Vol. 2 – Issue 7
Musings From the Mystic Path
The Month of November
What Are You Grateful For?
Happy November! November calls you to friends and family, celebrations centered around food and the reminder to seek out what you are grateful for. So, before we go any further, the membership of Coven of the Mystic Path would like to say “Thank You” for reading our newsletter and supporting our goal of outreach to the community.
This month’s Musings explores how gratitude comes to be cultivated; recognizing those gifts of abundance that may go overlooked and what the power of observation can add to the gratitude equation.
Tesseract highlights the Fixed Fire of November’s Leo moon and First Steps on the Seeker’s Path deepens the understanding of devotion and how that aligns with a grateful spirit. And, what better way to prepare for the new found light of the Winter Solstice than to eat from the bountiful table of Hestia’s hearth and home.
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you,
who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau,
sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth”.”
An Attitude of Gratitude
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. – The Oxford Dictionary
I was not particularly surprised when I was told that our theme for this month’s Musings was gratitude. This time of year our thoughts naturally turn towards thankfulness. So I tried to write a poem of thanks and gratitude but creativity deserted me and everything I wrote sounded trite.
I am grateful for many things: my family and friends, reasonably good health, a fulfilling career,a comfortable lifestyle. But I could not translate this to a meaningful piece of poetry I decided to look up the definition of gratitude and they varied from one dictionary to the next with all noting a feeling of thankfulness. The Oxford Dictionary definition, however, adds a second part, a
potential action brought on by the state of thankfulness. This struck a chord with me and I realized that my feeling of gratitude would never go beyond the superficial if I did not give thanks via action as well as words.
Robert A. Emmons, PhD, is a professor of psychology who studies gratitude. He suggests that gratitude has two components. The first is “an affirmation of goodness, We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits that we receive.” We all know that bad things happen but I like to think most of us have positive experiences and meet many people that we
consider good. This is perhaps the easiest of the two components to understand.
The second component of gratitude is that “we recognized the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people – or even higher powers, if you are of a spiritual mindset – give us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” This lends itself nicely to the active part of the Oxford Dictionary definition of gratitude.
My life is not good just because I will it to be so. My life is good because of all of the people in it that contribute to my happiness and success. Additionally, some of what I am thankful for may be attributed to The Divine, such as food from a bountiful planet and the beauty of nature. When we realize that we owe many of our boons to external sources the concept of reciprocity
as a part of gratitude makes sense.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts .” —Henri Frederic Amiel
This time of the year amplifies our feelings of gratitude and inspires us to do kind things for others. We give gifts to those we care about. We take time from our busy lives to spend time with our families. Communities have food and clothing drives to help those who are in need. The holiday season affords us ample opportunities to demonstrate our thankfulness and most of us amp up our giving during these months. The trick is to maintain this throughout the year.
Do our elderly grandparents miss us less in June? Are underprivileged people any less hungry in February? How can we maintain this level of thankfulness and reciprocity? One way may simply be to schedule time into our calendar. Sure, you may not feel like leaving your house to volunteer at the soup kitchen and your laundry won’t get done while you’re visiting your elderly aunt but you may be surprised at how different you feel if you go through with your scheduled good deed. Often when you give of yourself to others you find yourself reminded of all of the good things in your life that bring you joy and somehow the rainy weather or the dirty laundry just do not matter as much to you.
“ None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy .” —Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
Expressing gratitude does not always require your time or your money. One of the simplest ways to show appreciation for a kindness is a simple verbal “Thank you.” Most of us are taught to say this phrase as young children and we say this many times each day. Often, however, this is an automatic response to which we put little, if any, thought. What if we actually think about the phrase before we say it, or pause to let the feeling of gratefulness wash over us? Or what if we personalize the thanks? For example, a busy waitress may hear the phrase “thank you” many times throughout the day. But what if you specifically thank her for her efficiency? Or for making an excellent menu suggestion? Or for being patient with your toddler? They will know in that instant that their actions made a difference to someone. That one very specific expression of thanks may fill them with enough gratitude to get them through their shift. And it gave you a specific focus for your feeling of gratitude.
