Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Questions on Yule–from the Deepest Well

This post is in response to questions posed by Aine over on The Deepest Well blog.

The questions pertain to Yule and doing a ritual.  The Yule rituals I have been in have all be done with my coven, the Coven of the Rising Phoenix.

Do you perform ritual at this time of year?

Yes.  Funny thing is that I have always done a ritual at this time of year.  Now the ritual may not have been of the Yule variety but what my family and I did every year since I can remember can be considered a “ritual”.  Every year we would all load up in a car and travel to the Grandparents houses to celebrate Christmas, eat to capacity and open gifts.  It was quite ritualistic. 

I still adhere to the family gatherings as work allows but I now have one more ritual to perform; the ritual to celebrate the returning of the sun, the Yule ritual.

Do I use someone else’s script, my own, or do I combine them?

I choose to combine them.  I find that combining a ritual that was written by someone else with piece of my own design it makes the ritual richer.  I might add a line to the calling of the quarters, or I might completely redo them but keep the rest.  For this year’s ritual I found a great ritual online that expressed exactly what I was looking for in some respects but not in others.  So I took what I needed, augmented where I needed and added what I needed and BAM!…Yule Ritual. 

Well maybe not so much BAM.  As I began to create the ritual, placing the parts and assigning parts to people I found myself with another’s mind.  Having never experienced divine intervention I was quite taken aback.  A part of the ritual, the working, was going to be making a Yule potpourri whilst chanting and charging the herbs.  I was “told” that is not what should be happening and I was given a “nudge” toward what should be done for the working.  I will admit that what I did write out and that we did do was quite magickal if I do say so myself.

Do I perform the same ritual every year or change it up?

The Yule rituals have been different each year with this year’s being the first one I have created for the coven as well as the first one my partner and I have hosted in our home.

What associations do you associate with Yule?

For me personally I will always associate this time of year with gathering with family and friends, whether it be for Christmas or Yule.  I will always remember waking up on Christmas day, getting all dressed up and going to church services with the family and then heading over to one of the grandparents house for dinner and gifts.  The smell of my grandmother’s cooking, my grandfather sitting in his chair in the kitchen, listening to the radio, usually a ball game.  He never did watch them on TV.  The sight of my other grandparent’s huge tree, decorated and stuffed at the base with wrapped gifts.  The anticipation of what was wrapped in the brightly colored and shiny paper under the trees and the joy of ripping said paper apart to get at what was hidden.  The screams of delight at toys and the silence toward clothes.  The warm and loving smiles from my parents and grandparents no matter how we reacted.  Even the hard times, for with out them we are less then we are now.  The shyness felt when confronted with relatives that I hadn’t seen since the last time.   Sitting in front of the TV, watching Rudolf, Frosty, and Charlie Brown all on the same night.  Eating too much candy and still wanting more. 

As my grandparents pass beyond the veil traditions are lost and associations change.  New traditions emerge and families that were at one time split return together to celebrate as one again.  Change in beliefs opens up new associations and new traditions.  Celebrating the returning Sun and the promise that in a few months warmth will again venture across the land if only for a time.  Gathering with new people whom I now consider another family as I celebrate with them.  Turning the Wheel.

 

Remember your past.  Keep hold of the traditions that you have whether they be relevant to your spiritual path or not.  They are a part of you, they make you, without them you are diminished.  Create new traditions and keep them as well.  Celebrate and Honor as you choose to do but remember your families, friends and the Divine in all that is.

 

Blessed Be!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Pendle Witches–Returning from the past

November 14 2011.  This was the first day that I heard of the Pendle Witches, specifically Alice Nutter.  Alice was charged with witchcraft in 1612 in the Lancaster Witch Trials and was later hanged.  The village of Blacko was the site of where Alice was seen at Malkin Tower, also known as Stansfield Tower and Blacko Tower, with what was deemed a witch’s coven. 
Now a memorial statue to Alice Nutter has been commissioned to mark the 400th anniversary of the trials.  It will be placed in the village of Blacko.
Statue plan to celebrate ‘Pendle Witch’ Alice - Peek Into The Past - Pendle Today
The next day I found more information on the Pendle Witches and the planned statue from the BBC.
Statue of Pendle Witch Alice Nutter to be commissioned
I was very intrigued by this news that after 400 years, what happened to these victims of fear and confusion will now be memorialized.  It shows that people are finally realizing how wrong the trials were.
What happened next is kind of eerie if you think about it. 
December 8th, 2011.  The BBC reports - 'Witch's cottage' unearthed near Pendle Hill, Lancashire
The story even hopped the pond and was reported by Fox News -
Centuries-Old Witches' Cottage and Mummified Cat Unearthed in Britain
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/08/centuries-old-witches-cottage-and-mummified-cat-unearthed-in-britain/#ixzz1gF2LuBFg
You have to admit that it is quite interesting that only a month after the planned memorial was announce that this ‘cottage’ was unearthed.  Add the fact that within a wall of the building the mummified remains of a cat were found and it is hard to dismiss the claims that it belonged to one of the witches of Pendle.  Admittedly there isn’t any ‘concrete’ evidence that a Pendle Witch resided within the walls of the well preserved building.  This hasn’t stifled the talk and the supposition among the locals and witches from around the globe.
Is there some supernatural link between these two events?  Are the spirits of Alice Nutter and the 10 other villagers, who were executed for witchcraft, now setting out to uncover more history of their lives?  What will be found next?
Next year will be the 400th anniversary of the Lancaster Witch Trials, which were held on the 18th and 19th of August, 1612. 
This is an image of the original title page from The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster
Potts
The trial not only accused the women of Pendle but also other people, men and woman, from around the area of witchcraft.
It is nice to see that this information is now becoming mainstream and not relegated to the tabloids alongside who had the newest alien baby or the new date for the end of the world. 
I am going to keep a watchful eye out for the next installment of the Return of the Pendle Witches.
Blessed Be.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MULLEIN ~ Just what the heck it is.

