Ostara in Southern Hemisphere – Mabon in Northern Hemisphere

Blessings to all of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we welcome Ostara and the warm days of Spring and we head towards balmy summer days.   Blessed Be!

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From: “The Witches Year” ~  by Lucy Cavendish

Each year around the 20th of September in the southern hemisphere (in 2003 it will be the 23rd of Sept) our beautiful green and blue planet earth lies “flat” in her orbit of the sun. Neither her north nor her south poles are tilted into or away from the sun. She is fully facing the sun – no turning away. During the coming 24 hours, she will rotate once on her axis – thus the sun’s rays will have a unique opportunity to strike her surface equally from north to south poles, resulting in precisely twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night. From this day forward the light will increase with each day or degree she turns. This is the magical, ancient and revered vernal, or spring, equinox.

It is a truly sacred time. They may be called the lesser sabbats, but to the ancients and to witches who understand the laws of nature, these astronomical festivals once were (and in fact still are) as significant as when the Druids gathered at Stonehenge, or the Mayans around their wheel of the year, because with the spring equinox we usher in the return of the force of life itself.

These festivals of spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox and winter solstice, are immeasurably important in our human history, as the planetary movements revealed to humanity that the light, the sun, upon whose rays every single living thing depended was not only increasing, it would overpower the dark. Ancient people had no way of knowing that the stars would always be there, that the Sun was many millions of years old and would continue to exist for many more millions of years. Each winter meant the dread of eternal winter– indeed, how complacent should we be about the return of life each year? Are our inventions not as likely to blot out life on this planet as the loss of the light itself? Can we be sure how long we as individuals have on this planet this lifetime? The spring equinox is still signifies the coming of the light, of warmth, of the return of life itself. The myths of Celts, Romans, Greeks, Norse and the Egyptians all recognize the spring equinox as the new beginning.

Spring in colder climates may seem to be more a dramatic appeal to life than in Australia. Not so. Even in the Golden Bough, the 20th century bible of anthropology and myth by James Frazer, it recognizes Australia has its own seasonal rebirth.

“The natives of central Australia regularly practice magical ceremonies for the purpose of awakening the dormant energies of nature at what might be called the approach of the Australian spring. Nowhere apparently are the alterations of seasons more striking than in the deserts of central Australia, where at the end of a long period of drought the sandy and stony wilderness, over which the silence and desolation of death appeared to brood is suddenly, after a few days of torrential rain, transformed into a landscape smiling with verdure and peopled with teeming multitudes of insects and lizards, of frogs and birds.”

Even if the language is flowery, the point is well made. It is a sacred tradition to awaken spring through enacting sacred rites. The questions is, what is the modern, often city-bound witch to do?

To answer that, ask yourself, what is spring? At its heart, it seems to me to be a natural revival. As yourself what needs reviving in your life? Hope? Passion? Health? Following your heart? Vocation? This is a great time to literally start again. At the basis of spring is creative growth – the energy that fuels the obvious displays of later spring and summer. But first the sap must rise – or your energy must be increased. Your energy will naturally have been changing since the winter solstice – the sluggishness of winter becomes easier to shrug off once the darkest day is past. But now you need to reactivate your core energy.

Here’s a simple way to do that: Stand facing the sun each day. Feel its rays. Meditate on that which you desire to grow in your life. After doing this, take a green ribbon and tie it to a branch of a flowering tree (jasmine, magnolia, or even a fruit tree is perfect – you need a strong branch – jasmine is also lovely, but use a lightweight ribbon. If you have two areas you desire growth in, choose two ribbons. Chose the colours to correspond to that which needs stimulation. Weave your intent into the ribbon/s, and tie them about your branch with care.

As the spring days gather, and as the sun lengthens its stay in the sky on this half of the planet, your plant will unfurl and reach towards the light – this is exactly the growth you need to emulate. There comes a time when staying dormant and static becomes far more uncomfortable than the pain we imagine risk taking, growth, reaching out is – and so spring is the time for personal growth – the timing means that any chances you take are in harmony with the energy of the season and so your chances of success are magnified. You will literally be going with the flow. But back to the enchanted garden of spring ritual: If your plant flowers sooner than you expect, or if the flowers struggle to appear, these are all portents of your desires, and by reading the growth patterns of the flowers this spring, and for others in the future, you can see where you need to focus your energies.

Ritual for Spring Equinox

Decorate your altar with:

  • Green cloth
  • Green and golden candles (for the element fire)
  • seeds (for the element earth)
  • Salt for the cleansing and purity of spirit and intent
  • Spring water/dew from equinox morning (for the element water)
  • Open the magic circle
  • Light a cone or stick of jasmine incense (for the element air)
  • Raise each object one after the other, and invoke the elements (please see previous rituals for the method)
  • Once you have raised power, and welcomed the elements and guardians,
  • Write three wishes down the length of three separate ribbons.
  • Weave these together.
  • Place them on your magical altar
  • (You can use this charged magic binding for Beltane as part of the ribbon ritual)
  • Thanks the elements and the guardians
  • Thank the Goddess
  • Close the circle
  • So mote it be!