“ We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr
But what if you are just having a bad day? Some days it is hard to feel thankful, we just feel tired, harried, aggravated, and stressed. When everything seems to go wrong we often find it difficult to remember what is going right. On those days one of the best things to do is adopt an “Attitude of Gratitude.” Yep, fake it! It turns out that our endocrine system responds as well to imagined emotions as it does to real ones. If you can imagine that you feel grateful your body will respond as it does when your are really experiencing a moment of gratitude. On those bad days pause and try to remember something that made you feel grateful, a kiss from a child, a wonderful meal, or the laughter of friends. You may just find that your your heart rate slows, your stress lowers, and you generally feel happier. And who knows, your attitude may spread to the person next to you and make their day a little brighter too!
So as we dive into the holiday season let us give thanks but let us also express our gratitude. In the words of Williams Arthur Ward, “ Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings,turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings .” Blessed be!
“He is a wise man who does not grieve
for the things which he has not, but
rejoices for those which he has.”
Gratitude Evolves From…
Singular structural elements
Busy probes and kisses
Say It! Think It! Feel It!
And, (in) Al(l)ways be grateful!
by Flash Maeve
It is the time of year when the veils are thinning, weather is turning colder and I am faced with the reality that now is the time to turn inward and consider my harvest from the past year. I am readying myself for the coming of winter, and deciding what will I keep close to my heart during the dark and cold to keep the fires of my life burning.
I am grateful for friends, coven mates and my family who gathered close and provided concern, support and healing energy during the trials I experienced this past year. I am happy with the culling away of that which does not serve me and drained me of vital life essence. I am encouraged with the nurturing of that which nourishes me in all my complexities and subtle bodies.
I am grateful I found my voice, my strength and my desire to learn new skills and practice skills that I had suppressed for all too long. I am grateful to my high priestess for her teachings and her dedication to serving our ASW community with rituals, path workings, and classes that continue to inspire me. I am happy my mother is settled and adjusting to her new accommodations. I am constantly impressed by the strength, resiliency and resourcefulness of my espoused in rising against adversity and redefining herself. Life is good and I give thanks!
“Happiness is not so much in having
as sharing. We make a living by
what we get, but we make a life
by what we give.”
Finding Grace and Wisdom When There is Nothing to Be Grateful For…
My life is so boring!
Nothing ever turns out the way I want!
Wait, just breathe and take a look around.
Have I tried to be present in the moment?
Have I tried something new?
Do I really know what I want?
Everything I try fails!
No one really cares about me!
And, I don’t care about anyone!
Maybe I should put your energy into what I am passionate about.
Do I care about myself?
Not caring about anyone, means that I do care about someone.
Every day is just as pointless as the next!
Why should I be grateful?
Everyday Iwake up is a gift !
“If only” will never come. But, “Now I can” is always an option.
If I do!
If I can!
If I see!
Why should I be grateful?
The more I offer appreciation for whatever I have, the more I will see the abundance that I actually have.
The more I see the abundance of what, the better I am able to enjoy every bit of my life.
The more I enjoy my life, gratitude will become my ally and the radiance of that change in my perspective will show me the importance I have in the lives of all I meet.
“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door”
– Emily Dickinson –
Who is Hestia?
This is the perfect time of the year to spend time with friends and family gathered around warming foods that engender family and show the care and love put into their preparation. The following is about the Goddess, Hestia and the blessings she can offer to your hearth and home….
Light fills the Hall as you step through the doorway and Hestia stands centrally awaiting you. Gentle and loving eyes look upon you and although youthful in appearance, you feel the aeons of time that she has stood watch in the hearth spaces of home and community. She is radiant and filled with Light and Life and it is within her Hall that you will see the hearth flame that glows within……
My hearth fires burn
And keep safe those
Blessed by my hand.
