Jumping off the Spiritual Bus (and why I am no longer eclectic)

For many people who break away from Christianity, the realisation that the world is their oyster sinks in pretty quickly. I was no different and the feeling of euphoria was incredible, albeit overwhelming. Feeling like a child in a sweet shop I travelled around the world picking a little something from every belief system I wanted and began tailor making my own spirituality.

At times I must admit this did leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The words “cultural appropriation” cropped up now and again, but I drowned them out with the excuse that I was a universal spirit, a part of the diversity that is life. I believed that just because I wasn’t a Native American or Tibetan Monk in this life time, didn’t mean that I wasn’t one in a previous life time.  We were all part of the same spiritual soul family.

And this is how my life went on with me jumping off the spiritual bus, doing my shopping and then getting back on again, to only get off at the next stop a little further down the road.

At the beginning of this year, however, the unease of mixing different spiritual beliefs within my practice came back in full force. An understanding hit me; I was lost because I had cut myself off from my own ancestral roots. I was caught in the shining lights of exotic lands. I thought I believed that I was honouring my ancestors, but how could I be if I was off walking the Medicine Wheel?  Where did I belong? Where was my spiritual and ancestral home? There was just too much vying for my attention and it was making it extremely difficult for me to cultivate a deep and meaningful spiritual practice.

Today I see this as a growing trend, not only in spiritual circles, but across the board. We seem to be a society intent on being all inclusive, one people, one world, but in doing so we are losing little by little our own heritage, culture, traditions and identity. The older I get the more I have become to realise that I should be proud of where I come from and that it is my duty to preserve my ancestral roots in this life so that my descendants can be proud of where they come from too.

We have already lost so much of our own heritage that when I see book titles such as, “Australian Druidry” or “Zen Druidry”, I just want to cry. We already know next to nothing about the ancient Druids’ and Celts’ beliefs and practices so why destroy what we do know by mixing and diluting it with another belief system?

So this is why I no longer wish to feel like a wanderer or be eclectic in my spirituality. I want to simply settle down and accept that I am not a part of other cultures, whom I have a deep respect for, but I am a part of my own. The blood of my ancestors runs through my veins and there is no need for me to look elsewhere for spiritual guidance. My European ancestors have such deep roots that span millennia and miles that I have all that I need right under my feet. The Celts, the Romans, the Norse, the Anglo-Saxons. the Slavs, the list goes on. I don’t need to look for answers in other cultures that I have absolutely nothing in common with and I no longer want to take for granted what I have right under my own nose.

But what if I feel really drawn to another spirituality that isn’t part of my own heritage you may ask?

I suggest that you really question why it is that you feel this way; spend time looking at your reasons and see if you can find similarities within your own ethnic traditions. For example, each ancient culture has its own names for their gods and goddesses, but the archetypes are the same across the world. So let’s imagine that you feel drawn to Enumclaw the Cherokee god of lightning, but you are European and not Native American. Research the mythology of European thunder/lightning  gods such as Thor ( Norse), Perun (Slavic) or Zeus (Greek), there are obviously many more.

The same goes for practices such as meditation or yoga; again each culture has its own way of doing this. How about researching Norse Shamanism or Runic Yoga as a start?

Taking a DNA test is a fantastic way for you to begin researching your pre-Christian ancestors and their traditions. My own results have shed light on why I have felt drawn to certain places and people and I have spent a lot of time with each of my ancestral branches. However, I keep being drawn back to my Scandinavian roots and since I now have a flourishing relationship with the Goddess Skadi, I have decided this is where I really want to be.

As for yourself, at least consider your own ethnic traditions first before deciding to go down a foreign spiritual path.

I do not regret having been eclectic and I am truly grateful for everything that this path has gifted me, but I believe that invariably we all one day feel a stronger pull to what is inherently in our blood and bones.

So do you follow wholly a spiritual path once walked by your ancestors? Or are your beliefs more eclectic? I would love to hear about your spiritual journey and the reasons behind your own choices.

Brightest blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Healing Energies of Seashells

Since the beginning of humankind, man has experienced first hand the healing power of the earth and its potential to transform our mind, body and spirit. Most of us are well aware of how we can heal our ailing bodies through the use of herbs, trees, flowers, organic food and even crystals. But have you ever thought about the healing potential that radiates from seashells?

The human body is made up of 70% water and surprisingly enough this is the same percentage that covers the Earth’s surface too. Our ancestors felt this connection; they embraced it and so can we.