The Spring equinox is a time to celebrate the return of hope in your own life. By connecting with the dance of nature, you connect to your own being. It’s not a coincidence that humans become more sluggish during winter, that seasonal depression can take hold. The light, apart from we are creatures just as the blades of grass and small animals are: we need the light to live, and everything we live upon needs it too. We are reminded at this time to acknowledge our place in the web of life – not as some kind of center at the top of a mythical food chain, we are a part of life, effecting it and absorbed by it, influencing it yes, but no more powerful than any other agent of life. If we honour our place in life, we will have many more years on this planet. By inhabiting nature gladly and fully, we will continue to live, and to be guardians of the planet. If we do not, we will bring about our own catastrophic destruction.

Sacred travel for Spring Equinox

This would be an ideal time to make some kind of spiritual pilgrimage. The solstices and equinoxes are the times when landmarks like Stonehenge and mount warning in far northern nsw are visited. Astronomically, we are witnessing our own promise of life. The Celtic witches myth sees this time as the planting of the seed of light – the birth of the son of the God. (It’s strangely akin to the mystical Christian tale of Jesus.) One way to commemorate the life force of the spring equinox is to take an egg and paint it with symbols of the god and goddess, who are in complete harmony at the time of the vernal equinox, just as they are at the autumn equinox. Thus it is a favoured time to work out power balances with relationships, to handfast or marry, or to conceive a child.

Make a magical wand for spring
*As this is the season of the air it is an auspicious time to make your own magical wand, which is the witches tool that corresponds to the element of air, it will have been created in the perfect season and will have great power.

(This essay was copied from an old version of Lucy’s website which is no longer available online. Her new website is at http://www.lucycavendish.com)

 

 Mabon – Northern Hemisphere

To all in the Northern Hemisphere Mabon blessings as the season changes and the cooler days come forth.  May you all stay safe from the terrible weather that has been occurring.  Blessed be!

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From: “The Witches Year” ~  by Lucy Cavendish

The descent of Persephone

The bitter and the sweet collide at the festival of Mabon. It is at once a time to give thanks for the bounty you have created in your life – and a time to grieve for the little deaths we all must endure to truly be alive.

When the wheel of the year turns each year to Mabon, or the lesser sabbat of the Autumn Equinox, it is time to give thanks for whatever has come to fruition over the past year. Be it a new relationship you nurtured from raw beginnings, something you made, built, studied or created, any goals once desired and now attained must be honoured.

This is your chance to acknowledge the combination of your creative energy and the natural order, both of which helped you to grow this year. The purpose of paying this respect is twofold.

Firstly, the acknowledgement of change brought about by the power of your will brings symbolic closure to a phase. That in turn will leave you free to move forward. Secondly, honouring your achievements establishes magical growth as a soul principle – and positive reinforcement will give you the incentive we all need to make positive changes in the future. Processing this soul development at Mabon means you show the Goddess that you actively value enriching and nurturing yourself as a spiritual being in the Craft. This in turn, will bring you more blessings during the coming months.

Mabon brings equilibrium; the second time in the entire year when this happens (the other is at the spring equinox). Though Mabon’s light is as long as its dark, from this time forth that light will begin to shorten. With the lengthening of the night comes the increasing power of your own shadow self. Thus Mabon is the beginning of the wisdom of dark mysteries, of wise blood, of premonition, divination and facing your shadow. Working through any negativity that arises is actively promoted at Mabon. Don’t be afraid of working through your own darkness – it’s important to honour and respect your anger, your mistrust, your depression, your sorrows. We learn nothing from denial and repression – we need to engage with our shadow self and give it healthy expression.

But before your shadow self absorbs the light, it is vitally important for you to ready your psyche and your body for the intense crone energy that will grow more powerful each time the earth turns from Mabon forth.

How will you know when you are being affected by this energy? Even though you can pinpoint the turning of the earth into its flat zone with modern technology (and good astronomy sites!) there are plenty of seasonal signals that the sun god is dying. Watch for migrations of animals, particularly the birds, falling leaves, golding of the leaves, flowers becoming less abundant, the ground becoming colder and harder to the touch, and morning’s getting a distinct chill on them. The energy begins to go within in order to preserve itself. Personally you may find you look back, withdraw, feel aloof or confused regarding your relationships. You may feel less generous than you normally do, and you may also be nervous about any debt you may have accumulated over summer. You might feel it’s time to clean up your act – both in terms of your health and in terms of who you are.

It can be hard to let go of summer’s energy, its sensuous warmth and easy good times. Farewelling its carefree spirit made easier by witches observation of the astronomical and agricultural seasonal sacred signposts. That’s why, on a mundane level, it’s a wonderful season to begin:

  • a savings plan
    • set goals for the future
    • make jams and preserves for winter
    • restock your herbal medicine cabinet
    • clean out any essential oils, flower remedies etc that have lost their energy
    • completely clean out your fridge
    • repair broken windows,
    • think of how best to make your home secure and snug and warm for the coming introspection of Samhain
    • cooking soups, stews, any slow cooked foods with root vegetables

It’s a fortuitous time to clear energy in your house – sort of the reverse of spring-cleaning. This clean-up is to make ready for the colder nights coming, to acknowledge that the bare landscape has its own beauty and lessons – as well as a mental clarity and deep wisdom of experience that can be difficult to achieve during Beltane’s sensuous haze, and Litha’s youthful joy. This is older, wiser, deeper, sadder – and somehow more beautiful. Prepare to snuggle into it and delve into your own shadow side in comfort.

