Tabs on Trad: jay linnell

 

Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet once asked “What’s in a name?”

Names given to us by our parents are chosen to convey hopes, pass down heritage, and offer children an aspiration. The names given to us by others show how we are esteemed, what we have been and have become. T.S Eliot wrote, in The Naming of Cats, that even our feline companions hold possession of three different names; we are no different.

As Pagans, most Blue Star folk are aware of the importance and difficulty that goes in to choosing their sacred name, we seek a name that defines our everything, that will convey our everything to anyone who hears it, who utters it.

In the vainglorious era of twitter and in the land which coined the term “selfie” – is a man who prefers to leave the caps lock off.

In craft related contexts you may see him listed as CWM – he answers to jay, but when the day first came to choose a name of his own, left in the land of profundity, the name he found within, and the name he chose to be called, was Friend.

Today he will always accept that name, and in circle introduces himself as Charles Wallace Murry.

Quick Facts

  • Birth-name: jay lee linnell
  • Married name: jay lee hatlen linnell
  • Nom de plume: jl or CWM
  • Birthdate: Jan 25, 1975
  • Degree: 1st degree Initiate.
  • Current Grove/Coven: Spiral Tor
  • Other B* Ties: Lake Star, Ravenstar, Spiral Gate.
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Where to find him: Blue Star Mailing Lists, and Blue Star Facebook groups, Canvassing the streets and making waves of change.
  • Lesser Known Hobbies: Makin’ Jam from fruits and flowers, Gardening, RPG Gaming, Shower Singing

What role do you play in the family – how would your Caricature be drawn?

“My caricature would have multiple faces. I live in different worlds and find that I am described very differently by people who know me in different roles. That isn’t problematic to me, as every relationship draws forth a different piece of my spirit, and the jay my wife married is quite different from the jay my coworkers know or even the jay who raises my children. I’d also have hands in multiple projects, one foot in my bedroom and the other on a path that goes somewhere better than now.”

Speaking of faces – Let’s talk facial hair – tell me truthfully, when was the last time anyone saw your “whole” face, and would you ever consider being a Facial Hair Model – if there was such a thing?

“Facial hair model? If someone wanted to photograph or paint my face, I’d be happy to let them. When was I last clean-shaven? Hm. I think I shaved once about six years ago?

[I] Didn’t shave at all until I was 21, and since 23 have occasionally trimmed just because I’m afraid of that middle phase between “respectably trimmed beard” and “ZZ Top”. One of the two is lovely, but between them I fear I look untrustworthy.”

Do you have an obscure, interesting, unique, fun, useful (or useless) talents you’d like to share with us?

“Scat-singing. I haven’t shown off onstage in years and I miss that!”

“I can also babble back and forth more than you’d like about 20th century pedagogical philosophies as tools of social management… Oh and I’m a purty good cook when given time in the kitchen.”

I noticed your facebook profile links to a “gofundme” account?
Can you briefly tell us who this is for and why?

“My son Wesley wants to do a several-week study abroad sometime this coming winter, in Costa Rica. We’ve been raising money through sales of cookies and jams he makes, chores for various friends and families we know, and by inviting direct donations. To read more, you can visit www.gofundme.com/Wesley-Abroad

Where Politics and Activism meets Faith and Practice. 

When asked if there was a correlation between what he does spiritually and what he does as an activist/politically, jay stated “Political action is one of many ways we act in the world on our values, and my values are quite entwined with my spirituality.”

jay’s mother is a municipal inspector raised in a strict Baptist background (they found Blue Star together when he was a teen), his father was an activist involved with the ACLU and environmental causes; it’s not too far a stretch to say, that from the very beginning spiritual values and activism have always been tethered in his life. According to jay, his parents have been incredible resources to him, insightfully opening doors that would reveal pathways he would want to travel, and educating him on how he might do that successfully.

