Archive for March, 2011

Garlic

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Garlic (Allium sativum)

 

What is the difference between a food, an herb and a spice?  The answer you will get from a chef is that spices are roots, buds, berries, bark and seeds, while herbs are stems and leaves.  And, food is what nourishes us.  For our purpose as Pagans, I have to agree with Scott Cunningham when he says they’re all herbs.  The important part for us to understand is what their medicinal, magickal and health properties are, and their association to the gods.

I just came from a local organic farm where they were having a customer appreciation day and serving up three different types of greens (collard, mustard and kale) with cornbread and biscuits.  Everything was delicious.  I do like to support local farmers and when they are growing organic it is a real serendipity.  I bought some mustard greens and kale to cook up this week.  There were also bags of garlic the last of the season and I obtained a bag while they are still available.  All of this made me think about garlic.  I love garlic!  It is magickal, medicinal, nutritious and delicious.

During the cold weather I try to include it in as many dishes as possible as garlic is a great defense against the common cold, the flu and bronchitis.  As I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, I was pleased to learn that garlic in my diet should lower my blood pressure.  Garlic has also shown to reduce serum cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides while raising the good cholesterol HDL, which will keep my levels where I want them.  I will definitely sauté some garlic with the kale (oh yum).  The fact that it is purported to increase libido, doesn’t hurt either.

Garlic, also known as “stinking rose”, has been protecting people all over the world for thousands of years. Using sympathetic magick one can relate the long hollow stem with the windpipe and related diseases.  This herb has been used as a defense against plague, the flu and hepatitis as well as foul weather.  It certainly has an undying reputation as a repellent against vampires. (I have noticed that since I eat a lot of garlic, that I am not bothered by vampires at all.)  Garlic has been used by sailors, soldiers and homeowners to protect against a variety of worldly and Otherworld evils.

Medicinally it was used by the British military as an antiseptic during both WWI and WWII.  They actually bought thousands of tons for treating wounds and preventing infections, and it worked.  Garlic contains selenium which is a powerful antioxidant, which many people take as a supplement, as well as germanium which strengthens the immune system giving garlic its ability to heal damaged cells and minimize infection.  In warmer weather it will help keep the mosquitoes from biting you as it contains thiamin.  Actually, you name it and garlic is probably good for it.

Garlic has an affinity to Hekate and has been used as an offering to her at the crossroads.  Magickally, garlic is masculine and ruled by Mars.  Maybe that is why it is able to fight so powerfully on your behalf.  Just be forewarned that if you eat or use a lot of garlic, your friends may keep their distance.

 

 

Garlic Cough Medicine

 

Peel and grind or mince (a garlic press can also be used) about a pound of garlic cloves and place it in a jar.  Pour in a mixture of half water and half apple cider vinegar so it covers the garlic.  Let it sit four or five hours and then drain the liquid and add an equal part of honey (or hot syrup of brown sugar) to the mixture.  Keep cool and shake well before using.  The garlic can then be used for other purposes.

Adults: a tablespoon full three or four times a day.

Children: a teaspoon or more depending on their age.

The Bath

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I love hot water, It is so fine

Like little fingers up and down my spine

 

I fill the tub with soap and bubbles

Then I jump in to forget my troubles

 

 

I soak for an hour or maybe two

If it cools, I add some hot, a drop or a few

 

If my fingers shrivel and looks so bad

But, I don’t care, the water’s hot and I’m glad

 

Life is good, when I can soak up to my neck

I’ll might stay all day long, what the heck

Balancing the Goddess and the God

Friday, March 11th, 2011

In my current personal practice of Wicca, I understand that there needs to be a balance of energies within my religion.  I find though that, more often than not, we Witches are considered part of a Goddess religion.  I am aware that this may have been the case when the Craft was first revived (in the 1950s); however, I believe, with the exception of Dianic Covens, that most of today’s Witches see the advantage of a balance of power in rituals, rites and our relationship with the gods.   Perhaps some of the Goddess emphasis came from the pendulum swing created when many people changed from the patriarchal structure of the Christian world.  This being the point from which most of us began out spiritual journey. I believe it is a challenge to transition from the single Deity (God) or even the God in three persons (all male) to a concept of many Goddesses and Gods (polytheism).