Seashells and other gifts from the Earths’ watery womb have played an important part in our human story. These flawless creations would be foraged by our ancestors and used for adornment, currency,  dying cloth, cooking utensils, ceremonial tools and sacred objects as well as a food source.

Water purifies everything it touches and shows us how we can flow around life’s obstacles, instead of attempting to crash head on into them. With stillness and patience we can eventually find ourselves walking upon new sun drenched shores. We become cleansed, nourished and liberated. Water also symbolises abundance because from it all things can grow.

The ocean’s healing energies are deeply ingrained in seashells which makes them the perfect tools for transformation and body sacredness. Using seashells in your holistic practice can ease tension, stress and even pain. Through my own practice I have found that their energies are much softer than crystals, but are just as effective nonetheless.

Hinged shells such as scallops and mussels have beautiful patterns within them that radiate outwards. These shells are ideal to use when you wish to increase the flow of energy within your body as well as for balancing it. Place these shells on or around your body as you are lying down, with the widest part of the shell pointing towards your feet. This allows any stagnant energy to flow easily out of your body.

Spiral shells such as conch, cowries, whelks and abalone are ideal for more precise healing and work in a similar way as a quartz crystal point would. Hold the shell over the point of the body that you wish to heal and rotate the shell anti-clockwise for no more than five minutes to create change. If you follow this with a different spiral shell in a clockwise motion then an increase of positive energy will occur. All shells can be cleansed in water and sea salt. You can also leave them to charge under a full moon as you would with crystals, as the bond between the ocean and the moon is so strong.

The wonderful thing about using seashells for healing is that all you need is your intuition and nothing else. There is no chance of you doing anything wrong.  To get started you could place shells on your chakra points (on their own or with crystals). Scallops and limpets lie nicely on knees and shoulders and on the third eye if you have a headache. Holding a cowrie shell in each hand is extremely relaxing and you could have a go at using a slightly larger one for massage. And lastly, another thing I love doing is placing shells within my crystal grids; my intentions flowing between healing and abundance.

Finding your own seashells will make your healing even more attuned to your body.

Do you use seashells in your healing or spiritual practice? If you do I would love to hear about it.

Brightest blessings,

Hazel xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Origins of the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The sun reaches its highest point in the sky as we enjoy over sixteen hours of daylight. The term solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, with sol meaning “the sun” and sistere meaning “to make stand.” Today the term solstice is used to describe the exact moment when the sun reaches its northernmost point ( around 21 June) or its southernmost point (around 21 December) from the earth’s equator.

Summer Solstice celebrations have their roots deeply imbedded in Neolithic times and both tombs and circles were built in alignment with the rising and setting sun at this time of year. The Druids of the Iron Age called this day Alban Heruin meaning “the light of the shore” and it is also referred to as Midsummer or Litha, an Anglo Saxon word meaning calm and gentle. Probably referencing the beautiful Summer weather.

Some Pagans believe that the Goddess is heavily pregnant at this time and that the God is at the height of his virility. They form the perfect union surrounded by a bountiful earth awash with colour and scent.

Traditionally, people would stay up all night on Midsummer’s Eve so that they could welcome the rising sun. Bonfires were lit on top of hills and the wood they chose to burn was often oak. They danced around the flames, sang, cut divining rods and leapt over the fires and burning embers. These ritualistic fires were lit to invoke good luck, fertility, purity and protection from disease and evil spirits for example.

It was common for courting couples to hold hands and jump over the embers of the Litha fire three times to ensure a long and happy marriage, health, prosperity and many children. Young men jumped over them to prove their courage and strength and young women jumped over the cooling embers to attract a husband and to help with their fertility.

The charred embers possessed protective powers and were made into charms to protect against things such as injuries and were commonly scattered in fields and orchards to protect and encourage abundant crops.

Cattle were guided through the embers too while their backs were singed with a burning hazel twig. Burning gorse or furze was carried around the cattle to bless them and protect them from misfortune.

People would also scatter the embers around their homes for protection, as well as placing them in the hearth. Some people even  lit hazel sticks from the bonfire and raced one another back home; the first one to get there would be blessed with prosperity for the coming year.

In Ireland the oldest woman in the community would circle the fire reciting prayers of protection and houses were decorated with birch, fennel, St John’s Wort and white lillies.

