Herbalism, tools & treasures: The Chalice

 

The chalice is one of the most iconic images of European art and religious imagery. The most famous is the Holy Grail of Christ, the cup which was used at the Last Supper. An integral part of the English Arthurian myth cycle and British isles folk religion, the chalice is an ancient image that resonates strongly still today. Much of modern pagan tradition is derived from attempts to reconstruct (or reinvent, in many cases) the ancient worship practices of pre-Christian Europe.

One of the major symbols is the cup or bowl/cauldron. A chalice is simply a cup with a footed base, though the term sounds fancy. Any cup could work for a ritual chalice, even your favorite coffee mug. It is a little more fuzzy when you start blurring the line between cup/bowl/cauldron. Because the cauldron is a ritual item in its own right. And the bowl has its own storied history of iconography around the world. It is the chalice that is used for the symbolic enacting of the Great Rite of Wicca rituals (the Great Rite being the sexual union between the God and the Goddess), serving as the female half of the rite. (The male half is the athame. For more information about the athame, please see the next post in this series.)

The chalice is the shared cup between the coven during ritual feasting in some rites. It is also symbolic of the cup that the Daughter of Dea pours Her Spirit into in the holy rite of sacrifice which sustains the whole of existence within Filianic and Déanic mythos. It is an object that is described by some as a direct descendant of the Communion cup of the Catholic Christian mass (worship service) and supposed to symbolize both the cup that caught the blood of Christ from his wounds and the cup from the last supper.

Within many pagan and occult systems, the chalice is associated with water. This can be seen in most tarot decks, actually. It is associated with the direction of west. And, as mentioned earlier, it is associated with femininity. It is also associated with the subconscious mind, the spirit, and psychic activity.

Originally Posted: 4/18/18
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What’s going on?

Dear Reader,

It may be apparent that my life is in some crisis again. I am feeling rather despondent about this diabetes diagnosis. It is exhausting to count every bite. It is also entirely necessary that I do so, thus I really have no choice in the matter. I find myself grieved by it all. The struggle against preexisting eating issues is all the more pitched now because I can’t just eat like the rest of the family and ignore the voice at the back of my head telling me to starve myself.

This has lead me to start asking questions again that I haven’t in a long while. I find myself asking about the nature of good and evil. I find myself asking about the nature of the world at large and why people do horrible things. Scripture reading just leads to more questioning. Divination leads to more questioning. It is an unending spiral that condenses down to two things. Anxiety and terror. Distracting myself with questions about the nature of everything is a way to avoid looking at the anxiety and terror I feel about having yet another chronic illness to manage, one that I know very little about and I know can be lethal. It is right up with the frantic exercise that I threw myself into last week trying desperately to force my blood sugar levels down with that. (One week of frantic exercise after months of being laid up due to a broken rib is severely unpleasant and exhausting. It may be the reason why my feet hurt right now, I’m honestly not sure.)

I find myself in the middle of a spiritual crisis right now. I call out to the gods but I’m so tangled up in my fear and confusion that I can’t hear their answers. Thus, they find other ways to answer. Hence the incident this afternoon where an article popped up on my phone talking about how another author found themselves in a similar level of crisis. The solution was to keep working, make a point of planning their day out and sticking with routines, and being persistent. It brought tears to my eyes.

I may not be sure about the nature of good and evil. But I know that the gods are good to me.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, if you are so inclined. I would be most thankful.

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Random Update.

Posting has been delayed for many reasons. Some technical. Most being due to illness and life getting in the way. And what appears to have actually been a fractured instead of a bruised rib (I fell down icy steps and my snow shovel kindly caught me.) due to the fact that the healing time is taking longer than it should have for a bruise. Silly me, I though x-rays wouldn’t make a difference because the course of treatment was the same. Now, I think I would have gotten the x-rays. Anyways, life’s gotten interesting over here.

I am working on backing up all of the information from the original blog. I will be eventually posting links to the pages where all of the posts are organized by topic and order of posting. This is a project that is going to take me a while. I will be posting again soon. I just need to get the beginnings of organization going here so that I can tell what threads I left laying loose and I need to wrap up.

There will be info-dumps coming up as well. This is mostly because I have a lot of stuff to migrate over here for you. I will warn you before the info-dump happens.

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Herbalism, tools, & treasures: Rose Quartz

One of my favorite stones in the whole world is Rose Quartz. In the picture to the above is the chunk that is the size of my hand that I keep on my altar with my most used rosary laying upon it. I ascribe to the concept that crystals can impart energy into objects. After all, we use them as batteries in watches.  Rose Quartz is a stone associated with love, kindness, and health self-esteem. It only stands to reason that I am drawn to this stone, as these are traits I have been working hard to cultivate in myself for many years.