“Mom took me to political caucuses most years, both parents encouraged my involvement in issues and campaigns which excited me, and my teachers in grade school also encouraged us to develop an understanding of what we valued, and to work to see those values take root in our community. So really… I’ve been an uppity activist from the cradle. “

jay is presently a:

  • Caseworker in a county public assistance office
  • Membership Officer for Northern Dawn council of Covenant of the Goddess
  • Volunteer on various activist projects

Some things jay has worked on:

  • Volunteered in a few campaign offices
  • Served as an election judge for most elections from 1992 through 2002,
  • Served a year in Americorps, managing volunteer reading tutors for grade school children
  • Campaigned for local office-seekers and issue campaigns in Iowa and Minnesota.
  • Campaigned for Marriage Equality

In his early youth, jay attended a liberal Baptist church with his family. He even continued to attend Sunday School for a solid year after the rest of his family had lost the desire to go. Of his experience he says

“Our Sunday School opened my eyes in beautiful ways. They made a point of teaching us about the basic beliefs of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and a few other traditions. …That showed me there were so many ways of understanding the world, and encouraged me to listen with an open and critical mind.”

Although he stopped attending that Sunday School around 9 years old, he was lucky enough to have the kind of community that would indulge his questions. jay maintained a voracious appetite for religious, mystical and philosophical texts.

Were there any books influential to your spiritual growth?

“Frankly I’m a classic example of Wicca as ‘people of the bookcase’. I’m going to cut this short lest I never stop naming books, but let’s just say I’ll be happy to chatter about books with anybody. If I haven’t read it, you’ll probably excite me to do so!”

“John Williams led me to a focus on individual relationship with divinity as the ultimate spiritual community beyond and superseding any doctrine, and from George Fox I learned to pair that with a humble understanding that those with whom I worship are as close to divinity as I, and our differences in faith and opinion are to be honored as part of the conversation of faith. “

The quick and dirty list: Madeline L’engle, ee cummings, John Lennon, The Witches’ God/Witches’ Goddess books by Janet and Stewart Farrar, Principia Discordia, and the writings of many poets, novelists and playwrights.

The naming of jay is a difficult matter, it isn’t just one of your holiday games:

At birth, he was given another man’s initial – named ‘Jay’, after his parents’ friend Jon Jackson, Jr., who generally presented as ‘JJ’; jay rarely shares his full middle name, and generally presents only the initial.  This is because it is the name of a relative whom he knows largely as an abuser of others in the family.

It was in-fact through his love of reading and poetry that jay came to question the way writers present themselves, and how he in turn preferred his own name to be treated.

“When I was a teen I looked at ways various poets presented their names and asked myself why certain choices were made. Capitalization to set myself apart from all else I value in the world felt… self-interested? prideful? I’m part of my world, not the center of it, thus I prefer not to be placed in a higher class than things like “home”, “sky”, or “water”, which are spirits due their own respect.”

The Path to Blue Star

Through his father’s peer group comprised of “a lot of post-sixties hippies,” and a few “openly spiritualist/eclectic/pagans” jay met a woman named Lisa – whom we know as Lady Spiral – a coworker of his father’s at an environmentalist political fundraising group in Minneapolis.

jay’s mom developed a close friendship with Lisa, and he spent a lot of time around her home, both socially and in later teen years in employment caring for her son Orion. When jay was around fifteen years old, Lisa, having met K&Tz during the tour years at a festival, invited a number of friends to form a study group. That study group later became Lake Star. At age 16, at Heartland 1991, jay was Dedicated.

I asked jay how his friends took the news that he had changed his faith/practice. For the most part, he kept mum about his new path. “I didn’t actually talk about it to other kids at school so much, but to a few when I figured out where they stood. But one year I gave out Christmas/Hanukkah/seasonal cards I hand-made, to like 50 folks at school. I made a couple that said “happy yule” to a couple girls I knew were pagan. They were happily surprised.”

Is there a particular Sabbat that is most fun or fond for you?

“My favorite circle memories ever were old 12th-night circles we held with Lake Star and with Ravenstar in the 1990s. But my fondest actual-sabbat would be Lammas. The table’s part of it, but I feel so warmly connected to community, to earth, to history and to future in the Lammas celebration. It’s also a night of particular importance to one of my patrons, Lugh, and I share that night with him in other ways.”

A Pagan, and a Friend of Christ:

For many pagans, the faith of their childhood and/or the masses is often greeted with a degree of animosity; jay’s experience with the church and with Jesus was never tarnished even as he found another spiritual path calling him.

