Vol. 1 – Issue 8
Musings From the Mystic Path
The Month of December
The Light Returns and the Fires Awaken
December is the month of the Solstices; Winter, in the Northern Hemisphere and Summer in the Southern. For those of you in colder climates, we have a Wassail Recipe that is sure to warm and soothe in the frosty weather. Typically, it is a time of acknowledging that balance and harmony are not always about equanimity. In order to thrive, each must be given its time of power. The quotes selected this month are a mix of selections from various writers with a theme of light and “whole”ness as we find the space of balance within ourselves.
This month we have the second installment of our new column, Tesseract, written by Iolanthe. The focus is on the First Quarter Moon of December and scrying our way towards new beginnings. Seekers on the Path continues its exploration of shadow work with the final installment, Part Three of “Down the Rabbit Hole”.
As we conclude the 2016 year, we wish all of you the light of family and friends. We offer the gift of creativity and joy as we count down to welcoming 2017. And, despite the challenges and obstacles this new year may bring, we offer you the illumination of Hope that flows from one to the other when we stand strong as a diversified, yet unified community!
This writing was inspired by participation in a recent Sweat Lodge…
We enter together, some friends, some strangers. Each of us seeking for wisdom to guide our path.
As the darkness enfolds us we feel the nearness of other bodies, we hear each other’s breath. Voices raise in chants as steam pours over us, surrounding us in a cloud of warmth.
The world outside ceases to exist. The darkness is everything.
Sweat pours from us, removing impurities from our bodies. Our fears and anger pour from us, removing toxins from our minds. Words come unbidden to our lips as our voices speak to the Divine, to our ancestors, to our higher selves.
We speak from the heart rather than the mind, emotions running unchecked.
Knees slick with sweat touch, reminding us we are part of a community, of a family. Murmurs of support lend us courage. Time stopped. There is no past or future, only this moment, a moment that goes on forever and goes past in the blink of an eye.
We are in a cocoon of love and trust.
When we get all we need and release everything we must shed, time starts moving again. We begin to hear the sounds of nature and of human activity. We are once more aware of the presence of others. The door opens and we leave, greeted by cool breezes and comforting sunshine.
We stand before Mother Earth dirty, sweaty, and exhausted, yet reborn and full of hope for our futures.
Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness,
to pull another hand into the light.
…by Norman B. Rice
Hold My Hand
Reach down and hold on tightly
I have strength enough for all of us.
Weave your fingery roots through
Mine and I promise that we will be able
To hold hold our ground together.
Dig a little deeper into the soil
And that will anchor and brace us.
Reach out and grab on so we
Will hold tight in any storm.
After all, that is what community does for its own.
The world breaks everyone, and afterward,
some are strong at the broken places.
…by Ernest Hemingway
Birth and Life and Rebirth of a Sweat Lodge
The current Sweat Lodge at Seelie Court was built about 3 years ago. It collapsed today, at the end of the fifth round, the Spirit round, during the sweat ritual for the Coven of the Mystic Path. I want to tell about how the lodge is constructed, used, and reborn. I am not touching on the spiritual aspect of its creation and the magick used, as this is not something I have personal knowledge of.
The first sweat lodge was built at Seelie Court in 1992. Many lodges have been built, served and were filled with spirit, sweat, steam, tears, chant, laughter, and acceptance of each other’s work. In time, they finished their lives and are replaced with other lodges.
The lodge that the Coven of the Mystic Path used for its Coven Sweat on Nov. 12, 2016 began its life about 3 years ago. Calculations were made: the lodge would be so high and this was its planned circumference. Saplings were gathered from the surrounding woods. The ground was raked of stones, leaves, twigs. The circumference was drawn and the building began. The uprights made of saplings were placed into the ground and then around the circumference, saplings were laid across and when these crossed the uprights, the junction was tied with cotton cloth. This continued until a dome was created.