When I first entered the Craft it was very much a Goddess religion.  The God was only acknowledged as the consort of the Goddess and the High Priest was just in circle to protect the High Priestess.  Neither I nor any other male Witch was ever allowed to touch the altar or even be taught how to activate the altar.  I know that times have changed and we are more eclectic today than back then, however, there is still the feeling that we are Goddess orientated.  In an attempt to visualize the concept of balance between the God and Goddess I looked at the Tree of Life within the Qabalah.

Before we take a look at the Tree, be aware that the Qabalah is more of a universal symbol than one of the Judaeo/Christian doctrine.  It is a Hermetic tool and most likely predates Judaism.    As such, we Witches can use the Tree of Life to help us understand the Universe and life itself, but that is beyond the scope of this article.  For this example, I want to use just the three top spheres (sephirot) or what is called the supernal triangle.

If we conceptualize Kether at the top of the supernal triangle as Deity, then we have a starting place. Kether is understood to be both male and female.  It is the focal point from which everything emanates.  From Kether the force or energy is directed to Chokhmah which is the male representation of God and to Binah which is the female representation.  Binah represents the Mother Goddess and Chokhmah the Father God.  As we descend the Tree of Life we find all the Goddesses and all the Gods placed according to their traits.

Although this correlation may not work for those who are not familiar with the Tree of life it is a great visual for those who have at least a cursory understanding.  Given some thought you may even find a visualization and correlation that works better for you.

That being said, it begs to ask the question; why is balance important and what is wrong with Goddess religion?  It really depends upon what you are looking for on your spiritual path.  If you are tired of male dominance and are looking for a change in favor of the feminine then this is not an issue for you.  However, if you believe as I do that real magick can only occur when both masculine and feminine energies are employed, you will be obliged to move to that space between masculine and feminine enabling you to access both.  With very few exceptions, in nature, the male and female are needed in order to procreate.  Since it is your path you follow, only you can decide whether or not to follow just the Goddess or a balance of Gods and Goddesses.

A Short Rant

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I have been complacent for far too long.  I receive e-mail and Facebook posts that are not appropriate and not appreciated.  They are steeped in predigism, hatred and bigotry.  I believe it is time for me to stand-up for what I believe in.  I am a realist and I am not a bleeding heart liberal.  I have the right to my opinion and believe I have earned it.  I spend 20 years of  my life defending this Republic as an American serviceman and another 10 years in law enforcement.  I love my country and truly fear for the direction in which we are going.

  • I believe that every man, woman and child in this world has the right to proper health care.  That is the right and opportunity to seek and obtain medical care when it is needed.  I would gladly wait longer to see a doctor if it meant someone who would not otherwise be eligible to see a doctor had the same opportunity as me.
  • I believe that every human being on this planet has the right to be able to have food, clothing  and shelter. I believe that people should not be faulted for doing whatever they can do to obtain this for themselves and their families.
  • I believe that all people have the right to the pursuit of happiness.  I don’t believe this should be limited in any way because of a person’s race, color or creed.  Furthermore it should not be dependent on the sexual preference, their heritage, the nationality or their religion.
  • I believe that no matter who our president is that once he is in office we should support him/her with our words and our prayers.  We don’t look good in the eyes of the world when we criticize our president and question his nationality and his religion (or what many believe to be his religion).

There was a time that American were respected throughout the world and those that took us on paid a heavy price for doing so.  Not just in a wartime situation, but in the eyes of the rest of the world.  We have lost that respect and honorable position that we once held.  Many Americans today have to have someone to hate.  In fact, this is one trait that has followed the human race throughout time.  There have been groups singled out for this hatred throughout history.  Today that hatred is aimed at the illegal aliens that come into this country from Mexico.  It wasn’t too long ago that that hatred was aimed at the people of color.  And, women have been the brunt of this in many cultures at many times.

We are already pointing some of this hatred toward gay men and lesbian women.  Who will be next?  Will it be the legal aliens, the liberals, the homeless, the elderly, the Democrats, the Republicans, those that vote, those that don’t vote. the northerners, the southerners, the Pagans and the Witches?  Will it be you?