Of this jay spoke:

“Along the way, reflections led me to re-explore that Baptist upbringing from an exceedingly liberal and polytheistic bent. I came back to the church which began the journey leading to Blue Star, and I maintain membership and active attendance there. Jesus is a patron to me, along with Arawn and a significant relationship with various fox spirits. This church knows I am a witch who seeks a relationship with Jesus as one among many gods, and I am there because his rituals are specific to his community, thus lead me to spend some of my worship time in a setting apart from Blue Star celebrations. I’m certainly no orthodox follower of Jesus, but they’ve accepted me, and I’m on the church’s board.”

If you could offer a single message to young or new seekers to the Trad what would it be?

Welcome to the conversation! I look forward to learning from you. 🙂

——————–

Thank you jay for being so willing to share this conversation with me, and the rest of the world. We really appreciate the way you live your faith, practice what you preach, and the warmth and good nature which you share so willingly in act and deed. You’re one of a kind, and we’re truly blessed to have you in our priesthood!

——————–

If you would like to be featured, or know someone who should be – drop us a line at serenitycoven@gmail.com

 

 

Tabs on Trad Feature: Lauren DeVoe

In early March of 2013, I was searching the internet for a look into what other Pagan and Wiccan families did for different holidays and rituals. I poked the internet, I prodded the google, and then stumbled directly into a blogpost Lauren had written for thepaganhousehold.com in her column Sage & Scourge.

In her article Pagans and Family, Lauren says, “I do not have children. My partner and I are not married. Nonetheless, we are a family. Our Pagan people are our family.” This statement is one that I believe resonates for every Blue Star Traditionalist, and it is the primary reason I chose Lauren as our first Feature.
It also helps that she said “yes.

In reading her responses to our interview/questionnaire (internairre), it was evident Lauren was a great, if not perfect place for us to begin our Tabs on Trad articles. She’s a dynamic new voice, with a friendly personality, an academic with an open mind.

Without further-ado, or gilding of the lily, I present:

An Internairre with Lauren DeVoe.

Lauren

Quick Facts:
Degree: 1st Initiate, Since Feb 15th 2013.
Coven: The Iron and Cypress Coven
Location: New Orleans, Louisianna
WebHomes:
Sage & Scourge @thepaganhousehold.com
The Blue Star Owl
A Pyrate Perspective

How old are you/ Birthday/ Sun Sign/?
I am 27. My birthday is December 27th and I’m a grounded and stubborn Capricorn. Hippocamps unite!

How long have you been involved in Blue Star?
I believe that I am in my third year? My first Blue Star ritual happened in February of 2011.

Every family has different “types” of people – characters if you will. What role do you think you play in the family – how would your Caricature be drawn?
I am definitely the bookworm. I’m that person that likes to hide in the corner with a good book. It has only been through the Pirates and living with Kenny Klein that I have really come out of my shell. Being a Priestess definitely challenges my need to stay hidden.

Were there any books or people who were most influential to your spiritual growth?
This is a hard one. As a kid I devoured mythology of all types. I think these stories in general have influenced me to seek out the things that I always knew were there. It was through mythology that I learned about the type of divine that resonated with me and the things that I could do to worship that Gods that made all of us happy. Mythology has also had a heavy influence on my academic and professional lives.

What initially brought you B*/ How did you “know” it was your spiritual home.
This is going to be a long answer! Sorry!
My partner Kenny Klein brought me into Blue Star.
But of course, as with most things, it’s not that simple.

I’ve been Pagan most of my life, but growing up in a Midwest, Methodist household with a pretty fundamental father made it a lot harder for me to realize that the Goddess was hitting me over the head with her call. I’ve built shrines and talked to the Goddess my whole life, but I was just a bit slower than others to pick up that there was a title for what I was doing and practicing!

When I was really little, I remember sitting in Church wondering what I was missing that everyone else was picking up and finding such joy in. I never found Deity in a Christian Church. I heard the whisper of the divine when I was by myself outside in the woods and would catch things out of the corner of my eye. I always knew that the world was a magical place. As an early teen I finally said enough is enough and formally walked away from my family’s religion. It was such a relief to no longer be pretending!

I think my first real experience with the Goddess was when I was in college. I had some severe depression issues and in the midst of a really bad bout of it, I woke up one day with Her voice in my head telling me that it was time to make a change in my life. When I started actually listening to Her, my life became healthy and balanced again and I was able to finally conquer the things that were wrong and move forward. But I still lacked a spiritual family. That came next.

