Saturday, April 30, 2016

Melpomene, whose name is derived from a Greek word meaning "to celebrate with song and dance," is a Greek goddess, and one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is tragedy. Her symbols include a tragic mask, a sword or knife, a club, and kothornos, a style of ancient Greek boots, and one which was popular with Athenian tragic actors. Her high wasted outfit is also reminiscent of what tragic actors would often wear.
Thaleia, or Thalia, whose name is derived from a Greek word meaning to flourish/bloom, or festivity, is a Greek goddess, and one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is comedy and idyllic poetry, which are poems descriptive of rustic countryside life. Her symbols are a comic mask, ivy wreath, and shepherd's crook. The vaudeville act of pulling someone of the stage with a hook is perhaps a reference to Thaleia's crook.
Terpsikhore, or Terpsichore, whose name means "delighting in dancing," is a Greek goddess, and one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is choral song and dance. Her symbols are a lyre and a plectrum/pick. In some myths she is described as the mother of the Sirens, although in others her sister Melpomone is given this credit.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Building the Altar

I began my day by heading out to the clearing where I want to build an altar. As I suspected, when the moon hits it's peak in the sky it is perfectly visible from the clearing - even when it's higher or lower in the sky, it will still be well visible. Same for the sun.

Later in the day I went out with the rake and started cleaning the area up a bit. I also purchased some stones and blocks to build with. I was hoping they'd have some round paving stones, had an interesting potential design in mind for them, but no luck there. So right now there's just a very basic table design, and a few square stones to help mark the boundary - all to be assembled tomorrow, hopefully. Just in time to break it in with a Beltane ritual, if all goes well.

While I was there I also noticed some hooks, for hanging bird feeders or planters on, but they'd work well for holding little candle lanterns, too, which might make an interesting addition to the site. It will be fun to add to it over time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


I know I've probably mentioned this in the past, but I spend a lot of time at my grandparents' house (where I was raised), about an hour away from my apartment. I'm here now as my grandfather just had his second knee replacement. He's doing fine and will make a quick recovery, but it does mean I'll be here for at least a week, probably longer, as no one else in the house can drive.

Now they live in a very rural area. I can go in the backyard and do rituals without a bunch of neighbors wondering what the heck is going on, and beyond the backyard is a ton of woods. (A much shorter trek than my usual spots at the apartment.) Usually I just sit under a big maple tree, or sometimes I use the fire pit they have.

But I was in the woods just near the backyard this evening with the puppy, and my gosh, the PERFECT spot is right out there. It's just right beyond the wood line, a circular clearing. I was standing there with the dog thinking it was a shame that a lot of trees had been cut down in the area few years ago... until I realized, that, you know, I now had a perfect view of sun, moon, and stars, through the trees. It's a completely private spot, not far from the house, amazing sky view... how could I not take advantage of this?

So tomorrow I'm going to check out a few hardware stores, see what they have for paving stones, garden rock supplies, that sort of thing. I'm thinking I can build a nice stone altar out there, flat surface to actually hold workings on. I also need to rake the cleaning out a bit, to give a nice area to build on. Perhaps partially outline the circle in smaller rocks from the backyard. A lot of ideas floating around right now.

I'm very excited to have found this spot that is so private, and yet, is also not a long hike through the woods. It means that I can actually build something that is more than just a small pile of stones, like the small shrines I've built in the woods around the apartment. I can finally have a large, permanent, outdoor working area. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


On Saturday evening I celebrated a festival called Mounykhia. It is held in honor of Artemis in her roles of Lady of the Beasts, and as a moon goddess. This festival is, to my knowledge, the only festival held specifically for Artemis at the full moon - her sacred day was the sixth day of the lunar cycle, and so most of her festivals would fall then.

The traditional offering made to Artemis at this time would be round cakes, called amphiphontes, which means something similar to shining all around, which were decorated with little torches. It would seem these cakes were offered before the sun set, but after the moon had risen. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible in my location, as the moon wouldn't rise until well after sunset.

So I offered a cake and flowers in the woods at sunset. A honey almond cake, topped with walnuts, lemon zest, and sweet goat cheese. (Goats were also a traditional sacrifice at this time, so I wanted to include some sort of goat product.) As well as a libation of mead mixed with honey and olive oil. I spent some time meditation on Artemis' Orphic hymn.

Later in the night I poured out another offering of warm milk, honey, and cinnamon, and meditated on Artemis as goddess of the moon, and as light bringer in the dark. I also spent some time praying for others who had requested it.       

