead (like a month in advance), but we’d frequently have more leftovers than we could use up, and often, it would come time to cook a certain meal and it no longer sounded appealing to me. So then I started using a variety supper plan, interspersed with ‘leftover’ nights. This has worked out much better. When I go to make supper, I already have the protein food in mind, and I can also transform remaining leftovers for the next meal. (For example, if I have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes that weren’t used up on leftover night, I can use them to top a shepherd’s pie, or use in refrigerator potato dough, southern potato salad, etc.)
After you have a pretty good repertoire of meals, make a list of all the ingredients used in the recipes. Use this as your pantry list to check against when making a grocery list.
For more kitchen witch how-to, see my article “kitchen witchery basics” and “stovetop hearth rites“.