It’s essential to give thanks for bounty. Write down on a piece of parchment all you have achieved. If you like, use russet-red ink on coppery autumn leaves – I love doing this. Write down on each leaf something you felt you really mastered. It can be a small thing – to others – or a great success. It can be a relationship that you gained closure with – and this is a good time to remember any pain you may have gone through. This could also be a time for letting go. This is the phase of the natural year in which the earth goddess Demeter learned that although her daughter would be returned to her for six months of the year, she also was told that Persephone had eaten six seeds of the underworld fruit, the pomegranate, ensuring her daughter would be forever linked to Hades and live underground for six months. This is the beginning of Persephone’s departure from her mother’s home to return to her husband and the underworld, and thus the start of Demeter’s wild grieving. It was her grief that turned the earth cold, and it was the approaching winter that forced the people of the land to gather their second and last harvest of the year. Those who didn’t would be forced to confront the realities of a barren earth, perhaps without enough stores to get them through.

Persephone and Demeter: a Mabon ritual

Here is a very special spell. I developed it over a period of about one year, during which a very close friend endured a painful separation, and divorce, which had many ramifications on her relationship with her daughter. (This spell can be adapted to suit any situation – a job ending, a friendship changing, a household breaking up – or simply, then end of summer. It can even be used for an actual death, though I sincerely wish that none of you will have need for it in that regard.) Whatever you use it for, remember it is a spell to help heal the pain of parting, to help you deal with the whirlwind of emotions separation can inspire. It will plug you into the Goddess energy of Persephone and Demeter – two mother and daughter deities who know all about leaving each other – and leaving lovers. It’s also a great spell to perform if you’re experiencing tension between your family and your lover. And, as a mother, I can imagine no greater suffering that the separation from a child. Even though Demeter knows Persephone will return, her anguish is such that her mourning brings increasing cold to the earth. But it also means that the life energy goes underground to become strong again – which yours will do.

Grieving takes time. But with this spell, when the wheel next turns, we can be sure to be progressing through our sadness into a new era in our lives. It will help you avoid the tragic state of being stuck in a situation and in emotions of a situation that is dead.

You will need:
Real clay – green or it must be organic and able to decompose (enough for small figures, which you will shape by hand)
One small lemon verbena plant, and ample earth and a clay pot for it to be planted in. (If you wish, you could tend it from a seedling prior to the spell so you feel confident it will survive. Lemon verbena has wonderful qualities, both healing, calming and yet vigorously cleansing)
You must work this spell skyclad – anything that you wear during it can retain the energy. So no jewellery. You must not bathe until AFTER the spell is completed, after which you will thoroughly cleanse yourself with lemon myrtle soap, or a citrus-based cleanser. If you wish to take a natural approach, the fruit acids in a lemon will work just as well – grate up some rind and mix with one part olive oil and two parts sea salt. This will literally slough take any dead skin cells off, leaving you energised and refreshed. Water, blessed, in a ceremonial cup
One pot – you’ll need it for planting your healing lemon verbena tree

  • On the morning of the autumn equinox, cast your circle in your usual manner
    • Within the sacred circle, pour the earth into the pot and charge it with healing energy.
    • Still in the center of your circle, take your clay and forge two figures. These little people now represent you and the person or the situation that you are moving away from. Pour your emotions into them. Do not judge them, do not hold back, but do not let them own you.
    • Now, bury your little people deep in the earth.
    • Now, connect with your crone energy and feel her power merge with your essence Ask the crone to give you the wisdom to grieve well, and to move on when the wheel has turned
    • Cover the figures completely with the earth, and feel the relationship moving into the past.
    • Now, move your energy back to that of the crone. Meditate on moving on, and how best you can manifest that goal. When you feel the power peak, take a pen and write down everything you would like to achieve over the following year.
    • Once this is completed, ask the Crone to bless your plans and ask for her wisdom to guide you in manifesting them.
    • Finally, take your little lemon verbena tree, and plant it on top of the figures you have out in the earth. Water it with some water from your cup. Know that life is a wheel, that as there is sadness, there will be joy. That as there is growth, there is the dying off. That the past, with all its sadness, can feed a better future.



Say three times:
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn
This wheel shall turn

Close you circle by walking widdershins round it.

Place your magical pot plant somewhere you can see it – NOT beside your bed. Somewhere you can see it but not obsess over it. Nurture the plant and notice its growth – this is your emotional and psychic progress made living green symbol. Over time, the clay figures to become one with the earth, and nurture the roots of the plant. This is the symbol that signals to you that there can be a natural, organic end of a relationship. At some time it will become indistinguishable from the earth itself. And the earth itself can bring forth new life.
There is only one question. Are you ready to let go? You will know you have absorbed this relationships’ wisdom into your life, strengthening your very soul, when you can drink tea from the leaves of the verbena tree you planted.

You will know how hard you are holding on if you are tempted to dig up the clay figures. If you do dig them up, wait till the next waning moon, and repeat the spell. But do not repeat your mistakes.

