"What do I have to offer?"

…and a few thoughts on the act of Circling…

“What do I have to Offer?”

This is a question a lot of us ask at different points and in during different situations in our lives…

The topic of offerings to the Divinities, or Spirits of Place, or to Ancestors; and the question of the title, have burbled up to my conscious mind from this evenings Internet wanderings.

I used to keep a clay mug on my altar filled with water… from Samhain to Beltaine it was for the Ancestors…from Beltaine to Samhain it was for the Fairy folk and the spirits of the land… (Just what part the realms of fairy play in my cosmology is still somewhat hazy for me… ironically enough given my increasing attraction to the term radical fairy to describe my spirituality…)

Anyhow as covered elsewhere on this blog, I don’t have an altar right now. I am Circling again though, and the act of pouring a libation of giving of something to the Powers and Principalities of the Universe that I am calling on just seems right… like good manners really. But what???

Wine, of course has a historical precedent or two… and given the shrinking of the tragically increasingly mis-named Everglades due to overpopulation and man-made drought here in Florida, Water seems rather appropriate… but how to fit this into my Circle?

Is Water or Wine enough? Do I offer up food as well? When Circling on my own I have rarely done the Cakes and Wine portion of things… not sure why though, will have to think about that…
Then there is the How of offering up Food and Drink to those (non-corporeal) that you have invited to your Circle.

Living in an apartment complex and Circling at home, I don’t have a lot of freedom of where to pour a libation or leave an offering…. never mind what I find to be the somewhat questionable idea of leaving edibles outside ones home… wild animals are meant to stay wild and if you leave food out they can become dependant on man for food and that invites conflict and usually a lot of trouble for the animals.

I like some of the ideas encapsulated in the Raven Kindred’s “What Happens at a Blot.” page, in terms of making an offering to the Divinity you are celebrating (or celebrating with as the case may be). Raising the chalice and offering it unto Them and seeing Them partaking of it in your minds eye until you ‘feel’ they have accepted the offering… then partaking of it yourself….

Not all that different from what many of the ancients did, at least if I remember my University Anthropology class info on Egypt…. They would set up an elaborate feast for the God or Goddess of the temple and after a time when the Divinity in question had ‘partaken’ of their fill the food was shared amongst those of the temple or under its care…

Then of course, going back to thoughts of the Asatruar…. and Druids for that matter… is the matter of the structure of my Solitary Circles. My friend, and occasional co-conspirator, Kym feels a need for relatively simple circles in her life right now… and I can’t say I disagree with her.

I ended up coordinating the 2005 Pagan Pride event back in Anchorage, Alaska right before I moved to Florida… as in the event was a few days before I was to fly out of town forever! (DO NOT EVER DO THAT TO YOURSELF!!) Anyhow, I didn’t want to be trying to organize the event AND craft a ritual… and also every public Pagan community ritual I had seen in Anchorage had been on a Wiccan/Witchcraft model… and I thought it was about time that some other traditions were represented so I asked a couple of friends and occasional co-conspirators Danielle and Guil, an Asatraur and a Druid respectively if they would be the ritual team for this event. They agreed; they crafted a rite that was simple, beautiful, and powerful. For me that ritual will always be one of the ones that comes to mind whenever I think of what a public ritual, heck what any ritual, should be. They did good!!!

I want my own Circles whether personal or public to be worthy of the presence and attention of the Powers and Principalities… why Circle otherwise?

The trick is that as little circling as I have done on my own the last few years… when I did things it was almost always with all the bells and whistles. There have been a few times I have used a simple pair of Tibetan bells (the ones that look like cymbals?! Ting-sha’s; I think is the name?!) to create sacred space… but my deeper self still wants something more… That’s another thing I will have to think about…

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So I Circled last night…

…some ruminations on Altars and a Witches connectedness to the Land

The kitchen/dining room table made a nice altar and went well with the dragons blood candles and my incense didn’t set off the fire alarm, so on the whole I’d say things went well.

My friend Kym had to bow out on me when something came up with her family, so we will be trying for next month… or maybe the new moon… will have to talk to here about that!

I was thinking about altars as I set up last night and I realized that I sort of did have an altar for nearly a year or so in the house we were renting until earlier this year. I just really didn’t do anything with it. We had a galley style kitchen, the house had been built in the early 60’s, with a window on one end and the small window sill was tiled… so I kept a small altar on the window sill until Boots (a cat who has since run away for the life of a Tom) decided to investigate the windowsill and knocked things over… including my first cauldron… a ceramic bowl from my friend Nathan that I’d had for 10+ years, destoyed by random act of Kitty ~sigh~.

I just never really USED it… the altar, which is kind of against the whole point of having an altar… your supposed to pause at it during the day… contemplate…. fuss with it… perhaps refill the water here or light a stick of incense there… an altar is like the graphic user interface for ones deepest self and ones relation to the universe… you are supposed to use it and fuss over it and love it.

