A "Do Nothing" Saturday

 What is a “Do Nothing” Saturday like at Many Hands House?

I awoke to a much anticipated  blossom:

An inter-library loan jackpot:

And even more book packages in the mail!:

Started kombucha:

  I also helped make pancakes, tore phone books,  cleaned the basement, did laundry, washed countless dishes, breastfed, soaked my little guy’s owie foot, rinsed sprouts, tested a new vegan cheese, held rats, listened to a chapter of The Sword in the Stone, and knit while the men role played.

And there is still SNL.

 

What does your family do on a “do nothing day”?

 
by Melanie

Who’s your patron deity?

This question came up among friends recently, and I was surprised at how hard it was for me to answer.  For many years, I could come up with a goddess or god, from whatever pantheon that had caught my eye at the time, and rattle-off the many ways that I was “working with” that deity (usually in ritual, and usually for my own purposes). 

Now, I worship the eldest tribe: Sun, Moon, Earth, Storm, Sea, the four Winds, Fire, Horn, and Green.  They walk their own paths, and to “summon” or “devoke” Them seems odd,  to say the least, if not downright delusional. If your patron goddess were Inanna, but she strolled through your town every morning, how would you “work with” her?  

We hold sabbat when the Moon is full, we sing the Sun back home at Yule.  When worshiping the Eldest gods, you can’t answer questions like “Who are you ‘working with’?” without first answering the questions “Where?” and “When?”  Land and season unraveled from my gods would only leave me with personified ideas who could not move beyond the boundaries of my own belief and imagination. 

The other question that I must ask is, “Who else?”  The Eldest are a tribe; they are related, one to the other.  At spring, the Green stretches from his Mother Earth towards the returning Sun.  We live in the midst of (and because of!) these interactions. We cannot attribute our lives to just one of Them. 

If the forces of nature are your pantheon, and the seasons are your mythology, then a question like “Who’s your patron deity?” becomes a bit more complex.

How would you answer?
 -Chris

Some thoughts on pagan gatherings…

What if…

…the Fire folk (those who build and keep the gathering fires, who spin and breathe fire)  were the ones who lit the torches at dusk?  What if there were songs they sung along the way?

…those who love Storm watched the weather, gave reports, alerted the tribe, and also poured offerings and beat the drum for His coming?

…the Sun folk blew the horns and sang the songs at Her rising and setting?

…the Moon folk rustled past our tents in quiet procession, or howled and rejoiced at His fullness?

…and the Green folk garlanded the trees, and the Red folk raised the stangs, and the Earth folk placed the great stones? 

…we realized that our goddesses and gods are right here with us, and we celebrated it?

-Chris

Red Tribe, Green Tribe

     See, in your mind’s eye those Three: the black-veiled Fates, sitting in the dirt at the crossroads, back to back to back.  Each stares ahead, each with a cloth spread before them.  You approach, and she casts the stones, and points silently towards the the fire of the Red, or of the Green, where the drums beat, and the godman (antlered or garlanded) welcomes you to your tribe.

    The red and green people gather,  in their own places.  The drums rise and fall, the dancers slow, and each godman tells their own tribes’ story.  Oaths are asked for and made.  Will the Red honor the grove of the Green?  Will the Green be host to the wandering Red?  Yes, yes and yes.

     The Red Tribe comes, approaches the Green.  The godman of the Red comes forth.  Gifts are poured; streams of wine, water and milk reach for the Earth. The godmen meet, embrace, and exchange torcs.  When the stang is set between the great white oaks, the peace between the tribes is sealed.  Two tribes pour into one, dancing, drumming, and singing.  Now, this day is also that first day, when twin sons of the all-giving Earth first made peace.

 

    

     

Men of the Solstice, Arise!

