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Allies of the Wild Earth

In my local woods the sunlight glows vivid through the leaves of downy birch and slants, golden, through the gaps between the pines. Where the earth steams and the buzzards call overhead, the spirits I meet have faces but no names. Sometimes they appear as guides, delivering a euphoric moment or a much-needed catharsis. Other times a new sigil appears in the form of a snapped-off piece of twig and I know exactly who has sent it. For me, nature is the source of life, magic and spirit. She is also my greatest inspiration, my safest refuge and my best friend.


Let’s be honest. The human world of the 21st Century has no great love for nature. Whether or not we choose to recycle or use energy saving bulbs in our homes, every day we are forced to interact with the toxic, extractive and wasteful industries upon which our economy is based. As I write, mountaintops are being removed for the coal underneath, people are being maimed and arrested for opposing a dangerous oil pipeline and the Pacific is becoming an irradiated soup of discarded plastic junk. A climate change denier sits in the White House, doing everything in his power to reverse what scant legal protections have been afforded the natural world. We are saturated with surplus and hemorrhaging waste. Humanity’s great battle to tame and reshape the Earth has reached the level of ecocide.

Out of Hiding

Enlightened non-attachment is a fashionable philosophy within New Age circles. However, in this desperate state of affairs, silence equates to compliance. I believe that as pagans, witches, animists and energy workers we no longer have the luxury of fence-sitting. It’s time for us to recognize that drawing power from nature whilst continuing to live high-Co2 lifestyles sustains a one-sided relationship with our sacred planet. The natural world is a place of beauty and the source of our strength, but too few of us are willing to actually step out from behind our altars to defend it. If she’s worth our reverence, she’s worth our allegiance.

It is time to come out of hiding, but for many of us this will go against our fundamental instincts. Globally, pagan and shamanic traditions have never been well-treated by the newer monotheistic organized religions. As a European practitioner I am constantly aware that my culture’s dislocation from its landscape is the product of an ultimately successful campaign of religious and misogynistic persecution designed to fracture rural community spirit, that ultimately paved the way for land enclosure and industrialization. The psychic resonance of our ancestors’ disenfranchisement and the violence directed at our spiritual forebears has left us wary, encouraging private or even secret practice to this day. However, by rendering ourselves invisible we are depriving the Earth and its defenders of our potential as allies and decreasing the likelihood that future generations will have natural energies to connect to. As energy workers we could be a powerful, possibly essential part of events to come.

Towards an Active Ecological Shamanism

From my vantage point in the UK, I am profoundly struck by the role of Native American spiritualities in some of the ecological struggles of North America. Although I have not been able to visit Sacred Stone camp, it is clear that land rights and ecological action are more powerful when backed-up by a genuine shamanic tradition with deep roots in the landscape. When colonizers and business interests get stuck into a place they show equal disregard to the ecology, indigenous access to land and the spiritual resonance between local people and their natural habitat. This applies equally in contexts as diverse as the Industrial Revolution in the UK, the frontier genocide of the Americas and the present-day struggles of indigenous Amazonians against international oil and logging interests. For humans maintaining both a material and spiritual connection to nature, these three issues are actually the same thing and must be dealt with holistically, rather than separately.

For Europeans, even more so. Industrialization, land enclosure and the crusade against paganism all started here. It is crucial that our spiritual practice addresses the alienating effects of our cultural dislocation. For European practitioners, perhaps it is doubly important that we are out there, not just confining our magick to our isolated homes.

However, our economically-enforced participation in the capitalist system keeps working-age adults largely disconnected from all three aspects of the struggle. As a result, frontline ecological movements are often characterized by a turnover of young idealists and a general lack of wise, experienced older participants. In occupied forests and protest camps across the world, we are creating new tribes based on equality between individuals and reverence for nature. But without our elders, we are struggling.

Spirit Warriors

I regret that this article is written from such a eurocentric perspective, however it is mainly the European pagan community that I intend to address. Within that community, we are facing a trap. Many of our more ancient European pagan religions, particularly the Norse and Celtic ones, originate from warlike societies with strong warrior traditions. Increasingly, I am encountering individuals who identify their pagan spirituality with a highly idealized take on their North European heritage and a worrying national-socialist sentiment. Despite having been fully and disastrously explored in the last century, such attitudes are actually missing the point. Supremacism according to race or gender creates a thematically similar hierarchy to the supremacy of humans over nature, which should be fundamentally at odds with any pagan belief system. As pagans we need to guard against any tendency towards nostalgia, ethnic division and violent, fascist leanings. Such elements only divide us from others across the world who are facing the same ecological destruction. Like it or not, we are not Vikings anymore. We are part of an interconnected global humanity.

However, there is still merit in the concept of the warrior. Whether in la ZAD or the Amazon, the modern day tribal warriors are not soldiers, but campaigners. Those who take on the cause of their neighbors and local ecologies, pitting themselves against state and corporate violence in order to affect change. Shamanic and pagan spiritualities can play a stabilizing, strengthening and motivating role amongst today’s warriors by encouraging unity, evoking catharsis, healing trauma and preventing burnout. Equally, for those unable to dedicate themselves in this way for whatever reason, spiritual practice can be used to strengthen the ecological movement as a whole, through intention, ritual and consciousness-raising. However each of us is able to contribute, it is important that we do so.