The Celts depicted the sun as a spoked wheel and would bind wooden cart wheels with straw, set them on fire and then roll them down the side of a steep hill. For them this symbolized the turning of the year. It was believed that if the wheel was still alight at the bottom of the hill then a good harvest would follow.

The full moon of June is traditionally called the Honey Moon named after the mead drink that is readily available at this time of year. This was often part of hand fasting ceremonies performed on the Summer Solstice. Mead was regarded as the divine solar drink which was believed to contain magickal and life restoring properties.

Mistletoe was revered by the Druids and was regarded as particularly potent when it grew on an oak tree. Although we associate mistletoe with the Winter Solstice, it was often gathered ceremoniously at Midsummer when it was considered to be at the height of its power. The cuttings would have then been made into protective amulets. Their festivities and rituals would not have taken place at Stonehenge as many people are led to believe. There is no historical evidence that Druids had a connection with Stonehenge, however, modern day Druids still gather at the megalithic stone circle for the Solstices and Equinoxes.

Tree worship has always played an important role in the Midsummer festivities and trees that were found near wells and springs were often decorated with torn pieces of cloth that were soaked in the healing waters. It was believed that when the pieces of cloth disintegrated completely then the malady that they represented was cured.

In some areas of Ancient Greece the Summer Solstice was seen as the first day of the year and a festival called Cronia was held at this time in honour of the agricultural God Cronus . During these wild celebrations, slaves were allowed to swap places with their masters and were treated as equals. The Summer Solstice also counted down the four weeks before the start of the Olympic Games.

In the days leading up to the Summer Solstice, the Romans celebrated the festival of Vestalia (the public hearth).  It was a festival that honoured the Goddess Vesta which included her shrine being ritually cleansed. This was the only time of year that married women were permitted entrance into the sacred temple of the Vestal Virgins to make an offering to the Goddess.

Midsummer was an extremely important time for the Vikings who would already be taking advantage of the milder calmer weather going off in search of land and wealth. For the ancient Norse who stayed behind they would be gathering to discuss legal matters and resolving disputes. Scandinavian and Germanic tribes would also have built huge bonfires and visited healing springs.

If you know of any European traditions or folklore associated with the Summer Solstice then I would love you to share them.

Summer Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

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Celebrating the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is a day of celebration as well as deep introspection. Not only do we rejoice in the sun’s power at its peak, but we also come to the realization that the days from now on will be growing shorter as the harvest approaches with haste.

To mark this special occasion here are some ways that you can celebrate, give thanks and bring your desires to life by channelling the sun’s potent energies.

Sun sensitive paper is a fantastic way to decorate your book of shadows or green witch journal. It is so easy to use and it is a fun activity for children to do as well. All you need to do is place leaves, flowers, or any other object on the special paper and then leave it outside in the sun. The paper will change colour around the objects leaving a beautiful print. Just follow the instructions and make sure you do this on a sunny day.

With the abundance of flowers and grasses at the moment now is the perfect time to experiment with natural dyes to use on handmade paper, fabric and for creating inks.

Floating little paper boats down a river or stream and writing your wishes or blessings on them is a magical thing to do.

Find a farm where you can pick your own fruit and vegetables. I love picking strawberries, but be careful though just in case they decide to weigh you before you go in and when you come out 😉

You are never too old to make daisy chains.

Flower garlands are easy to make and you can find everything that you need around you. Leaves, flowers, willow, Virginia creeper and herbs can all be used.

How about harvesting and drying your own herbs? Paper bags are perfect for this if you don’t have the space to hang them to dry. There is plenty of information out there to guide you.

Once your herbs are dry you could create your own potpourri or lavender bags and perhaps you could also add them to candles, soaps and bath bombs as well. Some essential oils that have a Summer vibe about them are lavender, orange and vervain.

Faeries and other land wights always appreciate a little gift and this is their favourite time of year. Offerings of fruit, nuts, flowers, honey and milk are all welcome.  Perhaps you could craft faery doors and faery houses out of wooden lolly sticks.

Kite flying is a lovely way to send your petitions up into the sky.

If you can get yourself to the coast then beach combing is a perfect way to gather materials for some beach art. Sea glass, pebbles, shells, seaweed and driftwood can all be used to make mobiles, wind chimes, land art, mosiacs and jewellery. Shells can be used to decorate a multitude of items including, mirrors, frames, wreaths and flower pots. And remember, if you see any rubbish on the beach and it is safe to do so, pick it up and throw it away properly. We all need to do our bit for Mama.