Food lovingly prepared
And family’s joining as one
These are my gifts
These are my boons.
This Goddess of the hearth fires and home was known as Hestia in the Greek Mythos, with Latin/Roman name of Vesta. She was considered a virgin Goddess, whose priestesses were known as the Vestals or Vestal Virgins in Ancient Rome. Hers is the domain and sanctuary found in the kitchen. The preparing of food for those loved and the warmth of sitting close together as the hearth burns in the long winter nights.
The primary focus of Hestia was that of keeping the sacred fires burning. In ancient times, this continued flame ensured fire for warmth, protection, light, cooking and more. She was Goddess of the sacrificial flame and as such received an offering share of every sacrifice to the Gods.
Hestia oversaw the cooking of every meal both in private home and communal gatherings. Her blessing was sought that the meal would nourish and sustain as well as forging the connections of sharing the meal with others.
In Myth, Hestia was the first born of Kronos, God/Titan of Time and the Ages and Rhea, the Great Mother of the most powerful of the Gods, the Titans. She was fertility and Motherhood. Kronos, fearful that his children would depose him as he had done to his Father, Ouranus, ate each of the children as they born. Hestia, being the first born was also the first to be consumed and the last to be disgorged when Zeus, (who had escaped the devouring of his Father, being hidden away by his mother Rhea), forced Kronos to release his swallowed siblings. I find this to be a very interesting story surrounding Hestia and the nature of her energy as Goddess of family, home and fires.
In other tale, Hestia was pursued for marriage by Poseidon and Apollon, both of whom she refused and then asked Zeus to allow her to remain unmarried, an eternal virgin. Zeus agreed and she took her place at his Sacred Hearth.
So, how do we honor Hestia within our Hall? These are some of the thoughts and feelings I have regarding this Goddess. Consider her parentage, daughter of the Great God of time. Time is something we all wish to have more of with dear friends and families. Time is filled with joy and abundance when we spend some of that time, preparing a meal together and/or sharing the bounties of a hearth well tended. Hestia’s mother, Rhea, was mother of the Gods, fertile and fierce in her protective nature. Motherly care speaks to the nourishment of those children tended, not only in the form of food, but also in the sustenance of mind, heart and encouragement to achieve their best possible selves. We do this for friends and all those we love as well. At times, being the Mother and at others allowing the expression of care to be given as we receive it with the innocence of the child who knows only this way of receipt.
Hestia’s sacrifice of refusing the offer of Marriage, thus parcelling herself to another, speaks to the passion of choice in giving what we wish of ourselves and holding some intact for ourselves so we may focus on what is needed from others. This may seem as an odd comment, but keeping those fires burning brightly, to light the way for those who are wandering in the dark, to welcome another to the table for a feast lovingly prepared or to become the flame itself as source of inspiration requires at times an attitude of self-focus and being unfettered by another’s demands.
Hestia chose to remain the eternal virgin. In ancient Rome and Greece the term “Virgin” meant not married, not belonging to a man. This was a woman who was “one-in-herself.” The word is derived from a Latin root meaning “strength, force, skill”; and was later applied to men as the term “virile”. To provide for others requires that you must be strong within yourself. To offer up the bounty of food and relationship, you must know the wisdom of yourself singularly and what it is you have to offer in contribution to what is more than yourself.
Hestia maintains the inner flame that burns within each of us and the magick that we exercise is crafting the precise recipe that will produce the transformation of wheat to life giving bread is successful to the degree that we acknowledge her presence in all of our working. Every word we speak, every action we take, every emotion expressed and every idea we share is blessed by the potential of taking a new form that will sustain, warm, and light the way for others.
