Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today I will meditate

Today I will meditate on the the 13 goals of a witch.

I have a number of mindless tasks to accomplish today, and as I go about them I want to ponder the meanings of each of the goals.

I often have had to refer back to the list that I have written so an added benefit will be to commit them to memory.

Recently a good friend of mine asked me about my "religion." I had to search a bit to find my written list so I could tell him. I'm not Wiccan, I'm not anything that would fall into a labeled dogma, but the ideas on the list (only slightly modified) come fairly close. I fall basically into the Pagan category, and Druidic so far seems the closest. The witch's goals are fairly solid and can be found in many religions. I think they're good guidelines and worth the meditation time.

I think the hardest goal for most people is to celebrate life.
Here's your meditation challenge: What do you do to celebrate life?

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Know yourself.
Know your craft.
Apply knowledge with wisdom.
Achieve balance.
Keep your words in good order.
Keep your thoughts in good order.
Celebrate life!
Attune with the cycles of the earth.
Breathe and eat correctly.
Exercise the body.
Respect the energy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Yin and Yang of The Song of Solomon

As the days begin to grow longer, the priests dust off the scroll of the Megillot that is read at Passover. On the first day of spring, Equinox, following the example of Yin and Yang, all things are in balance; female and male, dark and light, night and day – one can not be understood in the absence of the other. Passover is also known as the Holiday of Spring and the extreme use of antithetical parallelism in The Song of Solomon, the scroll read in spring, provides an approachable representation of a perfectly balanced and harmonious cosmic dualism, personifying the passage of seasons from winter to spring.

The most apparent contrast in The Song of Solomon, is the female and male characters which represent winter and summer. The most active voice is the female, which is the Yin of the Yin and Yang philosophy. The male, or Yang, of the book is just arriving, “leaping upon the mountains” (S. of S. 2:8), to take his place of dominance as winter turns to spring and calls to Yin to “Arise . . ./and come away;/ for lo, the winter is past” (S. of S. 2:10-11). Yin’s time is winter and “come away” in this instance does not mean to join Yang, but to leave so Yang can take his place at Vernal Equinox.

Equinox is when the time of light and dark are equal, and it happens twice a year. Summer, technically spring, follows winter, but for this argument, Yang represents the warmer weather that follows the colder weather. Yin represents the colder season that is drawn after (S. of S. 1:4). When Yin exclaims “My beloved is mine and I am his” (S. of S. 2:16), it indicates that Yin is in control and phase of dominance will be followed by Yang. Later, at the autumn equinox, when cold follows warm, Yang will wane in turn and the refrain is reversed; “I am my beloved’s and my beloved/is mine” (S. of S. 6:3). One follows the other and the other follows the one, but as one approaches, as in Yin rising to open to Yang’s knock at the door (S. of S. 5:6), the other must recede.

When not the dominant season, the subordinate sleeps or is away, yet still desires the other. Yang is away “Until the day breathes/ and the shadows flee” (S. of S. 2:17), in other words, until the days become longer than the nights. While Yin sleeps, Yang pursues her. Yang says, “I slept but my heart was awake” (S. of S. 5:2) when Yang comes knocking. When Yin does rise in her dream to open the door, Yang “had turned and gone” (S. of S. 2:6). When Yin rises it is Yang’s turn to sleep until “Under the apple tree” (S. of S. 8.5) he is awakened from the long sleep of winter, when mother earth gives birth to new life. The two are destined never to meet. It is a constant seek and not find situation. He is behind a wall (S. of S. 2:9) and she is behind a veil (S. of S. 4:1), yet the evidence of the existence of the other remains everywhere they look.

Yang sees the evidence of Yin’s wintry work “in the clefts of the rock,/ in the covert of the cliff” (S. of S. 2:14), where the warming sun has not yet reached the icy depths of winter. Yin is sustained through winter with the fruits and raisins stored from Yang’s summer (S. of S. 2:5). She sits in the banqueting house “in his/ shadow,/ and his fruit [is] sweet” (S. of S. 2:3). The seeds stored and germinating through winter, “the garden locked,” become the shoots for “an orchard of pomegranates” and all the spices of spring (S. of S: 4.12-14). The benevolent and productive existence of each of the entities is clear and the need for both periods of winter storage inside and summer planting and harvest outside is necessary for survival and must be done at the right time.