I served as the godsman for the Men’s Rite at Pagan Spirit Gathering this year.  I decided to reprise the very successful God Pole Rite from last year, designed by my friend and teacher, Bruner Soderberg. The men who attended gathered at the top of the hill, in front of the Temple of the Sun God.  We passed around a few drinks, and chatted jovially while waiting for other men to arrive.  Then the horn blew, and the men shouldered the god pole (an eight foot tall, six-inch thick carved wooden phallus) and processed down the hill, singing that wonderful song from last year’s rite:

Giver of pleasure and life,
giver of pleasure and life,
we praise thee,
Giver of pleasure and life,
giver of pleasure and life,
we praise thee
Father, brother, friend and lover,
father, brother, friend and lover…

As we sang and walked, men took turns holding the God Pole during the procession.  As we entered the area that was to be blessed as a shrine for men, we crowded around the hole that awaited the planting of the God Pole.  The God Pole was carried in the last stretch and planted by the new men as part of their man-making rite.  The shouts and cheers and embraces of love and support given to those young men was a moment I will always hold dear.  The horn blew, milk was poured, words of praise were sung to Horn, the red god, the lord of all beasts (us included).  The men mobbed around the pole, laying hands on the pole or on the shoulder of a brother as we shouted “Io Phalle, Io Phalle, Io Phalle, Evoe!”  We pelted the pole with seeds (seed-bearers that we are) as a final blessing.  The rite ended with every man laying blessings and advice upon the new men, who finished their vigil that night at the God Pole Shrine.
My thanks to Steven Posch and Bruner Soderberg for teaching me rite craft.  Thanks to all those men who attended the rite.  Thanks and praise to the Giver of Pleasure and Life. 

Beltane

 So sorry for the long delay in posts!  At this time of year, we dance the May Pole, while singing this song:

Hal an Tow

What shall he have that kills the deer?
His leather skin and horns to wear.
Your father’s father wore it,
and your father wore it too.

Hal an tow, jolly rumble-O,
we were up long before the day-O
to welcome in the summer, to welcome in the May-O,
for summer is a-coming in, and winter’s gone away-O!

Do not scorn to wear the horn:
it was the crest ere you were born.
Your father’s father wore it,
and your father wore it too.

What shall she have that tills the field?
The greenest gown the grass shall yield.
Your mother’s mother wore it,
and your mother wore it too.

Do not frown to gain the gown,
for thus it was that you came round.
Your mother’s mother wore it,
and your mother wore it too.

Robin Hood and Little John,
they’ve both gone to the fair-O,
and we’re away to the good greenwood
to hunt the buck and hare-O.

Whither went maid Marion,
a-clothed all in green-O?
She’s away to the good greenwood,
where merry men are keen-O.

[What happened to the Spaniards
that made so great a boast-O?
They shall eat the feathered goose,
and we shall eat the roast-O!]

We bless the people here today
with power and with might-O,
and peace be to Paganistan
by day and by night-O.

Those are the verses that we know;
the rest are on the shelf-O.
So if you want more Hal An Tow,
you’ll have to sing it yourself-O.

We also jump the fire:

We also went to Paganistan (Minneapolis) to attend the Heart of the Beast MayDay Parade, and a beautiful Rite of the Stang, created by master ritualist Steve Posch.  The Red and Horned God was embodied by none other than our own Rowan:

Crafting a Rite: The Union of Red and Green

This is the first of several entries that will show my thoughts processes for crafting a large ritual.  This ritual will take place at Sacred Harvest Fest 2010 (with the continued approval of the ritual coordinator).  Since there is virtually nothing written about the topic, I thought this might be a good place to share.

Every year, people gather under the beautiful oaks at Harmony Park to celebrate the harvest season.  I thought it appropriate (and long overdue) to create a ritual that casts this event in a sacred light, so to speak.  Because, for me, (thanks, Steven Posch) the Red = The Horned One = the symbol of all animal life on the planet; the blood-bearers.  The Green = The Green God = the symbol of all plant life on the planet.