If we are to continue to exist on this planet, humanity needs a practical magick; a harmonious two-way relationship with the wild Earth. As pagans, witches and shamans we already know this and should now manifest our full power behind the environmental movement. Let’s build an active ecological shamanism, comprising psychic affinity groups of spirit warriors, supported by their elders, allied across continents and embedded in the landscape.

This Connection is Worth Defending

In another woodland one night not so long ago, the tribe was awake. As the red shadow of the Earth crept across the lunar surface high above, cries went up and torches were set alight. Under a gigantic blood moon, silhouettes howled through the treeline and shadows danced to the flicker of flame. Beating the bounds that night, we could not have known how soon the eviction would come. In a few short months, a property developer would unleash devastating violence upon the trees, gardens and scrub; this idyllic habitat of skylark, kestrel and wild boar. Although our wards were strong and our sigils were set, there were just too few boots on the ground. Now we are scattered to the four directions, but for all of us there will be a next time. Perhaps we will see you out there too.

“Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of The Celtic Goddess” by Courtney Weber

I have to admit then when I first picked up this book my first thoughts were “oh no, not another book about my beloved Brigid” Being from UK and with Irish roots I have a great affinity with the Celtic Goddess and was a little wary of what I may find. Hadn’t it all been written about before in the many books I had on my shelves?

I had not finished chapter one “Who is Brigid?” before I realized that the author Courtney Weber had researched Brigid extremely well and also had a great love for her. She discusses in great detail the different roles that Brigid/Brig/Brid/Brigantia/Brigette has had all over the world. How she was, and still is, “The Exalted One” in Ireland and how she became St Brigit after the Christianization of the emerald isle.

As I read on, captivated by the author’s obvious love for her subject, I discovered associations with the oak – which is my favorite tree – and the raven which for obvious reasons is my favorite bird. There are references to myths and legends as to the origins of Brigid. I appreciated the author’s acknowledgment and honesty when she says that she is not an expert in Iwa Maman Brigitte and the Caribbean culture surrounding this version of the Goddess. But she does refer to her personal experiences in the back streets of New Orleans searching for images of Brigid. For readers interested in this persona the author recommends other books to read. I did not realize that Brigitte is the only Goddess in this culture who is white skinned with red hair.

There are several relevant photos in the book that, although black and white, show sacred wells, rivers, artifacts, rituals, images, statues and crafts. The author has extensive personal knowledge of “Brigid the Healer” and “Brigid the Bard” as she was a guide for several years of the sacred sites of Ireland, and so the photos are mainly from her own camera.

The spells and rituals in the book are simple and creative. There is one for inspiration, one for releasing writer’s block – which I wish I had known about two months ago when my own words stumbled to a halt. The book details different practices and rituals, with photos that help to explain and illustrate the words.

I love that there are some of my favorite quotes and poems in this delightful book. Some of these are worthy of meditation but there are also detailed meditations in the book. My favorite guided meditation is the one called “Journey to the Grove” in chapter six, Goddess of the Oak: The Sacrificial Brigid.

So really all the different personas of Brigid are explored. The roles of healer, smith work, arts and poetry, as the embodiment of spring, patroness of sheep and cattle, Goddess of Fire and of Water, as a Goddess of War, protector of the poor and justice for all. In all these roles across the globe Brigid’s fierce passion erupts to the surface every time.

No book about Brigid would be complete without reference to her holiday/Sabbat Imbolc. Imbolc marked the end of wintertime for the ancient Celts and so it was a time of relief and celebration. Again there is reference to similar rituals around the world. As “The Lady of Springtime,” Brigid’s myths are discussed by using traditional Irish myths and tales. There are prayers and blessings in chapter eight “Imbolc: Brigid the Springtime Goddess, the Mother, and the Midwife.” The rites of spring and the myths associated with them are also found in this chapter.

I mentioned there were photos of various crafts in this book and there are some great pictures explaining how to make a St Brigid’s Cross. The information about Imbolc includes divination, spells, and rites of Imbolc for just one person and another for a group. Again these are simple and creative. There is also a lovely Baby Blessing in this chapter.

Finally there is a chapter is dedicated to “Brigid and Animals” which starts with a beautiful blessing. This traditional charm called “St Bride’s Charm” is accompanied by one of my favorite images of Brigid “Brigid at Imbolc” by Carey A. Moore. This is how I first envisioned Brigid when I was young. All of her associations are in this chapter, including the traditional tales for each animal. It concludes with a creative visualization to help you to discover your Brigid animal or totem.

Throughout the book there is magick, recipes, spells and rites for the reader to try for themselves. The final chapter, chapter ten, called “Brigid Magick” has a lot of these as a conclusion to the book. They are easy to understand, easy to do and effective. I thoroughly recommend that the reader try the home protection spell and rite.