Blessed be!

Mabon’s Names
Alban elfed
Second harvest festival
The feast of Avalon

Mabon’s Goddesses
Epona
Morgon, snake woman
Morgan le Fey
Modron
Persephone
Demeter
Hecate
The Crone

Mabon’s sacred animals
The owl
The stag
The crow
The salmon
Dogs
Wolves
Birds of prey

Mabon’s magical stones
Amethyst
Yellow topaz
Carnelian
Lapis lazuli
Sapphire
Yellow agate
Ruby

Mabon’s ritual plants
Vines
Ivy
Hazel
Hops

Mabon’s enchanted herbs
Benzoin
Honeysuckle
Marigold
Myrrh
Passionflower
Roses
Sage

(This essay was copied from an old version of Lucy’s website which is no longer available online. Her new website is at http://www.lucycavendish.com)

 

 

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Coming Soon – Demon’s Reach by Will Macmillan Jones

Today I have a pre-order book for you called Demon’s Reach, it’s the fifth book in the Mister Jones Mysteries, by my friend Will Macmillan Jones.  These are awesome books and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Description1

All families have secrets or skeletons in the cupboard, hidden away from view. Most of those secrets are better left undisturbed, for very good reasons. When Mister Jones agrees to deal with the Estate of a recently deceased cousin, he finds that the secrets hidden by his family are very dark indeed, and that the skeletons in this cupboard are very real – and not yet entirely dead.

Drawn once more by Fate into a world where magic and myth are all too real and danger lurks at every turn, Mister Jones confronts a past that seeks again to become the present, and to plunge his future into a rising Darkness.

Can he escape the Demon’s Reach?

 

Praise for the previous book, The Curse of Clyffe House on Amazon:
4.4 out of 5 stars
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 3.0 out of 5 stars

This is the fourth in the series of Mr. Jones supernatural mysteries. I’ve read this one and the first and I think they’re a hoot. If you are tired of “classic” ghost stories in which maybe the room temperature drops 2 degrees, or maybe there’s a little girl peeking in the window, or maybe a “shadow” passes over someone’s face, and if you want a ghost story that slaps you in the face every few pages, well this might be right up your alley.

The Jones books start off mildly. Mr. Jones visits his childhood home, or a neighbor buys a cursed antique thingy, or, as here, Mr. Jones goes on holiday to a remote cottage with a neighbor who wants some quiet company while she finishes writing a book. Then, some things go bump in the night, maybe there’s a ghostly apparition, maybe the lights keep going off. But, once we’ve laid the classic groundwork, anything can happen. NO SPOILERS, BECAUSE I’M EXAGGERATING, but you might get aliens, demons, ancient gods, sea creatures, or any variation on some of the eldritch things that writers like Lovecraft would pull out of the Elder Days.

Now, anybody can write books like that. I just started one a paragraph ago. But, Will Jones brings a fair hand to the table. His Mr. Jones is both solid and respectable, and steady under duress, but also open minded to the unknown. How many mildly bemused but doughty middle aged men do you find as heroes in these sorts of books? Supporting characters, here the neighbor Sheila and later the investigator Eric, have some spunk. The scenes are always nicely set – here we’re on the Welsh Coastal Path in a holiday cottage next to an abandoned creepy farm under the shadow of an ancient even creepier hill fort. This would be fun if all Jones did was walkabout at night on the Path in the fog looking for apparitions, (which, by the way, he does a lot). Heck, even listening to ghost stories in the local pub was fun.

It’s usually about half way in that the author pulls out all the stops and goes epic. AGAIN, NO SPOILERS, but in this book the plot just keeps spinning out, (remember the ancient fort/barrow), until, as the book blurb says, Mr. Jones confronts an ancient evil intent on wreaking devastation, one bemused middle aged hero at a time.

Will Jones alternates chapters between his hero’s first person account and a more traditional third person narrative. Instead of being annoying this makes the hero’s travails more personal and immediate, and helps to sell the more outrageous aspects of the story. When you combine this with a generally unsettling atmosphere, a vaguely uneasy nod to Welsh legend and pre-history, derelict buildings, a remote location, and a cliff above a raging sea, well, that’s a fine recipe for ghosty fun. Even when it’s a bit over the top, and this book is unabashedly over the top, it’s a ripping yarn.

 

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Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere – Lammas in Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Imbolc to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere.  Although it is still cold and wintery the gardens are starting to sprout and give us their beauty as we head towards Spring.    Stay warm and toasty and enjoy the brisk days.  Blessed Be!

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Imbolc Lore

Posted on February 2, 2015 by ladyoftheabyss

It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house-if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.

If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.

Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins-all foods symbolic of the Sun-are also traditional.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

Imbolc Ritual

By Scott Cunningham

A symbol of the season, such as a representation of a snowflake, a white flower, or perhaps some snow in a crystal container can be placed on the altar. An orange candle anointed with musk, cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil, unlit, should also be there. Snow can be melted and used for the water during the circle casting.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones.

Recite the Blessing Chant.

Invoke the Goddess and God.

Say such words as the following:

This is the time of the feast of torches,
when every lamp blazes and shines
to welcome the rebirth of the God.
I celebrate the Goddess,
I celebrate the God;
All the Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.

Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar (or at the Southern point of the circle). Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle before you. Say these or similar words:

All the land is wrapped in winter.
The air is chilled and
frost envelopes the Earth.
But Lord of the Sun,
Horned One of animals and wild places,
Unseen you have been reborn of the gracious
Mother Goddess, Lady of all fertility.
Hail Great God! Hail and welcome!

Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle. Gaze at its flame. Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.

If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.

Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.

Celebrate the Simple Feast.

The circle is released.

—Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham

Lammas – Northern Hemisphere

Blessed Lammas to those in the Northern Hemisphere as you enjoy the summer sun and slowly meander towards Autumn/Fall.  Blessed Be!

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Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest

By Patti Wigington, About.com

The Beginning of the Harvest:

At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.

This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.

Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:

Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.

In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.

A Feast of Bread:

In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.

The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.

Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:

In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.

Honoring the Past:

In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.

By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.

Symbols of the Season

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.

Crafts, Song and Celebration

Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!

  • Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
  • Grapes and vines
  • Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
  • Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
  • Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
  • Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches

Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.

New Release – Shere Khan by Jade Kerrion

Today I have a New Release for you, Shere Khan- The Masters Reimagined, by my friend Jade Kerrion.  It’s a great telling of this story and well worth reading, I loved it.

Shere Khan

 

Description1

Uncover the truth Rudyard Kipling conceals in his unforgettable masterpiece, The Jungle Book.

One-hundred rupees for the skin of Lungri…

A mysterious Chinese girl arrives in India, determined to claim the bounty on the man-eating tiger. Intrigued by her unrelenting purpose, Rudyard Kipling follows her into the jungle on a mystical adventure that will transform Lungri–The Lame One–into Shere Khan–Tiger Lord.

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

Q – Is this based on the Kipling or Disney version of The Jungle Book?

A – Did you know that in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (not the reimagined Disney version), Shere Khan was first called Lungri? Did you know that Kaa rescued Mowgli from the monkeys? And did you know that Shere Khan was killed by stampeding buffalo?

My short story, Shere Khan, weaves around Kipling’s story, to tell another story of the conflict between the east and the west, of clashes between cultures and countries, and of a mystical world that runs parallel to our own. It tells you why the man-eating tiger named Lungri–Lame Onewas first and forever acknowledged as Shere Khan–Tiger Lord.

Q – What is The Masters Reimagined?

A – In The Masters Reimagined, ten authors unite to bring something new to the classic stories of literature we all know so well. Masters like James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, and Shakespeare inspired the authors of the Alvarium Experiment in their quest to reinterpret, reinvent, and reshape the stories and characters through speculative twists and turns. This is the third project by the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.

Q – Where should a reader start when selecting a short story to read in The Masters Reimagined?

A – Each story is self-contained and can be read in any order. The reader is free to select any of the stories at random to begin their experience. The book description will explain the premise for each particular story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author JADE KERRION defied (or leveraged, depending on your point of view) her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy, as well as her MBA, to embark on her second (and concurrent) career as an award-winning science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance author.

Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, published in 2012, won six literary awards and launched her best-selling futuristic thriller series, Double Helix, which blends cutting-edge genetic engineering and high-octane action with an unforgettable romance between an alpha empath and an assassin.

If she sounds busy, it’s because she is. Jade writes at 3:00 am when her husband and three sons are asleep, and aspires to make her readers as sleep-deprived as she is.

 

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New Release – Desperate to Die by Barbara Ebel M.D.

Today I have a New Release for you, Desperate to Die:A Medical Thriller, book three in the Dr. Annabel Tilsen novels by my friend Barbara Ebel, M.D.

Desparate to Die B Ebel

 

Description1

Euthanasia, suicide, and murder on the medical ward…

Is there a fine line between euthanasia, suicide, and murder? Medical student Annabel Tilson is deep into her internal medicine rotation when one of her patients dies of natural causes which may not be typical at all. As she undergoes a personal loss herself and is confused by the male friendships in her life, she realizes there are no easy solutions to difficult problems such as end-of-life care. Meanwhile, however, her patients’ lives are at stake.

˃˃˃ A thought-provoking, emotional, and riveting medical suspense…

Which is it? Are Machiavellian deeds being done or perpetrated on Annabel’s discharged patients and those on the medical floor? Or are painful deaths and intolerable situations being circumvented for some patients by an angelic protector? Get ready for a surprising and unexpected plot: the manner in which life ends…

˃˃˃ Book Three in the medical and personal adventures of Dr. Annabel Tilson.

Scroll up and grab a copy of Desperate to Die today.

*****

I hope you enjoy DESPERATE TO DIE! This is Book Three in the medical and personal adventures of medical student Annabel Tilson and is also a standalone story.
Book One: DEAD STILL
Book Two: DEADLY DELUSIONS
Book Three: DESPERATE TO DIE
Book Four: in the works!

Annabel’s novels are a spinoff from her father’s series, The Dr. Danny Tilson Novels, especially Book Four. Those books are:
Book One: Operation Neurosurgeon
Book Two: Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery
Book Three: Collateral Circulation: a Medical Mystery
Book Four: Secondary Impact

 

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First Chapter – IntrinsiC Connections

Today I have the First Chapter for you from IntrinsiC Connections, book two in the Petri Dish Chronicles, recently released by Mistral Dawn.