So, how do you use ritual craft to encourage the feeling amongst the participants that they are, in fact, a cell in the body of the Horned One?  One idea I have is to process to the Twin Oaks in the form of the Ram-Horned Serpent:
The ram-horned serpent is a well-attested cult image of north-west Europe before and during the Roman period. It appears three times on the Gundestrup cauldron, and in Romano-Celtic Gaul was closely associated with the horned or antlered god Cernunnos, in whose company it is regularly depicted. This pairing is found as early as the fourth century BC in Northern Italy, where a huge antlered figure with torcs and a serpent was carved on the rocks in Val Camonica.[5]

A bronze image at Étang-sur-Arroux and a stone sculpture at Sommerécourt depict Cernunnos’ body encircled by two horned snakes that feed from bowls of fruit and corn-mash in the god’s lap. Also at Sommerécourt is a sculpture of a goddess holding a cornucopia and a pomegranate, with a horned serpent eating from a bowl of food. At Yzeures-sur-Creuse a carved youth has a ram-horned snake twined around his legs, with its head at his stomach. At Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Cernunnos’ legs are two snakes which rear up on each side of his head and are eating fruit or corn. According to Miranda Green, the snakes reflect the peaceful nature of the god, associated with nature and fruitfulness, and perhaps accentuate his association with regeneration.[5]
Other deities occasionally accompanied by ram-horned serpents include the Celtic Mars (who was a healer rather than a warrior god), the Celtic Mercury, and the Celtic sun-god, Lugh, with whom conventional snakes are also often associated.[5]

Before the rite, the participants tie red strips of cloth to their bodies, smear on some red body paint, and process, arm in arm, arms on shoulders, hand-in-hand, etc.  At the front a ram-horned stang is carried, and the Ram-Horned Serpent, He Himself, wends his way through the oaks to the ritual site.

More to come!! Post your comments!

Chris

Brighid Has Come, Brighid is Welcome!

Rise to your feet and open your eyes and let the white Brighit come in!
Rise to your feet and open your eyes and let the red Brighit come in!
Rise to your feet and open your eyes and let the black Brighit come in
Welcome! Welcome! A thousand times welcome!
Vegetarian Irish Stew
Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled

2 medium onions, (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and cut into thin half-moons

2 1/2 pounds vegetarian sausage, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme

3 cups homemade stock

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh curly- or flat-leaf parsley

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 1 pound of the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; spread them out in a large (5- to 6-quart) heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven. Layer half the onions on top of the potatoes.

2.Place sausage cubes on top of onions. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; season with pepper. Add the thyme. Place remaining onions on top of sausage. Add the stock and 1 cup water.

3.Place whole potatoes on top of onions. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cover with a tight-fitting lid; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Transfer to oven; cook, without stirring, 2 hours. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

 

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup whole-wheat graham flour

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 2/3 cups buttermilk

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. With a pastry blender or your fingertips, blend in butter until it resembles small peas. Add buttermilk all at once; stir with a fork until mixture holds together.

2.In the bowl, pat the dough into a domeshaped loaf about 7 inches in diameter. Lift out dough; transfer to lined sheet.

3.Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. Cut a 3/4-inch-deep cross in top, reaching almost all the way to edges. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Esbat and Tool Consecration

-4 quarters candles and altar candles are lit, incense is smoking.

-the coven stands around the altar.

-HPS puts a bowl of water on the pentacle and puts the athame in the water.

-HPS: “I exorcise thee, O creature of water, that thou cast out from thee all the impurities and uncleanliness of the spirits of the world of phantasm, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia.”

-HPS lifts water.

-HP puts bowl of salt on pentacle, puts tip of athame in salt.

-HP: “Blessings be upon this creature of salt; let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hencefrom, and let all good enter herein, wherefore mayest aid ye, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia.”

-HP pours salt into water, and puts both on the altar.

-HPS (with sword) “I conjure thee, O circle of power, that thou beest a meeting place of love and joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness and evil; a boundary between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain the power that we shall raise within thee. Wherefore do I bless thee and consecrate thee, in the names of Cernunnos and Aradia.”

-3 coveners circle; 1 with salted water, 1 with incense, 1 with altar candle.

-All coveners face east; 1 covener draws pentagram with athame, and says,

“Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, Ye Lords of Air; I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the circle.”

-covener kisses blade, lays blade on heart.

-All coveners face south; 1 covener draws pentagram with athame, and says,

“Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, Ye Lords of Fire; I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the circle.”

-covener kisses blade, lays blade on heart.

-All coveners face west; 1 covener draws pentagram with athame, and says,

“Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the West, Ye Lords of Water; Ye Lords of Death and Initiation, I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the circle.”

-covener kisses blade, lays blade on heart.