Your altar can now be transformed into a sun shrine, covered with symbols of fire and light with shades of gold, yellow and bronze.

Quench your thirst by making your own fresh lemonade, elderflower cordial or follow the many different recipes you can find that use dandelions.

For those of us who are unable to greet the solstice sun at dawn, then leaving a battery operated tea light candle on an east facing windowsill is the next best thing. Then in the evening when you bid the sun farewell at sunset, you can switch it off.

Treat your garden to a new edition; a pond. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a washing up bowl, a baby’s old bath or even a large plastic box that is placed in a hole in the ground with some aquatic plants and a sloping edge made of pebbles or stones. Again you can find plenty of tutorials and advice on the internet or your local library. Mother Nature will thank you for it.

Is there a sad looking area near you that could do with a pick me up? Guerilla gardening is becoming more and more popular now and can really make a difference to people’s lives. It needn’t cost much and with a group of friends would take no time to do.

Have fun creating your own land art using leaves, flowers, pebbles, rocks, branches and even crystals to make anything from beautiful mandalas to 3D sculptures.

And last but not least your Solstice ritual. Let it be about celebrating your accomplishments so far this year, gratitude and self healing. Weather permitting I’ll be outside enjoying my ritual at midday.

If you have any cool ideas that I haven’t mention then please don’t hesitate to share them.

Summer Blessings to you all.

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Beltane

The spirit of Mother Nature and the cycle of her seasons are an inspiration to me and the vibrant and dynamic festival of Beltane is my favourite spoke of the Wheel of the Year.  The transition from Spring to Summer is a magickal time and here are just a handful of ideas  to help you celebrate with me.

Pine cones not only make fantastic fire starters, but they are also a wonderful way to transport your intentions to the Divine. On small pieces of paper write down your dreams, wishes and healing prayers. Roll them up tightly and tuck them into the sides of your pine cones. Then all you need to do is throw them onto your bonfire and allow your petitions to float up to the sky.

For those of you who are not able to have a bonfire then this next idea is a lovely way to help you manifest your dreams with a little help from Beltane’s fertile energies. Something I love to do is to light a piece of paper with my wishes written on it and then as it burns I let the ashes fall onto a little flower pot filled with soil. After this I meditate while holding a seed, letting all my feelings and emotions fuelled by my desires flow into it. I then plant the seed into the soil. For me this symbolises myself and the Divine Earth merging our energies together. And as the seed grows so do my dreams. You could perform this ritual on a new moon as well. At the last new moon I planted a sunflower seed.

Something else you might like to do is to tie strips of cloth or ribbon to a branch of your favourite tree. You could use different colours to represent different wishes. Green for prosperity and yellow for joy for example.  Afterwards don’t forget to give the tree a hug of gratitude and feel your wish come true. When you have finished leave a little eco friendly offering for the tree.

A sweet decorative idea for an outside altar this Beltane are mossy balls. To start with take a large piece of moss and lay it moss side down. Place a polystyrene ball on top and then carefully wrap the moss around the ball securing it with moss clips that you need to push down as far as they will go. Spray them now and again with water so as to keep them moist.

And lastly how about some childhood classics like making daisy chains, flower crowns, leafy Green Man masks and friendship bracelets.

Brightest Beltane Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

The Origins Of Beltane

The festival of Beltane is celebrated from dusk on 30th April to sunset on 1st May. It is a fertility festival that celebrates love, life and the union of the masculine and feminine. In the ancient past, young men and women would spend the night in the woods re-enacting the blessed union of the God and Goddess so that the fertility of the land was ensured. This act was known as “going a Maying” and any children that were conceived during these Green Marriages were known as “merry begots” and were seen as a blessing from the Divine.

The name Beltane originates from the Irish Gaelic Bealtain. There are many more variants of this name which I list at the end of this post. It is believed to be linked to the Celtic sun God Bel. In England Beltane was only celebrated in Cumbria and the far South West.

May Day is the beginning of the Merry Month when people wore green to honour the abundant life that surrounded them. Many villages would elect a young girl to be their May Queen (symbolising the Goddess) and she would lead a procession through the local community while songs were sung and her consort would have been a young man who was called Jack in the Green, the May Groom or the May King (symbolising the God).

After extinguishing their hearth fires, people would climb to the hilltops and light two fires. Cattle would be driven between them to cleanse the animals as well as to ensure their fertility. Afterwards the cattle were put out into the fields.