Intrinsic Connections

 

Description1

This second installment in the Petri Dish Chronicles finds Petri and her friends traveling from planet to planet in Daji’s spaceship, the Ruba, searching for a new home. But it’s a challenge for Petri to find a place where she can be confident that the dangerous secrets she carries within her will remain hidden, and Daji is losing patience with her indecision. As tensions between Petri and Daji reach critical mass, the most frightening part of Petri’s past catches up with her, and the question facing the motley crew changes from, “where will they live?” to “will they survive?”

*Please note: it is strongly recommended that this series be read in order, starting with book one, Rainbow Dreams.

*Please note: this story contains adult themes and material and is not intended for readers under the age of 18. If violence or explicit sexual content offends you, this may not be the book for you.

chapter
Dust and grit swirled around Petri as she lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the harsh glare of the star that the planet she was currently on orbited. In truth, it was one of three stars, but by far the largest. The other two had nearly burned themselves out and were well on their way to becoming black dwarves. They did little more than light the night sky enough for most beings to navigate easily. It was rarely completely dark on this world.

Which was good, she reflected as she gazed out across the desolate landscape, since the remaining star made daytime travel difficult. It dried the lone planet that circled it and its older sisters to a world-spanning desert and created convection currents in the atmosphere strong enough to ensure that the parched soil remained suspended in a perpetual, whirling cloud. That is, when the dirt wasn’t busy coating anyone hapless enough to be out in it.

Sighing, Petri raised the scarf she wore to protect her airways over her mouth and nose and stepped away from the building she had just exited. It had been almost three days since she had been outside its walls, and she half-expected that her friends would have left her here. It was what they wanted, after all.

Thinking about Chessie and Sadaka, Petri grimaced. She wasn’t being fair to them. They just wanted her to stop arguing with Daji so much. Which made sense, considering that they only lived by his good graces. Still, he made her so angry sometimes she couldn’t help lashing out. Sighing again as a nearly overwhelming exhaustion washed over her despite the way she had just glutted herself and her power, Petri remembered how frustrated she was the last time she saw him. That had been right before she had stalked off his ship in a fit of temper. Sometimes she thought he was deliberately refusing to try to understand her point of view.

Stopping suddenly, she looked around again and realized the swirling dirt had disoriented her and she was going in the wrong direction. She peered through the haze trying to discern enough landmarks to make her way back to where she hoped the Ruba would still be waiting for her. It wasn’t easy, since there were several large, low-lying buildings in the small township, and they all looked the same; low to the ground, with no sharp edges, and coated in the ubiquitous pale gray sand. Most structures only had their entrances above ground, as the constant erosion from the airborne grit wore down anything built on the surface.

The shipyard was similarly underground, with a landing panel that was only exposed to the elements long enough for ships to land on and take off from it. The rest of the time, the landing strip was sheltered beneath a structure that was indistinguishable from half a dozen similar buildings in the area. Huffing, Petri acknowledged that the planet was named appropriately.

It was called Sheol, after an ancient human mythological afterlife full of shadowy souls who ate clay and lacked self-awareness. Petri couldn’t remember all the details of the myth; devoting time and attention to learning extraneous trivia was still a new concept for her and she hadn’t quite mastered it. But what she did recall certainly seemed to describe this planet with astonishing accuracy. Even down to the lack of sentience in the local residents.

She couldn’t blame them; this place was deadly dull, and she’d go brain-dead too if she had to spend a week here, never mind years. That was why she couldn’t understand Daji’s motivations and determination to leave Chessie, Sadaka, and her on a planet like this. The thought of it was enough to set her temper off again and start a cold ball of panic building in her stomach.

Petri could understand him wanting his ship back. They took up space and it cost money to feed them. That was one of the reasons she spent so much time in the building she had just left; a local bar and flophouse, where a new dolly was a novelty and much welcomed by the locals. Even after she gave the owner of the establishment his cut, her pockets jingled with hard currency, evidence of her popularity. She intended to give it to Daji to cover at least part of the cost of their passage and board.

But what she found maddening was that every time she suggested a planet for him to leave them on, he rejected it. Petri wanted a developed, well-populated world; one with cities that were big enough for her and her friends to lose themselves in. As a trader, Daji traveled to a variety of planets, many of which would satisfy Petri’s criteria.

But the kind of world that Petri was thinking about inevitably had a sophisticated bureaucracy with reams of laws regarding who could immigrate to their worlds, what background information was required from applicants, and extensive health testing and communicable disease prevention precautions. It was the health and disease testing that was the sticking point for Daji.

Chessie had the diddling skills to create new profiles and backgrounds for the three of them that would satisfy the bureaucrats, and Daji had no problem with that type of rule breaking because, as he said, it didn’t endanger anyone. But he insisted the health and disease tests couldn’t be faked.

The tests were no problem for Chessie or Sadaka. As humans, they would sail right through without so much as raised eyebrow from any of the medics. But as a human/Arcanum hybrid, Petri couldn’t allow her DNA to be scrutinized by anyone in authority. If she did, she would at best be executed, and at worst be turned into a research specimen.

