Pagan Yule Playlist

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and black Friday is behind us, we can get on with getting into the Yuletide spirit. Here’s a collection of Yule and winter holiday favourites that I have collected over the past couple of years.

I have a bunch of posts to make up for my lack of posting in November. It’s been a challenging month for me, I have been going through some self development stuff.

Stay tuned!

~Spiritsong Dreamweaver

Samhain: Remembering our Ancestors

We are fast approaching the third and final harvest sabbat, Samhain. November 1st marks the time to give rest to all of the autumns harvests and setting in for the long dark of winter.

In olden days, this would have marked the harvest of those animals that will not make it through the winter and the start of preserving their flesh with smoke or salt. Today, we no longer need to wait until the coming of winter to prepare our stores of food. We just walk down to our local supermarket and pick up what we want.

There are so few of us who could understand what it took for our ancestors to make it through a winter and how important it was that every member of a household do their part in making sure that everyone made it through. In my local community, we go to the cemetery and spend time with the forgotten dead. It’s impossible for us to know the lives of all those who have died in our community since its founding but we can spend time to acknowledge their lives and their contributions to our community.

On a more personal level, Samhain is a good time for you to spend time remembering those people in your life who are no longer with you. I am sure that you have lost someone close to you and whether or not it was recent or someone you never had a chance to know in your lifetime like a great grand parents, Samhain offers you that space to reach out to their memory and give thanks to them for their role in your life.

For me, there are two people who I never had a chance to meet in my life because they died long before I was even a thought. They are my mother’s parents, Bill and Peggy Mitchell. Everything that I know about them is second hand knowledge from my mother and her siblings. I know that Peggy was a swimmer training to go to the Berlin Olympics but wasn’t able to go. I know that Bill was a life guard on the beach where he and Peggy met. I wish that I knew more about them but that most of their lives are lost to the memories of those who cannot tell me their stories.

There are other stories lost to time. I don’t know why my ancestors left the shores of Europe. I don’t know what adventures they had. I don’t know their hopes or their dreams. All I do know is that I would not be here if it were not for these people.

How you honor your ancestors is really up to you. I tend to create an altar for them and I burn incense in their honor. This year, I will be doing some journey work to meet up with my first ancestors. I hope to find out more about my roots and where my pagan blood comes from.

IMG_0164

I will also be celebrating Halloween by decorating my home, carving a pumpkin, and handing out sweets to the neighbor kids who come by our door. I will put on my best witch get up and welcome the trick-or-treaters with a smile. For children, this is a special night where they get to be whoever they want to be and get candy. I loved Halloween as a child. I loved running around the houses and collecting candy.

I hope that you have a safe and happy Halloween and a peaceful Samhain this year!

Blessed Be,

Priestess Spiritsong

Mabon Equinox

By now, you have have noticed that the hours of daylight are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. The Autumnal Equinox and the solar festival of Mabon are here at long last. This is the second of the harvest festivals and marks the beginning of the dark time of the year.

Mabon is my favorite of all of the wheel of the year festivals. Since I live in an area where there are so many apple orchards and vineyards, I feel the strong pull of this season. As a child growing up, thanksgiving was my favorite of the family holidays and for me, Mabon marks the start of that season.

My coven is celebrating our second anniversary this Mabon. We named ourselves the Coven of the Oak and Apple in honor of both the Oak trees that grow all around us and the apple orchards that thrive in our valley. The Oak tree represents our connection of the God energy and the Apple tree represents our connection to the Goddess energy. We use acorns, oak leaves, and apple starts in our clothing and decorations.

The ritual work I do with my coven is often different from the work I will do on my own time. I like to do big magical work with my coven but all my personal work, I do on my own and my coven mates do theirs. Being in a coven is great for getting help with large issues that need more energy behind them. Coven members become like family if you let them in. I share all of my fears and insecurities with them and they help me to overcome them without feeling like I am being judged. When times are tough, we come together to support each other.

Finding pagans that you click with is actually pretty hard. I live in a pretty Christian city and out pagan population is definitely a minority here. There’s plenty of new age people but not a lot of them follow the path of the old gods or want to bring these kinds of practices into their everyday life. I will admit that I struggled with being public about my beliefs for a long time. This was when I was worried about how my beliefs would impact my employment status. These days, I don’t care about that at all. I am out of the broom closet for good now.