Here is a photo of a lodge at Seelie Court. The photo is from http://www.sacredwheel.org/sweat-lodges.html
After the lodge frame was finished, it was covered with blankets—a lot of blanket – to block light from entering the lodge. They were placed from the ground up and over the top and then another layer was placed from the top down to the ground. There were several layers of blankets. Over all of this, a large thick piece of black plastic was laid and held to the ground with stones placed around the perimeter. An opening was left for the door used to enter and exit the lodge. Over this opening, a door was constructed. Layers of blankets and plastic were wrapped at one edge over a long thick straight branch. This branch had ropes tied to each end, and the ropes are thrown over the top of the dome and were tied to tent stakes. The door fabrication was then placed in front of the opening. This door is raised or lowered at the beck of the water pourer to let in air and light, to release steam and heat, and to allow those participating in the sweat lodge to enter or exit the lodge.
On this beautiful cool fall day in November, those members of Coven of the Mystic Path who wanted to, or were able to, joined together to participate in the transformative power of the Sweat Lodge Ritual. In the morning of the ritual, all of the blankets were removed to air them out and some of the joins of the lodge were assessed and re-tied. After the blankets were aired, they were replaced on the lodge, the plastic was draped and the door was put in place. The lodge was ship-shape and ready to go.
The usual protocol was adhered to and we Mystic Pathers and a couple of others who also wanted to sweat that day entered the lodge and the first Air round began. During the next few rounds, some creaking was heard, but nothing too alarming. By the fifth Spirit round, the cracking was happening more and more, and when the Water Pourer declared “The ritual of the Sweat Lodge is complete” the roof of the Sweat Lodge started to dip down. The water pourer and an experienced fire tender (one of the people who had sweated with Mystic Path during the ritual) propped up the roof with their hands so that we could exit safely. We all left the lodge safe and sound and went on with routine of gathering our possessions, shoes, glasses, and wending our ways back to Dragonstead to eat and drink and recollect ourselves.
Meanwhile, there was another sweat scheduled for the afternoon. While some attempt was made to repair the lodge made of saplings, the water pourer for the next sweat and the fire tenders decided to use the stone lodge which is permanent and was on the land nearby. That sweat lodge is made of stones that had been used in previous sweats. The stone lodge was made ready and the next sweat was performed and all was well.
The sapling lodge that had lived its life will be dismantled. The saplings will be burned in the next sweat lodge fire, the blankets will be aired, the ground will be raked to free it of leaves, twigs, small stones, and the fire pit will be cleaned out. The next lodge will be built with new saplings and the freshened blankets will be laid over it. New carpet squares and fresh sheets will be laid out in a circle around the fire pit, and all will be made ready for the next transformative Sweat Lodge Ritual.
We Mystic Pathers were present at the death of a sweat lodge dome. To me, 2016 has been a year of endings and beginnings. I lost my job after 20 years at the same company. I have shed some of the baggage that I have been carrying around. Letting go so that I may be open to new experiences, people, spirit, knowledge, has been my personal theme. I left a coven in 2015 and I joined a new one in 2016. Going out from the personal, we have lost many, too many, great artists in 2016. We, as a country, have lost a sense of safety and security at home.
What will replace what I have lost? I know that I have a home with my Spouse, I have family and friends. I have a home with the Coven of the Mystic Path. I have inspiring teachers. I will find paid work soon. I had to let go of what was so that there will be room for what is to be.
The Sweat Lodge ritual is very important to me. I helped build a sapling lodge, I was present when another sapling lodge finished its life. The Lodge itself holds the Cauldron of Creation. We are transformed by going into the Lodge and going through the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual ordeal. The lodge itself is also transformed by our being with it through the Rituals. And, yet, the stone lodge is there on the land to hold us during the Sweat. There is something eternal about the Sweat Lodge, whether the saplings crack. The Spirit of the Lodge lives on in the stones, in the land, in each of us who have participated.
Winter Night Traveling
The air is still and cold.
My breath hangs frosty before me
As I move through the darkness.
Snow crunches under my feet, my hands are
Curled deep in pockets for warmth.
I come to the open space and stare across the vastness.
Far in the distance lights twinkle like
Stars beckoning with promise of hot soup
Cozy blankets and cups of tea.
It is hard to remember the heat of summer and the brightness of its sun.
Winter sun is pale and brief; winter night seems to last forever.
My eyes look upward at the blackness of the moonless sky.
A single point of light shines
Emphasizing just how far away it is
From me and I wonder briefly if someone stands
There looking at their night sky
Feeling alone in the same universe.