She shuddered at the thought. One scientist on Upworld had discovered her secret and she’d had the misfortune of spending a few hours in his custody. She still had nightmares from the experience.

Daji’s solution to that problem was a world like Sheol, a backwater, sparsely populated planet that lacked the resources and bureaucracy of the more developed systems. On such worlds, there were often few, if any, laws regarding who could immigrate or what standards they had to meet. The only problem was, a planet like that was Petri’s own personal idea of Hell.

The idea of being stuck in a place like this made her skin crawl. She had no idea how to survive on a world with as few people as this one had. Yeah, since she was new she had attracted a lot of business over the last couple of days. Novelty went at a premium in such places. But she wouldn’t be a curiosity for long, and then what?

Would she be able to make enough as a dolly on such a world to survive? Because she didn’t know how to do anything else. Chessie had her diddling skills, but how much demand for those could there be on a planet that lacked even a central global network? Hell, this place still ran on a cobbled together system built off satellites! Petri had lost track of the number of times the lights and air filters failed over the last couple of days thanks to the finicky power grid that was the best the local government could afford.

And what about Sadaka? The girl needed to be in school, and the educational opportunities in such a place were limited at best. In all likelihood, the child would grow up to work in whatever industry had necessitated that a settlement be founded on the world they settled on. Here, that meant she would grow up to be a miner, working in dangerous conditions to extract the rare mineral, trefoil, that was used to make the shielding in spaceship hulls. She would rarely be allowed out of the mines; her life would be lived in darkness, breathing recycled air. That wasn’t what Petri wanted for the kid she had come to feel responsible for.

Worst of all, what if the people here discovered Petri’s secret? A thrill of terror ran down her spine. There was no place to run. No crowd to hide in. If anyone ever suspected what she was and she was trapped on a planet like this, she would be dead.

Petri had tried to reason with Daji. First, she had argued that Chessie and Sadaka could go through the health screenings, if he insisted, and that she, herself, was in perfect health. She couldn’t bring disease to a planet because she wasn’t sick. He had insisted there was no way for her to know for sure that she didn’t have some latent infection, and that it wasn’t just other people’s safety he was concerned for. Every world had its own diseases, and part of the screening process involved inoculating new arrivals against whatever endemic diseases were in residence.

He had pointed out that given where she and her friends had lived, they might have been exposed to any number of microbes and toxins and that, when combined with the microflora of a new world, might turn lethal. And that was especially true of her with her hybrid physiology. The only way to ensure everyone’s safety was to go through the immigration health protocols.

There hadn’t really been any way for Petri to argue the point with him; no one, least of all her, knew what surprises her unique biology held. So, she had shifted the conversation to the fact that planets like Sheol didn’t have the resources to combat new diseases the way more developed worlds did. That by coming to a place like this, she would put people in more danger, not less. That was when the conversation had devolved into a shouting match.

Daji had started babbling about something called “population density” and how it affected the way “emerging infections” spread and whether they took hold in a population or burned out. Apparently, the more people there were living in close quarters, the more likely a new disease would be to infect and kill new people. At least, that’s what she thought the gist of his lecture had been about. It had been over Petri’s head and she had felt stupid for not understanding something he obviously considered common knowledge. It made her angry, and she had stormed out and gone in search of a decent meal for her power.

That was another reason she had been so short-tempered. With her new-found control, she had been able to feed from Daji on a regular basis without draining too much of his energy and endangering him. It was enough to sustain her and keep her power from getting out of control, but feeding in such a way left her feeling constantly hungry. The fact that Daji shared his food with them, and she had enough to eat for the first time in her life helped, but it wasn’t enough. She needed to feed her power.

Knowing that her stay on this planet would be short and that she wouldn’t be feeding on any of her clients here more than once, she’d had no qualms about feeding deeply from them. The first few may have felt a little tired and in need of a good night’s sleep and a meal when they left her, but nothing worse than that. After she had taken the edge off her hunger, the rest wouldn’t have felt even that much of a drain. And they all left completely satisfied with her services.

Being fed on by Petri made her prey feel amazing. Daji described it to her as an orgasm that touched every cell in his body and left him floating for hours. And being full again felt just as incredible to Petri. After the last couple of days, her body sang with her power and she felt like she might just have the energy to tackle all the reading Daji and Chessie wanted her to do.

Having time and resources to devote to anything other than getting the basics needed for survival was a new state of affairs for Petri. Her entire life before this had been devoted to getting enough money to put food in her belly, a roof over her head, and protecting herself from those who wanted to take what little she had. Now, she had leisure time and Daji and Chessie were determined to help her fill it.

Chessie lived with her father as a child, and so had a little more security than Petri in her early years. Since she hadn’t had to scramble to survive, she’d had the opportunity to learn to use the rainbow. Those skills eventually developed to make her into the diddler she was now, but she had also learned to enjoy learning. She didn’t have any formal education, almost no one did in Under City, but she had learned how to research and find things out for herself. Now, she was determined to help Petri learn as well. And Daji cheered her on.

It wasn’t just Petri they were after; they both gave Sadaka a mountain of data to process, as well. But the little girl was incredibly smart and took to the education like fur to a Paka. She delighted in telling Petri about what she learned, which only made Petri feel even worse about her own abilities.

