Mothering Sunday Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate Mothering Sunday.

We want to thank you, our Ancestral Mothers.

We celebrate the love and happiness you shared with your children, and thank you for the hard work you put in and the pains you endured.

Thank You, kind Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, for the Mothers of the World.

Thank you for the Mothers who bore us and for the Mothers who raised us.

Please bless the many and varied Mothers in this World, and please bless (names), the Mothers and Mother-figures of our lives.

Please bless us here, so that we may strengthen the bonds we have with our Mothers.

Please bless us all,so that we may learn to celebrate Motherhood in all it’s forms.

Thank You all for hearing our prayer. May You in turn be blessed and joyful in Your lives.

Lazy Hot Cross-less Loaf.

I don’t do Lent, but I try to support Husband when he does something for it. This year he decided to go vegetarian for Lent. That changed to vegan for life a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve been busy showing him that being vegan doesn’t have to mean giving up all his favorite things.

One seasonal treat that’s become a big hit in our home is ‘hot cross-less loaf’ – because I’m feeling really tired lately, and I don’t want to use up energy making buns and crosses when I need that energy to go to work and do the laundry! I’m sure more energetic readers could easily use this dough recipe to make buns with, though.

On a similar note, I shamelessly cheat and use a breadmaker. If you prefer to make bread by hand, a) I’m impressed, b) I don’t ever want to arm-wrestle with you, and c) I assume this would work for hand-made bread too, but I’ve never actually tried.

  • 200ml plant milk (I’ve been using oat, but any would probably work just as well).
  • Juice and zest of 1 clementine/tangerine.
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/plant spread.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you do need sugar and salt in bread – without sugar the loaf won’t rise, and without salt it won’t stop rising!)
  • Mixed spice to taste.
  • 100g strong white flour (also called bread flour. Regular or self-raising won’t work).
  • 325g strong wholewheat flour.
  • 3 tablespoons plant syrup/sugar (I’ve been using agave nectar).
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast.
  • 200g mixed fruit (the kind you use for mince pies, with sultanas and candied peel).

Put the plant milk, juice, zest, oil/spread and salt into the bread pan. Add the flours and spices on top, but don’t mix. Make a little dip in the flour, and put the syrup/sugar and yeast into the dip. Set your breadmaker to a wholewheat setting for a 700g, light crust loaf (or whichever settings on your breadmaker are closest to this. Don’t use the sweet setting though – it won’t cook it all the way through). When you hear the beeps for the second kneading, add the mixed fruit a bit at a time. Don’t dump it all in at once! Now all you have to do is try and be patient as your home fills with the most tasty smell ever.

This makes a nice offering – our house spirits like it, especially whilst it’s still hot, and if you put plenty of spice into it then you could give some to Loki too – or maybe a gift for a Christian friend/relative. If I were giving one as a gift, I would let it cool and then put a cross in white icing on top. If you’re eating it yourself though, you have to try some fresh from the breadmaker! (Well, let it cool enough to eat first.)

It’s a good way to have a bit more control over how many chemicals go into your food, and it’s also a good way to save money. You can toast it or eat it the way it is – I sometimes take half a slice to work as a snack. Traditionally you should only eat this on Sundays during Lent, but…Hey, I don’t even do Lent. Don’t look at me.

Let me know if you try this,or if you find ways to improve or change it 🙂

Spring Equinox Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate the Spring Equinox.

We welcome the fresh growth that is all around us.

Thank You, Deities and Spirits of the Earth, for waking and growing once more.

Thank You, Deities and Spirits of the Air, for sweeping in the bright, clear winds to refresh our minds and make us ready for work and growth.

Thank You, Deities and Spirits of Fire, for warming the Earth and waking the ground.

Thank You, Deities and Spirits of Water, for the sap rising and the leaves unfurling.

Thank you, spirits of our home, for helping us to cleanse, clean and organize the space we share.

Thank you, our Ancestors, you who have seen these cycles so many times before, for guiding us through the dangers of birthing something new into the world.

Thank You, kind Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, for the many gifts of Spring.

Please bless the land, so that She may grow and thrive despite the many obstacles we have placed in Her way.

Please bless the butterflies, bees and all the creatures that are waking from their Winter sleep.