It was also traditional for newly wed couples to jump over the fire to attract good luck and conceive healthy children. Others would jump over the fire to attract a partner into their lives and for some it would ensure them safety on their travels. The fire would also ensure the safe delivery of a pregnant woman’s baby.

The young couples that took part in the Green Marriages would, the following morning, lay flowers underneath the Maypole and on the doorsteps of those who were unable to join in with the bonfire festivities.

The symbol of the Maypole represents the male phallus that is thrust into the earth, while the ribbons that are wrapped around it represent the wrapping around of the womb. While dancing around the Maypole, the men go anti clockwise, symbolising  death and the sacrifice of the God and the women go clockwise symbolising life and the abundant Goddess.

At this time of year people would visit sacred wells, drink their healing waters and decorate them with greenery and offerings. They would also dip torn pieces of cloth into the water and hang them on nearby tree branches for healing prayers. They believed that when the cloth completely rotted away the illness would leave the person’s body.

On the Isle of Man it was customary for the youngest member of the household to go and pick primrose flowers and throw them at the front door.

Young men would go May Birching, placing Mountain Ash and Hawthorn branches on girls’ doors that they loved. Sadly if you were a girl that a boy didn’t love , you might have woken up to find thorns on your doorstep instead.

Crop fertility was extremely important to our ancestors as it was a matter of life and death and some women would ride brooms hobbyhorse style across the fields to ensure the crops success during fertility rites, as well as have menstruating women dance naked in newly sown fields.

The 180 foot Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset England is believed to be a Celtic hill carving where couples used to lay on his 8 foot penis in the belief that this would help them conceive a child. Some historians believe that this act was part of a Celtic fertility rite because the sun is directly in line with the figure at this time of year.

With the arrival of Christianity the month of May became Mary’s month and the wild and fertile goddess was transformed into the pure and chaste virgin.

Beltane like Samhain is a time when the veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest and it is said that the fae folk are able to show us glimpses into their world. However, mortals beware, because if the Queen of the Fae rides past you on her pure white horse while you are sitting under a Hawthorn tree then you must close your eyes and turn your head away, for she can lure you away for seven long years.

It was said that Faery children were often substituted for human children and were called “May Changelings”. To protect their home from faeries on May Eve, people would place Rowan branches around the doors and windows. Bannock cakes and left over food were then left outside for the fae in the hope of winning their favour.

For the rest of Europe the month of May was dedicated to many different Goddesses and festivals.

The Greeks celebrated Plynteria a festival that honoured the Goddess Athena. The festival included the ritual cleansing and dressing of her statues, which was only carried out by women. Feasting and prayers in the Panthenon also took place.

The Romans celebrated a festival called Lemuralia (9th, 11th and 13th May) where they would cleanse their homes of ghosts and appease the wandering spirits of the unburied dead. It originated from Romulus calming the restless ghost of his murdered brother Remus. It was customary to walk barefoot and throw beans over the shoulder. Pots and pans were banged on while they chanted,”Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors be gone”, nine times. It was therefore unlucky to get married during May which made June very popular for marriages. The full moon in June was sometimes called the Honey Moon due to its colour and the name has stuck ever since for weddings.

On 1st May, the Romans would also honour their house Gods and on 2nd May it was the fire festival of Bona Dea, the good Goddess. She is a Roman fertility goddess who was especially worshipped by women. She presided over women’s fertility and virginity. She is the daughter of the God Faunus and she  was often called Fauna. She had a temple on the Aventine Hill, but her secret rites on 4th December, were not held there, but in the house of a Roman magistrate. Only women were admitted and even representations of men and beasts were removed. At these secret meetings it was forbidden to speak the words ‘wine’ and ‘myrtle’ because Faunus had once made her drunk and beaten her with a myrtle stick. Her festival was observed on 1st May. No men were allowed to be here either.

She was also a healing goddess and the sick were tended in her temple garden with medicinal herbs. Bona Dea was portrayed sitting on a throne, holding a cornucopia. The snake is her attribute, a symbol of healing and consecrated snakes were kept in her temple at Rome. Her image was often found on coins.

Floralia was a flower festival which lasted three days, where the Romans would wear flowers in their hair and singing, dancing and plays took place. On the last day animals were let loose in the Circus Maximus and beans were thrown on the ground to ensure fertility.