People are like stained-glass windows.They sparkle and shine
when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their
true beauty is revealed only if
there is light from within.
…by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Happy Yule to everyone and Wassail!
Wassail is an Old Norse salutation ves heill, meaning “be well”. The custom of wassailing dates back to medieval times, but it’s rarely practiced anywhere today. The original drink was made from mulled ale, roasted apples, eggs, curdled cream, sugar and spices. The apples would actually burst open giving the appearance of wool. So the frothy drink was also called Lamb’s wool.
In December, sometime during the twelve days of Christmas or on New Year’s Eve people would go house to house singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts. The mulled ale was also poured on the roots of the apple trees in the orchards to ward off evil spirits and ensure a good harvest in the coming year. When served indoors, there was caroling, and merrymaking leading up to the great presentation of the Wassail bowl. Wealthy families used a Wassail bowl usually made of silver or pewter and could hold up to ten gallons of the spiced drink.
Below is the recipe I’ve used for many years at my Yule celebrations. The addition of alcohol is optional and of course only for adult gatherings. Many other recipes use wine, ale or brandy. Wassail can be bottled and given as gifts or served after caroling to pleasantly warm the guests.
1 Gallon Apple Cider
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of whole cloves
1 tablespoon of whole allspice
small pieces of ginger root
1 quart of orange juice
3 cups of pineapple juice
3 cups of Apricot Nectar
zest of one orange
1 bottle of Vodka
1 bottle of Peach Schnapps
Pour the apple cider in a large stock pot, add the brown sugar, place all the spices in a spice bag and place the bag in the cider, add the zest of one orange. Heat gently, to bring to a slow boil; then lower the heat and add the additional fruit juices and the alcohol. Allow it to simmer on low heat for 5-10 more minutes until it’s thoroughly heated, but not boiling.
Remove the spice bag and pour the mixture into a warmed crock pot or a slower cooker on your holiday table, add orange slices studded with additional cloves. These will just float on the top of the cider. Serve the beverage in heat proof mugs with and a cinnamon stick.
Our new monthly column…
The Intersection of Moon Phase, Astrology, Elemental Energy, and Magick
In early December, we will see the first quarter moon on December 7. From our vantage point on Earth, the moon is 50% illuminated and seen as half-full. This Moon phase is one of growth, expansion, regeneration. During this quarter Moon phase, it is located in Pisces.
Pisces is a mutable water sign. Mutable energies go with the flow, as do water and Piscean energies. The Pisces glyph is two fishes swimming in opposite directions. Pisces energy is hard to pin down; it is mystical and dream-like. Water is a solvent capable of breaking down substances to its component parts. This is a component of the Piscean energy, which is all about regeneration: birth, death, rebirth. Water can reflect and refract understanding and is sometimes used to represent emotions, which can also be hard to pin down and can be dreamlike.
All of this mutable, watery, diving in deep into submerged depths, fits right in with the first quarter Moon phase. We must break through the shell of the seeds we planted at the new Moon last month so that the sprout can grow. Last month, we channeled Sagittarian fire energies to help us release what we no longer need and initiated action to manifest what we do need. This Piscean mutable watery energy during the waxing quarter Moon helps us to do this.
When the Moon is in Pisces, it is a good time to do magickal workings that involve remembering your dreams, divination, developing intuition, and trusting your inner guides. This will help you to intuit how your intentions may become manifest.
One way to do this is through scrying, which is a way to gain access to your intuitive self by gazing into a reflective surface, such as water, obsidian glass, or a mirror. This month, we can use a bowl of water for scrying.
First, establish your space for scrying. You will want your space to be dark and quiet, and when you can be undisturbed for at least half an hour. If you can, scry at night in a darkened room with only candle light for illumination.
Gather your materials. You will need a small to medium sized dark bowl. Just an ordinary bowl will do, but it should have a dark interior with no patterns or painting on the inside. Fill this bowl with water. If you have charged water by leaving a container of water out in the full moonlight, that would be ideal for your scrying. If not, just ordinary water is fine. Place the bowl on a table. Have a notebook and pen or pencil handy for taking notes after your scrying.