Please bless us here as we set our minds to cleansing our hearts and working towards a new future.

Please bless us all, so that we may see the World with new eyes and grow to be kinder to each other and to the Earth on Whom we all depend.

Thank You all for  hearing our prayer. May You in turn be joyful and blessed in Your lives.

Ethical Prayer Beads.

A while back, I wrote about the set of prayer beads I made. At the time, I happily brought gemstone beads without really thinking about it beyond ‘can I afford them?’ Unfortunately, since then I’ve found out that gemstone beads probably aren’t the best choice from an ethical standpoint.

Sorry if this pisses on your chips a bit. I know gemstone prayer beads are super popular. I mean, I love them too. But it turns out that it’s not just diamonds and rubies that put you on moral quicksand; apparently much mining for semi-precious gemstones like amethyst involves slave labor, child slave labor and strip mining. It’s possible to get ethically sourced gemstones, but not necessarily all that easy. Trying to research this, I found an online bead company prepared to be surprisingly honest about the ethics behind their products http://www.beadaddict.co.uk/uk/tip22-fairtrade-ethical-beading.htm who say that, with a few exceptions, gemstone beads are out if you wanna be ethical.

I also found it quite difficult to find beads that seemed okay. The same website has an ethical section http://www.beadaddict.co.uk/uk/tip22-fairtrade-ethical-beading-2.htm, including Jabulani beads from South Africa which are COFTA approved. Kazuri, a Kenyan Fair Trade company making ceramic bead jewelry, also sell a small selection of loose beads http://www.kazuribeads.co.uk/catalogue/browse/kazuri/kazuri-loose-beads.

In the end, I decided that my best option was probably to collect jewelry from charity shops and take it apart for the beads. I’m still going to use the gemstone beads I have, but sadly I don’t think I can buy any more. I’ve already found some really nice beads in charity shops though, and it does have the advantage of being considerably cheaper. Here’s a small set of beads I made recently using a mix of gemstone beads and charity shop finds;

ellas-beads

I would definitely love to hear if anyone has further information on this, or other ideas to share 🙂

Valentine’s Day Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Today we celebrate love. Sanctioned or no, legal  or no, firey and gentle, joyful and painful, today we celebrate real love.

The love that strikes to the very bottom of your heart and seeps into your every cell and grips your very soul. The love that you would die for or live for, curse or kill for, forgive and forget for. Nothing less will do.

Sometimes it is fluffy hearts and caramel kisses, and sometimes it is darkness and agony and despair. This is love. This is the force we both celebrate and fear.

Thank You, kind Gods and Goddesses, for the ones we love, and for the joy and pain they bring us.

Please bless the lovers, both mortal and Divine, that they may enjoy together the happiness that their lives bring, and endure together the sorrows. May we and they grow more in love with each day that passes, understanding one another more deeply, helping one another more truly, appreciating one another more fully.

Thank You all for hearing our prayer. May you in turn be blesses and joyful – and loved – in Your lives.

 

This was supposed to be fun and lighthearted lol. What happened?!

Sigyn.

(To be clear from the start; these are my own experiences with and understandings of Sigyn. It’s UPG.)

 

A year ago today, Lady Sigyn came into my life in a big way.

She’d been sort of around before that (mostly giving me advice about mindfulness and telling me to be nicer to people), but this time last year my life suddenly became very difficult, and She was there for me. I didn’t even ask; She just showed up and remained a very tangible presence for a long time, giving me strength and showing me how to cope.

It’s hard to see someone you love being judged very negatively by people who can only see the surface of the situation, and don’t know the truth of what’s going on and why that person is behaving in such a way. It’s also infuriating when people who ought to be able to understand the situation seem not to do so. Sigyn showed me how to not just get lost in hating everyone in the entire world. I was angry, and She understood that, and was able to help me let go of it. I had the feeling She’d gone through that Herself, though She didn’t say so I can’t be sure.

She also taught me a heck of a lot about enduring. She showed me how to ride out the despair and exhaustion and just keep going, even when your mind tells you that you can’t. You can. You just do. One night, when I was mentally and physically just exhausted, She literally gave me strength – it felt like being filled with golden light, and is why I associate Her with sunstone (I also associate Her with rose quartz and rhodonite).