I was really lucky and right after college I fell into a group of rowdy pirates who were all practicing Eclectics. They were my first spiritual family and they did a good job of pointing me down paths that I had never contemplated before. They refined a lot of my magical thinking and introduced the beauty of group practice to me. They also put names to the things that I had always known. One of the people that I will always consider to be one of my Priestesses was one of the Pirate Ladies. But the one area that I still had a huge problem with was ritual and where to go next. Something else was just out of my reach…

In the Fall of 2010, I went to a small festival in Ohio for Mabon, where I met Kenny Klein. We didn’t like each other at all. I thought he was a grumpy old curmudgeon. Coming home from that festival, I hit a deer and almost totaled my car. Herne had literally flung himself at me. I knew at that point that the God was talking to me. I had other things going on in my life at that time and I knew that the God was telling me something, I just didn’t know what! (Did I mention that sometimes I’m slow?) Looking back now, I see where he was pulling me.

Kenny and I obviously eventually got over our dislike of each other. When I first started dating Kenny, my friends warned me that he was an Old School Wiccan. It was like a title that vibrated in my head every time someone looked at me solemnly and asked if I was prepared to deal with that. It’s sort of funny now. Remember that I was hanging out with a bunch of Eclectics with authority issues. I had avoided Wicca for a long time. All of the Wiccans I knew had a lot of drama going on in their Circles and in their lives that I had no interest in having as a part of my spiritual life. One of the worst rituals I’ve ever lived through (and it was a ritual that I lived through) was “Wiccan”. I thought that if that’s what they were all going on about, I had no interest whatsoever in having any part of it.

I also didn’t want to practice a religion just because my partner did.I had watched my mother do that and I felt that it was very hypocritical. As a typical Capricorn, I dug in my hooves and said “No”.

But, after meeting the rest of Kenny’s coven and having the opportunity to hang out with everyone, I got to know the people first, which is probably what convinced me to ask to come to a ritual. Not to mention curiosity to see what it was that was such a big part of my partner’s life. I knew that there had to be some compromise; I just wasn’t sure what shape it would take to make us both happy. I never expected to find a home in Blue Star.

In the midst of that first Blue Star ritual, I knew that I had found what I had been looking for. Everything I had done before had led me to that moment. It was so different from what I expected. The first time one of my coven sisters mixed salt and water, that zing happened that still happens for me every time we go into Circle. It was like this ritual tied up everything I had experienced and thought about in my Pagan path so far. I still had a lot of issues with traditional Wicca and it took me a long time to sort through those and decide that Initiation was something that I wanted to seek, but I knew that I had finally come home in that Circle.

While becoming a Priestess was not something that I ever expected to happen to me, I’m so glad that it did and that Blue Star appeared when it did.

The work I’ve done through Blue Star has changed and inspired the rest of my life.

The hard work and effort that has gone into this path is paying off and I’m so excited to see what comes next. I am truly blessed to have found my path in Blue Star.

Could you explain the differences between the places you write for us?

My Blue Star Owl blog on WordPress was actually a blog that I started to use to work through my thoughts on Eclecticism and Wicca and then as something to help process my outer court experience. Kenny always joked that if we discussed something I would probably end up writing a blog about it.

To me, questioning the place of traditions and hierarchy in modern Paganism is important, so is highlighting issues found throughout the modern Pagan community. Writing just happens to be my vehicle for processing thought and working through things. These days it ends up being whatever is on my mind or interests me at the moment.

I think I didn’t realize how important this type of writing is until I disagreed with one of the major Pagan bloggers out there and they and their fans saw it.

I had 12,000 hits in one day and people across the internet yelling that I was the most Gods’ awful person ever for suggesting that I might disagree with this person. People still like to email me and rail against my opinions on this particular subject. I realized that if just one person reads my blogs and starts a discussion about it, than I have done my job. I think this is an idea that I have carried into my Priestesshood. If I can inspire people to seek out a different opinion or viewpoint on something, I can help teach them a different way to think or approach it. We have so many resources out there and we should use them!

