Harvesting the Magic of Autumn

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Grain in Autumn

This time of year is the harvest, when the fruit and grains that ripened in summer are gathered in. It is a time to give thanks and a time to take stock, a time to share the bounty we have been given and a time to consider the fruits of our labor. Here are several ways that we can align ourselves spiritually with the magic of harvest.

Count Your Blessings

In this season of bounty, it’s important to take time to acknowledge all the many gifts we’ve been given. Of course, for each of us, the exact nature of these blessings is different.

And for each of us, the best way to take stock of our gratitude is different. You may want to write down a list in your diary or magical journal. You may want to gather with some friends and community members in order to speak your reflections out loud. You may want to create some other form of expression, such as a song or a painting or a collage.

The point of this exercise is to survey your life. Allow yourself to become aware of all the things that bring you joy and contentment, whether those elements are relationships with other people, features of the natural landscape, physical objects, or freedoms that you enjoy.

Sometimes this exercise can bring up feelings of scarcity or lack for people. If nothing else, you can start with the eyes that you’re using to read these words and the mind that you’re using to understand them. You are alive, which is in itself a great and miraculous gift.

Once you begin to connect to your gratitude, you are likely to find more and more items to include in your count.

Remember Your Part in Creating the Feast

As you sit down to the harvest table, take some time to consider the food that’s in front of you. This food might be metaphorical or literal; it might be literally the fruits of your garden, the ripe apples of the trees you tended, the bright orange globes of the pumpkins you watered all summer. Or it might be the relationships you’ve deepened this year, the lessons you learned, the abundance you created for yourself, the projects you completed.

Whatever your harvest is, it’s something that you created. It’s the result of the seeds you planted in the spring and all the weeding and nurturing you did in the summer.

So after you thank the world for all the gifts you’ve received, thank yourself as well. Remember the part you played in manifesting this harvest feast.

If You Reap What You Sow…

And after you’ve expressed your gratitude, consider: does the food that’s before you truly nurture you? Is there something missing? Is there something that you wish wasn’t there?

If you do notice a desire for something to be different, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to simply be aware, without judgment or blame.

And imagine, if you can, that the difference that you’re craving is already present, that the difficult fruit is gone or the missing bounty is there, sitting on your table. And ask yourself, or ask the harvest, how did that nourishment come to be here? What seeds did I plant in order to invite this gift into my life? What did I sow in order to reap this bounty?

The answers you receive can serve as inspiration for next year’s garden.

Bigger than Human

These meditations, while beautiful and helpful, are very human. If you want to connect to something larger than yourself, something wilder and more ancient, harvest is also an excellent time to do so.

The easiest way to do so is simply to take nature walks as often as you can. This can be a little challenging, as the blissful heat of summer starts to give way to the cold and dark of winter. Personally, I have found that consciously spending time outdoors makes it easier for me to adjust to seasonal transitions, both in terms of physical comfort and in more emotional and esoteric ways.

As you walk, allow yourself to notice the changes that are taking place all around you. Let yourself feel whatever you feel about the colder winds and the dying leaves, whether that’s sorrow or excitement.

After you have acknowledged the arising feelings, say a small prayer of thanks. Thank the summer for the bright sun that feeds growth and abundance. Thank the autumn for being the time of harvest, the time of gathering, the time of change and preparation. Thank the winter that is coming for the deep rest and the sheltering dark.

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Dancing With Summer’s Light

sunflowers
Sunflowers

This time of year, the days seem to stretch on forever. The afternoons, overflowing with golden sunlight, seem to go on and on.

Whatever age we are, we can’t help but remember the promise and delight of summer holiday: swimming and taking long walks in the woods, savouring ice cream cones and watermelon slices, bike rides and games of tag and epic water fights.

In the natural world, a celebration is happening as well.

The trees are gratefully soaking up the abundant energy of the sun, transforming insubstantial light into the solid substance of their sweet, swelling fruits. The fledgling birds and young animals who were born in the spring are leaving their nests and dens behind, venturing further and further out into the wide world.

Summer Magic and Fun

Lughnasagh
Lughnasagh

During summer, aligning ourselves with the rhythm of the seasons can seem easy and appealing. Now, the call is for us to expand, to drink in the wealth of inspiration and light and to use this abundance to nourish the fruits of the projects and intentions we planted earlier this year.

Summer is also an excellent time for us to reconnect with the beauty and simplicity of the wild world. Whether you’re drawn to going on hikes in the wilderness, to taking long walks in your neighbourhood or to sailing on local rivers and lakes, the long, warm days are the perfect opportunity to spend more time outside, to strengthen our bodies while simultaneously deepening our relationship with the living body of Gaia.

