Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Review: Voices of the Sacred Feminine

Today I'm reviewing a lovely book that really captures the essence of the Goddess Spirituality movement and makes it meaningful for people - both women and men - in ordinary life. I enjoyed talking with the author on her radio show a few weeks back about Minoan spirituality and its egalitarian values. This book emphasizes similar values and gives a wide variety of interesting viewpoints.

Mythology drives culture and hence politics and the economy, so in order to change politics and economics, we have to change the mythology. That is exactly what Karen Tate has been doing for nearly a decade now with her radio show Voices of the Sacred Feminine. Her new book, also titled Voices of the Sacred Feminine, is an anthology that collects many powerful thoughts about Goddess spirituality as a tool for implementing that change on a personal, community and world level. Some of the pieces are essays written for this collection and some are transcripts of interviews from the radio show; all offer valuable insights into ways we can shift the current paradigm toward a more balanced, compassionate one.

Voices of the Sacred Feminine is not a polemic – though of course, people steeped in the limited monotheistic patriarchal worldview may view it as such – but an encouragement to move forward, evolve, and heal, both within ourselves and in our communities at large. The wide variety of women and, yes, men who contributed their thoughts to this collection provide us with a window into Goddess spirituality in its great diversity as well as its underlying unity. In these pages you will find righteous anger, certainly, but also compassion, inclusion, and the stubborn fearlessness that has allowed women to survive and even occasionally thrive throughout the centuries of male domination. It is these qualities that drive us forward as we work to change the world.

The book is divided into several sections based on several overarching topics. The first section, which addresses the existence of the Sacred Feminine and its (Her) manifestation in the world, gives us glimpses into divine forces from Mary Magdalene to Lady Liberty. These essays and interviews remind us that the Goddess is always relevant in every day and time and that to leave Her out is to risk dangerous imbalance, as we have seen for so long in worldwide society. The second section offers a variety of journeys into healing through opening ourselves to the Goddess in Her many guises. Whether it’s a formal ritual, a meditative reading, or a thought-provoking essay about why the Goddess should be important to men, each piece suggests a way toward the healing that is necessary if we are to put ourselves, and our world, back together again. The third section focuses on the values and paradigms that Goddess spirituality offers to the realms of politics and business. How wonderful it would be if the cooperative, egalitarian spirit of the Sacred Feminine infected our governments and companies! But that won’t happen on its own; we have to work for it. And the fifth section shows us exactly how we can achieve that goal. Sacred activism is a concept that can help us bridge the gap between personal spirituality and doing good in the world.

The Goddess lives in all of us and She empowers us to speak out against the current, damaging paradigm. But instead of just complaining, we must offer a replacement, a new model. Voices of the Sacred Feminine addresses exactly this issue, this need to find a better way and to take action to implement it in the world. As Ms. Tate so perceptively comments, we must take on the taboo subjects of sex, religion, power and politics if we are to change them, and with the Goddess at our side, I believe we will ultimately succeed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas with Dionysos

You've probably seen those memes that list a number of gods who were born at Midwinter and whose attributes coincide with the Christian tale of Jesus' birth. Today I'd like to tell you about one of those gods in particular: Dionysos.

Young Dionysos on a satyr's shoulders

Click the link below to read my post on the Minoan Path blog at PaganSquare:

Christmas with Dionysos

I wish you all a joyous holiday season and a safe, happy and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

As Solstice Dawns in Knossos

Travel with me, across the world and back in time, to a Winter Solstice morning in ancient Crete...

The Throne Room in the ancient Minoan temple at Knossos

Today's Minoan Path blog post takes us back to the dawning of the Winter Solstice at Knossos many generations ago. Join the others gathered in the temple plaza, awaiting the miracle of Midwinter. Click the link below to read the post.

As Solstice Dawns in Knossos

If Minoan Paganism interests you, I invite you to come join the discussion on Facebook at Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Season of Trees

Ever since I was a small child, the Christmas tree has symbolized the winter holiday season to me. More than Santa, more than caroling, more than the nativity scenes that were scattered all over the town I grew up in, it's the tree that encapsulates the whole season. Why is that? What deep memory does this image speak to?

Our tree this year
I remember my first priestess telling me the 'Christmas tree lore' from her Irish Pagan tradition. She insisted that the Christmas tree was invented by the Irish when the Brehons (the elders who acted as arbitrators within the community) insisted that local residents tie packets of food to trees at crossroads so winter travelers wouldn't go hungry. Funny how everyone wants *their* tradition to be the one that came up with the idea of the Christmas tree.

I've also spent a lot of time listening to people argue about whether the Christmas (Yuletide/holiday/etc.) tree is a Pagan symbol that shouldn't be used by 'proper, God-fearing Christians' (not that I've ever been one of those). I even had one very sincere woman tell me that you can suss out the closet Pagans because they use live trees; apparently, in her world, Christians stick with artificial trees.

Come on, people, you're missing the point. It's a symbol that works. It evokes something very old yet still very relevant, even for folks who don't ascribe any religious meaning to the winter holidays. So what deep part of our collective memory does the Christmas tree tickle?

I find it interesting that the Christmas tree seems to overlap in the collective psyche with the birth of the baby Jesus, even though there's no mention in the Bible of trees of any sort associated with the birth scene. But trees are associated with divine births throughout the ancient world. Certain trees on the island of Crete, for instance, were revered as the birthplaces of deities, and pregnant women brought offerings to the trees in hopes of a safe and swift delivery.

One of my favorite deities, Dionysus, has a double birth story. The Minoan earth-mother goddess Rhea is said to have birthed him in her cave on Mt. Dikte, but he is also recorded as having been born beneath a pine tree, with a star in the sky directly above alerting the world to his arrival. Hmmm.

Modern Pagans tend to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun at Winter Solstice, weaving the scientific knowledge of the cosmos with the age-old mythos of seasonal renewal. Steven Posch recently shared a great blog post about birth trees that speaks to this subject.

But there's more to the Christmas tree than just the birth of a deity or the renewal of the Earth's seasonal cycles. There's a deeper Mystery here, a different kind of birth. You see, the tree is the World Axis. That's right.