I came to think of Her as a foundation stone. She showed me how Her ordeal did not end when She and Loki were able to leave the cave; it was just the start of a new one. She was broken, but She had to be the one to re-build Their lives. There was no-one else to do it, and Loki certainly wasn’t in any state to, so  it was all down to Her – the practicalities of cooking and cleaning, caring for Loki, caring for Herself, trying to get Them both to a place where things were ok again, every hour of every day, even though Her heart was shattered…That takes more inner strength than I have. But Sigyn knows how to do what needs to be done, no matter how impossible it feels, and no matter how long it takes.

The Sigyn I got to know has such solid strength, loyalty and compassion. I don’t have words for how much I admire Her. And today, I’ve been blessed to meet a different aspect of Her nature.

I’d read before that many people say Sigyn tends to show up in one of two aspects; a grown woman, either during or after The Cave, or as a child. I had seen Her as a child before today, but more like watching Someone else’s memory than being able to interact with Her. Because of that, I had intended to write Her a prayer today praising Her great strength and steadfastness. But I somehow just couldn’t get anything down, and then I realized that She wanted a different kind of prayer, because She wanted to enjoy Her celebrations today as a different version of Herself.

It is lovely to meet Sigyn as a child. She seems so…light? All pastel colors and Spring flowers. She has a giggle that I can’t literally hear but I just know is adorable. I’ve seen her communicating with plants and loving their company. She can make Herself go so still and quiet to hear them – something I need to learn from! We’ve had plant documentaries on all evening. I also have the impression She’d enjoy some of the cute Studio Ghibli movies, like KiKi’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro (also Howl’s Moving Castle), but I don’t have my whole DVD collection to hand right now. She asked for peach crumble with custard, and I’ve also made chocolate hearts which seem to have gone down well (I think the decorations sold them).

hearts

It’s funny – making dinner tonight, I found myself cooking as if there was a child in the house; a little less spice, a little more sweetness, no bitter vegetables lol. I have the idea that She likes shells, especially ones with a pearly shine to them, so we’ve brought Her a beautiful pale pink heishi shell bracelet. We’ve also filled Her shrine with white flowers – the first time I saw Her She was wearing a white dress and had a white flower in Her hair. I find that She likes lavender as well – the color, the oil, the flower, baked into cupcakes, anything – Lady Grey tea, and a blend of tea by Pukka called Love which contains chamomile, limeflower, elderflower, marigold, licorice, rose and lavender.

One last thing before I finish up with the prayer I wrote. I have, once, seen Sigyn in a third way; a Lady with heavily scarred hands and face. I assumed it was snake venom. She may have been an old woman, or She may just have looked that way because She was scarred. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has any similar experiences. Thank you 🙂

 

A child wandering through the meadows; She appears alone, but She has friends in the plants. She listens to their whispers and grows wise.

I praise Your patient stillness, Your inner silence, Your deep knowledge.

A child wandering through the meadows; a friend leaves Her treasures to find. She is not as alone as She seems.

You are so loved,and so worthy of love. It is an honor to know You.

sigyns-shrine

Firechild 1 Year Shamanic Circle Training.

Last weekend, I completed Taz Thornton’s year-long shamanic/spiritual empowerment training circle. It took a lot for me to go – I couldn’t take Husband with me, I had to meet new people, I wasn’t convinced we could afford it, I had to get driven there and back by my parents and feel about 12 years old…However, certain Deities were quite keen for me to attend this course, and Husband heard ‘Em much louder and clearer than I did – as in, he saw a sign at Pagan Pride and knew instantly that I needed to go on that course, and flat out insisted that I do it. So I went lol.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I got my arm twisted into this, though. There’s no way I could have made the progress I’ve made, in both spiritual and ‘mundane’ spheres, if I hadn’t gone – and that’s true even though I missed one and a half of the five weekends.