Then, prepare yourself. Ground your energies, center yourself, take note of your breathing. Try to slow down your breathing and breathe more deeply for a few breaths. If you have a lot on your mind, let it all go for now, and know that you can pick up again after the ritual. Think about what your intent is, with this scrying. Do you want an answer to a question? Know what will be happening in your life? Do you want a message from Spirit? Get yourself to an inner knowing of what you want to achieve through scrying. Keep this knowing at the front of your awareness. Then let it go. What will come, will come.
Next, do your ritual. Seat yourself comfortably at the table, or stand in front of the table upon which you placed your candle and bowl of water. Steady your breathing. Ask your question or be open to messages or intuition. Then, clear your mind of what you want to see and be open to whatever will happen, no matter what that may be. This is a balance point: remember, this is a time of two fishes swimming in opposite directions. Be intentional, and be open to whatever happens. Be focused, and be fluid in your energies.
Once you are open and ready, gaze into the dark bowl of water. Soften the gaze with a soft attention on the water in the bowl. You may notice a change in feeling, or a temperature change, or shadowy figures in the bowl, or sometimes clear images or symbols. Or nothing. These are all valid experiences. What the scrying bowl does is provide a place to focus while you open your intuitive channels. Take note of what you feel and see, and write it down in your notebook. See if you get further information from your dreams, or if you start to notice symbols or birds or colors or other messages over the next few days.
Once you have finished your scrying, you can either libate the water, or replace it in your charged water container and use it again for you next scrying session. To offer the water as a libation to the Divine, go outside, raise the water up to the sky, down to the ground, to your heart, and then pour the water out onto the earth. While you do this, you can say “From above, as below. As within, so without. A gift from the gods to me, a gift from me to the gods.” Or use your own words to acknowledge the gift that water is to our lives.
As the Moon continues to expand its illumination in the coming days, you will find more and more that you are expanding your understanding of how energies interact with you and your intuition. May you swim well in the waters of Piscean energy illuminated by the first quarter Moon’s light.
Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.
It does not seek anything in return;
it asks not whether you are friend or foe.
It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.
…by Michael Strassfeld
Darkness spreads. The nights grow longer. Cold bleeds into the bones. Shadows encroach and overwhelm places of light, and the Sun can barely be seen. Now is time of our yearly battle with the Dark, which we honor with many names: Christmas, Diwali, Chanukah to name a few. As pagans, we usually refer to it as Jul or the Winter’s Solstice. And this year, the Dark is winning … through repeated lies and mongered fears and ignited hatred. It may be difficult to consider celebration now.
And yet, now is exactly when you need to celebrate. We defeat this Darkness on a yearly basis by coming together with community. By gathering in places of warmth, and sharing light and warmth and food and kindness with others. By gathering in places of Darkness and transforming it with song, story, art and inspiration. We can’t do this without our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. They anchor us. They see us. They protect us.
So, light a candle for yourself to kindle a simple fire within. Sing with your coven mates to celebrate your presence in our community. Wear a Santa Claus hat, smiling at the people you meet and strike up a conversation. Buy a Penzey spice for each of your neighbors and wish them Happy Holidays, and let them know that you’ll be there for them. Support those businesses that support diverse communities. Cover symbols of hatred you encounter with signs of love. A swastika can be converted into four squares with L O V E in each square … tilt the V to make reference to Philadelphia’s Love park. Don’t hide. Shine! Create. Inspire. Connect at a human level… because in the end humanity and our shared connection is all we have, and all we will have!
Good Jul to you and your extended families. Don’t let your candles go out!
A Creative Bonus….
Image for Jul/Yule: Wishing Cone – an easy gift to make and share!
You will need:
Large Pine Cone
Strips of paper to be rolled into tiny scrolls
Anything you wish to sprinkle on cone to make it more festive
Ribbon or twine to make loop at top for hanging
- Find a large pine cone that will lend itself to inserting multiple tiny scrolls in between layers.
- At the top, tie the twine or ribbon creating a loop large enough that will allow the cone to be hung on a Yule Tree or elsewhere.
- If you want to decorate with glitter, crushed crystal, etc… spread glue on those ares and sprinkle on what you will. Allow for adequate drying time.
- On the strips of paper, write well wishes for your recipient. These could be blessings of health, prosperity, love, etc… Be creative and make it as personal as possible.