Thargelia was a time of release and purification, of reconciliation and balance. On the island of Delos, Latona the goddess of motherhood and her children Apollo the God of light, medicine and poetry and Diana the Goddess of the hunt, the moon and women were honoured with offerings of the first fruits. It was a festival of prophecy, music, medicine and poetry. A young person whose parents were both alive was chosen to carry an olive branch entwined with white and purple wool and decorated with figs and a goblet of wine to the temple of Apollo. The branch was left there until the following Thargelia. Diana’s days were 6th-7th May and Apollo’s were 24th-25th.

The Anglo-Saxons called this time of year Thrimilci, the ‘three-milk month’ because this was the first time after the long cold Winter that the cows could be milked three times a day. It was a celebration of having a full larder and the end of having to ration food supplies.

Warlpurgis Night was a Germanic holiday and here is a really interesting article about it.

Pagan Holidays: Walpurgis Night and how a British lady went from Catholic saint, to Germanic goddess, to witch and gave us a second Halloween

Some Norwegians on 6th May honour Eyvind Kelda, a Norwegian martyr who was tortured and drowned on the orders of King Olaf Tryggvason for refusing to convert to Christianity.

I think I have covered most of the customs of ancient Europe, but if you know of any folklore or customs attaining to Beltane that I haven’t mentioned then I would love to hear them, so please share.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

Scottish Gaelic-Bealtuinn

Manx-Boaldyn

Brittany- Kala Hanv

Cornwall-Cala Me

Wales-Calan Mai or Dydd Calen Cyntefrm

Isle of Man-Shenn Do Boaldyn

And other names are May Eve, May Day, Beltaine, Belltaine, Beltain, Beltine and Cetshaman (Kentu Saminos meaning the first of Summer)

 

 

 

 

 

Mercury Retrograde – A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

It is barely a week now that Mercury has been in retrograde and social media is drowning in information on how to survive this cosmic event that will unleash havoc and chaos over the next three weeks.

So what exactly is Mercury in retrograde and why does it scare people to the point that they blame every single thing that goes wrong in their lives on a planet that is 48 million miles away?

The planets do not move in perfect circles around the sun and from our view point on Earth they sometimes look like they stop in their tracks and then move backwards. This is called retrograde motion. It is just like when you are overtaking a slower car which is still moving forwards, but appears to be falling back. So you could say that this is an optical illusion. But no planet actually slows down, stops or changes direction.

Mercury is not the only planet that goes retrograde, but somehow over recent years it has unfortunately earned the worst reputation out of them all. Some people believe that when a planet is in retrograde everything goes out of sync, affecting all the areas that the planet normally governs, so in Mercury’s case that would be commerce, travel, communication and information. And because  Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and has an orbit of only 88 days, we are overtaken by it three to four times a year. Which means three to four times a year we have Mercury in retrograde.

If people get the idea in their heads that something bad is going to happen then this is more than enough to actually make something bad happen. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. If we actively look for something to go wrong then we will absolutely find it. Mercury in retrograde is an easy excuse to blame our woes on. Your doctor’s appointment was cancelled? Must be Mercury in retrograde! Your train was late? Mercury in retrograde!  This planet is a  scapegoat if you will and Mercury’s influence is vastly overestimated by people; even astrologers. How can an optical illusion have this much control over someone? It’s because they allow it to.

You do not need protecting from a planet in retrograde and please do not be scared by all these posts on social media declaring things like. “Do not travel, do not purchase a computer, do not buy a car or sign important documents.” This is scaremongering.

When a planet is in retrograde especially when it is in your birth chart it is a chance to go within, to meditate or journal, to think about lessons you can learn from and to cultivate self love and patience. Be mindful of self talk and how you interact with others. Your mindset is your most powerful tool. We cannot always have control over what happens to us, but we can control how we perceive it. Remember, don’t react, just act.

Brightest blessings,

Hazel xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating The Spring Equinox

I cannot believe that Spring is well and truly here and even though where I am in the south of England it is still a little cold and drizzly, the flowers, tree blossoms and birds remind me that it is definitely true. So to bring a little Springtime into your life this Ostara, here are a few lovely ways that you can celebrate the lighter days.