The circle runs at the Clophill Centre in Bedfordshire, and if you’ve had far to come then there is a ger (sort of like a yurt) you can stay  in at night. It has a fire and radiators, but you’ll still want to bring about fifty thousand blankets with you (though bear in mind that I am the fluffiest fairy at the party and get cold really easily, so maybe it’s not so bad for normal people). The site also has plenty of loos, some outdoor showers and, most importantly, a warm kitchen with an oven, a hob and a microwave. The other practical consideration is that everyone brings food to share over the weekend (which runs from Friday to Sunday). It’s fine if you need to bring just for yourself, if you have food allergies/intolerances or you’re on a diet or something, but mostly everyone chats on Facebook and fixes to bring food to share (the group keeps up to date on Facebook, so it’s really useful if you have an account).

The first weekend is a sort of getting-to-know-one-another thing. Each year is different, but my first weekend involved walking around the site to get to know it, learning ‘building block’ things like how to greet the directions and what the rules are for being in circle, trust falls – there will be several adorable chickens to cheer you on and encourage you – and ‘the Dance of Darkness’, which I hate and will always hate (most people love it, though. It involves drumming and making lots of noise). After that, each week is focused on one of the four directions.

Taz teaches core shamanism, and the directional correspondences she uses don’t gel with me at all. My brain just refuses to accept anything other than Northern Tradition correspondences. But I found that this wasn’t really a problem; I just focused on the element of the weekend and went with the flow. People come to the circle from various traditions and with all kinds of life experiences, so it’s not a big deal if your whole spiritual practice isn’t built around core shamanism.

I don’t know if the weekends always follow the same pattern or not, but for me the second weekend was Fire. Annoyingly I missed half of this weekend, but I got some very powerful lessons from it anyway – fair warning; if you engage with this course properly, you will have to deal with your issues (possibly issues you weren’t aware you had) and just generally grow and change as a human being. It can be rough, but the tribe are a very supportive and accepting group of people. Fire weekend involves an ‘optional’ (ha!) firewalk, which I missed. Earth was the next weekend, which I missed entirely, but that included digging graves and then spending the night either sleeping in the ground or watching over your grave buddy as they slept. I finally got back on track for Water weekend, which was great. Again, each year is different, but this year we did a trance dance, spoke to some plants and walked around a field in a blindfold, trying not to feel stupid. I’m not convinced that last one was for our spiritual development; I think Taz just fancied a laugh. Finally, we had Air weekend. I think this was the most journey-intensive of the weekends, and also involved a glasswalk. I would like everyone on the entire planet to be aware of the fact that I walked over broken glass bottles in my bare feet.

I have to write about the tribe, because everyone on the course is so important to it’s success. I’m not generally speaking a fan of human beings, but even I’ve become quite fond of the tribe of people who went through this year with me. It really is a group experience, even if you’re convinced that you’re the cool gothy lone wolf who’s going to just hang out in the corner and do his own thing. The tribe support and help one another, and you’ll  find yourself wanting to keep in touch with them. You can also phone or e-mail Taz, Asha or Jackie, all of whom are lovely, if you need help between weekends.

When I came home after my first weekend, everyone said I looked taller and spoke differently. I have indisputably gained a lot from this circle, and I completely recommend it – in fact, I’m going back for round 2 lol. And that probably says it all – it’s a significant financial sacrifice for us, it’s not near to my home, and yet everyone in my family, including my Christian parents who have to drive me there and back, actively want me to do another year, and have donated both time and cold, hard cash to see that this happens.

More about Firechild Shamanism; (http://www.firechild-designs.co.uk/index.html)

More about this course, including testimonials from others (click the small link at the very bottom of the page for testimonials); (http://www.firechild-designs.co.uk/oneyearcircle.html)

More about the Clophill Centre; (http://www.clophillcentre.co.uk/)

Structure and Spontaenuity.

As I mentioned in the last post, Husband led our Theophany ritual last week. It was an…interesting experience for me. When I’m in charge of a ritual, I write a set prayer, with lines for each of us to say, try and find some appropriate music, figure out a good offering, and then have an order in which we’re supposed to do everything. It’s simple, but structured. I also do small things, like wearing a red T.shirt on Bealtaine or watching Frozen Planet at Yule, to help put me in the right frame of mind.

Husband has a very different way of going about things. Firstly, he asks me to find some good music and sort out the offerings 😄 Then we just kneel before the shrines, music playing and offerings in hand, and…pray. Just like that. He doesn’t plan anything at all; he just sits there and somehow he’s able to come up with something.