During both events, something interesting happened. I have never in my some seventeen odd years of practice considered myself a priestess. Either because I belonged to a specific tradition where being a priest held a particular meaning, or because as a solitary practitioner it seemed like an unnecessary thing to do. And yet on that night, for the first time, for some reason, I felt somewhat like a priestess. I do not particularity know what to make of that. What that actually means. It's something I'm sure I'll be turning over in my medtations for a good while.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Solstices, equinoxes, and sabbats, oh my...

Today I was going to write about my Mounykhia celebration, but I'm still processing it a bit, and there's something else at the front of my mind right now.

I've seen a lot of confusion about what a solstice is today. I've spent, well, honestly more time than I should have trying to clear up the confusion. Honest mistakes are one thing, we all make them now and then, but some people would rather eat their own faces than admit they might be wrong, apparently...

So yeah, let's start this talking about what a sabbat is. The term sabbat comes from Gerald Gardner and Wicca, although it's spread to many neo-pagan traditions these days. There are, to most who follow this system, eight sabbats in a year. Two solstices, two equinoxes, and four cross quarter days. (Esbats are another beast altogether, and these days usually refer to a full moon celebration, or other lunar celebrations.)

I think for some the confusion is simply mixing up the word sabbat and solstice. Truly though, there are only two solstices in the year - one in June, and one in December. In the northern hemisphere these days mark the astronomical beginning of summer and winter, and fall around the longest and shortest days. (In the southern hemisphere, this is reversed, with the June solstice being the winter solstice, and the December solstice summer.)

If you want to read a bit more about the two solstices, take a look at this webpage. You can see in the last section the mention of equinoxes. Again, there are two of these in the year, one in March, and one in September. The word equinox is derived from a word meaning equal-night. In other words, on these two days the length of day and night are both equal to each other, or close to it. (The actual day this happens in your area might not be on the day the astronomical equinox occurs, but it will be very close.

Now, these four days, the two equinoxes, and two solstices, are sometimes called the quarter days. If you draw a circle, then draw a line from north to south, and one from east to west, you'll see why. Each point where a line touches the circle can represent one of these days, and they seem to cut the year into fourths, or, in other words, they quarter the year.

So, if you then draw an X through the + in your circle, you can see how there are four more days that cross the quarters, or, in other words, the cross quarter days. These are the sabbats Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. (Or by any other variant name/spelling one might use for these days.)

And here's what is probably the worst Wheel of the Year graphic out there, but hey, hopefully it gets the point across.

It's probably also obvious from this image why it's often referred to as the Wheel of the Year. Looks like a wheel, turns like a wheel, and like a wheel we always come back to the same spot eventually, the seasons just keep on turning.

Okay, now why does it matter? What's the problem if people want to call everything a solstice? Well, I mean, would you call an apple a cheeseburger? Would you call a bucket of ice cream a cheeseburger? What about a bowl of cereal? No, probably not, because that wouldn't make much sense. And if you did, people would probably get confused real fast. It is essentially like calling Halloween, Easter, and all other holidays Christmas. You might know what you're talking about, but other people are going to have no clue. So if you're, you know, online for the sole purpose of talking to people, that making sense bit is rather important.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fun Fact!

If I have no idea who you are, you've never commented on my blog before, and you decided to leave a comment that's advertising something? Even if it's semi-pagan related? It's spam and it's getting deleted.

The Muses, Part Two

Kalliope, or Calliope, whose name means beautiful-voiced, is a Greek goddess and one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of epic poetry (such as Homer's Iliad), and she was also said to bestow eloquence, especially on kings and princes. Her symbols are a tablet and stylus, a scroll, or a lyre.

Erato, whose name means something like "beloved" or "lovely," is a Greek goddess, one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of love poetry and erotic poetry. Her symbols are the lyre, or a similar instrument, the cithara. Beginning during the Renaissance, she would often be shown wearing a wreath of myrtle and roses.
Euterpe, whose name means "well pleasing," or "(giver of) delight," is a Greek goddess and one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of music, song, and lyric poetry, which is a form of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings. In Greece this type of poetry generally would have been sung, and accompanied by a lyre or other stringed instrument. Her symbols are the aulos (a type of flute), pan pipes, and a laurel wreath.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fate, Revisited

A few years back I wrote a bit about fate, the future, and foresight. It's a topic I've been revisiting a lot lately, after discussing the idea of fate and predestination with someone.