For my own personal work this Mabon, I am giving thanks for all of the lessons that I have been gifted this year. Some of them were harsh lessons that I had to learn about myself and what I want out of my life and relationships. I am at a bit of a crossroads as to what to do next and what I want. I feel like I am on the next stage of my life but I am not sure what I want to put my energy into. That’s one of the hard parts of doing ritual work, figuring out what you want to put your energy into.

Since we are at the harvest season, now is not the time to start something new but rather to reflect on what we have received. I am thankful for being able to reconnect with old friends, for the chance to reevaluate my life and needs, and for growing stronger.

Blessed Be!

~Priestess Spiritsong

Mabon Altar set up #pagan #paganpriestess #covenoftheoakandapple

A post shared by Spiritsong Dreamweaver (@spiritsongdreamweaver) on

Top down #mabon #altar #pagan #paganpriestess #covenoftheoakandapple

A post shared by Spiritsong Dreamweaver (@spiritsongdreamweaver) on

Shape Shifting

When I was a child, I used to like to play pretend. You remember this game, right? You would pick an animal, a character, or a roll and then pretend to be them. My favorites were creatures like squirrels, otters, wolves, dinosaurs, and mermaids.

As I grew up and stopped playing children’s games, I lost a bit of that wonder that you get from becoming a different creature. What I didn’t know as a child was that I was practicing an elementary form of shapeshifting. That is, allowing the spirit of the creature you are challenging to join with you and you take on aspects of that creature.

This is different from spending time with a spirit animal during a journey session. If you have any experience with shape shifting, than you know that when you choose to merge with an animal energy, you bring certain aspects of that animal into your physical and emotional being. For example, if you wish to bring better sight for seeing in the dark, you might call upon the energy of an owl. If you want to be more playful, you might call upon the otter to help you loosen up.

You don’t need to pick animals, you can choose things like dragons, unicorns, and griffins. Keep in mind that what you want to get out of these creatures will depend on what you perceive their energies to be. If you associate dragons with danger, then you will bring that energy into your being but if you perceive dragons to be beings of infinite wisdom, then that’s the energy you will bring into yourself.

You don’t have to be a master of shamanic arts in order to bring small aspects of shapeshifting into your everyday life. All you need to do is go back to your practice of sympathetic magic. Set your intention and then bring physical objects to help you pull out the energy you want to bring into yourself.

Here’s a few ways you can do this:

  • Find a piece of jewellery that represents the spirit you want to hone the energies of
  • Wear an outfit that reminds you of the spirit you want to embody
  • Keep a picture, statute, or some object that represents the spirit on your altar
  • Do a ritual where you can evoke the spirit or invoke the spirit into you

You can use any spiritual being you feel a connection with. This can be an animal, a god or goddess, a mythical creature, or an archetype. Sometimes, I like to take on energies from fictional characters that I like to embody. If you are wanting adventure, you might want to call upon Bilbo Baggins or Jack Sparrow or if you want to take on a strong, independent women, you might want to take on Scarlett O’Hara or Elizabeth Bennet.

I will get more into what invoking rituals in the future and the benefits to them. I have touched upon it in the past with my evoking vs. invoking article but this is a subject that needs a deeper level of discussion. You might say that shape shifting is an introduction to invoking.

Blessed Be,

~Priestess Spiritsong

In the Shadow of the Moon

In the deeper mysteries of womanhood, there are subjects that are rarely talked about. One of them is the effects of the moon on our bodies. It’s no secret that women are connected to the moon during our monthly cycle. While we may not sync up completely with the phases of the moon, we have our own phases.

During the “Mother” phase of our life, that time between childhood (Maiden) and menopause (Crone), we are subjected to a twenty eight day cycle for our reproductive system. Women around the world have understood this connection for generations but only now are we able to start talking about it free and openly. Granted, there are many women around the world who suffer because of this cycle. In India, there are still some places where women are forced to live in disgusting conditions during their cycle because they are seen to be “unclean”. What a load of horse shit, I can’t believe the subjection of women is still happening in places around the world in our so called “modern age.”

