Thursday, January 31, 2008

Imbolc (or Candlemas) Primer

Imbolc (or Imbolg), as most pagans I know call it, is just days away. Though it is an astrological event, occurring each year when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, it is traditionally celebrated on the fixed date of February 2, with observances starting at sundown on February 1.

There are several traditional crafts associated with the holiday, including crafting a Brigit's or Bride's Bed, creating a Crown of Lights, and making and/or blessing candles for the year to come. But perhaps the most universal of Imbolc crafts is that of weaving wheat into a Brigit's Cross. The cross is then hung in the home for protection.

My personal tradition is to create a new Brigit's Cross each year after which I burn the previous year's cross in my family hearth with a prayer of thanks.

I'll be posting a detailed tutorial on creating a Brigit's Cross with photographs tomorrow. I'll also include variations for young crafters using pipe cleaners instead of wheat. If you'd like to make either version of this project, you'll need the following supplies:

  • wheat (available at most crafting stores in the flower section) or pipe cleaners (white or beige)
  • raffia or natural hemp twine (if you want an all-natural look) or any sort of ribbon, string, or floss to tie your ends off
  • clips (like laundry clips, large paper clips, or small chip clips) or rubber bands to hold the wheat together as you weave - this is optional as some find it more useful than others

That's it! This is a very simple and rewarding project. Check back tomorrow for details.

For an excellent article on the history and traditions associated with Imbolc, please read the article Candlemas: The Light Returns by Mike Nichols.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

¡The AntiCraft!

I'd like to thank Anchored Away for bombing my email box with links to ¡The AntiCraft!. They are, in their own words, strange girls, tactless and profane with a physical need to create things. And they too hang with the green fairy. Crafters after the darkest parts of my own obsessive heart.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cake for Cora

Yesterday was Cora Anderson's 93rd birthday. As a student of the Feri Tradition, I wanted to honor her with an offering of thanksgiving so, I baked her a miniature birthday cake. Even though she's in northern California and I'm in Southern California, and I've never met her, I felt moved to mark this splendid occasion. I set up a simple alter to her, setting her picture on the center pedestal. To the right is her late husband, Victor Anderson. To the left is my teacher and connection to them both, T. Thorn Coyle.

I used simple numerology to determine the number of candles to put on the cake. Her age (93) reduces to 3.

9 + 3 = 12
1 + 2 = 3

Plus, three is just a great number. Who doesn't love three?

I lit her birthday candles, sang her happy birthday, and then read the story of her birth out loud from her book, Childhood Memories. The cake sat with her picture overnight and will go out in my garden tonight, to feed the fey, the earth, and any lucky animals that happen to catch a whiff of it.

Happy Birthday, Cora. Thank you and blessed be.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Self Love Sugar Scrub

Hooray for Self-Love Friday!

This project was inspired by an exercise found in T Thorn Coyle’s book, Evolutionary Witchcraft. If you haven’t read this book, I strongly recommend you buy it and do so. The exercise, which can be found on pages 19-20 in the hardcover edition, is called “Self-Love Cleansing” and is a wonderful way to deal with the personal crap that inevitably surfaces when doing the real Work of evolutionary / revolutionary paths like Feri.

No matter what your spiritual leanings, everyone can benefit from a sacred shower from time-to-time. It’s a sensual and personal experience that can provide profound emotional release and affirm your love of self. The standard structure for a generic sacred shower is:

  1. Just before your final rinse, concentrate on any difficult feelings you may want to release.
  2. When the feelings surface and you are certain you are ready to let them go, rinse yourself off with water. As you do, imagine them running out and off of you, seeing them go down the drain.
  3. Turn off the water and take a moment to say a prayer, align your soul, or make an offering of thanks.

Simple, right? The first time I did the version of this exercise given in Evolutionary Witchcraft, I was amazed at how wonderful I felt. I found myself wanting to do the rite again and again. Eventually, I incorporated it into my regular spiritual practice and do it every Friday. Hence, Self-Love Fridays.

After doing the exercise a few times, however, I began to feel the need to inject some of myself into it in some way. Just as many Wiccans, witches, and Pagans have special tools they use for magic(k), I wanted something special for my Self-Love Fridays. So, I created a Self-Love Sugar Scrub. I make it every Friday, just before my shower ritual. The process of measuring and combining the ingredients helps me prepare for the rite and set my intention.

Basic Sugar Scrub Recipe

  • 75 grams (approximately 1/3 cup) fine sugar
  • 30 grams (approximately 2 tablespoons) sugar in the raw
  • 38 grams (approximately 3 tablespoons) oil
  • 5 grams (approximately ½ tablespoon) glycerin
  • 6 grams (approximately ¾ tablespoon) essential oils

Blend all ingredients and store in shatter-proof container until ready for use.

When you use the scrub, gently rub it into your skin, avoiding your face and nether regions. After rinsing, pat dry with a towel.

This recipe yields a large, single-shower amount. It should be used as soon as possible – preferably immediately and if not at least within a week. If you are not going to use it the same day you make it, I recommend you add a little bit of Vitamin E oil to help preserve it. Just cut open and squeeze a cap or two into the mixture.

As far as the “38 grams oil” is concerned, don’t choose oils that aren’t safe for consumption. If it’s okay to eat, it’s probably okay to rub into your skin. So …

almond oil = good

baby oil = bad

jojoba oil = good

… you get the idea. I like to use mostly almond oil, with some jojoba oil and a bit of olive oil.

The essential oils you use should be whatever scents you like, provided they are safe to use on your skin (do your research!). Create your own combinations by intuition or from a recipe. Sometimes, it’s helpful to look at the combinations of scents and oils used in some of your favorite bath products. Here's my personal Self Love Formula:

  • 1 part Lavender (air)
  • 3 parts Sweet Orange (fire)
  • 2 parts Rose Absolute in jojoba oil (earth)
  • 3 parts Vanilla in jojoba oil (water)

  1. Lavender oil is associated with the planet Mercury, the signs Gemini and Virgo, the female gender, and qualities of peace and comfort. In aromatherapy, it is known to be helpful as an antidepressant.
  2. Sweet Orange oil is associated with the Sun, the sign of Leo, the male gender, and qualities of joy and social interaction. In aromatherapy, it is know to be a general health aid, to reduce stress, and to bring restful sleep.
  3. Rose Absolute oil is associated with the planet Venus, the signs of Libra and Cancer, the female gender, and is known for its harmonious qualities. In aromatherapy, it is known to be calming, to ease pain, and as an aphrodisiac.
  4. Vanilla oil is associated with the planet Venus, the signs Libra and Pisces, the male gender, and is associated with self-confidence and sensuality. In aromatherapy, it is known to promote strength and aid in sexual stamina.

These essential oils can be purchased at most health food stores. The Rose Absolute and Vanilla oils tend to be rather expensive and are typically only available combined with a jojoba oil base. If you buy them undiluted, you’ll need to change the ratios in this formula.

NOTE: The oil associations provided are from The Magick of Aromatherapy by Gwydion O'Hara. It seems to currently be out of print, but I’m sure you could find a copy if you do a little digging on the internet.

Have fun, love yourself, and blessed be.

SAFETY WARNING: The oil can make your shower slippery, so be careful!