There have been times when people stood by while others were persecuted and have done nothing.  One by one group after another of people were singled out arrested and murdered and no one spoke out.  And, when the tide turned and it was their turn to be arrested, there was no one left to speak for them.  You need only to look at Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s to know this is true.  Don’t think that was then and this is now.  That couldn’t happen in this country.  It could and I fear might if we do not stand-up for the oppressed, who will stand up for us when we are oppressed?  I don’t ask you to agree with me and I know many of you will not.  I just ask you to take a moment to ask yourself who you are and for what you believe.  How would you feel if you were one of the other people. Hate is a terrible insidious disease.  Rodney King was so right when he said “why can’t we all just get along”.

 

 

Hyssop

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Several years ago, Dragonfly and I were looking for a nice bush to put in the front yard.  We found this cute little bush with lavender flowers and planted it by the steps leading to the front door.  It has bloomed every year since.  The blooms smell like liquorish and the bees just love it.  When it is in full bloom, bees of several different species cover the bush (a little intimidating for house guests).  A little girl told me that if I wanted to pet the bees to do it while they are busy getting nectar.  I tried it and it worked.  It is so cool to do.  This bush turned out to be, a Hyssop, a very protective herb planted in just the right place.  I could not have planted it in a better place if I had known at the time that Hyssop has a reputation of being a plant of protection.

Hyssop has a very spiritual history.  The origin of the word Hyssop is Greek from the word “azob” and means “Holy One”.  It was used back in those days to clean sacred places.  Hyssop has been used as a cleansing herb for thousands of years and is mentioned in both the old and new testament of the Bible.  Psalms 51:7 says: Purify me with Hyssop and I will be clean.  John 19:29 says: A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the Hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips. (New American Standard Bible)  Although some authorities say that Hyssop as we know it today was not native to that region of the world and could have been marjoram, the caper plant, sorghum, the maidenhair spleenwort or the wallrue.

Medicinally, hyssop contains essential hormone oils to build resistance to infectious disease. It is known to regulate blood pressure.  It does this by increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.  It is also a very effective expectorant and stimulant.  As a tea, it is reported to be effective for asthma patients.  Caution should be used, however, when using hyssop as a tea as it can cause seizures in some people.  Pregnant women should also not ingest Hyssop.

Hyssop is used to quickly heal cuts or wounds.  When I was in Thailand, I was riding my motorcycle on a dirt road along the edge of the jungle one day when suddenly a water buffalo came into the road in front of me and I crashed.  I injured my knee and it was bleeding profusely.  An older woman appeared seemingly from nowhere and helped me by taking some leaves, chewing them up and putting it on my wound.  It stopped bleeding.  Could it have been some form of hyssop, I don’t know, but my knee still has a green place.

Magickally Hyssop is masculine, ruled by Jupiter and associated with the element of Fire. It is the herb used most in performing magick. Placed in a sachet it is a great herb to add to your ritual bath and can be hung in your home to protect against evil and unwelcome guests.  A hyssop mixture can be used as a solution to cleanse ritual tools and can be sprinkled around the circle before it is cast.

Hyssop Cleaning Solution

As it smells good and is expensive, it makes a great cleaning solution and can be used on just about anything (including adding it to your washing machine.  Add it during the rinse cycle to act as a mild bleaching agent.  I add a little pennyroyal to the mixture to help control the flea population in our home (I have three dogs and a cat).

The Villiage Priest

Friday, March 11th, 2011

 

 

The Village Priest

By Michael Cheiron

Although born poor in a small village and raised by his mother Frank had much potential.  His father passed away while Frank was still young and he did not leave much for his family.  His mother made many sacrifices to enable Frank to have a good education and cultural skills.  Frank had a great life ahead of him as he was warm, compassionate and very smart with a fun almost child like sense of humor.  Being good looking added to his popularity and his already charismatic personality.  He was at the top of his class at school and preparing for the university when he felt called to the priesthood.  The mother was thrilled to have her son enter the church and study to be a parish priest.  The young mans path was set.

He did very well at the seminar and all of his teachers remarked at how well he performed in his academic studies.  He was once again at the top of the class.  His knowledge of religious studies and history grew every day and all the priests acknowledged that he would most likely be a Cardinal someday, maybe even Pope.  So much potential and such a compassionate and fun young man.  He took the name Father Frances and life was good.  He was so full of life and energy and vowed to bring that energy into all aspects of his ministry.