“It’s my own little altar, and I am going to love it, and squeeze it, and hug it, and call it George!”

Mother Celestial and Father Divine,
When next I craft a permanent altar, let it be one that I fuss with often! May I love it, and may it love me!

…ENOUGH with this altar sidetracking… the Circle itself last night was good… I rededicated myself to the Craft and asked for Their aid and continued inspiration. I hadn’t realized how rusty my magick was, I will be trying to Circle on each of the Moons phases for a while… I think I need to supercharge myself and re-open those intuitive channels I have let sit for so long…

Invocation went well… they didn’t have anything to say… so I read the Charges and thanked them for their attention…the invocation of Lord and Lady felt odd… part of that may be the whole not having done it recently thing… but I think part of it is the prevalence and power of the Element of Water here in Florida… even with the over population powered water shortages the earth remembers and Water is much more of a presence here than in Alaska and the invocation felt much more like Presence being poured into me rather than an sudden in rushing (inspiration in the medical sense?!) of Presence… I’m really not sure how to describe it.

I think part of this, and part of my serious and profound sense of disconnectedness when I first moved to Orlando a couple of years ago… which I am just getting over, is the connectedness that a Witch develops with Place. Grounding and Centering (please remember to do this, it’s important) all the time in the same area you develop a connectedness with the land and it’s spirits…

The same thing happens when we circle and when we call the elements, however you or your Tradition do that; we are touching the spirits of a particular place as well as a particular element. That’s my impression anyway.

When I moved across the country I didn’t spend any time preparing myself magickaly… hell I didn’t spend much time preparing myself physically…I was so deeply scared and so in denial…. my friends Michael and Mark did some heroic service helping me clean up my apt at the last possible minute so I could be ready to go. THANK YOU BOTH!!

Having done it, I could do it again; only THIS time I’d do it better and have everything boxed up and have said my farewells to the Land and the Spirits of Place…

Peace,
Pax

Sense and Sensation

So a couple of my favorite Bloggers have written about the senses and perception recently, which has me thinking and remembering.

I remember when I was getting ready to move from Anchorage, AK down here to Orlando,FL my dear friend Mark asked me “Are you enjoying your last endless Summer?” See in Anchorage the Summer nights are long… on the Summer Solstice Anchorage sees about 2 hours of dusk where the Sun sets below the mountains surrounding the city on three sides and then He starts to rise once more.

In reality, I moved from one endless summer to another. One of an eternally green and growing world. I never really appreciated how many shades of green there are until I moved to Orlando!! Then there’s the sky… there’s a lot more of it here!!

Or at least you can see a lot more of it all at once. In Anchorage, and large parts of Alaska you have mountains or trees blocking off large parts of the sky from view. Here in Florida its all wide open. I remember thinking to myself that Florida was as much “Big Sky Country” as Montana any day of the week! The cloudscapes in this town are amazing!

So in thinking about sensation and perception I also realized that I hadn’t keyed any sensory memories for future magickal use since moving down to Florida. You know, where when you’re calling the element of Water and you focus on memories of water? Swimming in the ocean in Hawaii as a kid, or that sudden fierce rainstorm that washed the world and left everything looking clean and new… including those three cars… one red sportsomething, one Yellow Cab station-wagon , and one blue VW Bug all together in traffic at the stoplight as you waited to cross the street and get out of that glorious cleansing rain…. your sensory keys may differ but now you get the idea.

I hadn’t keyed anything since moving… so in the rain last night as I walked to my car I tried to breath in and remember the experience…

I am also remembering and trying to key in a few other sensory keys from some of my other Orlando moments…. The scent of smoke and the haze and the strangely (for Orlando) dry sensation to the air from the Forrest fires earlier this year…

Swimming in the Gulf waters for the first time…

These little moments can be moments of inspiration and power if we open ourselves to them. Breathing inspiration and exhaling doubt, and remembering to truly smell, and touch, and taste, and hear, and see the roses… or whatever else the world gifts us with in the moment. Learning to do this is, I think, one of the Mysteries.

I am reminded of a quote from a poet…

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.” ~ William Blake

I am reminded too of the Eleusinian Mysteries… which ended after much ado, it is said, with the unveiling of a single grain of corn (wheat not maize) before the initiate.

I wonder, was my little Mystery some small piece of the puzzle of theirs?

I shall have to reread some Blake… and some Walt Whitman too perhaps… and perhaps a few of the other mystics and poets… hmm….

Peace,

Pax

Baby steps towards a new Altar

And it’s still spelled a-l-t-a-r… NOT alter!

(I’m sorry, are my pet peeves showing again?!)

ANYHOW… I bought a new alter cloth tonight… two of them in fact. Both at the dreaded Wal*mart in the $1 fabric section. The first is 3 yards of a nice dark purple slightly shiny synthetic of unknown composition. The second is maybe 1.5 yards of a maroonish purple in the fabric they make (American) football jersey’s out of?? you know the stuff with the holes in it?