Sage and Scourge at The Pagan Household was originally about how Kenny and I combined our two practices in a new household. I think a lot of people, even in the fairly open minded Pagan community, make automatic assumptions about how the term family is defined. My closest family is not my blood relatives.

I wanted to let people see that you didn’t have to be married or have children to create a family and that two people of sometimes widely different viewpoints could create a strong and balanced family life. I wanted to show that there are other alternatives out there.

I also wanted to show that you can be openly Pagan and be accepted within your wider community.

In general this is a family oriented website that likes to present resources and help to other Pagan families. I enjoy having a place to offer rituals for specific events and recipes for sabbats, as well as discussing Pagan ideas of family, history and resources available for those who don’t know about them.

My blog at Pagan Square, “A Pyrate Perspective”, is generally my much more academic or scholarly blog. I also approach many more political issues over there. Again, this goes back to creating dialogue and showing that there are many more view points out there than just the big names. You don’t have to be famous to have an important view point.

Sometimes I like to joke about the Pagan Blog Mafia, if you disagree with them, you get yelled at and called vile names, but without an alternate viewpoint, how can you truly think an idea through?

As a young practitioner, I think I also need to speak up with a voice from the newest generation of Paganism. Our community is growing and changing every day. It is an exciting time to be a Pagan!

What inspires you to write? Where do your article concepts come from?

Anything that fires me up! Sometimes it’s a myth or a piece of history that I love. Sometimes it’s political. Sometimes it’s something that came up in my real life. I am also one of the few people I know who didn’t start out with Wicca. Knowing my own struggle with Wicca, I want to let people know that despite some of the crazy out there, it is a practice that is both powerful and meaningful and that you shouldn’t automatically shun it if you’re looking for a Pagan path.

Is there a particular Sabbat that is most fun or fond for you?

Samhain is probably pretty stereotypical, but to me this has always been an important time of year in my life. Some of my biggest life choices have occurred at Samhain and some of the best rituals and celebrations I’ve been lucky to be a part of have occurred at Samhain. I also have a strong connection with the other side of the veil and the dead and this is a time of year where my senses really stretch out. In Ohio, we used to rent cabins out in Hocking Hills and make a whole weekend of it. It was always a special sabbat for my group of people.

What are some of your lesser known/unblogged about hobbies, or interests?

I’m a pretty avid Cosplayer. A friend of mine and I spend hours and hours making our own costumes. Luckily enough, I live in New Orleans and have a ton of places to wear them! The idea of masking is also one that I find to be extremely important and relevant in my Pagan life.

I am also a sub-krewe commander in the Krewe of Chewbacchus. If you like Science Fiction and Fantasy, this is the Mardi Gras parade for you! My sub-krewe is The Party Elves of Mirkwood, the dudebros of the forest. It’s all about Randy Thrandy!

You seem very politically active, are there initiatives you are involved in that you would care to explain or have us link to through your feature?

I am a huge fan of Slutwalk, which is about “working to challenge mindsets and stereotypes of victim-blaming and slut-shaming”. Slutwalks are usually local events where women meet up in various states of dress and “protest” victim blaming. (You know the, well she was wearing a short skirt, she was ASKING to be raped, type of mindest).

I also support Planned Parenthood and any Pro-Choice event. I feel like people don’t understand that when they give up these sorts of choices and freedoms, others are soon to disappear.

Outside of Writing you are also a Model, do you have any other “claims to fame” or accomplishments you would like us to know about?

Haha! This is what happens when you live with an artist! I usually end up modeling for friends and I occasionally perform with Kenny when he has no other options! (Poor Kenny).

I’m about to start work on my graduate degree in the Fall and Kenny and I have a book coming out this winter from Llewellyn about Fairy Tales and magical theory. (I’m pretty excited about that!) We’re focusing on non-Grimm’s tales and are looking at finding magic and ritual within some of our favorite fairy tales.

In the “real world”, I’m an Acquisitions Coordinator that buys all of the books for the Tulane University Libraries. You can never have enough books!

If you could offer a single message to young or new seekers to the Trad – what would it be?

I would tell them to get away from the computer and to find actual people to talk to. Finding physical teachers will allow you to reach places you never expected to find. While the internet is amazing and there are a lot of books out there these days, they just can’t replace experience. Go to Pagan festivals, go to Pagan Pride Days. Seek other Pagan events out. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, get to know your community. Get involved. And most importantly, be curious. Never be content to stop looking for the next idea or project.