Dionysos can show us how it works. In his earliest form he's a shamanic deity, a walker-between-the-worlds who helps us do likewise. To lead us to the Otherworld and its Mysteries, he grasps a low branch, heaves himself up and gestures for us to follow suit. We climb the tree, aiming for the star that is the doorway to the next world - the Pole Star, the nail that holds up the Heavens, the post on which the Cosmic Mill turns. And when we are ready to return from the transformational experience, the journey to the Otherworld, we climb back down the tree, birthing ourselves back into this world.

I should add, the reason for giving birth beneath a tree, particularly a sacred one, is that you're giving birth beneath the World Tree. The new soul comes down the tree from the Otherworld and into the baby as it's born.

So when you look at your holiday tree, no matter what you call it (or whether you call it anything at all) know that you've found the center of the universe. And for this season at least, that door is open if you'd care to follow Dionysos on his journeys.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Southern Hospitality: Thou Art God/dess

I grew up in the American South, a region that has its own set of social rules distinct from the rest of the country. Much of this tradition comes from the Irish and Scottish settlers who filled the Appalachian region and brought their Celtic lifeways to the New World. Let me tell you about some of the customs I’m familiar with, then I’ll explain why we follow them and why they have spiritual significance, especially for Pagans.

One of the first bits of Southern hospitality I learned as a child is this: if I go over to someone’s house, especially during the holidays, they’re going to offer me food and drink. They’re not trying to show me up or ruin my diet; they’re being hospitable. I learned early on that I mustn’t insult them by refusing what they offer, though it’s perfectly acceptable to have only a small serving.

My great-grandparents, Jonathan and Martha Dukes,
displaying Southern hospitality at the celebration
of their 50th wedding anniversary

If someone brings food over to my house when my family is in distress (say, during an illness or after a death in the family) I will always return the carefully-cleaned dish as soon as possible. What’s more, I’m honor-bound to make sure I don’t return it empty. It may contain an item as simple as a card with a favorite recipe or a small container of herbs or spices, but the rules of Southern hospitality dictate that it must contain something.

If a friend or neighbor does me a favor – helps me dig up a garden bed or looks after my pets while I’m away, for instance – I will be sure to provide some kind of offering in thanks to them. For a small favor I might give them a loaf of my homemade pumpkin bread. A larger act of kindness might inspire me to have them over for dinner or make them up a gift basket filled with items I know they would like.

One of the more unusual bits of old-fashioned Southern hospitality, and one that is dying out in the modern age, comes directly from the Old World: if I’m out in the park having a picnic and someone comes along and greets me, even if the person is a stranger, I might feel obliged to invite them to join me in my meal. Why on earth would I do such a thing?

The Celts believed that the gods walk the earth among mortal humans on a regular basis, taking the guise not just of ordinary people but of the lowest among us – beggars, tramps, wanderers. If I were to turn someone away and refuse to feed them, not only would I be guilty of a lack of compassion, I might also be directly slighting the gods themselves.

A bit of Southern hospitality
at my husband's ninth birthday party

So you see, it’s not about ‘evening the score’ or making sure you don’t owe anything to anyone; it’s about generosity and sharing, and about recognizing the deity in each and every person. What if the friend who came over to your house really was a goddess? How would you treat her? What if the neighbor who helped you trim that tree really was a god? And especially, what if the homeless person in the park was a deity in disguise? How would your response to them be different than if they were a mere mortal?

The phrase ‘thou art God’ may have been popularized by the novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein but it incorporates a much older concept: each and every one of us carries the spark of the divine within us. My favorite book that incorporates these concepts is set in Ireland: The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea. In Ms. O'Shea's story, the gods really do walk alongside ordinary humans (kids, in fact) in the guise of ragged tramps, and they have plenty to teach about the difference between what someone appears to be and what they really are inside.

The rules of Southern hospitality simply remind us to behave as if we remember that fact. And it’s a good thing to remember, don’t you think?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving - Minoan Style

Today's Minoan Path blog focuses on the harvest festival aspect of Thanksgiving. Even though the U.S. holiday is a fairly recent invention, the concept goes back to very early times.

Making bread for a sacred festival
Pottery figurine from the cemetery at Kamilari, Crete
Line drawing by Laura Perry

Discover how the ancient Minoans celebrated the harvest, from the early times of scattered settlements to the glory days of the great temples, and consider how you might bring these sacred aspects into the modern Thanksgiving feast:

Thanksgiving - Minoan Style

For more information about modern Minoan Paganism, come join the discussion on Facebook at Ariadne's Tribe.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chamber of Music: literature for charity

Some of my friends have put together their second annual short story anthology, with the proceeds once again going to charity.

Chamber of Music is a collection of thirteen short stories that focus on the theme of music in one way or another. Music in all its forms is such a fundamental facet of humanity, everyone can relate to it. You don't play an instrument, you say? Well, I bet you hum or whistle or even drum on your desk. Music is in our blood, our bones. It's part of what makes us human.

All the proceeds from the sales of this book go to Musicians without Borders, an amazing nonprofit organization that uses music to bring people together in strife-ridden regions of the world. What better way to remind people that we're all 'us' instead of 'us vs. them' than music?

The fun thing about this particular anthology is the wide variety of genres and 'flavors' the stories represent. The authors hail from seven different countries and have unique perspectives on life.  I spoke with three of the contributors to find out a little more about what inspired their stories.

J.B. Roger clued me in to the inspiration for her story, Song to the Moon: "Mine is inspired by my own singing and performing experiences. I am a musician and teacher for many years. I have played with orchestras, also conducted and sang with a choir and had classical singing lessons from the choir director. I was asked to do solos for a concert and then performed solo regularly in concerts as both Alto and Soprano. The relationships in the story are entirely fictional, I hasten to add here!!! Rusalka's aria is one of several I learnt but never had the chance to perform in concert as the choir disbanded. I am now singing again after a break of several years so you never know!"

C.M. Rosens talked to me about her tale, The Snake Charmer's Pipe : "I was inspired by a secondary character (Emine Kelebek) who appears in the second novel of my dark fantasy series. She's one of the children who get abducted by a Faerie Queen but manages to escape - as I was only following the story of one of the children I left the endings of the other escapees open. It was a chance for me to pay homage to my Turkish roots with the setting and flavour of the story, and explore one of those untold tales." You can find more of her writing on her blog and on Facebook here and here. Sample her writing on Wattpad, where she is CelticRose and CelticMedusa, and follow her on Twitter @CMRosens.