My basic thoughts on the subject have not changed, but the discussion did provide with some interesting insight. This was a person who did believe in predestination to some extent. That fate was a thing, we all had one, and there was no escaping it. Coincidences were not a thing, everything happens for a reason. Again, not my personal belief, but I get that it's a belief that's been around for a long, long time.

What was interesting to me, though, is they said if I didn't believe in such things, why would I be practicing a religion with rituals or doing spells, or anything else? Because if nothing is fated, or meant to be, what's the point?

See, to me, I feel the exact opposite way. I can't wrap my head around the idea of believing in predestination and doing spells, because what would the point be? Why do a healing work? Either someone would be fated to get better, or not. Why do a prosperity spell? Either the extra money will come your way, or it won't, and so on.

On the other hand, if you don't believe in fate, if you believe that there's freewill, that the future is malleable, it sure makes sense that people would be interesting in doing spells to gain favorable outcomes.

I do realize it's not all one or the other, that one can believe that only a few events in life are fated to be. It's this grey area I've been wondering about lately, thinking about how it may fit into my beliefs, if, truly, it fits in at all. At this point, I'm not sure that it does...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hypocrisy In Spellcraft

Today the subject of banishing came up in a community I belong to. For some reason, people seem to think that banishing has to be this awful, negative, harmful thing. It really does not have to be. (You all know you don't have to banish someone to the deepest pits of hell, right...?)

But what bothered me, is they said there's always an alternative, like if you have an awful neighbor, you should pray for them to get an out of state job, or whatever. You wouldn't want to be banishing them, because that would be influencing their situation. That was their direct reasoning for not wanting to banish, because it would influence that person.

Here's the thing. Banishing someone sure is influencing them - but so is praying for them to change jobs.

I get that a lot of witches aren't into causing harm, or working on magic on someone without consent, and fine, whatever works for you. But come on. If you're going to follow that (and often while insisting others do, too), shouldn't you be following it all the way? If you're against influencing people, you have to understand that even "positive" things are still influences. Also, just because you might think something is positive, doesn't necessarily mean the recipient thinks so.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Muses, Part 1

I've been writing these short little blurbs on various deities for a Facebook group I belong to, and figured I might share some of them here, as well.

Polymnia, or Polyhymnia, whose name means many praises/hymns, is a Greek goddess, youngest of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of hymns, prayers, and sacred poetry and song. She also has ties to agriculture. Her symbols were a veil, scroll, and grapes.
Ouranie, or Urania, whose name means heavenly or celestial, is a Greek goddess, eldest of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of astronomy, and she also enjoys philosophy. Her symbols are a globe and stylus. Renaissance artists would often depict her with a crown of stars, and interestingly, it was also during the renaissance that she became a muse to Christian poets.
Kleio, or Clio, whose name means "to make famous," or "to celebrate," is a Greek goddess, one of the nine Mousai, or Muses. Her sphere of influence is that of history. Her symbols are scrolls, books, a laurel wreath, and the cornet, a brass instrument. She was perhaps given the title of "the Proclaimer."

Friday, April 15, 2016

Wands and/or Knives (Athames)

(Disclaimer, I am not Wiccan, most of the people I have been discussing this with are not Wiccan, so take that into consideration for this post.)

I've seen a lot of interesting comments going around the last few days. A few people who have never used a ritual knife, a few people who used them but stopped (generally in favor of wands), and then even one guy who said he couldn't imagine why anyone would need a ritual knife unless they were going to preform an animal sacrifice. Really.

I think it's quite interesting that so many people seem to favor the wand over the knife, when for me I've found the opposite to be true. I have no wand, no need for a wand, no desire for one. When I see a lot of people making the decision of one over the other, it usually comes down to the tool's ability to direct energy. What feels "nicer" and, well, "less scary" is sometimes the term used. In this aspect, I have always preferred the knife. Perhaps because it feels more precise to me.

But the real reason I continue to have a knife is, well, I need to cut and carve things. I know that's often a no-no in Wicca, but I am surprised how many non-Wiccans don't seem to take this function into account, or just don't need it. I use my knife to gather herbs, twigs, carve symbols, cut cord, and so on.

Beyond that, because I often hold my workings outside, sometimes far from home, I try to keep the number of things I need to a minimum, and I try to choose tools and items that can preform more than one function. So, for me, the knife wins out over a wand. It not only does the ceremonial functions, but it also does the more mundane things one would expect a knife to do. Which, anyone who has existed in the world for any length of time, knows that knives can do a lot of things that aren't animal sacrifice.