Lauren: We are thrilled that you found time to fill out the internairre for us. Thanks for being our first victim…uhh..guinea..err.. Featured Guest.   You are 1 of a Kind and we are ever so happy to have you as part of our Blue Star Family and Greater Pagan Community.

If -YOU- would like or, wouldn’t mind being our next Tabs on Trad vict…Feature,  or you have a suggestion for someone who should be “tapped” contact,  serenitycoven at gmail or reach out to us on facebook.

 

Tabs on Trad: A New Category of Szine Articles.

One calling card of the Blue Star Tradition, is our sense of “Family.”
In an effort to shine a light on what a truly diverse and wonderful family we have, the S-Zine will now be taking articles featuring individuals in our community, their work, websites, artistry, and activism.
You can sort to these articles by choosing the Tabs on Trad selection in the Categories drop down.

All Tabs on Trad articles must be approved by both Serenity Admins AND the subject around whom they center. Blue Star folks are encouraged to throw their name into the hat for being Featured.

Imbolc Fires

Fire-bearers circle figures of The Green Man fighting Jack Frost. Imbolc celebration in Marsden, West Yorkshre, February 2007. Photo by: Steven Earnshaw

As mentioned in earlier entries, Imbolc is the time when we see the quickening of sun’s return. Winter is still here, but spring is on it’s way and coming up fast.  The most commonly revered diety of Imbolc among Pagans is Brighid, for her fires of the forge, and associations with child birth. She is also,  a goddess of Prophecy, Fortune, and Luck.

One of the many rituals observed at Imbolc by Wiccan practitioners is that of Fire Lighting and Candle Lighting, as a reminder of the Sun’s growing presence in our lives again, and as a way to cast off the remaining dark nights.

In our ritual this year we will be also be incorporating Fire Scrying, which is a magical act which combines both Scrying and Pyromancy.

Scrying:

Many different tools are used for scrying,  such as Glass, Mirrors, Stones – things that are usually translucent, reflective, or luminescent. Most commonly used is the Crystal Ball.  No matter the tool used – scrying involves getting oneself into a state of trance so there is usually a medium such as Water, Fire, or Music also present to help relax the mind and tune oneself in with the greater consciousness and allow for unobstructed sight and interpretation from the mind.

The word Pyromancy, comes from Greek pyros, “fire,” and manteia, “divination.” It is suggested/theorized that devotee’s of Hephaestus and Athena may have practiced this ancient art.  Cultures world wide have used Fire to divine the future, see the past, or to figure out which way to go in the present. The Celts, from whom we Pagans garnered the modern celebration of Imbolc, were no exception.

At Imbolc, girls would make a Brighid doll out of a remaining sheaf of last years grain harvest. They would carry this doll from house to house blessing the homes with the fertility of last years harvest. In return they were given cakes, bread, and butter.

From one of my favorite sites; The Pagan Family http://manyhandshouse.blogspot.com

Afterwords, they would place the Brighid Doll, on a “Brides Bed” – a small batch of rushes, with a slachdan in her hand.  The girls would then dance and sing until dawn , and in the morning examine the ashes to see if Brighid had left her footprint. If no print was found, an offering had to be made at a place where three streams met, for luck.

Fire Scrying is less focussed on aspecting the Divine through fire than the elaborate ceremony and ritual of the Brighids Doll and Bed.  It is a practice which uses Divine Fire as a tool to see beyond the known, to the future, and to deep within – the places where normally light does not shine.

Fire has a natural allure, lending itself to gazing particularly when other sources of light are scarce. It is easy to find oneself caught mesmerized by firelight, allowing oneself to relax into the desired trance state, and be a receiver of images first – allow the visions to take place in your mind. If you have a particular question, hold the question lightly in your mind but do not grasp at the answer – allow yourself to take in what is offered to you… interpret it after you part the trance state.

Touchstone Rite, Sacred Wells, and Brighid

Touchstone:

“The origin of the touchstone, is a piece of basalt or slate that metal was scraped on to see if the color and other properties were true: to find it’s genuine nature.In common english terms, the touchstone has come to mean the standard by which we measure ourselves. It can be something we refer to and use to help us move forward, to give us wisdom, strength, and inspiration.  When you hear us refer to the “touchstone ritual” this is what we mean by it.”
– MorningStar

The touchstone ritual is exclusive to Blue Star, but components surrounding it are not.