All things must occur within their season. The love the characters have for each other is the earth and its abundance. The audience is instructed not to “stir not up nor awaken love / until it please” (S. of S 2:7). Planting must occur in the warmer months and to plow up the ground before it is time is counterproductive. Yin is the little sister that has no breasts (S. of S. 8:8). Yin is charged to keep the vineyards throughout her cold season, but her vineyards cannot produce. She cannot bear fruit because Passover is the time for planting and that is the time that she must go away.

Storage, planting, harvest, winter and summer, Yin is all things civilized and inside, while Yang is more natural and outdoorsy. During the colder months, activity is predominantly confined to the city and indoor events. Yin resides inside the walls and in the city, and her constant desire is to bring Yin into the house and into the chamber. When Yin goes out to seek Yang, she goes “about the/ city,/ in the streets and in the squares” (S. of S. 3:2). Yang, on the other hand, remains outside, “gazing in at the windows, / looking through the lattice” (S. of S. 2:9). His occupation as shepherd keeps him in the pasture, “leaping upon the mountains, / bounding over the hills” (S. of S. 2:8) during the warmer months. The closest they come to meeting is merely the knock on a door at equinox. He knocks from the outside, she answers from within.

Spending his livelihood outside, Yang is “all radiant and ruddy” with wavy and raven-black hair (S. of S. 5:10-11). Yin, in stark contrast, is dark and swarthy as sun-scorched earth after summer. Twice she is described with curly and white hair “like a flock of goats” (S. of S. 4:1, 6:5) with cheeks that are wintry red “like halves of a/ pomegranate” (S. of S. 4:3, 6:7). Cold snow for hair and radiantly tanned skin – if winter and summer were to be personified, this is how they would look. Each are described in comparison with a myriad of natural animal, vegetable and mineral comparisons: stags, doves, clusters of grapes, apple trees, cedar, gold and jewels. If nature is to be personified it must look like its season and be likened to its natural inhabitants.

It takes more than good looks for humankind to relate to a personification of nature. To bring these beings alive, they must also be made to have drives and emotions. They must strive and fail, and love and fear. Yin experiences a thrill and fright when it seems that she and her beloved at last would meet. When Yang puts his hand to the latch of her door, Yin’s “heart was thrilled” (S. of S. 5:4), and when she hears his call her “soul failed” (S. of S. 5:6). Likewise, Yang feels a bit of discomfort and is disturbed by Yin in chapter 6. He likens her to a terrible army. Their constant desire is for each other, but the fear and respect for the other helps to keep them from ever meeting. Their own natures as opposites hold them in their places.

The opposite worlds and nature of the main characters are also reflected in the natures and actions of the minor characters of the book. They are male and female as well but, unlike the main characters who are individuals, these minor characters are grouped together by gender. This adds another level of contrast, the individual versus the group. The female group both mocks and assists Yin in her search for her male counterpart. In their first appearance they helpfully advise Yin to “follow in the tracks of the flock” (S. of S. 1:8). Where summer goes, winter will follow in the same path. Later, however, they ask “what is your beloved” (S. of S. 5:9) that they should help? These female characters represent a contrast of sincere help and mocking disdain. The male characters also display bipolar characteristics. At one point they remain neutral when Yin is found by them when she is “in the streets and in the squares” (S. of S. 3:2). Later, as she is found by the watchmen, she is beaten and wounded (S. of S. 5:7). The watchmen represent the contrast of passive and aggressive behaviors.

In spite of the attitudes of the group of women and the watchmen, nature makes no consideration of person. It simply ‘is.’ Nature continues on its path whether assisted by the women or railed against by the watchmen. The neutrality of nature exists to the benefit and detriment of all. Likewise, in all the contrast found in The Song of Solomon, there is no blatant labeling of good and evil. All of the contrast simply ‘is.’ Light and dark, passive and aggressive, male and female, et cetera—one side or aspect cannot be understood in the absence of the existence of the other. All things have their equal in the opposite. This perfect contrast is a foundation of cosmic dualism, but lacks the antagonistic aspect usually present in the general definition. There is no conflict of a good side against an evil side, and the lack of a competition aspect lends itself to the more harmonious Yin and Yang philosophy. Here is a complementary existence of two sides that point to the existence of a whole or a one.