I believe that Rose Quartz is a stone that many would benefit from having in their lives. Apart from its beauty, it seems to lend a calming influence on the area it is located in. It is also a stone that is safe for pretty much everything, unlike the fancy salt lamps that can be toxic to pets. Because it is in the same family as Granite, Quartz is a very strong stone that can withstand a considerable amount of heat. Thus, if you can find a Rose Quartz candle holder, you can get the same area effect of a salt lamp with out the risk of your pets licking it and getting very sick when it is not in use.

Some use Rose Quart to make a gem elixir. I am hesitant to consider using gem elixirs because there are many water soluble stones that are very toxic. Rose Quartz, however, is one of the stones I would use to make a gem elixir because it will not dissolve into the water or alcohol. Gem elixirs operate on a homeopathic principle that the gem’s energetic signature resonates with the water and is imparted into it through exposure. This can then be added to consumable products (i.e. beverages or food) so that the person using it can have more readily accessible use of the gem’s energy. In theory, it sounds great. In practice, I have seen inconclusive results as to how effective it would be.

Originally Published: 1/17/18
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Pagan Parenting: Ritual with Children

Left to right: Snuggle bug, me, Cuddle Bear. Pic from 11/?/16

I have two very busy boys. They get into everything. When they’re not getting into things to see what it is and how it works, they are trying to add to things. The altar has become a place of fascination for my eldest as he is developing a devotional relationship with Zeus. We have a clay monster that Cuddle Bear made which lives on the altar now because it belongs to the gods. This was his first decision after he brought it home and showed it to me. The youngest, Snuggle Bug,  regularly talks to Máni.

High ritual just doesn’t happen around here. Instead, we have small things we do like write notes to the gods in special notebooks. We give them gifts and share things with them. (The favorite toy to share with the gods are matchbox cars.) We tell the old stories and try to observe the holidays. Sometimes, ritual is just habitual things you do together. And that is ok.

Originally Published: 1/16/18
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Tips For Choosing Your First Tarot Deck

Everyone who practices cartomancy has their own favorite pack of cards and style of use. There are literally thousands of different styled decks on the market. A collector could go into serious debit because the price ranges into pretty high numbers. Because of the staggering array of what you could choose from, I’m narrowing my focus to tarot cards. Again, there is an astonishing variety, but we can narrow your options down into a more realistic set with a few steps.

The average price of a tarot deck is between $15 and $30 dollars. Sometimes, you may get lucky and find them at second hand stores for a $1.50. If cost is not an option, you can buy from pretty much any place you can find them with out much worry about funding your purchase. If you’re like me, you need to spend within your budget. There are some really amazing decks out there with fantastic artwork that are not going to clean out your bank account. Shopping around by price, you can still find some great stuff.

That said, choosing your deck based on artwork is a valid way to do it. If the artwork looks amazing to you and gives you all kinds of wonderful feels, and it is in your budget, snap that puppy up. If the artwork looks stunning but it is confusing, you have two options. One is to buy the really cool looking deck because it is really cool. This will lead you down the road of collecting cards, just to warn you. The other option is the buy the deck and try to work with it for a few months. It may be that the deck will get easier to handle as you get more experience with it.

(If anyone can help me learn the identity of this deck that I found a picture of on a free stock photography site years ago, I will owe you a big favor! I want to acquire it but have no idea where to start.)

If you’re not so sure about choosing a deck based on artwork, start with the simplest and least expensive deck you can find. It will usually be some variation of the Rider-Waite deck. This is the basis of  most popular tarot decks. In fact, if you can find a reprint of the Rider-Waite deck, it is an excellent deck to start with. The trick is to find one that comes with a good booklet on the standard meanings. While you could go out and buy a book on tarot reading, the booklets and some practice can get just about anyone started on doing tarot readings as a hobby.

Originally Posted: 1/16/18
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Godspousery Notes: Cat’s Cradle

It has been a long week. It has been a long two weeks, to be honest. I’m struggling to make things happen. I thought that today was going to be the day I got caught up on stuff. Somehow, I spent most of my day making doll clothes and wandering through the apartment in the way I do when I’m over tired but feel I must do something.