Water:

Known as source of energy and sustenance – Water has been hailed as a holy element for as long as it has given life. In Wicca Water is venerated not just for it’s life sustaining, but for it’s cyclic nature which mimics our own life transformations and reincarnation. – It is most commonly seen as the womb and the tomb, and the place of unconsciousness, rest, and transformation.

Thalassa: The Greek Primordial Spirit of the Sea

In every, or nearly every culture among men, the myths and healing properties of waters have been revered – as being possessed, protected, and embodiment of the Gods and Goddesses, Spirits.

Holy Waters are quested for, created through ritual, or made use of by nearly every major religion. The waters are used  to bless, test, sanctify, cleanse, and heal spiritual patrons – to bring them closer to their Divine Source(s).   Sacred places, and rituals have been crafted for thousands of years honoring the Divine Water  Spirits, Protectors and Gods, such as those created by the ancient  Celts – for the Goddess Brighid.

The Sacred Healing Wells  and Water of Brighid

saint_brigid_well_kildare

Brighid is often envisioned as a Triple Goddess, and is venerated as the Goddess of Smithing, Prophesy & Healing, and Poetry.  She is the Celtic Goddess of Fire and Water, particularly water where three streams merge together. Often called a Goddess of Healing Waters. She has many Sacred Wells in the British Isles. Perhaps most famous of these is Her well at Kildare which is still maintained and visited by many seeking her favor or to pay honor to her.

brigids-well-kildare-ireland-by-flickr-user-starlingofavalon

Image from : Flickr user Starlingofavalon

This is a beautiful, simple ritual for the creation of a Sacred/Holy Water by Helen Demetriou shows a modern interpretation for creation of Holy Water, sacred to Brighid, using three different waters.

If thousands of years of veneration weren’t enough to impress a person into seeing the significance and majesty of Water as a divine element, some recent Science might just convince someone over that hurdle.  We have barely begun to explore the depth of a single drop of water, just as in many ways, we are only beginning to discover ourselves.

At Imbolc, we have a rare opportunity to  “Reach into the Well,”  through blessed waters of Lady Brighid, to find in the unifying memory of Sacred Water, and to bring back from the past a touchstone – a piece of the sacred self to carry into the future.

Imbolc: People Get Ready

Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-molk or i-molg )  is one of four major Celtic festivals celebrated on the cross-quarter days.  Though the ground is still covered with winter, and the reluctant earth holds out to share her fruits for at least another six weeks, the ewe’s with their big bellies are producing milk, readying  to give birth are a solid reminder that winter’s reign is ending. The re-appearance of milk was a cause for rejoicing and was celebrated by the Celts with a milk feast.

Although most Pagans today are urban dwellers, not really accustomed to the agricultural cycle, leastways that of the ancient Celts, vestiges of the old way remain engrained in our popular culture, both secular and non.

Long before Punxsutawney Phil,  the most renowned Groundhog,  the ancient Celts had a particular familiar belief to that which accompanies the Groundhog Day Tradition. It certainly can’t be just coincidence that Groundhog Day occurs of February 2nd, the most widely used date for Imbolc celebrations.

According to the Carmina Gadelica  the Celts took their cues from the instinct of natures beasts – believing that if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens then spring was firmly on it’s way, but as long as they remained tucked away – the cold grasp of winter was still upon us.

The end of hibernation for animals, gives birth to perhaps the most widely embraced remnant of the old ways, is the tradition of Spring Cleaning.

Though not yet spring, spring was coming, and that meant discovering and taking preparations for the season to come, now.  Imbolc marks the beginning of those preparations.  Time to see what needed mending and maintenance, in an age before industry – everything that required tools, required those tools be care for. In many ways, Imbolc was when people could take measure how well they had sowed the year before by the Imbolc workload.

As primarily urbanite Pagans, we are not likely to all find ourselves going to a farm to practice sheep sheering, or to a smithy to get our forge on – although those are excellent field trips.  Instead you’ll probably see us cleaning our altar tools, restocking our supply shelves, making new candles.  We primarily use Imbolc as a time to tune back in to work that comes before the changes: recognizing that our growth requires a little bit of hindsight and foresight, a good set of tools, and commitment to a plan of action to make the year fruitful.