"But you can't just stroll around with a knife to a ritual site!"
Well, actually, I live in New Hampshire so I can do exactly that. Thanks New Hampshire for basically having no knife laws.

Now another concern I've seen makes a bit more sense to me - Fae are said to dislike iron (and so, also steel). I don't really use a lot of tools when honoring and working with the nature spirits, so this hasn't yet been an issue for me. Some also feel the wand better resonates with their deity. For me, and the deities I work with, knife again tends to make more sense.

I have also encountered the idea that metal isn't natural. Won't even wear jewelry during a ritual because it's not natural. I am not sure where these people think things like iron, gold, copper, etc, come from...

I realize it's all quite personal, and I'm not writing this to get people to "convert" to using a knife or anything, these are just the reasons why the knife is a much better fit for my practice, and why the wand was left behind with Wicca, way back when.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Traveler and Fortune

I haven't had much time to write a proper post the last few days, but I thought I'd share one of Aesop's fables I came across the other day. Lately I have been seeing so many people think that every last little thing is fate in some way, so it was interesting I came across this rather unexpectedly. Maybe it was... fate? 

The Traveler and Fortune
A traveler wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome with fatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was about to fall into the water, Dame Fortune, it is said, appeared to him and waking him from his slumber thus addressed him: "Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will be thrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure to impute their calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really brought them on themselves."

Everyone is more or less master of his own fate.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


With the end of the lunar month rapidly approaching, I realized I really needed to make a decision on where to place Hekate's shrine - the bridge crossroads, or the triple crossroads further in the woods.

My usual daily walk takes me over this bridge. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked by this path, looked out over this same view, and never been hit with the realization of what I saw today.

It is easy to see one crossroad in this picture, right in the middle. (It's even more obvious in the summer, when the paths cut through bunches of wildflowers.) It's your standard dirt crossroads, right?

But, the trail leading off the bottom of the picture? That leads under a bridge I took this picture from. A crossroads of upper and lower, the bridge crossroads mentioned earlier. And the trail leading away, into the woods there? A small foot bridge over a stream, forming a 'crossroads' over water.

Three different sorts of crossroad areas, all in a row. I mean, from under the bridge through the middle over the far bridge... it's not even a five minute walk, it's nothing. It's no wonder I keep feeling pulled back to this area, over and over again. Even though none of these are the triple split crossroads that are more closely associated to Hekate, three in a row like this can't be overlooked. Definitely going to go out tomorrow and begin forming the shrine - which will probably not be more than a pile of large rocks from the area, but it makes a definitive space to return to each month.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

More Snakes

Numerous snake dreams, and today, first thing I do is go for a walk, and first thing I encounter on my walk is this little guy right here.

Now snakes aren't unusual to see in the spring, especially on a nice warm day like today, but usually they're quick to get away from anything coming at them. Not this snake though, he had no problems hanging out while I got up close to him for pictures.

I even prodded him a little (with my finger) to get him off the trail and into a safer area, and he just lay they looking at me, like, hey, why are you doing that? He was fine, he did eventually move off to the side a bit, just took his time getting there.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Month of blogging goal...

So back in Feb I decided to challenge myself to blog every day in March, with a focus on my day to day practices. I didn't quite hit every day, but I'm proud that I made an effort, and that I'm writing again. I do forget how beneficial it is to write when I'm not doing it. Even if some of what I'm writing get scrapped, or set aside for later, it's really nice to be able to work through my thoughts on various issues.

I also wanted to write more on my day to day practices, but about half way through that had to take a bit of a back seat, because I started working on something that I don't know that I should be writing about - at least not yet. When it's done, maybe. For the record, there's only been one other working that I absolutely refuse to write about at this point in time, because it was a very private issue involving someone else. So it's not like there are many things I will not write about - which, you know, of course it would be something that happens during the month I'm trying to write about my practices, heh.

On a somewhat different topic, I keep having interesting dreams involving snakes, and being bitten by snakes. The snake bites are never painful. This morning I woke up from such a dream, and still half asleep I had the thought that, oh, Hekate's trying to get my attention. I have been feeling her presence more and more lately. (The project I can't write about yet, it also involves her.) I have worshiped Hekate for a few years now, but I have never done any truly deep work with her, and I am very interested (and a little nervous) in seeing where this all might go.