The increased presence and activity of animals makes this a great time to connect with animals allies, helpers and guides. If you already have an established relationship with an animal spirit, consider travelling to its natural habitat so you can further build your connection.

If you’re seeking new animal allies, there’s a couple of different strategies you might use. You could use techniques such as lucid dreaming and shamanic journeying to enter into the spirit world. However, in the summer months, the pull of the physical world is strong. You might have better luck if you physically travel into a green, untamed place.

Wherever you go, simply hold the clear intention of seeking an animal companion to guide and accompany you on your spiritual journey. The world will hear and respond to you. 

So Much Abundance  

Summer forest
Summer forest

The abundance of light in summer can reveal new possibilities. This makes the current season an excellent time for exploration, for trying out new activities, new ways of being in the world. Is there a new spiritual practise or healthy habit you’ve been considering trying for a while?

Now is an excellent time to start.  

Another way of working with summer abundance is by cultivating gratitude. To start with, try taking a little time each day, perhaps right after you wake up or right before you fall asleep, and listing some of the things in your life that you feel grateful for.

As you continue to work with gratitude, you may find yourself spontaneously saying a silent “thank you” to the universe when something beautiful happens.

The magic of gratitude is expansive and contagious; you will likely find that the more gratitude you feel, the more blessings and gifts will appear in your life.

Remembering the Balance  

Lughnasagh (25 Jul - 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition
Lughnasagh (25 Jul – 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition

While the summer might feel endless, we know that it is not. The solstice, so recently gone by, may be the height of the sun’s power and brilliance but this means that it also marks the time when the light begins to wane.

As suggested by the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang, the moment of greatest light also contains within itself a seed of growing darkness.

In ancient Celtic lore, the summer solstice marked the day that Lugh, the Sun King, died. There is no need to dwell gloomily on this aspect of the season. But it is important to remember that summer, like all the seasons, is transitory. The wheel turns, and keeps on turning. The light and the heat and the wild sense of expansive possibility: these are precious because they are only here for a time.  

This pinprick of sadness, this reminder of winter’s chill, can help deepen and enrich our gratitude. We can seize the long day of summer and live our lives to the fullest, knowing that nothing lasts forever. At the same time, we can hold the paradox; the wheel turns, and will return once again to summer. In this way, the brilliance is both fleeting and eternal, too quickly gone and always present.

by River

 

StormJewel Says: Thanks River for your beautifully poetic article.  I love your recommendations for getting in to the summer mindset, and I really love going to woods and parks to connect with nature in the summer, especially this one which in the UK is wonderfully warm for once! 🙂

Have you any Summer or Lughnasagh tips to share with us? What do you like best about summer? How do you connect with nature at this time? Let us know! xx

Img Credits: All photos except the last are by talented photographer Andreas Krappweis

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How to recycle old things to make cool new gifts and ornaments!

As Pagans (and non-Pagans for that matter!) it’s important that we remember that having a deep love for nature and the earth needs to translate into environmental concerns and throwing away less things is a great way to do this.

I recently published an article on how to be green while gift giving, and so here is another on that theme.

But first if there are any sceptics about environmental issues and climate change reading this, here is a very funny but convincing 2 minute ‘rant’ from UK comedian David Mitchell about why you should consider a rethink. (If you want to see more of his stuff, search for Soapbox on Youtube!)

Ok still with me? Good :o)

I just found this great article about all the ways that we can reuse glass bottles, from gorgeous cola bottle lights to rustic table lamps and atmospheric outdoor candle holders.

Whilst in south east asia I saw loads of this kind of thing, particularly in Luang Prabang in Laos where restarurants by the river had chandeliers made from plastic spoons, beer bottles and more – sounds crazy but actually looks really unique and cool.

Here’s the inventive article:  http://ecosalon.com/12-ways-to-re-use-recycle-a-bottle-373/

Do you recycle anything and make it into gifts, ornaments or even altar tools perhaps? I’ll send a small free gift to the best picture that gets sent in of something that you’ve made from old rubbish!

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Bird Magick – Bring Nature into your Spells, Healing & Rituals – Part 1

Bird Magic
Bird Magic

Paganism is usually thought of as a nature religion, but for many Pagans who live in a town or city, and even for those in the countryside, it can be difficult to know how to incorporate nature into your rituals and spells.  Elsewhere I suggest finding things from nature and putting them on your altar or using them in spells and rituals, but here I will describe another way of interweaving nature with your life and beliefs!

Since birds vary so much in physical characteristics (from big to small, from many coloured to plain) and in character (eg some birds being hunters, other singers, others more family orientated, and many a combination), we can use them as symbolic forces to aid in healing, balancing our weaknesses, and nurturing our strengths.  Through the wisdom and power of bird medicine we can life up our spirits and strengthen our sense of clarity and balance.