In the first testament of The Holy Bible there is little to no reference to an afterlife or an existence of a cosmic good side against a cosmic evil side. There is simply life, death, and the God of Abraham. This God is described with the same aspects of the characters in The Song of Solomon. That God is both male and female can be found in the first creation story of Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1.27). One accounting of the view of God as both a beneficial and detrimental being is reflected in the story of Job. The ‘evil’ in Job’s question, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” (Job 1.9), is not an evil in active opposition to good, but simply an opposite state of affairs. God is presented as both passive and aggressive, and all things whether desired, such as child birth, or undesired, such as barrenness, is attributed to the whims of God. “It is all one;” Job says, “[God] destroys both the blameless/ and the wicked” (Job 9:22). The common view of God by the descendents of Abraham is that, good, bad and indifferent, he is everything.

In the bigger picture all of the elements, actions, and characteristics work together to create a harmonic world and provide for life. Standing back to see “Who is that coming up from the / wilderness, / leaning upon her beloved?” The seasons ‘lean’ on each other and depend on one another for balance. All that can be seen in the distance is the result of the two sides of Yin and Yang.

The wrath and mercy that God displays at the original Passover is a prime example of God’s dualistic nature. The same sharp dualism is thickly represented in the extreme parallelism of The Song of Solomon, but humanized and balanced in such a way as to create a harmony with nature, humanity and God. Reading The Song of Solomon with the changing of the seasons as a backdrop adds another passive layer that can be used in an attempt to grasp the unknowable nature and the Yin and Yang of existence.

Works Cited
The Book of Job. The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version. New York:
Meridian, 1962.
The First Book of Moses: Commonly Called Genesis. The Holy Bible. Revised
Standard Version. New York: Meridian, 1962.
The Song of Solomon. The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version. New York:
Meridian, 1962.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sacred Relationship

These excerpts (below) are from "The Ethics of Paganism: the Value and Power of Sacred Relationship" by Emma Restall Orr, found in Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future. ISBN 0-7387-0824-0

Reading them made me wonder if perhaps my path is more instinctively Druid. I like what it says, and somehow have been leaning this way without any official instruction.

I've been thinking lately, (having just put way too much stress on myself for straight A's in college) that the only reason that I want training in a standardized Pagan path, is that I want the acknowledgement of attaining a level, or a degree, a secret handshake, or something that I can show to others that says "He knows what he's talking about."

I'm coming to realize, that the path is greater (and better) than the accolades. I may be shifting from a destination focus to a journey focus. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The excerpts are below (italics are mine), comments are welcome.

"Fully perceiving a landscape, the spirits that populate that place, those we see as trees, plants, and grasses, insects and animals, birds, winds, water courses, rocks and mud, human beings, and so much more, and those perhaps we can't see, as air spirits, ancestors, the Pagan wholly engages with that place. He also has a more acute perception of how places differ, not only physically, but energetically; by more poignantly feeling the particular and distinct beauty, the pwer and the fragility of a place, the Pagan honours, stepping more gently, respctfully, making no unnecessary impact. He is not likely to drop litter, to break branches or knock the heads of the flowers, nor to create noise or light pollution needlessly--not because of some legislation or social law, but simply because it would be disrespectful to those affected, seen and unseen." (28)

The gods are powers of nature, wind, earth, sea, and thunder, energies about which we build understanding. We don't submit, cowering in fear; we stand in our own strength and laugh, sharing the energy of who we are, with profound respect (without which the natural world easily kills) but also with joy, confidence, and dignity, connecting and cooperating.