I sit here attempting to think of something to say. Loki is sitting in the other chair where I usually work on mending and such, playing cat’s cradle. How he is accomplishing it with only two hands, I have no idea. But he said something earlier that stuck in my mind. “You were feeling sad, anxious, and like everything you did was doomed for failure. Now the doll has little pantalettes and half a sweater. And you have enough yarn left to make booties, mittens, and a hat. That’s not failure. And you got to play with a doll for a little bit and not feel quite so bad. Not too bad for a Saturday, is it?”

I wound up taking a nap earlier and Freyr cuddled me as Beloved was in the kitchen washing dishes and minding the children. Freyr said to me, “You’re allowed to rest, you know. This is how you keep healthy. Self care is as much a part of the work as finishing your novels and keeping house.”

It’s hard because I struggle with self care. I was taught very young that I was not a priority and therefore my self care was not a priority or it was such a low one that it barely registered. I find myself torn between guilt because I could have gotten so much done today. And tempted to head to bed early because I was up early. Loki’s said something to the effect that I have myself so twisted up that he has a hard time figuring it out and I need to get that unwound. I suppose that massive guilt complex over self care may be part of what he was talking about.

Originally Published: 1/13/18

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Prayer Habits Are Hard.

Dear gentle Reader,

My good and faithful friend, I must be honest with you. Prayer is very hard to do when you are not well. Depression lies and tells me that all is hopeless. Anxiety tells me that if I don’t pray in the correct fashion, the gods will be offended and my luck will turn worse. Exhaustion and brain fog makes it hard to remember to write in my prayer journals or bide my beads. It’s just very hard to pray these days.
Which makes it all the more important to at least try. Sometimes, what I manage is a line or two in one of my prayer journals. Other times, I just hold my prayer beads and silently as the gods to just help me make it through the day and help me meet my responsibilities. My most common prayer of late is simply “Please help me.” I cast it out to any of the household gods that may hear me with great desperation at times. Attempting to sleep when I’m struggling with panic and such, I tend to ask Freyr and Loki to help me. That’s all I ask for, help. Sometimes that help comes by way of feeling their presence at my side. Sometimes that help comes by way of them talking me through a grounding exercise or reminding me to take a medication I forgot.
The hardest thing right now in my prayer life is remembering that I can take time to pray and it is ok. It is a form of self care that I struggle with, because I’m not very good at self care. Interestingly enough, the form of ‘active’ prayer that I have been strongly encouraged to engage in from the gods are all self care activities. Like Freyr asking me to spend some time with him doing exercise and yoga (he especially enjoys taking walks with me when the weather is nice) or Loki telling me I should eat good healthy food that I enjoy and take showers when I need them.
Godspousery means there is a more direct relationship, even when depression makes me feel isolated from them. Thus, they make a point of things like very strongly encouraging me to take a nap when I have a migrane coming on or will offer encouragement when I am doing something difficult. And that exchange is kinda what prayer is about. It’s a discussion between you and the gods. Sometimes, that discussion is “Hey, it’s time to take your medication and go to bed” if you’re open to it.
Originally Posted: 1/11/18
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Disgruntled Witch is Disgruntled.

Dear Reader,

I’m not sure what to write at the moment. Life is pretty much the same as it was yesterday. My boys are bouncing off the walls with excitement because they have a snow day tomorrow. I’m recovering from having a migraine this morning. I am pretty sure that the migraine worked pretty well to destroy any plans I had in the works for today’s posting.

I honestly can not say my heart is in writing today’s post. I feel rather miserable. The cold weather has been making my arthritis act up to the point that my back was just nothing but pain last night and today it is my knees giving me trouble. It only exaggerates the aches and such that come with the malaise of depression. I also am recovering from spraining my wrist yesterday when I slipped on some ice. It makes working on what is a very simple crochet pattern rather difficult.

Today has been a challenging day. I try to remember to write in my prayer journal and find three things to be thankful for. Right now, I am thankful that today is almost done, that I have the ability to make this post, and your readership. I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

May Dea’s love be ever upon you. And the gods who favor you always smile upon you.

Originally Posted: 1/4/18
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Veiling, Vintage Style

Hello dear Reader,

As the weather has been inclement, my most frequent form of head covering has been a ski hat. Now, ski hats are nice and warm. Don’t think I dislike that. But I am not the biggest fan of how they look. So, I have been looking at vintage crochet and knitting patterns for hats. It has been fun and confusing all at the same time. Some of these things I honestly have no idea how these ladies kept them on their heads.

I decided that I am going to make a bunch and share the results here. This week, I am going to make the Lacy Fascinator Pattern #1826. I’ll post a picture of myself wearing the end result when I get it finished with my comments on the pattern and the process. As well as what yarn I used and any adaptations I made to it.

Originally Published: 1/3/18
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