Do I recommend this book? Totally. It gets five broomsticks from me and is a worthy addition to any Pagan bookshelf.

Litha – June 21st

Litha is the Summer Solstice. It occurs on or about the 21st of June, when the Sun enters zero degrees Cancer, thereby marking MidSummer. On this longest day of the year, the Sun God is at the peak of his power. Like Samhain, Litha is a day when the boundaries between the worlds are thin, when mortals have strange experiences, and when otherworlders travel in our plane.

Litha is also the traditional time of year to harvest your herbs and flowers, especially St. John’s wort, either to hang in your home as protection or to tie onto the wicker man as a symbol of a wish that you want carried into the next world. Ideally, you should cut your herbs with a scythe or boline, by moonlight, and chant the appropriate purpose for which each plant will be used. Leave an offering for the rest of the plant, don’t harvest more than a third of the plant – the rest will remain healthy and vigorous.

Beltane was the festival of union between the God and Goddess, and so it was seen as unlucky to marry in May. But often as a result of the Beltane festivities, many young maidens found they weren’t maidens any more, and indeed were on their way to becoming mothers! Because of this, June became a popular month for marriage. The Full moon in June is called the ‘Honey Moon’, because it as this time that honey is harvested from bee hives. The night after marriage thus became the ‘Honeymoon’.

Made from Honey, Mead is the traditional drink for Summer Solstice, and an excellent recipe for making mead can be found here.

If you don’t want to make mead, here is a simpler recipe for

Honey Apple iced tea:
4 black tea bags

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • lemon slicesMakes 6 to 8 servings
    In a 2 quart pot, brew tea bags in boiling water. Remove bags, add
    honey and apple juice. Stir well. Pour over ice.

Review of Rupert’s Tales : Learning Magick

When I was first approached about reviewing Rupert’s Tales : Learning Magick by accomplished author Kyrja, I jumped at the chance. My family loves Rupert the Rabbit, and follow some of his adventures on the Friends of Rupert facebook page. Our family is a mixture of ever evolving beliefs so finding a series that everyone liked was a huge plus. The kids can relate to the children in the books, often surprised that others have the same questions and emotions as themselves. As early readers, making connections is a big deal and Kyrja facilitates this so well. Tonia Bennington Osborn is such a talented artist and lends her extraordinary talent to Rupert bringing his world into the imaginations of children of many ages.

In the first half of Rupert’s Tales: Learning Magick, Rupert learns about the tools of the craft when he happens upon a interesting group of people. What little Rupert hears and sees intrigues him so much as the youngsters in the group talk about these tools. A few of the tools kids will learn about with Rupert include the Athame, Candles, Wands and the Bell. We learn about the elemental association of the elements and are introduced to Intention. A theme carried over in the second half of the book as well. I truly enjoyed the emphasis on what’s inside each of us being the most important part of any ritual or magickal practice.

Written by Kyrja Illustrated by Tonia Bennington Osborn
Written by Kyrja
Illustrated by Tonia Bennington Osborn

In the second half, we follow Rupert as he listens to a pair of friends and learns about the importance of intention and imagination in magick. A young boy questions his ability to perform magick, in this case, in the form of casting a circle or Bubble. Kids learn about insecurities and how to overcome those fears. He learns to trust not only himself but also his friend. She learns how to be a good mentor which is very important in circles with children of varying ages. It teaches leadership skills and compassion for others. Rupert also finds his own boundaries such as not being ready experience being inside a Sacred Circle. All while doing a bit of sympathetic magick himself.

My trio of witchlets absolutely love Rupert and his adventures . They are 8, 6 and 2 years old and each one had their favorite part. My youngest, loved the pictures of Rupert, who he called Bun Bun; and the baby in the sling, who he had to give kisses to while we read! My girls were so happy to read a book about kids learning magick; seeing other kids ask questions they’ve had, while enticing the to think about the same things from a different perspective. What they saw was a family and close friends hold a learning circle, just like they have. My eldest says that book was fun to read because it was it is easy to read to her brother and sister and Rupert is so cute.

Personally, Rupert won my heart over with his gentle curiosity. I really love and appreciate the flow of both stories. Kyrja is so good at conveying imagery through wands , which is amplified by Tonia Bennington Osborn’s beautiful illustrations. Together they created magick with charming addition to the library of any magickal child. We have already chosen our next adventure with Rupert. I highly recommend Rupert’s Tales for childrens circle reading material, it is very informative and of course.. Rupert is the best!

Buy Rupert’s Tales on Amazon style=

Beltane – May 1st

“The May-pole”

The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup;
I’ll drink to the garlands around it:
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown’d it.

A health to my girls,
Whose husbands may Earls
Or Lords be, (granting my Wishes)
And when that ye wed
To the bridal bed,
Then multiply all, like fishes.

Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

“Beltane” meaning “bright fire” is also known as May Eve, May Day and Walpurgis Night. It is the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

  • Beltane herbs: Almond, Belladonna, Clover, Frankincense, Hawthorn
  • Beltane colors: Red, white, green, dark yellow, all the colors of the rainbow!
  • Beltane offerings: sacred wood and dried herbs burned in Beltane fires
  • Beltane is a time to honor Artemis/Diana,Pan, Bel, Creiddylad.

It is the celebration of the glory of spring at its height – a festival of sensuality and fertility. The God and Goddess are represented by the May King and Queen, and the tradition of dancing ’round the maypole represents their unity – the pole being the God and the ribbons the Goddess, wrapped around him.

Some covens choose this sabbat to go Skyclad, so make sure you check and are comfortable with the dress (or undress) code before attending!

It is also traditional to perform the Great Rite to bless your land on May’s Eve.

Beltane is a fun festival, usually associated with lots of singing and dancing, fire jumping and raucous behavior – it was seen as a brief respite from toil when winter was now only a memory and the summer and harvests were but a few months away. It is the last of the Spring fertility festivals and the most joyous.

Beltane Recipes

One of the traditional meats that was served at Beltane feasts in the lands of the ancient Celts was most likely pork.
In fact sheep are still the predominant livestock in Ireland of today. Apples are also a popular fruit of Beltane.
So I hope that you enjoy the recipe below.

Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Apples

3 whole, boneless fresh pork tenderloins, about 1 3/4 lbs.
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp. corn, peanut or vegetable oil
1 tsp. dried or chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 onion, about 1/4 lb., peeled and cut in half crosswise
8 red, waxy potatoes, about 1 lb.
2 Golden Delicious apples
1/4 c. fresh or canned chicken broth
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the tenderloins with salt and pepper. Put the corn oil in a pan large enough to hold the whole tenderloins in one layer. Sprinkle with rosemary and turn the pork in the mixture to coat it all over. Place on top of the stove. Arrange the onion, cut side down, around the pork. Heat the pork, turning to make certain the pieces do not stick. Cook until the pieces are lightly browned all over. Place them in the oven.
3. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and put them in a saucepan with water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.
4. Peel, core and quarter the apples as the potatoes cook.
5. Drain the potatoes and arrange them around the meat. Turn the pork and continue baking for total of 30 minutes.
6. At the end of that time, scatter the apple quarters around the meat and return the pan to the oven. Continue baking 15 minutes.
7. Remove the meat to a warm serving platter. Add the broth to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Cut the pork into crosswise pieces and serve with the potatoes, apples and the sauce spooned over. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 to 6 servings. courtesy of cooks.com

Another great idea for dinner on Beltane is mead. But since it is alcoholic it is not always acceptable to everyone and is off limits to kids. So why not try a non-alcoholic mead?

Soft (non-alcoholic) Mead
4 cups spring water
1 cup honey
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced

Bring the water, honey, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to a boil in a non-metallic pan. Stir until honey is dissolved; heaviness should disappear from bottom of the pan. Use wooden spoon to skim off skin that forms at top of brew. Add lemon and orange slices, squeezing as they are placed in the pan. Cool completely; strain. Store in bottle in refrigerator. courtesy of clannada.org

Ostara – The return of Spring and New Life!

OSTARA (pronounced O-STAR-ah, also known as Lady Day or Alban Eiler) is one of the Lesser Sabbats, and is usually celebrated on the Vernal or Spring Equinox around March 21. Other names by which this Sabbat may be known are Oestara, Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Alban Eilir, Festival of the Trees, and Lady Day. The Christian holiday of Easter is very near this same time, and is determined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 – Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venusand Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.

The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eostre (aka Eastre and Ostara). Second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations and attempted to convert them to Christianity. As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense to the christian church, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

In the Pagan Wheel of the Year, this is the time when the great Mother Goddess, again a virgin at Candlemas, welcomes the young Sun God unto her and conceives a child of this divine union. The child will be born nine months later, at Yule, the Winter Solstice.
The Great Rite, symbolic of the sexual union between God and Goddess began to be enacted on Ostara. The positive effect of this rite, a form of sympathetic magic helped to bring fertility to the land and people and the animals.

Easter Eggs

In ancient times the return of the birds meant an important protein source had returned. The ability to find eggs in the fields and forest often meant the difference between health and hunger in the lean days before the harvest.

The festival of the Thesmophoria – sometimes called the Eleusinian Mysteries – lasted between three and ten days. Each day of the festival had a different name and included specific rituals.

A highlight of the festival was a procession from Athens to Eleusis which was led by a crowd of children known as ephebi. The ephebi assisted in carrying the hiera (sacred objects) including an egg (Easter eggs), and in pulling a statue of Dionysus as a boy (Iacchos). The children also assisted in the ceremonial cleansing of the initiates (candidates of the mystery religion) in the sea.