Natasha Rowlin gave me some insights into her anthology contribution, The Cello Room: "Writing The Cello Room enabled me to integrate two important parts of my life - music and movement. My inspiration for Amelia stemmed from my experiences working in physical rehabilitation, and seeing how a seemingly trivial skill to one person could be utterly essential and life-altering to another. I grew up with music, loved it with a passion in my youth and then gradually let it slide with the assumption I could easily pick up where I left off one day if I so wished. But through my work, I came to wonder what it would be like if that choice was taken away? Thus Amelia's story came into being. She is not scarred, disfigured, disabled or even emotionally traumatised. She has lost one small ability, her musical gift, which nonetheless has changed her life." You can find out more about Natasha on her website and follow her on Twitter @womaninsydney. You can sample more of her writings on Wattpad, where she is known as WomanInSydney.

For more information about Chamber of Music and to purchase your own copy, have a look here. The anthology is available worldwide in e-book and paper formats. You can also keep up with PSG Publishing on Facebook and Goodreads so you'll have advance notice of each year's charity anthology, along with giveaways and other fun stuff. And if you happened to miss last year's anthology, you can find out about Library of Dreams as well - it's still available worldwide in all your favorite formats.

The winter holidays are coming up and I bet you have friends and family members who love to read. What better way to give them a present and make a gift to the world as well - remember, all proceeds go to Musicians without Borders. You can also donate directly to the charity through their website. Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gods and Men in Ancient Minoan Spirituality

Did the ancient Minoans revere the Goddess to the exclusion of male deities? Was their culture female-centric? In other words, did they embody the opposite of our current civilization? Find the answers to these questions in today's post on the Minoan Path Blog:

Gods and Men in Minoan Spirituality

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Win a Book!

It's my birthday and I'm giving YOU a present!

Now through the end of November you can enter to win a copy of The Wiccan Wellness Book. All you have to do is share this blog post or the Facebook contest post on Facebook and be sure you have liked my Facebook page. I'll announce TWO winners on December 1. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Death Becomes Us

Today's post on the Minoan Path Blog focuses on a subject most modern people find a bit uncomfortable: death. The ancients had a slightly different experience of death than we do; they didn't have hospitals and funeral homes to keep the distance between the family and the dying. This life experience influenced their spirituality in ways that can help us learn to embrace death as part of the natural order.

A pillar crypt in the Minoan temple-palace at Knossos

Click the title to get to the blog post:

Death Becomes Us: The Minoan Path Blog

To join the discussion about modern Minoan spirituality, hop on over to Ariadne's Tribe on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time to Build an Altar

I recently posted an ancestral healing meditation that included the instruction to set up an ancestor altar. Since then I’ve received several questions about how, exactly, to do this. An altar can help you focus on the task at hand when you’re doing meditation, ritual or spellwork. It can remind you of the energies – deities, ancestors, spirit helpers – who are a part of your path. And it’s not at all difficult to set one up.

Essentially, an altar is a collection of items organized in such a way that they evoke the purpose of your spiritual or magical activities. You can set up an altar right before a ritual and take it down as soon as you’re done or you can arrange an altar that stays in place for an extended period of time.

My Ariadne altar; it lives on the end of my desk

Some traditions have a set of requirements or instructions for altar-building. For instance, some varieties of Wicca require you to place representations of the four classical elements in the appropriate directions on your altar. For other paths, you might need to place particular tools on the altar in specific spots or you might need to ‘feed’ some of the items or dress them with sacred oils. If you practice a tradition that has specific instructions for setting up an altar, then you need to follow those instructions. But if you’re not part of that sort of tradition, or if you’re just looking for inspiration, you can ‘free-form’ an altar for almost any purpose. Here’s how:

The first thing to do is decide whether the altar will be permanent or temporary. For a ritual in the woods or in someone’s living room, when all the accoutrements will be cleaned up afterward, you’ll be making a temporary altar. But if you’d like to set up an altar to your favorite deity or your ancestors and have it in your house as a constant reminder of your relationship with those energies, then a permanent altar is the better choice.

All you really need to start is a flat surface – a large stone for outdoor rituals, a tabletop or bookshelf indoors. We make the temporary altars for our seasonal rituals on a picnic table when we’re outdoors and on the coffee table in the living room if we’ll be inside. My Ariadne altar is a long-term installation; it fills up a portion of my desktop in my office. I also have several altars to deities and ancestors in various places around the house – on bookshelves, the fireplace mantel, a little shelf on the headboard of my bed. Most of them look like interesting collections of knick-knacks, so people who aren’t pagan wouldn’t necessarily recognize them as altars.

My Egyptian altar; it sits on a bookshelf in my living room.

Once you’ve chosen your surface, you can begin to collect up items to put on your altar. If you’d like to define the space with a cloth of some sort, now is the time for that. A piece of plain fabric, a scarf, a table runner – any of these will work as long as it fits the theme of your altar. Think about the colors that make sense in this regard: blue for a water god, red for the blood of the Ancestors, pink for healing. The color you choose should resonate with you.

Now what goes on top of the cloth? If this is an altar to a god or goddess, you might want to have some sort of representation of them. Some people like figurines and small statues, paintings or other images. Other folks like to focus on the symbols of the deity – Mjolnir for Thor, a labrys for Ariadne, a Brigit’s cross for (obviously) Brigit. Whatever you choose should evoke the central focus in your mind every time you look at it.

Now you can move on to the next selection of items. Are there other symbols or images you could add that will give you more layers of meaning? Stones, runes, wands and other ritual tools can add significance. If it’s an ancestor altar, old family photos or other mementos make a heartfelt addition. If this is a seasonal altar, natural objects such as leaves, flowers and rocks can add to the ambiance.

Speaking of ambiance, most of us like a nice candle or two to gently illuminate the altar. For rituals and spellwork, choose candles appropriate to your purpose. Match the color to the meaning, since the purpose of an altar is to evoke a response in the people looking at it, and pay attention to any scent as well, since that can either add to or detract from your purpose. My Ariadne altar has a candle scented with olive leaf and thyme; to me the aroma instantly evokes the Mediterranean, where my patron goddess hails from. You can add scent with incense and essential oils as well. In addition to anointing yourself and any other participants in the ritual or spellwork, you can anoint candles, statues and other items that will not be damaged by the oil. Wooden objects such as bowls and platters will absorb the oil and provide a gentle, long-lasting source of scent for your altar.