This month is a wonderful time to come to know this Goddess. We have celebrated the First Harvest (Northern Hemisphere) or the First Sowing and Planting of Seeds that will require sun and care. Hestia’s fires call us to our dinner tables as friends and family gather round. And, as we offer up our thanks for her bounty and night draws near, the oil of her lamp will carry us into the cradle of gentle sleep.
Spend some time with Hestia. Think on how you connect with her as you move through your day. Light a candle or prepare a meal and feel her presence guiding and watching over.
The Intersection of Moon Phase, Astrology, Elemental Energy, and Magick
November. The season has changed. Nights are longer, air is cooler. Some of us have sat at bonfires already this season. Feeling the warmth from the burning wood. Hearing the sound of the burning logs. Fire that is contained can be said to be crackling or popping.
Fire is the element associated with the fixed sign of Leo. Leo is one of expansiveness, exuberance, and warmth, a lot like a bonfire.
The Moon will be waning into its last quarter phase and will be in Leo on Friday November 10. The waning Moon transits Leo only from August to February. This is because, every 29 days, the full Moon moves into an astrological sign that is opposite to the sign that the Sun has moved into. In 2017 the full Moon in January was in the sign of Cancer, then in Leo in February, Virgo in March, and on down the line to the December full Moon in Gemini. In January 2018, we will have the interesting phenomena of two full Moons in one calendar month: on January 2, the full Moon will be in Cancer (the Sun will be in Capricorn), and on January 31, the full Moon will be in Leo (the Sun will be in Aquarius).
Since we are in the waning part of the year, and we are witnessing this season when the waning phase of the Moon occurs in Leo, we are moving away from the warmth of the Sun (Leo’s ruling planet) and seeking warmth from fire, indoor heat, festivities involving candles, lights, and shared food.
The fixed nature of Leo is one of contained fire: the flames will flare up now and now, but you can be sure that the banked embers will keep the home fires burning for as long as is needed. Let the fires wane if necessary, the embers will remain so that the hearth can blaze brightly again.
The movement of the Moon through her phases indicates a rhythm that is guiding the known universe. Rhythm underlies all we know – the breath and blood in our bodies, the winds moving around our Earth, the tides coming and in and flowing out, the constellations appearing and disappearing in the night skies. Rhythm is a way of measuring time. According to Wikipedia, “rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences that occur over time…” When we cannot understand the expanse of time since life began on the Earth (over 3 billion years ago), it is restful to return to a more reachable goal: understanding when the next Moon phase will occur: new Moon on November 18, which will be in the sign of Scorpio, the sign opposite Taurus. The new Moon is always in the same sign as the Sun and opposite to the sign that the full Moon was (or will be) in, that particular month.
As we think about the waning energies of the Moon, and reflecting on what we manifested during the full Moon on November 4 and what we want to release at the new Moon on November 18, let us pause at the waning last quarter Moon on November 10. If you can, find a bonfire to sit before, or start a fire in your fire place. Or light some candles in a darkened room. Hold out your hands so that you can feel the warmth arising from the combustion. Hear the cracking sounds. See the flames collectively and then see if you can find one flame. Zero in on the single flame. Notice its color: it is probably blue at the bottom, then reddish, yellow, then bright white. Or maybe it is red at the tips. Look again, particularly if you are gazing at a candle: it may even have a space of no color, right at the base. Look again at all the flames of the fire.
The flames will move, with the wind, or with their own energies. Look for a pattern. There will be rhythm. The flames will move in unison, then away from each other. Some will seem to merge or make new shapes. Then move apart. Try to imagine that the crackling or popping sounds indicate movement of the flames. Do the sounds show harmony, or syncopation? Listen. Feel. Let the fire speak to you in sound, rhythm, and patterns. Absorb the warmth at this waning time, and you can draw on the deposit during the cold of winter. Let the rhythm of the fires dance within you.
First Steps on the Seeker’s Path
This month’s article evolved from a workshop of the same title that I taught many years ago and is applicable to every seeker on a spiritual path. May this be a reminder of what inspired you to pursue your chosen path and what keeps you steady and secure though at times the road is strewn with roots and stones.