I will be using those to transform the kitchen/dining room table into an Altar to honor the moon tomorrow with my friend Kym! Yay!!!

And, yes, as a matter of fact I do know that the full moon isn’t technically until Tuesday night, but I have always followed the practice of the night of the Phase or one of the two nights on either side of the official phase… depending on the vagaries of my work and other schedules.

I also bought some more Sea Salt… for me at least any salt will work but I enjoy the symbolism of Sea Salt. I have used a number of types of salt over the years… but my (few) culinary classes have given me a new appreciation for the complexities of salt as an ingredient… I’d love to know if different types of salt have different magickal properties?

I have some Dragons blood soy-wax candles gifted me by a friend and a few of my altar tools… gasp… I need to clean the table!! Funny how the salmon of ones intellect sometimes makes a dramatic leap in ones streams of thought, isn’t it?!?

While I was at Wall-Marche (wahl-mar-shay) I looked around at some potential more permanent altar cabinets and tables and found nothing evocative… I should go through some of the local thrift stores next week.

hmmm…. I am really exited at the prospect of creating an alter… even a temporary one. Perhaps I have hungered for a return to more regular Witchy and religious practices more than I had realized. I feel my creative energies flowing once again and I am loving it!!

The word is Altars… not alters (unless your punning, then it’s ok…)

So I was reading Dancing Down The Moon, now that Diane Sylvan is posting to her blog once more, and came across a post about Altars

It has been almost 2 years since I have had truly had an altar of my own… heck if I count how neglectful I had been of my altar and apartment I could say well over 2 years….

A large chunk of my possessions are still in Alaska under the stewardship of some friends of mine, including a lot of my books both metaphysical and mundane and a lot of pieces and parts of my sacred toy chest. (As I sometimes referred to my altar)

I have a few things down here in Florida…magickally speaking anyway… and except for a couple of public moons and sabbats, and at least one private moon, I really haven’t done that much to honor the Divinities, or my Faith, or really myself since I moved. Mostly I’ve tried to tread water and swim with the ebb and flow of events in my life. Work, moving to new apartments – after moving across the continent, School, different jobs as I start to begin/find my career in the restaurant/hospitality industry….

…Its only really recently that I have renewed keeping a daily practice of grounding and centering… and of embracing my magickal side with spells to protect and defend my home and workplace from harm and drama.

…One of the hazards of the Solitaries life I guess… “I can light a candle I don’t need all the bells and whistles…” (yes I know I’ve written about this before… somewhere…) I guess I am realizing and appreciating that those bells and whistles are a part of the journey and that part of taking control of one’s destiny is getting off ones butt and doing some work!

So now I find myself contemplating the budgeting necessary to get my sacred toys out of metaphorical hock… and back into my hot little hands. I am wondering what species of altar I will craft… the last one was a simple waist high cabinet from an old Ethan Allen bedroom set… flat top, two doors, and an interior shelf… hardwood. Blessed and released and handed on to a friend for use as regular furniture…

I’m thinking of a wardrobe style cabinet with drawers on the lower level and a cabinet on top… small shelf at about waist high and shelves inside the cabinet portion? That would be ideal… maybe…

I will have to include some Altar work/requests/inspiration next week during Circle…which I need to get off my Witchy butt and do!!!

Peace,
Pax

Wow, nothing like a couple of days of Cold&Flu&Medicine induced narcolepsy…

To leave on feeling refreshed… if still a little congested. But its time for me to go back to work.

It was actually kind of nice… Sleep… wake up… take cold/flu medicine…. sleep… wake up at 2am & take a ridiculously hot bath… sleep… wake up… take cold/flu medicine… dink around on computer… attempt to walk dog… sleep…

I have some how started to write my intro/teaching paper again, the one that was sampled in what I believe? Anyway work progresses on that and I am still contemplating my Sabbat Rituals.

Other than that I am looking forward to work and a new term at school and trying to figure out my final term that starts in October…

Peace,
Pax

Chicken Noodle Soup…

There are a number of ways to approach this dish…

Going to the Freezer and the pantry for some Frozen Veggies, Frozen Chicken Breast, Chicken Broth, Noodles (star shapes are preferred) and some dried herbs…

This is as valid, and in our modern world sometimes a lot more likely that boiling the chicken carcas from a roast chicken, cutting up and simmering fresh veggies, herbs, spices… and star noodles agian… (Star shaped noodles, my friends, feed and nourish the Younger Self!!)

I sometimes get the sense when I read the few things written about Pagans and Food that I am the only Pagan in North America who has yet to bake home-made bread from scratch for Lammas while serving an Organic and Vegan stew and my own organic hooch for feast…

Am I the only Pagan in North America who has celebrated Lammas with Blackberry Manishewitz and Popcorn? (Do what you can with what you have!)

I have toyed with the idea of starting a writing project called “The Culinary Pagan” and writing about food and cooking and spirituality…

Peace,
Pax