As you decide what to add or leave off of your altar, listen to your inner voice. This is the avenue through which the gods and the ancestors speak to us. Few among us will hear clear directions in actual words, but when you feel drawn toward one particular figurine or become uncomfortable with the addition of a particular stone to your altar, pay attention to those feelings. They matter.

When you’re finished, stand back and look at what you’ve created. Does it evoke your purpose? Does it make you think of the deity, the spell or the ritual you’ve made it for? If it does, then you have successfully created an effective altar.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ancestors and Bees

This week on the Minoan Path blog I'm abuzz with information about how the Minoans revered their ancestors. From the beehive-shaped tholos tombs on the open plains to the pillar crypts beneath the great temples in the towns of ancient Crete, the people took the time to honor those from whom they descended. In the hopes that you will take some time to do the same, I also revisit the ancestral healing ritual I posted here last week - just in case you missed it the first time around. So click the headline below and feel the embrace of the ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.

'Tis the Season: The Ancestors

As always, if you'd like to find out more about modern Minoan Paganism, please join the conversation over at Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rite of Ancestral Healing

Samhain approaches; ‘tis the season of the Ancestors. On my Facebook page I recently posted an article that focused on the concepts of ancestral debt and credit – in other words, the ways in which our ancestors’ life experiences shape the family line down through time. I’m not talking about DNA here, though the emerging science of epigenetics may one day be able to explain the nuts-and-bolts of this kind of ‘bequest.’ I’m talking about the Spirit of Family, of your ancestors and your family line, extending deep into the past and, I hope, long into the future.

Coy Thomas Mathis and family in the 1910s

The article talks about how our ancestors’ lack – poverty, war, depression – might be one source of the mindless drive toward consumerism in our current culture. All those empty spaces our however-many-great-grandparents had to live with – are we trying to fill them up with video games and smartphones? My Facebook post prompted one reader to ask a favor. The article mentions the concept of ancestral healing as a way to close the gap, fill the void, and regain the spiritual depth that a relationship with the Ancestors can bring. The reader asked me to create a ritual for just such healing and share it. That is the purpose of today’s blog.

Let’s start with some basics about ancestral spirit work. First of all, you don’t need to have your family tree drawn out all the way back to the Middle Ages. In fact, you don’t have to know your genealogy at all. Your ancestors are in your blood, your bones. Your DNA sings their song. And if you’re adopted, you can also call to the ancestors of your adoptive family – they are truly yours, too.

In the modern world we are not taught how to connect with the Ancestors. Sure, we have family reunions and we might look at old photos, but for most of us, sitting around a fire while a bard or shaman calls up the ancestral spirits is not a familiar activity. It’s this lack of connection with the Ancestors that keeps us from knowing what’s going on inside us; we need that bond in order to heal the family spirit and ourselves as well.

So we’ll begin with this simple act: connecting with the Ancestors. Then we’ll help them find healing while we also discover ways to fill up those empty spaces in our modern lives.

Make some time and space for this activity. You can do it alone or with others, but be sure you won’t be interrupted. Turn off phones, shut off TVs and computers, turn down the lights, have other adults attend any children who won’t be participating (yes, kids can get in touch with the Ancestors just as well as adults can).

Prepare a sacred space using your favorite method. Cast a circle if you desire, but at least smudge or salt the area and consecrate it to the activity at hand. You can do this ritual entirely in your head, as a meditation, but it’s nice to have something physical to anchor your thoughts, so I recommend setting up a small Ancestor altar.

If you have old family photos, display them along with any mementos that help you feel connected to your forebears. I recommend that you only display photos of deceased family members; mixing pictures of the living among the dead can confuse the Ancestors and suggest to them that you would like those particular living family members to join them. No, I don’t think terrible things will necessarily happen if you include a photo of a still-living relative, but I like to err on the side of caution. Please take the Ancestors seriously; they are very real.

Once you have any photos and/or mementos gathered, light a candle or two. My ancestors enjoy food, drink and flowers, so I make small offerings to them before I begin this sort of working. If there are particular foods or drinks that evoke ‘family’ to you, include them. A token amount – just a taste – on a small plate is sufficient. (As an aside, it’s a lovely gesture at special times such as Thanksgiving, Yule, and celebrations like birthdays and weddings to set up an ancestor altar, if you don’t already have one going, and include the Ancestors in your celebratory meal.)

Now sit comfortably and focus on your altar, or on mental images of relatives if you haven’t set up an altar. (But really, set up an altar!) Allow yourself to feel the connections between and among the people. Yes, there are lines like on a family tree, but at an even deeper level there is a spirit that envelops the entire family, binding them all into one enormous entity going far back in time. You might experience this spirit as a kind of fog or miasma, or as incredibly fine cobweb, or some other subtle substance that wraps the whole family into a single entity.

While still focusing on this enveloping spirit, allow your eyes to close and allow yourself to recognize that this ancestral spirit enfolds you as well. Relax into it; it is as much a part of you as the cells of your body. Feel the Spirit of the Ancestors wrap around you like a great cosmic hug. Remember, you are the result of the love of thousands. Feel that love. Open your heart to it and revel in the connection; you are never alone.

Sit with this for a few minutes, allowing yourself to become familiar with the Spirit of the Ancestors.

Now introduce yourself to the Ancestors. Yes, they already know who you are, but announcing yourself is polite, just as if you were stepping through the front door of your grandmother’s house and calling out to let her know who’s there. Tell the Ancestors your name and why you are connecting with them today: to acknowledge their hardships, their wounds, and to help them heal. Allow your mind to open and pay attention to what they have to share with you.

Depending on your particular sensory style you may experience mental images, or feelings, or sounds…even scents and tastes. Don’t try to identify everything right away, but just let it flow. The Ancestors have been largely ignored for a long time; they appreciate our attention and our willingness to communicate.

Once the ‘talk’ from the Ancestors slows down a bit, focus your mind on the concept of healing and ask the Ancestors what you can do to help them heal. Each family is different and each set of Ancestors has unique needs. Whatever comes to you, don’t try to analyze or judge it. Simply accept it as is.