Because of her power, Petri had trouble focusing in the virtual world and controlling her surroundings enough to navigate through the material Chessie and Daji determined to be most critical. And the weird resonance that existed between her power and the digital environment made it extremely hard for Petri to concentrate. Not being able to fuel her power properly had only exacerbated the problem.

Sighing, Petri pushed those thoughts aside. Her power was now fully sated, and it was time she found out if she was stranded on this hellish world. She didn’t think so. Daji might have been angry enough to leave her, but she knew that Chessie would never abandon her. Still, if he had incapacitated the older woman in some way, it was possible Petri would have to find another way back to civilization.

After studying the town for a few more minutes, Petri thought she had the right building identified. Ducking her head against the ever-present wind, she hurried to find out if she still had a ride.

 

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Yule in Southern Hemisphere – Litha in Northern Hemisphere

Yule blessings to all of us in the Southern Hemisphere, it is a cold wintry day here on the mountain with the mist covering everything with its beauty.   Keep warming and Blessed Be!

Yule blessings

Yule

Yule is celebrated at the winter solstice (Or the midpoint of winter). It is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night.

Yule comes from the Germanic “Iul” meaning “Wheel.” Yule celebrates Winter, and the rebirth of the Sun God. As Yule is the shortest day of the Year it marks the Suns low point, as after this the Sun will begin to grow stronger again. It is customary to have a Yule log – this is a log (Traditionally Oak or Pine) that you burn during this time, and keep it through the year for protection, and add it to the fire of the following year’s Yule log.

If you do not wish to have a fire, you can use a log with holes drilled into it as a candle holder which will represent the Yule fire.  It is also customary to light many lights and candles as sympathetic magik to bring the Sun back, persuading him to emerge from the womb of the Earth mother..

Holly is traditionally worn by men, and Ivy by women at this time.  The Yule tree (Also known as the Christmas tree) was a wishing tree, the wishes for the new year hang in the arms of the universe.

You can make a Pagan Yule tree by making decorations from Rose Buds, Cinnamon Sticks, Pop Corn, Bags of Herbs, Crystals suspended from wire, Apples, Oranges, Lemons etc.  After you have made the tree, dance around it Deosil (clockwise), singing and making wishes. A time for Rebirth, reflection, new ideas, dreams, hopes and giving.

Plants for Yule:  Holly, Mistletoe, Ivy, Evergreens, Pine, Cedar, Bay, Juniper, Rosemary, Pine, Apples, Oranges, Nutmeg, Lemon, Cinnamon, Frankincense.

Foods of Yule:  All “Christmas” foods (eg. Turkey, Roasts, Potatoes etc.), hearty Winter foods (Stew etc.), Nuts, Apples, Pears, Caraway, Pork, Hibiscus or Ginger tea.

Stones:  Onyx, Obsidian, Jet.

Colours:  Red, Green, Orange, White.

Element:  Earth.

Planet: Saturn

Zodiac: Capricorn.

Pagan belief:  The Goddess gives birth to the God.  Some traditions have a Holly King and an Oak King as the God, and they fight at Yule with the Oak King winning, and ruling until Litha.

Yule Goddesses: Fortuna, Gaia, Heket, Lilith, Frey, Ma’at, Pandora, Shekinah, Tiamat.

Yule Gods: Apollo, Balder, Cronos, Helios, Janus, Lugh, Oak King, Holly King, Ra, Sol, Attis, mithras, Odin, Saturn.

 

Litha – Northern Hemisphere

 

Litha blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere as you celebrate the Summer Solstice and revel in the warmth of the season.  Blessed Be!

litha9
Litha, or Midsummer, is celebrated at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the Year, and the shortest night.

Litha celebrates the very height of the powers of the Sun and of Life. But it also acknowledges that after this date the Sun will begin to weaken and the days to grow shorter. Litha is a time of purification.  An Example of a purification Litha spell is to take a small herbal bag filled with Litha herbs/flowers, put all your problems, worries etc. into the bag, and drop it into the Litha fire to burn all those worries away.

Litha is also a time to pay attention to your dreams, as these could contain messages for the future.  This Sabbat is a good time to perform any Magikal workings, and jumping over a Litha balefire will increase the Magikal energy and give purification  Herbs and plants for ritual use can be harvested at Litha to make use of the high level of Magik power at this time.

Litha is also a time to make protection amulets, and bless people or animals.
Plants for Litha:  Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild thyme, Daisy, Carnation, St John’s Wort.

Stones: Moonstone, Quartz, Pearl.

Colours:  Green, Orange, Yellow, Gold.

Element:  Water.

Planet:  Moon.

Zodiac:  Cancer.

Pagan Beliefs:  The Goddess is mature.  The God prepares for his death.  Some traditions have the Holly King and the Oak King fighting again, but this time the Holly King wins, and rules until Yule.

Litha Goddesses: Athena, Bona Dea, Freya, Hathor, Isis, Juno, Nuit, Artemis, Dana, Eos, Kali, Sekhmet, Vesta.

Litha Gods: Apollo, Baal, Dagda, Balder, Helios, lugh, Oak king, Holly King, Prometheus, Ra, Thor, Sol, Zeus.