I am in the middle of my “Mother” phase of my life and it’s taken be a long time to accept that my cycle is a blessing and not a curse. I know that some women hate their cycle and anything that has to do with is. To me, the cycle is deeply connection with the greater cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Every single month, I get to experience that. There’s all sorts of chemicals and hormones in my body that signal the different changes that occur. I think that understanding the science of your cycle is important in accepting what’s happening to you. I am grateful for my grade school education on such things.

I have spoken before about the Red Moon Cycle, which is a not so subtle reference to a woman’s monthly cycle. The reason we call it the Red Moon Cycle is not because our cycle literally syncs up with the lunar cycle but because it’s a twenty eight day (on average) cycle and we have our own phases within it. The science helps us to understand what hormones are active and why we go through such an emotional roller coaster during our twenty eight days. All that aside, there’s a chance for a deeper understanding of yourself in those phases.

I am not a trained Red Priestess and I don’t specialize in women’s mysteries but I do have my own way of keeping track of my own Red Moon Cycle that I am happy to share.

The Science:

Understanding biologically what is happening is the first step I took in making a greater connection with my cycle. I firmly believe that knowledge is power and the key to greater acceptance. I could go into detail about how the system works but I would rather share with you a few Wikipedia articles to get your started.

This first one is the basics of what makes women biologically female:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female

This one is about how the female reproductive cycle works biologically:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_reproductive_system

This final one is focuses just on the menstrual cycle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cycle

If you want a further understanding to your cycle, I recommend that you take a first year biology class that has a section of human anatomy. I would even go so far as to start researching the male reproductive cycle too. Understanding men and what’s going on inside them, only helps to deepen your connection with them. They have just as complicated hormone cycles as we do and theirs is a daily cycle as well as yearly.

Tracking:

Back in the day, I used to use a calendar to track my cycle but with the changes in technology, I use my mobile device instead of pen and paper. I use a period tracking app called “P Tracker” and I have the paid version which let’s me track different physical and emotional changes through the month. The best part of the app is the ability to leave notes about significant changes such as life events and lunar phases. The bonus to using this tracker is that I can see when my predicted ovulation will be taking place. It’s nice to had a bit of warning for that, more importantly because I use it to see if it’s a good time to be sexually active.

Journaling:

I have a journal that I created to help me deepen my connection to the Goddess where I store information like emotional events and dreams. I can look back in this journal to see if there is a pattern that syncs up with what’s going on in my period tracking app.

This past month, I had significantly more dreams about the people in my life. I think this was a way for me to death with the recently social changes in my life. I went from having regular social events that I would attend to not going to any at all. I will admit, this has left me depressed and feeling like no one wants to be around me. I can’t exactly blame them, I have not been a cheerful or positive person that last few months. This is not for a lack of me trying to shift my attitude but some days a worse than other. My dreams have not been very helpful regarding this as they tend to remind me of what I have lost and what I did wrong. It’s not self punishment but it feels like it sometimes when I wake up and know that everything is different for me now.

Dark Moon:

There is a time during my cycle which I call my “Dark Moon Days” and these are just a few past post finishing my period where I get depressed. I recognize it when it happens but there is little I can do to stop it from happening. I have learned that during this time I don’t want to cook for myself, I don’t want to see people, I don’t want to get out of my house if I can help it. This most recent dark moon days were particularly bad for me. I have recently decided to cut someone out of my life who was doing nothing but hurting me with their actions and words. I needed a few days to recover from that loss. It was heartbreaking for me to make that choice but I feel that it was the best thing for me to do. I will admit, that recovering from this choice will take longer that a few dark days and I may need to ignore my feelings of wishing to backslide on it for a while to come.

Self Care:

During the actual five days where my cycle is waning, I tend to be super introspective and attentive to my needs. I like having long baths with soothing music and candle light. I will retreat within myself and figure out what I need to do in order ready myself for the coming month.

During the days where I am waxing in my cycle, I tend to focus on the more practical day to day things like making my meals, shopping, and my work. During this time, I find that I am able to focus on all outside things like friends, family, politics, and other outside connections.

During my seven peak days, the ones around ovulation, I find that I have a surge of creative energy that does not occur the rest of the month. During this time, I will be inspired to work on creative things like writing, crafting, and playing music. I have done all sorts of things during this time and it’s hard to get that energy the other twenty one days of the month.