 

Bird Magick – The realm of air and sky

The skies have long been associated with a freedom far removed from everyday life.  When we feel depressed or unable to act, bogged down in everyday life, we can look up at the birds for inspiration to leave the mundane world and life ourselves through the air by potent magical ritual.

Just as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians among others revered many birds, such as Osiris or the Phoenix, so in Western religious lore through Angels can we see a link between birds and holiness.  Birds link us to this realm of the sky by at once living on earth but being able to fly high.

The realm of air is connected to oxygen and breath.  One of the best things you can do for a calm mind is to take deep slow breaths and draw energy into all parts of your body, this is at once relaxing and enlivening.  Thinking about birds can help to remind us to slow down and truly draw in and appreciate the air element, and the way in which it can bring us pleasure and calmness.

Bird Medicine

As with any aspect of Paganism and Wicca, your imagination is in a way your only limit to the way you practice both life and magic, but here are some suggestions of ways to connect with bird medicine.

 

Watch and Learn – First step

Birds make amazing entertainers if watched regularly.  You will soon learn to know their habits and routines and see many quirky things they do.  Get some binoculars to really get close to them, and see their markings and behaviour clearly.  By practising bird watching you can improve your skills of patience and observation and enjoy nature in an engaging way, as well as gain a deeper understanding of these mystical creatures.

 

Study and Draw – Second step

You can study natural history books and draw them in a sketchbook that you keep specifically for this purpose.  This will really help you to understand their abilities and special powers and characteristics, and from there you will begin to realise how to incorporate these traits into your own life.

 

Feather Healing – Third step

When you’ve found a bird that you feel a particular affinity to, try and get a feather of it.  Feathers contain the energetic properties of the bird, and to make the connection between you strong, it’s important to either find or be given the feather. Be careful though as some feathers are actually illegal to own, such as the eagle feather, unless you are classed as a native american.

By placing the feather on your altar or sacred space, it will help you to remember and connect with the bird’s healing medicine.  You can honour the feather in your rituals and prayers, why not say it’s characteristics and strengths out loud?  You should make offerings to the spirit of the bird – what you offer is up to you, you may wish to offer your own hair to cement the bond, or gather acorns, nuts, herbs or other natural things.

Coming Soon – Part 2 – Birds and Their Healing Properties – Discover the powerful characteristics of the crow, heron, eagle and more!

 

Thanks to Jonathan Keyes for the inspiration for this article

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How to do a Green Man Ritual

I found this great Green Man by Abby Willowroot and thought I ought to share!

A Green Man Ritual

 

Green Man Magick for harmony, balance and prosperity.
Green Man Magick for prosperity.

Practicing the ways of the Green Man means living in harmony with nature and living according to the seasons. It means looking for the blessings and gifts that are unique to each time of the year.  Without winter, there is no spring; without summer there is no harvest.  rituals fo the Green Man can be done for many purposes – to heal the environment, to restore balance, or to ensure abundance and the success of new ventures.  Green Man rituals should be performed with green, white or light blue, and yellow candles.  Green candles are for growth, health and vegetation.  White or blue candles represent air.  Yelow candles shine with the light of the Sun and its vital energy and warmth.

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Symbols used in Green Man rituals may include: a growing plant, a branch, fruit, dried grains, a small bowl of earth, leaves, berries, and acorns or other nuts.

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A Green Man Invocation

I call to you now, spirit of nature, strong and free

Come and teach me, I am ready to honour you

I celebrate your gifts; I am ready to learn your truths

As my ancestors did before me.

I see your power and your pain, beneath the green mantle

Of the scars on your body and the great sadness in your eyes

You are no longer abandoned, we hear you again

We are ready, to honour your ways

Reveal yourself, Green Man

Weave your spells of green magic

Teach me and I will listen for your voice;

I will celebrate your sacred wisdom ways.

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Green Man rituals are best done outside.
Green Man rituals are best done outside.

It is best to do a Green Man ritual outside, and if possible in a wooded place. Take your shoes off, sink your toes into the cool earth, and feel the energy of the Green Man move up through your body.  Before you begin your ritual, take a few moments to listen to the trees, notice how they rustle, creak and groan as the wind passes through them.  Breathe in the oxygen they have produced for you, and know this is the miracle of the Green Man’s Magic.

In earlier times peasants knew the ways of the fields and forest, and gave back to the Earth with the sacrifice to the Green Man.  Today we still have opportunities to make sacrifices and give back to the Earth, but the sacrifices we are making are those of care, awareness, and moderation.  Recycling and conservation are contemporary Green Man sacrifices.