There’s Water in the Well – if you reach on down
Water in the well
Reach down, reach down
There’s water in the well if you reach on down,
Plenty of Water in the Well.

Water in the Well

With our Imbolc festivities gearing up, we’re all busy prepping for the holiday about prepping.  This year we will be doing a plethora of activities, a touchstone ritual (a Blue Star exclusive rite), as well as Broom Making, and fire scrying.  For the kids there will be pipe cleaner Brighid’s Crosses and butter churning.   I will be posting a little bit more about these things later on, and more songs that we will be using in our ritual. Feel free to include them in your own practice.

Follow Along

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Yule, 2012

Solstice Altar

Solstice Altar

Winter Solstice Ritual was performed by Stormcrow and Arianthe.

The pre-ritual crafting time included arts for the kids, and making of Pomanders for the home.

Ritual:

For the Quarter calls this year, we did something a little different that bears mention for all the Wiccan Parents out there. A little nod to child within, and the children who surround us as well – and we called as Directional Guardians, Jack Frost(East), Mrs. Clause (South), Frosty the Snowman (West), and Santa (North) – complete with ringing them in with Jingle Bells.

shadow puppets
As part of our transition to working with Celtic Deities of the Mabinogion for a year, we Called Gwydion and Arianrhod. Stormcrow told The Birth of Llew (Yule), the first part of a saga he adapted from the Mabinogion which he has titled “A Year and Change” – that follows the life Llew Llaw Gyffes.   This telling was accompanied  by a shadow-puppet show performed by Arianthe.

bonfire
Outside we lit a bonfire for the burning of the 9 Sacred Woods, and inside we honored the Silver Wheel of Arianrhod – and the 13 Sacred Moons.

There was an exchange of Secret Santa Gifts, and Much feasting and Merriment.

Other pictures of the bonfire:

Yule 2012 (8)Yule 2012 (6)

Yule 2012 (9)Yule 2012 (3)

Yule 2012 (2)Yule 2012 (1)

Yule 2012 (7)Yule 2012 (4)

Yule 2012 (5)

 

 

Samhain 2012

Samhain this year was a great success, with our full Serenity Family present, including it’s newest members Fox and Barley, as well as some of our favorite Unusual Suspects from other Blue Star groups.

Our acting Priest and Priestess for the night were the newly planted (Neophyted) Stormcrow, and recently Initiated Arianthe.  The evening included a drawing down of the Morrigan, parting the Veil facilitated by the Priest and Priestess, a memorial of those departed, and an all night vigil.

Due to the late hour and ritual gravity, the children opted out of the Ritual itself for movies upstairs, but they did partake in some crafting earlier on.

Mabon 2012: Blue Star Family

Mabon 2012 was a grand affair for all New England Blue Star family.
The ritual was held in the Unitarian Church of Wakefield MA, and was performed by Stormcrow and MorningStar.

The ritual was full of powerful song, and poetry. Every Blue Star group that attended was announced and represented by an individual. The phases of life and wisdom of the ages were recognized and honored, children helped to pass the harvest around the circle. The 30+ Participants assisted with the raising of a lighthouse to call the Pagans home, and help the lost ones find their way.
As is customary, Feast was part of the Mabon celebration, and the giant pot-luck feast was heartily imbibed.

Much gratitude goes out to all who attended, and assisted with making this event go off without a hitch. Kudos to all the organizers who procured the facility, organized the feast, wrote the ritual, and took active roles.

 

Lammas 2012

Lammas 2012 was put together by DreamingBear and Laughing Shadow were the authors and performers of this years ritual. In short notice they put together a simple and beautiful ritual honoring Ceres and Saturn, and included the traditional elements of offerings to the cauldron and breadman.  The children were primarily absent during ritual due to birthday shenanigans, though Drumming Turtle did partake of cakes and Dreaming Bear made monkey bread with LaughingWolf .

As Stormcrow could not be in attendance, and his traditional salute to Eris at all our festivities was missing, at the farewell portion of ritual we reminded those in attendance to remember the law of guests and fishes in her honor.

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