For some, the simple acknowledgment of the difficulties our ancestors have been through is enough to initiate healing. Others may request acts we find odd or silly – taking six raspberries to a particular place and setting them on the ground in a certain spot was my first assignment from the Ancestors. We can’t truly understand what deep underlying effects simple physical actions may have. Trust your instincts and don’t allow yourself to be embarrassed. Often, healing comes about in unusual ways. But obviously, use your common sense and don't do anything dangerous, even if you think the request is coming from the Ancestors.

Once you feel you have received all the communication the Ancestors have for you at this time, you may politely bid them goodbye. But I need to issue a warning here: You haven’t just done a ritual; you’ve begun a relationship. Don’t revert back to the typical modern stance of ignoring the Ancestors. That’s the equivalent of spending an evening with someone and then never speaking to them again. Go ahead and plan, right now, for the next time you’ll connect with the Ancestors again. Set those family photos and mementos somewhere they can become a permanent altar.

Once you have completed the ritual, take a few minutes to sit quietly and notice any differences in the way you feel. Upon connecting with the Ancestors for the first time, many people feel as if they have filled up an empty space they didn’t even know existed before. It is in our nature to be connected with the Ancestors, to have a relationship with them, to live in their midst. When a society forgets this, we all suffer on many levels. Give thanks for the Ancestors and look forward to the next time you meet with them, and you will find healing you might not have expected.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Possession in the Pillar Crypt

Today's Minoan Path blog post is a little different from the ones I've done before. This time, I'm sharing a very personal vision I had in meditation, in which I experienced a few moments in the life of a Minoan priestess in the town of Malia on ancient Crete. Please click on the title below to get to the article.

Possession in the Pillar Crypt

I'd like to dedicate today's blog post to the folks at Ariadne's Tribe - we're a young community, working together to create a practical Minoan spirituality for the modern world. Please join us!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Crane Dance: Walking the Worlds

Walking the Labyrinth can be a moving experience, but what if the Labyrinth itself was a dance? Today's blog post over at The Minoan Path is about the mysterious Crane Dance, the ritual performed by Theseus in gratitude for surviving his encounter with the Minotaur...or is it something more? Click the title below to get to the post.

The Crane Dance: Walking the Worlds

If you're interested in the ancient Minoans, how they lived and worshiped and how we might bring their spirituality alive in the modern world, please join us at Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Love Your Neighbor

I’ve recently been thinking about compassion. All the great spiritual traditions of the world speak of having compassion for others – all others, no exceptions. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Buddha reminded us to have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike. Rabbi Hillel counseled us to refrain from doing to anyone else those things we find hateful ourselves. You get the picture.

In my meditations on compassion, and in my effort to actively include it in my daily life, I’ve hit upon the usual stumbling block: How am I supposed to have compassion for those people who can honestly be described as Bad Guys? You know the ones I mean – the people who not only put themselves over everyone else, but actively do harm either to get what they want or just for jollies.

It’s the old paradox of being tolerant of everything except intolerance, right?

So I started trying to figure out why the heck anyone would purposely do the kinds of things I define as evil. I completely understand the reflexive lashing out we do when we are hurting (the wounded animal effect). That’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean people who think about doing something, know it will do harm, understand that all the great world traditions say it’s wrong, and either don’t care or are actually pleased at the thought.

I finally came to a conclusion that startled me, but I think I may be on to something. Please bear with me as I do my best to explain.

First of all, I firmly believe that we’re all part of a grand whole, connected together with everything and everyone into a great All-That-Is. You might call that all-encompassing thing God, or True Nature, or Quantum Foam. No religion necessary here, but many spiritual traditions do speak of this quality of the cosmos.

In other words, separation is an illusion. You are my other self, as the Maya say. (That’s the Maya people of Central America, not the Hindu term Maya which refers to the illusion of separation I’m talking about here. Confused yet?)

I think some property, some effect of living in a physical body makes us tend to forget the connection, the All-That-Is-ness of things. We believe the physical separation we experience with the body’s senses is the ultimate reality of space/time.

But somewhere in the far back recesses of the psyche, we vaguely recall that in spite of appearances, we are still part of the greater whole. And every now and then, that knowledge erupts, overwhelms us with a feeling of oneness with the cosmos. It happens when we look up into a starry night sky, or hold a newborn baby, or stand alone in a forest full of birdsong. Then we remember who we really are, that we are coterminous with the infinite cosmos.

I think, though, that some of us never make that connection, never recognize that memory. How horrible to feel forever separate and alone in a universe that dwarfs the human body on a scale that’s hard to comprehend. How could anyone cope with such a situation?

By making themselves feel bigger, that’s how. Stepping on everyone around them. Manipulating their way to power, on a small or large scale depending on ability and drive. Doing harm on purpose to reinforce the feeling of control over something, anything.

OK, now I get it. And suddenly I feel great compassion for those people, in spite of all the horrible things they’ve done.

Because I, too, have had moments of loneliness, of separation from everything and everyone, moments of feeling so dreadfully alone that I would have done almost anything to rid myself of the feeling.

But for me, and probably for you as well, those times were just shorts moments we could recover from as soon as we saw a friendly face, heard lovely music, accepted a hug.

I can’t begin to imagine a whole life lived in that kind of darkness. I can understand how it would drive a person to hurt others in an attempt to assuage their own pain. Of course, I know better than to invite damaging, dangerous people into my life, and I’ve gone to great lengths to remove friends and family members who fell into this category. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about them.

If I’m right, I doubt any of those people even have an inkling why they do such horrible things. But I can have compassion for them. I can hope with all my heart that they find what they need to heal, because they are part of the cosmos just as surely as I am.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Baking from Scratch, Minoan Style

Today's blog post on The Minoan Path blog over at PaganSquare is about the collective project we're working on in Ariadne's Tribe, building a liturgy for modern Minoan Paganism. It's quite a challenge, but with the goddesses and gods of ancient Crete to whisper us along our way, we're taking it one step at a time. Click the title below to get to the post.

Baking from Scratch, Minoan Style

Please feel free to join us at Ariadne's Tribe, either to add your own voice to the conversation or simply to cheer us along. We'd love to meet you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Paganism on the airwaves and Interwebz

Looking for some great interviews, discussions, or music with a Pagan slant? Look no further than the radio shows and podcasts that come out of the Pagan community every day. I've listed some of my favorites. What are yours? Please comment with any great Pagan podcasts or radio shows I've missed.

ATC Pagan Information Network
Podcast show with interviews, information about festivals and gatherings, roundtable discussions of Pagan topics and more. Run by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church.