  • Creating sacred outdoor space is a wonderful way to soak in the energies of Spring. After weeding and clearing up you could decorate a little corner with handcrafted mobiles, painted flower pots, prayer flags, wind chimes, a shrine or altar with offerings of shells, flowers and pebbles for nature spirits or deity. Don’t feel left out if you live in an apartment, just bring nature inside. Windowsills, shelves and counter tops can all be covered with plants, flowers and herbs.
  • An obvious one I know, but decorating blown eggs is an inexpensive and fun way to celebrate the Spring Equinox. These can be hung with colourful ribbons from windows or even tree twigs in a vase. Experiment with natural dyes like beetroot, dandelion flowers or onion skin. There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest for this.
  • Continuing with egg shells, a cute way of using broken egg shells is to put a little compost into half an egg shell and plant a bulb or some watercress seeds inside.
  • What better way to honour this time of year than to pick up litter from parks or beaches, so as to allow Mother Nature to breath.
  • You can continue with the Spring cleaning and decluttering that you began at Imbolc. Let go of everything that is holding you back from being happy, be it on a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level. Clean with natural products, essential oils and salt even, all blessed with your own positive intentions.
  • Once your space is clean, a Spring Home Blessing can be performed by walking around each room, not forgetting those pesky corners, with a smoking herb bundle,  ringing a bell and carefully flicking salt water. Then you can say a few words yourself perhaps like,”I bless and protect this space with the love and light of the Goddess.” It doesn’t need to be grande occasion, just something small and simple, but it will really kick stagnant energy out and will fill your space with positively flowing prana.
  • Now that we are on the tipping point of having more light, use the waxing solar energy to boost goals and projects.
  • You could perhaps make your own Equinox water by filling a glass bowl with spring water and leaving it outside from dawn to midday. This can be used in your home blessing, your Equinox ritual or keep it to revitalize your plants with.
  • Perform a ritual for the passing of the dark half of the year. A white candle can be lit to represent the light half of the year and a black candle for the dark half.
  • This is the perfect time to do prosperity seed spells because you can use the energy of the germinating seed to fuel a goal of yours that you are wishing to achieve.
  • There’s still just enough time to get those bird boxes up. These are a great way to not only give birds a helping hand, but they can be very decorative and brighten up your outside space. Insect hotels can be built easily and inexpensively as well. Your garden will be a real wildlife haven.
  • Are you lacking drive? Meditating on the lunar hare is a fabulous way to connect with your inner creativity and fertile passion for life.
  • The easiest one of all is of course getting yourself outside, to the park, beach, forest or ancient site. Just to feel the breeze and sun on your face even for 5 minutes can do a magnitude of good for you on all levels.

So here were 13 easy ways to celebrate Spring. I would love to hear how you celebrate the equinox. If you want to ask me any questions about what I have written or anything to do with holistic living, green witchcraft or paganism, then don’t hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to answer your questions.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

The Origins Of Ostara

The celebration of Ostara or the Spring Equinox  and Alban Eilir (the festival of trees) normally falls around 20th March every year. Day and night are balanced for just a short moment before the days grow noticeably longer and warmer.

Deep within the earth life is sprouting, as wildlife and cattle prepare to give birth. The joyful rebirth of the Earth has truly begun. Everything in nature is coming alive and Demeter has been reunited with her daughter Persephone who is back from the underworld of Hades.

Ostara or Eostre is a popular mainstream name used today in place of the term Spring Equinox in some pagan communities. She is seen as an Anglo- Saxon goddess who is portrayed as the goddess of Spring, but is there any historical evidence to support this?

The only reference that can be found is in the writings of the Venerable Bede (673-735) titled The Reckoning of Time which describes the solar and lunar cycles followed by Pagans which they used to determine the course of the year. He explains that the months took their name from the moon, “for the moon is called mona and the month monath”. He continues, “The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giulli; February is called Solmonath; March Hrethmonath; April Eosturmonath…”

Talking about Pagans he explains,”Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated Paschal month and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month”.

This is the only source that we have on Ostara. We don’t know anything about the kind of feasts that took place and there is no mention of chicks, eggs, rabbits or hares; only that she was honoured in April. Christians then applied the name which today is Easter to one of their most important feasts.

If the Anglo-Saxons did honour a goddess at the time of the Spring Equinox then it would have been the goddess Hrede for whom Hrethmonath was named after.

Modern mythology attempts to associate Ostara with hares, eggs and hot cross buns, but there is no evidence at all for these. In some parts of 17th and 18th century England, however,  it was customary to hunt hare on Good Friday or to try and catch a hare on Easter Monday. Eggs were painted and eaten on Easter Sunday with relish as they were  forbidden during Lent and the cross on hot cross buns again is a Christian symbol.

So any stories that you do come across pertaining to the goddess Ostara are sadly just that, stories. Like the tale of Ostara finding a dying bird and being unable to save it transforms it into a rabbit. This story is said to be the origins of the Easter Rabbit.