The Path of Devotion
“When a human reaches up to his/her Higher Mind and accesses the vibrational gifts from that realm (of his or her own higher consciousness), she or he will be filled with inspiration and courage. And this type of inspiration and courage could change the world through actions that are then taken by that individual.” … anonymous …
What is Devotion?
A Definition of Devotion….
1. Ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle.
2. Religious ardor or zeal; piety.
3. Commitment to some purpose;
4. An act of religious observance or prayer, especially when private.
If we look at the definitions above we have a sense of the complexity of this word. And, that complexity can take on many forms and nuances as we move along the Path. If we are not devoted to the work, we will not put forth the maximum amount of effort. If we only give half-heartedly, most of the effort is wasted and dissipates just as quickly as it was generated. Devotion to self, Deity, the work all serve as anchors that hold together the many spokes of the wheel around which we establish our place in magickal working.
Some Keywords that relate to Devotion are:
- laying claim
Think about what each of these mean to you. Which resonate more deeply and which do you feel should not even be on this list. Periodically checking in with what the definition of a Devotional Path means can give you valuable information about where you are in your practice.
The Essential Elements of Devotion
If we look at devotion through the lens of the elements we see the cycle that occurs in the process. These Three elements form the Triad of Fire and Energetic Awakening (AIR/FIRE/WATER).
“This is the FIRE that ignites the Passion and YEARNING for THAT which it seeks out and willfully INFLAMES”
The Youthful stage that is enthused and excited about new found information, Deity and practice. This is the stage that ignites the desire to learn more, do more and be the most effective we can. It is the combined energy of enthusiasm stimulating the urge or desire to move forward that allows us to become a fertile ground within which the seeds of devotion and dedication are quickened.
We evolve from the impetuous nature of Youth and move to the place of guardian, nurturer and sustainer of what we have taken as our own. Because we have given time and energy to the process we are able to claim authority over our feelings of devotion. Through our efforts at sustaining this “faith” and state of dedication we then become also the providers of that energy. Wanting to share what we feel and enable others to feel the power and glory of dedicating oneself to a path of devotion.
When we arrive at a place of “faith” and ownership of the ideals and energies we have found upon the Path we have a sense of conviction that is based upon internalization of those energies. We identify fully with what we are devoted and dedicated to. We wish knowledge for the place of service it may allow us. We wish communion with the Divine because that is our birthright and we wish for the best outcome for all, knowing that we are part of that recipe.
You are the earth that holds and forms the shape of what your devotion will be. You are the most sacred vessel that contains within all that is needed to inspire and become the focus of devotion to your work and the essence of Divinity that resides within you that is worthy of self-devotion.
Incorporating Devotion into Your Practice
Setting up an Altar dedicated to a specific Deity is a beautiful way to display your dedication and devotion to that particular Deity. Acknowledging your Path and the work you have achieved on that Path as you sit in contemplative medication is an affirmation of your Devotion. Each time you spend a moment in thought about the magick that surrounds you, the marvel of your physical body and give thanks for those others who share your life generates the energetic pattern of Devotion. Just as the rose in the picture at the heading of this page shows, there are many chambers that are unfolding at any given moment. Some are hidden and others are there for all to see. But, all lead to the very center and heart of the flower. And it is by ever striving towards that center that we find
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully. When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.”
Upcoming Events – 2017
Astrological Samhain: An Audience with Cerridwen
For more information. Click here…
November 14 – December 12
Nuit’s Mantle: Cosmic Alchemy
For more information. Click here…
Mystic Fires Drum Circle
For more information. Click here…
Editor: R. Fennelly, HPs, CMP, ASW
Columnist: L. B., Tesseract
Contributors: Membership/Petitioners of Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW
All rights reserved and maintained as intellectual property of the author. If you would like to re-publish any content herein, permission should be obtained and proper citation given to the author.
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