Discovering the Male Mysteries with Mel Mystery
“This podcast is for and about gay and bi pagan men. My podcasts are about what it is to be gay, what it is to be pagan, what it is to be men.”

Down at the Crossroads: Music, Magick, Paganism
Interviews and discussions with writers, musicians, teachers, artists. Lots of music and edgy conversation.

Good Morning Goddess
“Begin each week motivated, inspired and affirmed in your spiritual journey with uplifting advice and inspiration to guide you on your spiritual journey. Hosted by author Krystal Madison, The Witch of Sleepy Hollow and founder of The Pagan Circle and Pagan Parents Online.”

Inciting a Riot: Lighting a Fire Under Comfortable Thinking
Interviews and discussions about a wide variety of Pagan and Wiccan subjects, with a view to finding deeper meaning and exploring heavier concepts than are usually addressed on podcasts.

Pagan Musings Podcast Channel
Weekly shows with a wide variety of content and a large following. Includes news, interviews, music and more.

Pagan Perspectives
Interviews, news and opinions about contemporary Pagan issues. Includes information about a wide variety of groups, traditions and practices.

Pagans Tonight Radio Network
Long-running daily Pagan radio show including interviews, instructional activities, music, trivia, and even shows in Spanish.

Prairie Land Pagan Radio
Hosted by Lynn (SilverWolf) Williams from the Pagan Mystical Paths Center located in Coralville, IA.  A source of news, information, music, special events, and happenings that involve anyone who follows an earth-centered spiritual path. Find all the archived shows under “More” then “Interview Archives” on the menu at the top of every page.

Scroll of Thoth
Hosted by James L. Wilber and Colleen Kelly. “About Magick and Change – Epizeteo Eschaton.” Interviews with a wide variety of leaders, writers, and practitioners from the Pagan and occult community.

The Secrets in Plain Sight
Weekly podcast on a wide variety of Pagan-oriented subjects, from seasonal celebrations to ethics to practical applications of belief.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Meet the Minoans: Zagreus

I've just uploaded a new Minoan Path blog post about Zagreus, one of the lesser-known deities of the Minoan pantheon. Don't get him confused with the Greek god Zeus; Zagreus has his own unique, fascinating character.

Meet the Minoans: Zagreus

I'm fascinated by Zagreus' connection with the sacred animals goat, bull, and serpent, and also by his connection with ancient shamanic and ecstatic ritual practice.

To join the discussion about modern paganism with a Minoan flavor, please visit our Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Finding odd texts on the Interwebz

Many of us are interested in topics that aren't exactly mainstream, from classical and medieval texts to works of magick and esoterica. Books about these subjects can be hard to find and expensive. Here I've shared a few online resources that can help you find what you're looking for without traveling to a specialty library or spending a whole month's salary on books. Enjoy!

Digitized documents about law, history and diplomacy from the ancient world to modern times. Extensive classical and medieval collection. The site is run by Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Law Library

A large database of Arthurian texts, images and bibliographies run by the University of Rochester. Searchable by author, title, image, character, symbol, location and creature.

Searchable online database of texts relating to Irish history, literature and politics. Over 1400 digitized texts from the Middle Ages to modern times. The site is run by University College Cork.

Digitized versions of texts written in or about the Americas from 1492 to 1820. Includes early travelogues and descriptions of interactions with the indigenous people.

Extensive collection of medieval texts including literature and legal/governmental documents

Not just copyright-free works, but also many publicly-available older documents from libraries around the world, including  15th-century Spanish incunabula, records and court documents from the 13 American colonies (pre-Revolution), and other interesting stuff.

MIT's online searchable collection of 441 works of classical literature. Greco-Roman, Chinese and Persian works, all in English translation.

Fordham University's online collection of medieval documents categorized by subject and fully searchable. Includes some MIDI files of medieval music you can play while browsing the site to provide the appropriate atmosphere. :-)

Really extensive collection of classic works about religion, folklore, mythology and esoteric subjects from around the world. Organized by region and subject. Fully searchable.

Just what it sounds like. Extensive collection of texts in Latin from classical to medieval times. Not translated, so get out your Latin dictionary.

These are all older books, no longer in copyright, but many of them are classics in astrology, Renaissance magic, astrology and other subjects.

Tufts University's online collection of Greek and Roman literature in the original languages and in English translation. Easily searchable.

Thousands of copyright-free (published before about 1922) works including lots of classics of literature and folklore.

Run by the University of Rochester, this searchable online database includes texts and art related to the folk hero Robin Hood.

Keyword-searchable database translation of the massive 10th-century Byzantine Greek historical encyclopedia known as the Suda, or Stronghold. Covers all of Greek and Roman antiquity as well as Christian Europe up to the 10th century.

Digitized Middle English texts, especially those that are less common in print. This site is run by the University of Rochester. Click "METS Texts" to get to the list of available digitized works.

Online collection of most literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium in 1453 CE. The goal of this ongoing project is to create a comprehensive digital library of Greek literature from antiquity to the present era. It is a Special Research Project of the University of California, Irvine.

Extensive collection of digitized grimoires and works about Renaissance magic. Searchable.
Digitized materials from the LOC's special collections including selections about magic, old court documents and a scrapbook created by Lewis Carroll.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet the Minoans: Eileithyia

The birth of Heracles with the midwife goddess Eileithyia in attendance

This week I'm sharing some background about the ancient Minoan midwife-goddess Eileithyia on the Minoan Path blog:

Meet the Minoans: Eileithyia

The people of ancient Crete worshiped her continuously from Neolithic times until well into the Christian era, and her worship spread across the whole Greek world.

To join the discussion about modern paganism with a Minoan flavor, please visit our Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why I'm Not a Vegetarian

I feel compelled to begin this blog post with a disclaimer. It's unfortunate that the anonymity of the Internet encourages hostility, rudeness and the tendency to be judgmental, so I’m left feeling the need to explain myself before I even begin. Here’s the thing: How and what we eat is a very personal decision, often fraught with a great deal of concern and angst. All I’m doing in this blog post is describing my own journey. I’m not judging the way anyone else chooses to eat. Whatever you decide for yourself is fine with me; I expect you to extend me the same courtesy.