Upon arriving at Eleusis the women organized the first day of the celebration (anodos) by building temporary shelters and electing the leaders of the camp. On the second day (nesteia) they initiated the Greater Mysteries which, according to myth, produced the cult’s magical requests (a fertile harvest). Such mysteries included a parody of the abduction and rape of Persephone, and the positioning of the female devotees upon the ground weeping (in the role of Demeter for her daughter), and fasting for the return of Persephone (the return of spring). The setting upon the ground and fasting was also intended to mystically transfer the “energies” of the women into the ground, and thus into the fall seeds. Not suprisingly, the festival was held during the time of the fall planting, so as to nearly guarantee a positive response to the cult’s magic.

On the fifth day of the festival the participants drank a special grain mixture called kykeon (a symbol of Persephone) and ate Easter (Ostara) eggs in an attempt to assimilate the spirit of the goddess. The idea was to produce an incarnated blessing of fertility, both of the crops and of children.

Instructions for an Ostara Egg Hunt

  • Make natural egg dyes from herbs.Color hard boiled eggs and add symbols for the Fertility God, the Goddess, the Sun God, unity, fire, water, agriculture, prosperity and growth, strength and wisdom, spring, love and affection, and protection.
  • Consecrate the eggs:In the name of the Goddess of Spring, (name); and the ever-returning God of the Sun, (name); By the powers of the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water; I do consecrate these eggs of Ostara..Point the athame at the eggs, make the sign of the pentagram, and see the energy flow through the blade into the eggs, and say:

    New life lies within as new life shall enter the soil. Let those who seek this life find it and consume it, for all life feeds on life.
    The eggs may be hidden and an Ostara Egg Hunt commences.


    Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year include openings and new beginnings. Spellwork for improving communication and group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility and abundance. Ostara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Start working towards physically manifesting your plans now. The most common colors associated with Ostara are lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, all pastels, Robin’s egg blue, violet, and white.

    Stones to use during the Ostara celebration include aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone. Animals associated with Ostara are rabbits and snakes. Mythical beasts associated with Ostara include unicorns, merpeople, and pegasus. Plants and herbs associated with Ostara are crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, and ginger.

    For Ostara incense, you could make a blend from any of the following scents or simply choose one… jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloes wood, benzoin, musk, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus, violet flowers, orange peel, or rose petals.


    Foods in tune with this sabbat include eggs, egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, first fruits of the season, fish, cakes, biscuits, cheeses, honey and ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables.

    Herbs & Flowers

    Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers.

    Special Activities

  • Planting seeds or starting a Magickal Herb Garden.
  • Taking a long walk in nature with no intent other than reflecting on the Magick of nature and our Great Mother and her bounty.
  • Make hot cross buns to honor the union of the earth and the sun for Spring. Slash the “X” with the bolline and bless the cakes.
  • Toss crushed eggshells into the garden and say:For fairy, for flowers, for herbs in the bowers, The shells pass fertility with springtime flowers.
  • Wear green clothing.
  • Eat an egg you have empowered with a quality you desire.


Imbolc – February 2nd

Groundhog day approaches, and we will be halfway through the winter as we await Spring’s impending return! This ancient festival, Celtic in origin, is considered one of the greater sabbats. This celebration marks the early signs of spring and the lengthening of days. The lighting of fire and candles represent the return of the sun. We honor the Goddess as the waiting bride of the returning sun God. Other names for this time are: St. Bridget’s Day, Candlemas, Candlelaria, the Snowdrop Festival, the Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Virgin. During this celebration we honor the goddess Brigid.

  • Imbolc herbs: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Blackberry
  • Imbolc colors: White, pale yellow and silver
  • Imbolc offerings: Beer
  • Imbolc is a time to honor Bast, Brighid,Cerridwen.

To celebrate Imbolc you should set your alter with white candles. Decorate with holly, nuts fruit and a small bowl of wheat berries. Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara. Cleanse the area where you do reading with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:

“By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative influences that this
place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.”

Cleanse the alter and tools. Do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts, fire (candle flame) for will, and water (water) for emotions.

Leave a ribbon outside before going to bed for Brigid to bless. This is an excellent time for divination.

Here is a simple ritual for Imbolc:

After casting your circle, say a blessing such as:

Blessed be the earth, and all who dwell upon it.
We give thanks for the season now departing from us.
For the blessings it has bestowed upon us,
And upon those with whom we share this world.
Blessed be the new season.
We pray that it will be a time filled with peace,
With abundance, with prosperity,
With wisdom,
With love.
Blessed be all who share this feast.
Let us now prepare for the time ahead
By opening our hearts, and our minds, and our spirits.
Blessed be.

Thank your Deities, say goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcome the coming of the sun and new life. Lay your wand or crystal point on the bowl of wheat and acknowledge and welcome the cycle of death and birth and the continuous turning of the wheel. Sing, chant, make music or meditate at this point, whatever method you choose to bring your psychic ability to a higher level. When ready, use your diving tools for your enlightenment. When you feel
your ritual is complete, thank your Deities again for all you have and close with the cakes and wine ceremony.