Mullein, I am sure many of you have seen this very interesting plant but never gave it a second thought.  I was in that arena as well until we started to sell it in our online store, Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.  We were selling pounds of it to people all over the country and even some overseas.  That led me to do some research to find out why it was in such high demand.  I searched many sites and blogs and such to find that most all the information was the same.  I settled on one particular site, Botanical.com and the page on Mullein.  So here is what all the fuss is about.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mullein's Botanical name is Verbascum thapsus. Through history, Mullein has been known by many names.  Here they are - White Mullein. Torches. Mullein Dock. Our Lady's Flannel. Velvet Dock. Blanket Herb. Velvet Plant. Woollen. Rag Paper. Candlewick Plant. Wild Ice Leaf. Clown's Lungwort. Bullock's Lungwort. Aaron's Rod. Jupiter's Staff. Jacob's Staff. Peter's Staff. Shepherd's Staff. Shepherd's Clubs. Beggar's Stalk. Golden Rod. Adam's Flannel. Beggar's Blanket. Clot. Cuddy's Lungs. Duffle. Feltwort. Fluffweed. Hare's Beard. Old Man's Flannel. Hag's Taper.  It is quite interesting to see how people find names for things.  Many of the name are created because of how the plant looks.  The leaves are soft, felt-like and spongy so that explains some of them.  Other names originated because of the use as a torch. 

So where do you find Mullein? 

That is quite easy.  Pretty much everywhere. 

From the Botanical.com - "the Great Mullein, is a widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America is exceedingly abundant as a naturalized weed in the eastern States. It is met with throughout Britain (except in the extreme north of Scotland) and also in Ireland and the Channel Islands, on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on gravel, sand or chalk. It flowers during July and August."

Now this bit says that in North American it is a 'naturalized weed'.  While this is how most agencies view this wonder plant, it is far from a 'weed'.  Here in Colorado, it is found in pastures, open-space, along roads, along rivers and lakes, and even in some yards.  If you are looking for Mullein in your area just head to local undeveloped field or open-space, it just might be there. 

Pray tell, what does it look like? 

Mullein has two growing seasons so it will look different depending on which season it is in.  Season one it will be close the ground and have only a rosette of leaves between 6-15 inches long.  In the second season the rosette of leaves will have a stem rise from the center.  The stem will have alternating leaves similar to the lower rosette.  As the stock reaches full height of between 4-5 feet tall a flower spike will emerge and this will house the many yellow flowers of the Mullein plant. 

So what can you do with this herb? 

The Botanical.com as a wonderful piece on this.  I am posting it here for your reference.

The Mullein has very markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties. It is considered of much value in phthisis and other wasting diseases, palliating the cough and staying expectoration, consumptives appearing to benefit greatly by its use, being given in the form of an infusion, 1 OZ. of dried, or the corresponding quantity of fresh leaves being boiled for 10 minutes in a pint of milk, and when strained, given warm, thrice daily, with or without sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous and cordial, and forms a pleasant emollient and nutritious medicine for allaying a cough, or removing the pain and irritation of hemorrhoids. A plain infusion of 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water can also be employed, taken in wineglassful doses frequently. The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general. Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found serviceable in hemorrhoidal complaints. Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhea, from its combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhea the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is recommended. On the Continent, a sweetened infusion of the flowers strained in order to separate the rough hairs, is considerably used as a domestic remedy in mild catarrhs, colic, etc. A conserve of the flowers has also been employed on the Continent against ringworm, and a distilled water of the flowers was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas. An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the ear twice or thrice in the day. Mullein oil is a valuable destroyer of disease germs. The fresh flowers, steeped for 21 days in olive oil, are said to make an admirable bactericide. Gerarde tells us that 'Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.' An alcoholic tincture is prepared by homoeopathic chemists, from the fresh herb with spirits of wine, which has proved beneficial for migraine or sick headache of long standing, with oppression of the ear. From 8 to 10 drops of the tincture are given as a dose, with cold water, repeated frequently.

I have found the plant.  Now what do I do?

Well that depends on what you intend to make.  If you are going to make the ear oil, you just need to harvest the flowers from the plants.  This can be quite a challenge given that the flowers have no stems.  It is best to get the flowers that have fully opened and are near the bottom of the spike.  These are easier to remove. If you are interested in the Mullein Tea then you will need the leaves of the plant.  These can either be obtained by removing them individually from the lower part of the plant (not the ones at the very bottom as they are usually damaged and don't do well).  Remembering to only remove some of the leaves and move to the next plant, this is done to ensure the plant survives to produce the seeds needed to self populate.  Another method is to remove the whole plant by cutting at the base just above the bottom leaves.  I would recommend this only if the area you are harvesting from has a large number of plants.  Once you have the entire plant, it can be hung like other herbs to dry and the entire plant processed as needed.  More detailed information on the uses can be found at The Botanical.com.

If you aren't inclined to head out and harvest the herbs yourself we have this herb and many others available in our store at Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.

Next week is Hyssop. (a rush of ohs and ahs fills the room)

Blessed Be!

Let the merging begin

In an effort to maximize my time and minimize the effort I have decided to merge my three blogs.

I found Windows Live Writer to post to the 3 blogs.  This will allow me to send out my postings a lot easier.  You probably already saw the test post.

What does that mean for the content of my blogs?  It means that the content will be expanded.  I am going to repost many of the posts from one blog to another in an effort to share all my knowledge.

Today will be the first day I am going to do this merging with a new/old post. 

Stay tuned and Blessed Be.

Testing Writer

This is a test posting using Windows Live Writer.