I’ll begin the actual post by explaining that I once was a vegetarian. I grew up in an abusive family, and in an effort to distance myself from the violence and cruelty of the people I was forced to live with, I attempted to remove as much violence and cruelty from my personal habits as possible. I could identify with animals – they were like me, with faces and personalities and interesting, sometimes odd habits. So I decided not to eat animals.

That practice worked for me for quite a while; it even made me feel more virtuous than people who ate meat. I submitted to my first husband’s constant desire for meat and became an unwilling omnivore with all the expected attendant guilt while I was married to him, then went back to vegetarianism after I divorced him. I felt sure I was enlightened and awake and all those good New Age terms; I thought I understood the meaning of life. Yikes. Then a friend suggested I study Buddhism; after all, that’s the next step after vegetarianism, right?

I began learning about Buddhism right around the same time I began my training in herbalism. Partly for Buddhist practice and partly because I like a challenge, I began the habit of choosing a phrase or concept each New Year’s as a meditation focus for the upcoming year. That’s right, meditating on a single subject for a whole year. Yeah, I know there’s professional help for that. One year I chose “All life is one life.” That’s the same year I began working with plant spirits, inspired by a couple of my herbalism teachers.

I had some profound experiences with the plant spirits; it’s not an exaggeration to say they changed my life. My whole worldview upended thanks to a few interesting herbalism workshops and classes, all during the time I was meditating on “All life is one life.” I began to realize I was missing a really basic concept in that I identified only with animals, and not the rest of the living world, the rest of the cosmos. That’s when it began to dawn on me that saying, “I won’t take a life for my food; that’s why I’m a vegetarian” was a value judgment of the most profound order. My ability to identify with a cow had led me to stop eating them; my inability to identify with a carrot was actually a shortcoming, and it led me to believe that one kind of life (animals) was more valuable than another kind of life (plants). Ultimately, that’s a kind of chauvinism. It says that life that is like us is more valuable, more worth preserving than life that isn’t like us.

People like to joke about being at the top of the food chain, but we really aren’t. The microbes are. But we don’t think of bacteria as living things except when we’re working to exterminate the ones that make us sick (‘antibiotic’ means ‘against life’). Sure, Ye Olde High School Biology Course taught us the basic definition of life – it’s alive if it reproduces, takes in nourishment, excretes waste, and so on – but when we think of living creatures, we confine our thoughts to the animal kingdom, because we’re animals and that’s what we identify with. Makes sense, in a myopic sort of way.

The thing is, when I began working with the plant spirits, I began identifying them as fellow living beings. I did a little reading and discovered that plants have DNA just like animals do. Most of them have circulatory systems. The only difference between a molecule of hemoglobin and a molecule of chlorophyll is that the hemoglobin has iron in the center while the chlorophyll has nitrogen. Living plants communicate with each other and demonstrate electromagnetic responses that look like pain. All life is one life.

Then I began doing shamanic work and realized there’s a whole universe out there that’s full of life, but very little of it looks like us. Quantum physics suggests that there are many layers we’re not even aware of, all of which have presence and energy. So when I said I wouldn’t take a life for my food, I was saying that the only lives worth valuing were those of animals. Every plant I eat is also a living thing. In fact, many of them are still fully alive as I tear them apart with my teeth (sprouts, anyone?). In fact, I think it may actually be more violent to eat plants than animals because of that still-being-alive thing, but because it’s harder for me, as a human being, to identify with a plant, it doesn’t bother me as much.

All this revelation left me floundering, wondering how the hell I was supposed to figure out what it was OK to eat and what I ought to leave alone. Obviously, I was going to have to choose some set of criteria other than ‘if it’s alive, don’t eat it.’ While I was trying to work out this issue, the phrase ‘everything lives by the death of something else’ kept popping up in conversation and the books I was reading. I didn’t like that; I didn’t want to listen to the message the universe was sending me. I didn’t want to be a part of that killing, that death. Along the way, I was also influenced by several teachers who all pointed out to me that indigenous people are invariably omnivorous, and also tend to view everything (and I do mean everything) as alive. Interestingly, one of those teachers was vegan.

Eventually, I gave in to my own experience and accepted the shamanic perspective that everything is alive in one way or another. I’m still hovering in that headspace, somewhere between the depths of quantum physics and the depths of the Otherworld. But that worldview did offer a solution to the question of what to eat, and it involves my three R’s. And no, they’re not reading, writing and arithmetic. (Did you ever notice that only one of those actually begins with R?)

Somewhere along the way, I decided that my three R’s are responsibility, respect and return. In other words, I have to take personal responsibility for everything I do, I need to make my decisions based on a profound respect for the universe I’m a part of, and I have to expect that my actions will have consequences. That makes the decision-making about food easy, though the subsequent information-gathering turns out to be a bit of a pain.

Simply put, my food decisions are based on respect for the living things involved: the plants, animals and fungi I choose to eat and the ecosystem of which they are a part. The industrial agriculture system is not respectful of any of those things. It harms the animals and plants it raises for food as well as the environment it raises them in. So I do my best to avoid that kind of food. I grow about 300 pounds of produce a year in our garden, not including the various nuts and fruit our trees produce (permaculture for the win!). I buy local or humanely-raised meat and don’t eat it terribly often. I’ve had laying hens before and will again, and for the record, I’m agreeable to occasionally eating the hens as well as the eggs. For the most part I avoid food that has been transported long distances, since the pollution that transportation causes is not respectful to the environment, and I’m not sure it’s good for us to eat out-of-season produce all the time. Part of my Pagan practice involves being in tune with the seasons of my local environment, and fresh strawberries in January run counter to that mindset.

Sure, I still shop at the local grocery store, which has thankfully increased its stock of food I’m willing to buy in recent years. And I’m not rabid about any of it – evangelism turns me off, as it does most people. But I do my best to raise, purchase and prepare my food mindfully. I have no idea where I am on that fabled Path To Enlightenment™, if there is such a thing, but I feel like I’m paying attention and being a respectful part of my environment.

So there you have it. That’s why I’m not a vegetarian any more. What kind of food choices have you made in your life, and where have they led you?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meet the Minoans: Dionysos

This week I'm sharing some tidbits about the multi-faceted god Dionysos on the Minoan Path blog:

I'll be fleshing out the Minoan pantheon with a new post every other week. The first post was about the great goddess Rhea. Who would you like to hear about?