Now, on to the feast! Traditional winter foods such as ham, root vegetables, fresh crusty breads and winter fruits like apples and pears should be served. Food should be plentiful! Mead, ale, spiced wine would all be appropriate

Imbolc Recipes
By Patrick McCleary


3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. milk or unsweetened/plain soy milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp. margarine or butter, for frying

Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender (at least 20 minutes); drain, reserving water.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add chopped cabbage to the reserved potato water. Cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Mash potates with a hand masher. Add milk, salt and pepper and beat until fluffy.

Imbolc Feast Lamb Stew

2- 1/2 lb. lamb neck chops
1 tbs. lamb fat
4 medium onions
1 tbs. butter/margarine
4 medium carrots
2 1/2 cups water
4 medium potatoes
1 tbs. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 tbs. chives, chopped

Don’t let the butcher trim the fat off of the lamb chops. Shred some of the excess fat and cook it down in a large pot or Dutch-oven. Peel the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cut the onions and carrots into quarters, and put all the vegetables aside. Cut the meat into eight pieces, and trim away the rest of the excess fat. The bones need not be removed. Place the meat in the hot fat and brown. Repeat with the onions and carrots. Add water, salt, and pepper carefully. Put whole potatoes on top. Cover pot and simmer gently until meat is cooked, approx. 2 hours. Remove from heat. Pour off the cooking liquid into a separate sauce pan, allow to cool for a few minutes, skim off grease, and reheat. Add butter, chives, and parsley to the reheated liquid in the sauce pan. Pour heated liquid back over the stew. Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Baked Custard


4 eggs
3 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350.
Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and blend for about 15 seconds, or until well mixed.
Pour custard mix into ramekins or custard cups.
Place the ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with hot water up to a depth of about 3/4″.
Bake the custards for one hour.

Ten Ways to make your world better in 2016

2015 has come and gone, and it has not been pretty for many people.  The world seems to have gotten scarier, harder and less secure.

There are many reasons for this, and we are not going to list them all here. What is clear, though is that a large portion of the population feels overwhelmed and less in control of their destiny, and does not like the path we are on.

According to Realclearpolitics.com , recent polls suggest that, in the US, 2/3rds of the country now feels we are heading in the wrong direction. Although there is undoubtedly a lot of disagreement about what the right direction should be, it is clear that as a country, there is a sense that we have lost our way.

It isn’t just the US. Similar results can be found in the UK, and could be found in Canada prior to the last election.

I have yet to find a person that thinks we are leaving the world a better place for our children than the world our parents left for us. Inequality, over consumption and disregard for the small blue and green bubble we call Home places the future of all life in doubt.

Finding hope and love when all around you is fear and despair may seem an uphill battle, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, the governments are made up of individuals, and as individuals we still have the ability to change how we see the world, how we enter the world, and to lead by example.

There are things we can do, as individuals, that don’t involve overthrowing the government, shedding each other’s blood, or trying to force a Utopian ideal on a world that is not listening.

These things are simple. Yet the more people that do them, the more we change the world. Here then, is our list of ten ways you, personally, can make the world a better place, and it’s easier than you think!

1. Fast once a week

I know, perish the thought right? Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you do it from Sundown to Sundown. Adjust for your medical needs and check with your doctor, but there are significant health and world benefits to do this.

You will feel better

A lot of the reasons that people feel tired all the time is because the calories we put into our body are used for more than just movement. They are also used for healing, and digestion. The more you eat, and the more processed the food you eat, the harder your body has to work to actually digest your food, and consequently, a lot of the calories you are eating to give you energy, end up being used to digest the food you just consumed. Allowing your stomach to rest once a week for 24 hours gives your body time to burn some of the stored energy it has to heal.

You will lose weight.

It takes 3500 calories to add a pound of fat. Assuming you average 2000 calories a day, you have the potential to lose around 30 lbs in 2016 if you avoid binging either side of the fast.

You will help the planet

According to the World Bank, the US consumes 200 billion calories each year more than it needs. We consume as much energy as 6 Mexicans or 370 Ethiopians. If only a third of the country fasted for a day each week, we would eliminate that number, reduce the depletion of Earth’s resources and have more available for everyone else.

2. Turn off the “News”

This may be hard to hear, but there is nothing meaningful in news programming that you cannot learn from other sources, with less spin, less hysteria, and less fear.


What appears in the news is designed to keep you watching, so you buy the products sold during the commercial breaks. Whatever the original noble purpose it served in the 1950s is long gone.

It encourages fear and consumerism. Both of which are very bad for the planet. If anything truly bad happens that you need to know about, trust me, you’ll know.

3. Eliminate Hate from your Social Media feeds.

Whatever people would have you believe, assholes and sociopaths are not defined by, or limited to, their alleged religious or political beliefs.

If you see hate or finger pointing in your social media feed, aimed at a specific demographic, turn it off.  Turn off the notifications, unfollow, unfriend or block, depending on your preference.

The less hate you see in the world, the less hate there is in the world. Hate can only survive when people respond to it.

4. Go for a walk


Every day. Your body will thank you. Your doctor will thank you. Your dog will thank you too. Around the block at least, but 2 miles a day has an amazingly healthy effect on the body, and your outlook on the world. Just being outside in the (reasonably) fresh air can make a difference to your attitude.