The stronger our relationships with the gods become, and the stronger our ability to live in harmony with the flow of nature, the more confidence we gain, the more strength to share and laugh and stand in our stillness. In consequence, too, not only do we feel more able to express our own truth in freedom, but our vision of the web of spirit grows clearer, allowing us a broad perspective that we might see the effects of our actions, shimmering across the web. (31)

Sacred relationship, then, is the key. How we achieve that depth of connection is a part of the path we walk within the tradition, a part of our quest for motivation, inspiration, and peace, reaching for more effective and profound communication and understanding. (35)

Thank you, Emma, for writing this. I have something new on which to meditate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Solstice is coming!

I have been so remiss in my pagan devotions, but I'm coming back out of the broom closet.

The altar is cleared and awaiting purple.

Monday, August 4, 2008


"Lughnasadh is a time of personal reflection and harvest, of our actions and deeds, events and experiences, our gains and losses. A time when we begin the cycle of reflection of that which is our life. A period for personal fertility magic to ensure the bountiful harvest of life's gifts and experiences, that which we have reaped though trial, tribulation, enjoyment, joy, love and loss." -Christina Aubin (Witchvox)

I couldn't sleep. My dreams were dominated by a coffee shop named Positive Energy. This dreamscape coffee shop served simple foods and simple coffees, situated near college, with an apartment above and entrances in the front and back for patrons. It was quieter than another (actual) coffee shop in town.

Recently, other dreams bothered my sleep. Dreams of missing classes, delayed graduation and school-related tears and frustration.

As I fluttered between waking and sleep, Blue, our Russian Blue cat, became restless as well, nosing around my face, patting me with his paw on my cheek, and licking my arm. This is not unusual - he often arrives to pester me in the mornings well before the alarm clock.

So I got up.

It's the first Monday of Lughnasadh, so, prompted by my unrest and the recurring impact of my dreams, I cleared my altar and took my cauldron of Midsummer herbs that had dried since Solstice, out to the deck and burned them, focusing on wellness, productivity, diligence and prosperity for me and my husband. I circled my dominant hand through the smoke to spread the energy to its work and ran my finger along the edge of the cauldron to further focus the working.

Then I broadened my focus to include my close friends, then broadened even further to include my regular friends.

As the fire began to die back, Blue, whom I had just noticed watching my working, entered the circle unbidden from the East and traveled deosil around the deck pausing briefly at different points - though not THE points. Coincidence or design? I'm not sure, but I'll except the connection with nature and thank him for his assistance with some tuna later.

Within the cauldron of herbs was a pentacle necklace, that I had removed months ago. I decided it was too heavy (metaphysically) and needed cleansing. It sat on the altar for a while in a container of salt, then was moved to beneath a white candle, then was placed within the cauldron midst the herbs.

The burning herbs melted away the wax and the ambient energy of the herbs and the focused working now lays within the pentacle. I will start carrying it in my pocket and rubbing it with my fingers to bring back its shine.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Midsummer is Near!

Midsummer Solstice
Observing the Sabbats helps one attune to nature.
Attuning to nature gives one the opportunity to
• stop,
• get centered, and
• release undue stress

• Burning Bowl
• Matches
• Incense
• Cloth Pouch
• Midsummer Herbs

Midsummer Herbs
Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, Lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy
Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild Thyme, Daisy, Carnation

Mentally pour all troubles, sorrows, pain, problems and the like into a cloth petition (pouch) of Midsummer herbs.

Allow yourself to be drawn to an idyllic spot
Be barefoot, or make contact with the earth

Light the incense in the burning bowl

Clear your mind
Breathe deeply and regularly
Slow yourself down
Open yourself to the energies of nature

Sit and meditate on the gist of the following, don't be worried about the exact words:

In this place of power, I open myself
I breathe the energy into my body
Commingling, blending,
mixing them with mine
In this place and time I am changed

Burn the cloth petition in the burning bowl and meditate on the gist of the following:

In the noon of summer
All nature vibrates with energy
Now is the time of forgetting
Past cares and banes
Burn away the unuseful
Burn away the hurtful
Burn away the bane

Sit and meditate

(This ritual is compiled from various sources, including Llewellyn's Almanac, Scott Cunningham's guide for the solitary practitioner, and Buckland's guide to witchcraft.)