Another explanation for the Easter Rabbit comes from the confusion of hares giving birth in shallow depressions in the ground that look like bird nests. Some birds like plovers, nest in the ground and when people used to come across the eggs they believed that the hares had laid them.

The Easter Rabbit was first mentioned in German literature in 16th century, when good children who decorated their hats with nests  would be rewarded with painted eggs.

Rabbits were also considered lucky by minors and there is evidence of the association of tin and rabbits inside several churches in Devon that have roof ornaments called Tinners Rabbits. These triangular carvings depict three rabbits sitting down, facing different directions and all joined by the ear.

The hare is also seen as sacred to the Lunar goddess and witches were thought to be able to turn themselves into hares too.

Some pagans believe that at this time of year the goddess is still a maiden, young and carefree just like the god. She courts the young god and their relationship is consummated at Beltaine.

If you know of any tales or ancient customs associated with this time of year then I would love you to share them.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

Celebrating Imbolc

The time of Imbolc is a perfect opportunity to spring clean your home. You could have a go at making your own natural cleaning products,  adding as well some essential oils for a beautiful fresh scent with none of the nasties. I love using lavender and tea tree oil in mine for their germ busting properties. There are so many recipes online for every cleaner you could possibly need. So have some witchy fun in the kitchen concocting your cleaning brews; add your intentions to the mix and you have some cleaning magick.

When your home is spotless, decluttered and fresh, how about thinking of yourself for a change. We can never have enough self love, so just take a moment to think about what you are eating and drinking and how now is the time to go outside and move your body. Healthy doesn’t have to mean deprivation. And before I forget treat yourself to a home spa. I use organic beauty products or I make my own from what I have in the larder. I love my natural foot scrub that I make with sugar and a little olive oil, although any oil you have in your kitchen will do. I swear afterwards it feels like walking on clouds!

If you still have your Christmas/Yule tree in your garden and haven’t gotten around to recycling it then maybe you can hold a ritual burning of the evergreens. Your natural wreaths and garlands can be used as well. Even the Yule log if you didn’t get a chance to burn it all, but make sure you put some aside to light next Yule’s log with. A bonfire or fire pit will do and you can throw in a hand written piece of paper of everything in your life that no longer makes your soul sing. This is a lovely way to say goodbye to one season and say hello to the new one.

Go outside and spend time in your local park or woods. The trees are waking up from their long sleep, so talk to them, meditate with them, hug them (ask their permission first though!) and leave them an offering that is earth friendly.

One thing that I am going to try for the first time this year is make my own salt dough offering stones, which I am planning to leave at several places that I will be visiting over the course of Imbolc. Again there are plenty of recipes on how to make these online.

Imbolc is a traditional time to visit wells and springs, their waters are potent with healing and cleansing energies. If you have been poorly, you can soak a small rag made of natural fibres in the water and hang it on a nearby tree. It is believed that when these “clouties” rot away so does the illness or whatever you wish to unburden yourself of. You could also soak a ribbon in the water that you can hang up while offering up a prayer to the Divine. While you are at the well or spring you could tidy up the surrounding area or plant native bulbs or wildflower seeds. Before you go thank the healing waters and leave an offering made of natural materials or some berries and nuts.

Pick up litter. Even if you didn’t drop it yourself we are responsible for the Earth’s well being and we need to allow her to breath. Though we really need to be looking out for rubbish all year round.

This is the time to start thinking about planting veg and herb seeds indoors  and it is also the perfect time to plant trees.

Brighten up your personal space with fresh plants, flowers and candles. Burn incense and hang up little bags of bamboo charcoal air fresheners in each room. These are fantastic for removing toxins and odours from the air as well as increasing the amount of negative ions in your home.

Continue feeding the birds and leaving out fresh water for them. Now is the time to get those bird boxes up, but check first what the best height and position is for the type of birds you are wanting to attract.

At Imbolc we look to Goddess Brigid for creative inspiration. Try writing some poetry, paint, craft, make a Brigid’s cross (two years ago I made one out of pipe cleaners) or learn a new instrument. I am thinking about learning the Irish whistle. Watch this space!

Lastly, begin planning your year and make it your most exciting yet. Use these Spring  energies to boost your drive and determination and start living the life you deserve.

I hope these ideas inspire you and have a wonderful Imbolc.

Please share any of your Imbolc plans. I would love to hear about them.

Many Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

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