5. Help someone, every week

There’s a great site called Volunteer Match if you want to get really serious about it, but even if it is helping a friend move, taking in the neighbor’s newspaper, giving someone $5 to buy gas, anything that you do to help someone else helps your spirit and their life. Ask them to pay it forward. Help one person a week and you help 52 in a year. Imagine if we all did that?

6. Cut down on Meat

Yes, yes I I know. If you’re going to wear the leather jacket you might as well eat the bacon sandwich. But hear me out for a minute. The typical human needs about 46 grams of protein per day. You can get that from meat or from vegetables. Meat is harder for your body to digest, especially red meat, and over consumption can lead to a lot of health problems later in life.  Take one day (not your fast day, smarty-pants) a week to not eat meat, and switch to a vegetable based protein instead. Rice and Beans, for example. It’s cheaper, and better for the planet. Remember, before you can eat the meat, the meat has to eat the plants. So eat the plants yourself and cut out the middle cow.

Maybe in the future, we can move to a meatless society, and that would be beneficial for all Life on the planet. Before we can get there however, we have to move the needle a little. This is one of those Lead by Example things we talked about earlier.

7. Buy Less ‘Stuff’

Economists love us to consume. They believe that is what keeps an economy going – the continual buying of crap that goes obsolete or breaks so quickly that we have to buy more.

You don’t need the newest anything. Take care of what you have, be grateful you have it and make it last longer.

Avoid large chain stores – and stay away from the mall! They are designed in every way to nurture impulse spending and they survive by keeping almost everyone in the supply chain working for near poverty (or in some cases actual poverty) wages.

Instead, save your money,  or give to a reputable charity, or buy second hand.  Consumption is out of control in the developed world. We are strip-mining the planet and mortgaging our children’s future just so that when we die they have to get rid of a houseful of useless crap they don’t want. True Story.

8. Grow Something

Whether you plant a tree or set up an indoor herb farm, you are helping to reconnect yourself with the cycle of life. You also reduce the amount of CO2 and toxins in the atmosphere.

Gardening teaches us about responsibility, care for the environment, nurturing life,  and is a wonderful thing to do together as a family.


Growing your own food also wrests control of our food supply from the corporations and puts it back into the hands of individuals and communities. This of course means that at some point, someone will try and make it illegal.

9. Find the Good in all

This is hard to do, I know. But just as Hate breeds Hate and Fear breeds Fear, so does Love breed Love.

Start by making a list of people that just make your blood boil. It may be those you had to un-follow from Step 3 above! You already know the reasons you dislike them, so instead, next to their names, write down something you have in common with them.

Don’t pretend you have nothing in common – regardless of who it is, you do, at least at the genetic level. Start there.

When you can find what you have in common with people, your perspective changes. You may find that you have to forgive yourself along the way to forgiving them for whatever sins you believe they have committed, but that too is a worthy exercise.

10. Be Grateful

Be grateful for the food you eat. Take a moment, however brief to thank your higher power for placing it before you.

Be thankful for what you have – there are so many who have so much less.

Be grateful for the challenges you face, for from them comes growth.

Remember to take a minute every day to breathe, look around and realize that you are alive, on an incredible planet, and are part of an amazing adventure!

You are responsible for how you feel about the world, and you are responsible for changing your perception if it no longer serves you.

Be grateful you have that power. Most of all, be grateful for the love you have in your life, and love as much as you can. Remember – Love breeds Love.

I wish all of you a happy and hopeful 2016!

Conjure your life with the Magician

RWS Tarot 01 Magician.jpg
RWS Tarot 01 Magician” by Copyright holder was retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images).. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

The Magician is the first card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. I thought I would give some thoughts about this card, rather than some hard definitions, which you can find in any good tarot book or online.

Magicians appear in stories all over the world. ( Merlin, Gandalf, et al.), but when reading tarot cards, I wouldn’t become too fixated on the notion of the Magician as some mysterious occultist. When we encounter this card, it refers to manipulating reality itself. I think a useful way of thinking of this card is that of a person acting as a kind of artist. Using the tools of the Classical Elements, which are Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, this character is able to make a change in the fabric of reality.

In the Rider Waite deck, the Magician strikes a particular pose, with his right hand toward the heavens, and his left hand pointing at the earth. The phrase “as above, so below” is a phrase from Hermetic thought, and it means that the spiritual realm mirrors the mundane. For example, people thought of Heaven as a kingdom, and so it was well and good that there would be earthly kingdoms, and that line of thinking went down to families ruled by a head of a household. The Magician is someone who has access to the Divine, and uses that connection to cause beneficial change on a mundane level. As a metaphor, we can think of it as making mundane changes, that pay big dividends in a spiritual level.

The Magician sometimes deals with illusion, but that doesn’t mean he’s a liar. The word artifice conjures up notions of the inauthentic. But the Magician in his full manifestation isn’t really attempting to deceive. For example, when we go to a movie or play, we allow for a brief time the idea that what we’re seeing is real life, and in this way, we can be moved. We’re not being tricked or conned by accepting, for a time, fiction as real life.