-All coveners face north; 1 covener draws pentagram with athame, and says,

“Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the North, Ye Lords of Earth; Boreas, through Guardian of the Northern Portals; thou powerful God, thou gentle Goddess, we do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard the circle.”

-covener kisses blade, lays blade on heart.

-HP kneels before HPS and says,

“Hail Aradia! From the Almalthean Horn pour forth thy store of love, I lowly bend before thee, I adore thee to the end, with loving sacrifice thy shrine I adorn. Thy foot is to my lip (kisses right foot) my prayer upborne upon the rising incense smoke; then spend thine ancient love, o Mighty One, descend to aid me, who without thee am forlorn.”

-HP stands and steps back.

– HPS draws the Pentagram in the air:

HPS: “Of the Mother darksome and divine, mine the scourge and mine the kiss; the five point star of love and bless – Here I charge you, in this sign.”

HP: “Listen to the words of the Great Mother, She who of old was also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names.”

HPS: “Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love all in my praise. For mine is the ecstacy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.”

HP: “Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, and whose body encircles the universe.”

HPS: “I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto me, For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

-HP and HPS face altar, giving the Horned God salute.

HP: “Great God Cernunnos, return to Earth again! Come to my call and show thyself to men. Shepherd of Goats, upon the wild hills way, lead thy lost flock from darkness into day. Forgotten are the ways of sleep and night , men seek for them, whose eyes have lost the light. Open the door, the door that hath no key, the door of dreams, whereby men come to thee. Shepherd of Goats, O answer unto me!”

Each person steps forward in turn with their tool.

-Lay the athame over the pentacle, touching another already charged athame.

-sprinkle the athame with salt water.

-pass the athame through the incense smoke and replace on pentacle, leaving your hand on the hilt.

Say: “I conjure thee, O athame of steel (wand of wood, etc.) by the Great Gods and Gentle Goddesses, by the virtue of the heavens, of the stars and of the spirits who preside over them, that thou mayest receive such virture that I may obtain the end that I desire in all things wherein I shall use thee, by the power of Aradia and Cernunnos.”

-press the tool to your heart.

-HPS holds up a challice of wine, HP holds his athame point down and lowers it unto the wine.

-HPS draws invoking pentagram in air above cakes, saying,

“O Queen most secret, bless the food and wine into our bodies, bestowing health, wealth, strength, joy and peace, and that fulfillment of love which is perfect happiness.”

– HP gives wine and cakes to HPS; she sips, then HP stands and drinks. Wine and cakes are passed around. One cake and remainder of wine are left for the fairies.

-East: “Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Lords of Air, we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell.”

-blow out east candle.

-South: “Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Lords of Fire, we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell.”

-blow out south candle.

-West: “Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Lords of Water, Ye Lords of Death and Initiation, we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell.”

-blow out west candle.

-North: “Ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Lords of Earth, Boreas, thou Guardian of the Northern Portals; thou powerful God, thou gentle Goddess, we do thank you for attending our rites; and ere ye depart to your pleasant and lovely realms, we bid you hail and farewell.”

-blow out north candle.

All: “The circle is open and yet unbroken. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again. Blessed be!”

-blow out altar candles.

Everyone knows it’s Berchta

Everyone knows it’s Berchta
(sung to the “Slinky” jingle)
Who beats down your door,
and spits on your floor,
and makes a cackling sound,
A hag! A hag! She carries a bag!
Everyone knows it’s Berchta.
It’s Berchta, it’s Berchta,
sometimes she’ll give you a toy,
It’s Berchta, it’s Berchta,
She gobbles up girls and boys.
Everyone knows it’s Berchta,
you’d better watch out for Berchta.
So when it is Yule,
and there’s goat in your gruel,
be sure you don’t break any bones!
Not even a crack, or it’s YOU in the sack,
dinner for Mother Berchta!
It’s Berchta, it’s Berchta,
sometimes she’ll give you a toy,
It’s Berchta, it’s Berchta,
She gobbles up girls and boys.
Everyone knows it’s Berchta,
you’d better watch out for Berchta.
    Be gentle with us, O Witch Winter!!  You can almost hear the cackling, can’t you?
(Listen to Steven Posch’s Radio Paganistan for more lore on the Hag of Hags and Crone of Crones.)