These are all the ways in which I keep connected to my mind, body, and spirit while I am going through my Red Moon Cycle. If you have ways in which you track or care for yourself during your monthly cycle, I would love to hear all about it.

Blessed Be!

Priestess Spiritsong

Witch

When you think of the word “witch” what is your first thought?

Is it of the ugly old woman with the tall black hat flying on a broomstick with black cat?

Is it of the green faced villain from the Wizard of Oz?

Is it of a boiling cauldron and the three hags dropping strange ingredients into it?

If you said “yes” to any of these, then you have been influenced by the popular stereotypes that have been perpetuated for the last 500 years or so. Those tall black hats, black cats, cauldrons and brooms were all once used by female beer makers but were used against them when men wanted to take over the brewing of beer. The church took those icons and turned them into images of “witchcraft” which in turned were used to kill millions of innocent people all over Europe and North America.

Today, most people think that witches and witchcraft are just metaphysical hocus pocus practiced by new agers. That’s fine, most people can think that all they want, I actually would prefer it if they did. Those of us who call ourselves witches and practice witchcraft, know there’s more to it then that.

I am a witch. I practice witchcraft. I don’t have a black hat but I do have a black cat, cauldron, and a broom. No, I don’t “fly” on my broom but I do use it to clean my sacred space. My cauldron is used to “brew” my magic.

But back to the question, what is a witch?

Simply put, a witch is a practitioner of witchcraft. A witch can be male, female, or somewhere in between. They can dress however they want, use whatever tools they want, work any kind of magic they want.

Witches are still considered to be on the fringes of society. What they do is still not fully understood by society. They are fear and revered in societies across the world. The age of the internet has been good for witches as they can get more business for their talents from anywhere in the world.

Check out this video about witches in Romania:

Are Witches Pagan?

Some are but you don’t have to be. You can be Christian, Muslim, or Atheist, and still be a witch. There are all sorts of different ways to practice witchcraft and you can use any belief system to do it. The only thing you need is an intention and understanding of sympathetic magic.

Witchcraft

The most delicious part about being a witch, is your ability to create spells to manifest your desires. There’s all sorts of ways to create spells, rituals, potions, charms, and other objects of power. Anything you want, you can create, you need only put in the effort. Keep in mind, that magic is a tricky thing and if you are not clear in your mind about what you want, the magic might bring you something you weren’t exactly expecting.

There’s a warning with witchcraft though, whatever you decided to manifest, will come back to you. In Wicca, they call this the threefold law, which states that any action you take in the name of witchcraft will come back to you threefold. This is a good way for witches to think about what they do before they do it.

I can admit that there have been times when I have either wanted to use magic as a way to get vengeance and then there are the times in which I have. You see, I don’t get mad, I get even and using magic as a means to do this is not healthy and kind of detrimental to your good health. Not only will you eventually feel bad for what you have done but you may inadvertently create similar harm to yourself.

I once had a friend who was wildly out of control. She was lying, stealing, and cheating and causing all sorts of mayhem in her path. I created a binding spell to help prevent her from doing any further to herself or others. It worked but it managed to destroy our friendship. She never knew that I did this to her but I did and that was enough. I was young and didn’t understand mental illness or how it works on the brain and thus, I didn’t know that really all she needed was to talk with someone and get the right medication to help her. This is a spell that I deeply regret as I have seen the cascading effects of the spell. There’s no way for me to undo it either without stacking the effects, believe me, I have tried.

The moral of this story is, think before you cast. Speak with your deities, converse with trusted members of your coven, or talk with non-practising friends and family about practical non-magical options. I would advise that anyone who practices witchcraft and calls themselves a witch to always seek the non-magical methods of problem solving first. If you must add magic, use supportive magic on yourself and not others unless asked to do so. Never perform magical on a non-consenting individual, including pets. As much as you may want to hex Trump right now, hold off, you have no idea what you might bring about in the process.

Normally, I would never discuss my past uses of magic but in the spirit of education, I will share some of my stories on this blog. I keep most of my spell work recorded in my Book of Secrets. I will share a little how-to on keeping a Book of Secrets, or otherwise known as a Book of Shadows or a Grimoire, in a follow up post.

If you have any topics that you would like me to share, please comment and let me know.

Blessed be,

Priestess Spiritsong