There is a strong trickster element to this card, which isn’t surprising, considering the name of the card. We’re constantly exposed to advertising and propaganda, so much that it becomes background noise. The trick for the tarot practitioner, is to listen to the right kind of Magician, perhaps a mentor or trusted colleague, a person that can enrich our lives, and ignore hucksterism and your local friendly neighborhood confidence artist.

The shadow aspects of this card can indicate deception. Gaslighting, the willful manipulation of the past, and memories, is absolutely in the domain of the shadow Magician. Shadow Magicians can also appear to be unclever. I actually worry more about con artists that “act dumb” than someone with a thin mustache and black cape.

Immature aspects of the magician, usually displayed by children and teenagers, are expressed by the youthful characters of Ferris Bueller or Bart Simpson. One gets the idea that these characters, when grown up, would continue to use their trickery, hopefully for the good of everyone.

Mature aspects of the magician could be described by a number of characters from myth and fiction. Whenever you have a character using their wits, the energy of the Magician is around.

Be a Magician!

Why the world needs Pagans this holiday season

As many of you may have noticed, the world has gotten a bit crazier than normal in recent years. A trend that started after 9/11 of increased fear, war mongering and general xenophobia has reached such epic proportions that if Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann were running in the 2016 election they would seem like the sane, moderate choice.

ISIL/ISIS/Daesh is gaining ground throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and continually launching attacks in Europe, and now the US, scaring the crap out the American public in the process.

This last, is of course, what Daesh wants. They have started using Donald Trump’s speeches as recruiting material. They love the xenophobia, and the hysterical rhetoric, because they know that when we turn against people in our community, or who wish to be part of our community, they will have to find somewhere to be accepted. And ISIS is waiting with outstretched arms and a suicide vest.

This fear, however, is not universal. Yes, most of the world, including most muslims, are angry and disgusted by ISIS. Many are in favor of the US reducing it’s nuclear arsenal one missile at a time.  But the fear is not universal, nor should it be.

You are about 4000 times more likely to kill yourself than to be killed by a terrorist, if you live in the US., and suicide is only the 10th highest annual killer (according to the CDC). In fact, your odds of being killed by a terrorist in the US are about 1 in 20 million.

While many in the US support screening out all muslims (presumably by getting them to say ‘Shibboleth’) most Europeans do not. There are many complicated reasons for this, but there is one big factor: Recent History.

Growing up in Europe in the seventies, we were subject to ongoing terror campaigns from the IRA, Baader-Meinhof, ETA and the Red Brigade to name a few.  We grew up angry and disgusted with their attacks – but not fearful. We were not fearful because our parents were not fearful, and our parents were not fearful, because, in comparison to the world war that had ripped their lives apart growing up, these attacks were small potatoes in comparison.

Leaving aside the occasional sociopath like Timothy McVey, the US has not had many major attacks since pearl harbor, and even then, there were no attacks on the continental US during World War II.

Consequently, the events of 9/11 burned a scar deeply into the minds of every man, woman and child and that scar has shaped US foreign and domestic policy ever since.

More than that, with the addition of Russia and NATO into the middle eastern mix, we are shaping up for a self fulfilling prophecy of the Christian and Muslim end times. This is also, what Daesh wants, and unfortunately, it appears to be what many in the evangelical community are hoping for as well, because then, they believe, their savior will return.

Regardless of my personal thoughts about the likelihood of this happening, they believe it, and many seem willing to throw away their basic morality in pursuit of this goal.

As pagans, we are used to being vilified, accused, excluded and laughed at.  But as my old history teacher used to say, the bad things that happen to us build character, and it is the character of people that will decide what happens next.

Pagans have a love of the earth, and of all life. Even the meat eaters among us are conscious of the sacred nature of the life we have taken that we may live, and many choose to honor that in their own way.

This season, we need calm reason, not mindless rhetoric. We need love, not fear; we need hope, not desperation.

Mid winter was traditionally a time when wars stopped, and people huddled together to last out the cold winter and share what they had with each other, healing old wounds in the process.

Use the gifts that you have nurtured to spread love and acceptance as the old year ends. Don’t engage in petty bickering, name calling or setting yourself up in opposition to those whose only crime is being a different creed than you. Most Muslims hate what is being done by sociopaths in the name of Islam, and despite what you read, many are speaking out, just as we would, if it happened to us.

Lead by example. Show those in your community that you are not afraid. Anger is a useful tool sometimes, but hate is always self defeating, and Fear is almost always useless. Use common sense. Be cautious if you must, but be cautious based on reason.

Turn off the 24 hour news cycle and watch something beautiful instead. Spend time with friends and family, go outside and experience the beauty of the Rhythm of Life.

Help those who need help. Feed those who are hungry, nurture those who are lonely, and give voice to those who have none.

Organize, help, share, and most importantly, Love.

May you live in peace this holiday season, and help others to do the same.