I’m not spontaneous like that – if I tried it, I’m pretty sure I’d either babble on like an idiot of find myself unable to say anything at all. I also feel like the thought and time that goes into preparing a ritual is a part of the offering that you give. But I think Husband’s way of doing ritual allows more room for inspiration and possible contact with the Divine than mine does, and I’ve been too regimented in my approach. Next time I’m doing a ritual, I’m going to include time for spontaneous prayer, and also for meditation. I do need *some* structure when I do a ritual, though. Maybe that’s just my personality, but I would imagine it’s easy for totally spontaneous ritual to get confused and messy unless you kept it really simple. Even Husband needed to import a little structure from me, just to have music and appropriate offerings at the ready.

I’d be really interested to read your thoughts on this, and what you’ve found works for you. Ritual is something I’ve always struggled with, so it’s great to find new ways to engage with it 🙂

Nollaig na mBan and Theophany.

Today’s another Christo-pagan mash-up for Husband and I!

You may or may not better know the sixth of January as Epiphany, but Husband’s really into Eastern Orthodox Christianity right now, so we’re going with ‘Theophany’ at the moment (I don’t mean that he’s converting; he’s just researching and finding a lot of meaning there). Epiphany and Theophany are…sort of the same thing, but not. With Theophany, the focus is on celebrating the baptism of Jesus. It’s been a good while since I was a Christian, and we never really did Epiphany when I was growing up anyway – I just knew it as the day the Christmas decorations had to come down. So I had to do some research for this day!

I know the whole Jesus/John the Baptist thing gets complicated, and there are a million rabbit-holes you can go down, with the Templars and Leonardo da Vinci and Biblical inconsistencies and…you can totally just end up beating yourself to death with your laptop if you’re not careful. Cool as a lifetime’s endeavor, but not cool if you’re trying to get something sorted out to celebrate in a week’s time. Fortunately for what remains of my sanity, Husband, who is officially in charge of the ‘Christo’ aspects of our Christo-pagan household, has decided we’re going to ‘wing it’ with this evening’s ritual. Should be interesting…I’ll let you know how that goes!

Nollaig na mBan – also known as Women’s Christmas, Little Christmas, Là Challuinn, Là na Bliadhna Ùire, Nollaig Bheag and some other stuff that I can’t be bothered to sit here and type out (and no, I don’t know how to pronounce any of those) – was/is (it’s still observed in Cork and Kerry, I’m told) the day the men have to do all the household duties and the women get to actually chill out and have some fun after doing all the work at Christmas. Women have parties or go out with their female relatives. So it’s a totally Christian thing which would have been observed by our Christian Ancestors…but we’re celebrating it like pagans 😉

So tonight Husband and I will be sharing with the Yeshua Trinity and the angels a ‘feast’ inspired by the foods of ancient Israel – cheeses (even though I’m fairly confident that no ancient Israelites has access to Violife vegan cheese slices), ‘meats’ (courtesy of Quorn – I did say ‘inspired by’ rather than ‘historically accurate’), hummus, flatbreads, grapes, almonds and pistachios with ‘wine’ (pomegranate juice). Meanwhile, we’ll offer various tasty snacks to our female Ancestors along with our prayer (see previous post). I’ll read from Luke later, and we’ll take the decorations from the shrines and altar and clean them (or at least make a decent start). We’re going to play Christ Unser Herr Zum Jordan Kam by Bach as part of the Theophany ritual, but most of the day we’ve been playing music for our Ancestors.

Incidentally, it turns out there are some quite vocal Robbie Williams fans amoungt our female Ancestors. Unfortunately (fortunately?), we only have one album, and I’ve already played it twice now. There’s only so much a man can take. They’re still picking the music, but we have an agreement that I at least need a break.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, knowledge or plans 🙂

Nollaig na mBan Prayer.

Today we take time to thank you, the women of our family.

Thank you for working so hard; earning in the workplace, caring for the home,

Raising children, washing clothes, cooking meals, making do and mending,

In factories and farms, offices and living rooms, across the generations up to now.

Today is Nollaig na mBan – a time for you to take a break, to have a good time, and to be appreciated!

We hope that you enjoy your day and these offerings we have brought to thank you.