Upon graduation he was so well thought of and had so many recommendations, that instead of starting off in a tiny church or helping an older priest, he was given his own church in a nice village.  He was very successful at his post and all the villagers agreed that the were lucky to have such an exceptional young priest. He established a strong relationship with his superior, Bishop Andrews and  the Bishop  agreed to mentor him so that he could achieve his goals of advancing through he levels of the priesthood.  They became very close friends and confidants.

He was loved by all of his congregation and especially a young redheaded woman named Celia.  Celia loved Father Frances from the moment she saw him and he, try as he might to ignore her, felt a pull at his heart strings when she was around.  She helped at the church on a regular basis, mostly to be close to Frank.

As time went on they became a very effective team.  She brought out the child in him and he the maturity in her.  It seemed for both of them that this was a wonderful friendship that would last a lifetime.  It would have, however, one day they realized they were in love and their forbidden romance started.  They were careful not to let anyone know that their relationship had moved from friends to more than  that. This was a comfortable relationship for both of them until the day that Celia came to Frank and told him that she was with child.

Father Frances was shocked.  How did this happen?  How did he allow himself to get into such a relationship in the first place. It would ruin his chances of advancement within the priesthood.  He went to his mentor Bishop Andrews, confessed his transgression and asked what he should do.  The Bishop told him that it was understandable that at his age he could be tempted and had fallen into this trap.  He suggested that Frank had two choices.  The first was to leave the priesthood and marry the young Celia, but he must realize that this would be the end of his path in the priesthood.  The second was to break off the relationship and find a way to be rid of her and the unborn child within her womb, forever.  Frank was devastated.  Such hard choices.  He loved Celia and yet he loved being a priest, the church and his potential more.

After careful though and prayer, he decided to take the second option.  He devised a plan to be rid of Celia and the unborn child all in one act.  As they had often met at night, in secrecy, by the cliffs near the village to walk together where no one would see them.  He invited her to meet him one last time.  Celia not realizing there was anything wrong, gladly kept the rendezvous.  It only took a quick move and a strong arm and she was over the cliffs in a flash.  Ensuring himself that no one had seen the dastardly act, he returned to his church.

The next morning the body was discovered at the bottom of the cliffs on the rocks where the ocean met the shore.  Her body was brought back to the village and a fine funeral was prepared for her and the unborn child that no one else but Frank knew about.  Frank conducted the mass and the matter was closed.  All agreed that it was such a tragic accident.  Some wondered what she had been doing out on the cliffs at night, but the Priest was above any suspicion.

Frank, however, was a changed man.  No one noticed at first, but over time they realized that the warm compassionate side of father Frank had been hardened and the fun childlike sense of humor was no longer to be found.  He devoted himself to his studies and his career in the Priesthood.  His mentor never asked about it again and the issue was just as dead as Celia.

The young priest attained his goals and with each step up the ladder he became a little more callous and a little more distant from his flock.  He became distant and withdrawn.  Although reaching his goals, he was not a happy man.  All the praises of his superiors and his advancement to Bishop and eventually Archbishop did not give him the satisfaction he hoped for.  He blamed Celia for creating the situation whereby he had to take such drastic action and his mentor for suggesting it.  His peers, associates , those he mentored and the nuns saw the archbishop withdraw more and more, but could do nothing to help.

He thought on several occasions that he too would like to die, but to make that happen would be a mortal sin and he kept it just that, a thought.  He became even more of a recluse and eventually a very bitter old man.  The young compassionate, loving and fun priest had become a ghost of what he once was and what he inspired to be.  The more he withdrew, the more others withdrew from him.  He became an embittered and lonely old man.  And that is the way he died.  Or, maybe he died those many years ago on the top of those cliffs on the fateful night.

Listen

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Listen

 

Listen to the Earth Mother

Hear what so few hear

Beneath her Winter crust

Beats the heart of life yet lived

Listen with more than your ears

Use your heart and you emotions

Reach down deep with your mind

Know the stirrings soon to burst forth

Listen and know that which is seldom known

That which has slept through Winter

Will soon awake to the call of Spring

Those that have listened will be ready

Children of the gods know

It is the unseen explosions of life

Life that will soon be seen

As Spring arrives and the wheel turns again