- Roll each slip like a scroll and slide it between the layers of the cone so that it will not drop out.
When you are finished, infuse it with your intentions and personalization for the person who will be receiving it. And, remember, that you can also make one for yourself; opening each scroll later on as a loving gift to you!
First Steps on the Seeker’s Path
Down the Rabbit Hole – Part Three
A Journey of No End
We’ve covered but a few of the concepts that tell the story of the Shadow and the human’s work of getting to know and working collaboratively with this part of themselves. This is the work of not simply one lifetime, but the cumulative effort of many and the memories carried forward with each that we choose (or choose not) to access as supports.
I have always viewed shadow work as that of continual evolvement. In other words, that my shadow nature is one and the same with who and what I perceive myself to be in the Light. It is neither less or more useful; nor, is it one to be ignored or glamorized. It simply “is” a fundamental part of “me” that makes me more fully who I am; stripped naked and vulnerable in my humanity as my Divinity takes on a slightly different mantle. As such, as I evolve, so too does it; albeit perhaps on another track, yet one that moves parallel to what I claim as myself in form and force as one of corporeal form who exudes a light that is “more”.
The other piece to this ideology is that of the variant degrees of Light and Dark. Clinging to the limited identification of the dark as the Shadow and the Light as the more overtly displayed omits a fundamental truth that each are only discernible because of one another’s adjustments through the scales of vibration and refraction. Each degree acts in reaction to the other’s response that is crafted from its reaction to the other’s response……. If you move through shadow/darkness to the point of its origin, Light is its companion spectrum. And so it is also true of the Light, having passed through its center point of equal ratio, darkness blossoms open to ensconce its seeker.
So, you see, we are ever engaged in the work of the shadow. We do not need to stray far to come upon it. But, with that being said and the ease with which it seems to be, I will also add that the most simple of spiritual endeavors, are always those that we are hard pressed to resolve. Complexity is our natural state and as such we seek the complex in those matters we consider to be the most complex. Somehow this meandering through a webbing that un-relentlessly ensnares gives credibility and validation to our efforts. And, so we use tools and devices that our space of mind can comprehend and is accustomed to unraveling as our conduit for retrieving the simple truth of who and what we are. In keeping with this, I offer the pathworking below as such a tool to unraveling a more complete “you”. You will find that if you use it several times, the complexity will fall away as you journey easily having acquired the gnosis of the Shadow of Light.
Embracing the Shadow Self
This pathworking is one that may be used in your exploration of these concepts of taking the journey to the shadow self. Click on the link below to an audio version of the Pathworking. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see the link and title as below. Before you begin, find a comfortable setting where you will not be disturbed for approximately 30 minutes. If you wish to light a candle, or set sacred space in accord with your practices, do this as well. When you are ready to begin, start the recording and relax into the journey….
You will be re-directed to Teachings on the Path:Bonus Pathworkings and Guided Meditations. Please use your browser BACK button to return to “Musings”.
It takes great courage to step upon this path and at times we inadvertently stumble upon it although another goal is in mind. If we make conscious choice to surrender to the dark nature held within, we find that it is a means of opening to the greater Light. And, this great light is ultimately the way of illumination on ascent through a state of balance and integration of all the parts of Self, which culminates in union with the brilliance of the Divine. The pain of this endurance is at once physical, spiritual and mental and it is at the point of the darkest hour and when the darkness seems most pervasive that the ultimate reflection of our Higher Nature is illuminated by the brilliance of Deity that points the way….. Robin.
Man and His Symbols, Jung,Carl. Doubleday and Company, Inc.:1964. USA.
Psychology and Religion, Jung,Carl. The Vail-Ballou Press:1960. USA.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Carroll,Lewis. Dover Publications, reprint from Macmillan Company:1993. USA.
Upcoming Events – 2017
5-Hr. Intensive: Dreaming Creation
For More Info: Click here..
Lighting the Torch!All Hail Columbia!
A Special Celebration of Imbolc
More Info: Click here..
January 24 – March 14
It’s Written in the Stars
More Info: Click here..
Stock photos, unless otherwise noted
Painting: Dreaming Creation advert by Stuart Gonzalez
Photos: Hold My Hand by Robin Fennelly
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