To join the discussion about modern paganism with a Minoan flavor, please visit our Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writing Who You Know - or Not

Mug via Cafepress

You’ve probably seen this saying, or something like it, posted on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a common threat we writers make, in jest, to our friends. But it’s not actually that easy to insert a real person into a work of fiction, even if something stupid they’ve done makes the writer want to portray them as an idiotic character and kill them off in some gruesome fashion. That kind of thing is best left to private fantasies; it just doesn’t work in novel form, and I’ll tell you why.

Have you ever read a book and thought, “This character is just like my [parent, friend, ex-lover, self]”? Most writers have encountered a reader along the way who is sure they’re in our latest book because one or two of a character’s attributes feel familiar to them. But if you look closely, that real person isn’t actually in the book. Honest.

When you’re writing fiction, you have a plot that’s going somewhere and characters whose job it is to move that plot along to its predetermined destination. As Mark Twain so famously reminded us, truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. All the strands of the story have to move forward in believable ways, and in order for this to happen, the characters have to take certain actions. What those actions are depends on the particular scene the writer has dropped the characters into.

Say I have a character in my story who is really the girl down the street from the neighborhood I grew up in. Yes, I have plenty of reasons for wanting to put her in a novel and kill her off in a gruesome way and yes, I know there’s professional help for that. Since I spent a good bit of time with her all those years ago, I can portray her personality accurately. I can also predict how she’ll respond to any fictional situation I put her in. The problem is, sooner or later, she’s going to end up in a scene I’ve created and insist on doing something that totally messes up my plot.

Real people have real personalities that are pre-fabricated, fully-rounded and other fun compound adjectives. They’re not malleable. A writer can’t put a real person in a story, realize the character actually needs to be an orphan in order to make the plot operate properly, and then kill off her parents in a flashback – at least, not if the real person happens to have two parents still living. A real person who has a spider phobia won’t work in my story if I need to have him remain rational and calm in order to escape from a spider-infested cave.

Writers don’t just create stories; they create characters, and with good reason. Like a chef who chooses the best ingredients for a particular dish so it blends well in a five-course menu, a writer puts characters together so they do their bit to move the story forward, working smoothly within the confines of the plot.

Yes, we writers occasionally take a little inspiration from the people around us. I’ve occasionally caught myself thinking things like, “Wow, the way he reacted in that situation is exactly the way my character needs to deal with her boss in that scene I haven’t finished yet.” And I don’t know a writer who hasn’t spotted an interesting stranger in a coffee shop and spun up a character based just on the person’s looks and hot beverage choices. But these are all fragments, tiny facets, and not whole people.

Writing biographies is different; the plot is laid out for the writer before they even start, and they know the characters will work properly in every scene because they did so in real life. But for pure fiction, no matter how much we might want to shove someone off a cliff or drop them into a vat of boiling oil, we have to restrain ourselves if we want to end up with a workable story, and save those oh-so-very-satisfying fantasies for the moments we daydream, in between bouts of pecking out the latest scene.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meet the Minoans: The Great Goddess Rhea

Statue of the goddess Rhea by Rolf Krahl
via Wikimedia Commons

I've just added a new blog post to The Minoan Path blog series on PaganSquare:

Meet the Minoans: The Great Goddess Rhea

This is the first in a series focusing on the gods and goddesses of ancient Crete. Future posts will include Dionysus, Ariadne, Zagreus, the Bee Goddess and more. To join the discussion about modern paganism with a Minoan flavor, please visit our Facebook group Ariadne's Tribe.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: Dancing with Nemetona

I've just been introduced to a new goddess. Actually, she's a very old goddess, but one I had only heard of in passing, in discussions of Druid groves. Joanna van der Hoeven's marvelous little book, Pagan Portals Dancing with Nemetona, explores the human relationship not only with this goddess but also with the concepts of sacred space and boundaries.

Known as the Lady of the Sacred Grove, Nemetona teaches us that we are each a kind of living, moving sacred space, and the way we interact with other people, animals and the places we visit affects us (and them) at a very deep level. That's a truly profound concept that we often give lip service to in Pagan practice, but it underlies so much of the Pagan worldview, I think we would do well to focus more closely on it and learn to understand the implications of this interconnection more clearly. This book is a big step toward that end.

Like the other titles in the Pagan Portals series, this is a fairly short book but it's full of valuable information and exercises - a touching house blessing, a visualization of your own inner sacred grove, and more. I love the way Ms. van der Hoeven dovetails the layers of sacredness in our lives, from our 'insides' (mental and physical), to the people we interact with, the world at large and the deities that inhabit it. I also love the idea of the micro-retreat - what a great way to maintain your sanity in an increasingly insane world! - and the collection of essays that depict other people's experiences with Nemetona demonstrates that she is not only ancient and worldwide, but also fully relevant today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Blog Series: Walking the Minoan Path

I'm delighted to announce that I have just begun a new, monthly blog series on the PaganSquare/Witches & Pagans website. I'll be blogging about Minoan spirituality in the modern world. My first post, about how I stumbled onto this particular path, is here:

Walking the Minoan Path: Easier Said than Done

I will offer a new post at the end of each month. If you have particular topics you'd like to see me address (related to Minoan paganism, of course) please let me know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Pagan Portals Fairy Witchcraft

I have to admit, I haven’t been particularly intrigued by any of the books I’ve come across about Fairy Witchcraft. That is, until now.  This is not a fluffy, New Age, everything-is-goodness-and-light book, and for that I am grateful. Pagan Portals Fairy Witchcraft is a concise introduction to making a connection with the Fairy world and working with those energies in your personal magical practice.

Pagan Portals Fairy Witchcraft by Morgan Daimler

Like the other books in the Pagan Portals series, Fairy Witchcraft is a slim volume, but it is packed full of information. Ms. Daimler provides a great deal of background about folk belief in Fairies, particularly in the Celtic world, so the reader will understand that they are not the delicate, sweet, gossamer-winged creatures of Victorian fantasy. They are, in fact, ancient beings with a great deal of power who are not always friendly to humans. Working with them has its dangers, and Ms. Daimler makes that very clear.

Ms. Daimler shares her own experiences with the Fairies as well as providing information about traditional ways of approaching them, including how to properly prepare yourself, how to create altars and rituals and, most important, how to listen to them and learn to hear what they have to say to us. This is a very practical book, an excellent introduction to Fairy Witchcraft that provides a strong foundation for a lifetime of connection with the Good Folk.