Today the Green Man is reemerging into our consciousness.  His presence brings balance and energy to the reclaiming of our ancient heritage.  For men, the Green Man is especially important, as he is a guide to accessing balanced male power. In our time, the Green Man is emerging with a clear, strong voice, guiding us toward a healthier and more stable balance with nature.

By Abby Willowroot

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You can find all my lovely Green Man items here. Do you honour the Green Man?  Have you done any Green Man rituals or similar?  Leave your comments and experiences below!

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Magical, Spiritual & healing places on Earth

The Macchu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Sit...
The Macchu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Cusco in Peru, at twilight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, through my anthropology study combining an interest in environmentalism, nature based spirituality and activism, I’ve learnt a lot about ways of connecting to the land, and the way that many people feel a spiritual or sacred connection to a particular place.

Many Pagans (as well as lots of other people with different or unnamed beliefs) have been involved in anti-roads protests or trying to stop something like a Tesco’s being built on ancient woodlands that contain many sacred sites like ancient burial grounds and stone circles.

This often involved living in trees or spending a great deal of time on the land, leading to deeper and more connected feelings with nature and the organic environment.

I was fortunate enough recently to go to a Rainbow Family gathering in Kent, on a sacred site containing an ancient (really ancient – from the neolithic times about 3500BC!) burial ground and sacred stones, known as the coldrum stones.  This site is also significant as it is on a Ley (sometimes called Ley lines) and you can see a line of churches sacred sites that map out this line of power.

Anyway more about the Rainbow family later (although if you are in the UK looking for a gathering you can try facebook, or take a look at the UK site http://www.rainbowcircle.co.uk/rainbowcircle.html ) but for now just wanted to show you an interesting article I found about healing and magical places round the world.

See if you have been to any, and which ones you’d like to visit next (so far I’ve only been to table mountain but was too lazy to climb it!) but would love to go to more, especially Machu Picchu since my dad is from Peru!

StormJewel x

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More icy beauty from Jack Frost!

Well I’m looking out of my window and it seems strange that I can see green grass after being so used to the snow!

Yes as those in England will know, we are back to rain rain rain, so its too late for any snowflake pics now!  But the temperature looks as though it will still fall below freezing sometime next week, so there is time to get some beautiful icy pics.

Been looking at some stock photos that show the beauty of Antartica and I would like to share them with you.

You can see more of the authors’ photos here and here

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The wonderful beauty of Mother Nature in Snowflakes

The wonderful beauty of Mother Nature

In the UK at the moment we are experiencing more snow than I have seen for years! As you might expect it’s very cold and I’m a summer creature, but it is beautiful too.  I discovered these gorgeous pictures of snow flakes here and there is a link to someone telling you how to photograph your own snowflake, so people in the UK (and anywhere else with snow of course!), nows the time to get snapping!

 

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Learn about the Green Man

Who is the Green Man?

Green Man JewelleryThe GreenMan is that spirit, energy, presence, inherent in every cell of the vegetative realm, and transmitted to the animal/human realms through the foods we eat, the flowers we smell, the trees we hug. he is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth being reborn anew each spring.

Although the Green man is today commonly associated with Paganism, in many ways he transcends any one religion as you will find his symbolism used in many cultures and religions around the world. The Green Man motif has many different faces and variations and is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. He has been found on tombs as long ago as the 2nd Century and he can also be seen in medieval and ancient myths, from the Green Knight of the Arthurian legends to Robin Hood. Some of the earliest Green Men have been traced to ancient Rome.

A good search of many churches and cathedrals will often lead you to discover a carving of a human head within a mass of leaves. Sometimes, the leaves appear to grow out of the head itself; at other times the human head seems to be a chance result of the configuration of the leaves.

I’ve got some lovely Green man products in my shop

A beautiful Green Man Pendant that can be used to help to raise planetary energy for spell workings, or simply as a gorgeous piece of jewellery. You can take it to a green area like a forest or park and meditate with it in your hand or around your neck.

A stunning Green Man Altar Cloth or wall covering depicting the Green Man in his verdant foliate form. A delightful muted green in colour, the celtic knotwork and oak leaves designs on its surface take on greater significance as you place your altar item in harmony with its swirling markings or use it to decorate your wall.

 

What is Ogham?

Many experts believe that the Ogham was a symbolic system used by the Druids containing their sacred teachings.  Theirs was an oral tradition and each of the letters contained certain teachings as well as a Mystery (or several that were all related).  You can find many examples of Ogham letters carved onto trees around England and Ireland.

Today many people use Ogham for divination, often carving the symbols onto sticks. I recently did a tree energy workshop, working with willow, and got to carve the Ogham symbol into my talisman of willow!

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