Vol. 2 – Issue 8
Musings From the Mystic Path
The Month of December
Living in the Light!
It is hard to believe that we have reached the ending of 2017! It seems as though this year sped past and now we are gearing up to welcome 2018 and another year of experiences. For many this is the ultimate holiday season, after all in many of our spiritually blended families and friendships, there is a certain joy in celebrating in the way of those we love and honor.
Last month the focus was on gratitude and with the soon to be Winter Solstice, Light is the key. This issue honors that embracing of the Light and a repeat of the Wassail recipe from last year. Tesseract highlights the movement from potential to possibilities. The beauty of the hive is brought up close and personal. And, Seekers on the Path is loaded with resources to stimulate your quest for knowing and study at your own pace.
We, of Coven of the Mystic Path, wish our readers and their friends and families a beautiful December filled with time to get together, celebrate each other and bask in the glow of burgeoning Light.
“The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time; a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to make a fresh start. A time to awaken.”
By Flash Maeve
Now is the time to gather what you have learned of yourself throughout the past year. It is a time to reflect on what you will keep and what you will discard before entering into the dark times of winter. Winter is a time to gather in what you have harvested, prepare tasks to be completed indoors, to shore up your wards, for limited sunshine, reduced warmth and fewer social engagements.
It is a time to open up to your creative pursuits, to read those books you piled up next to your bedside table, an opportunity to practice music, sing chants, songs and allow yourself the freedom of drumming, connecting yourself again to the rhythm of the earth and her blessings.
It is a time to stoke your hearth fires, watch the fires dance, listen to the stories told and warm yourself by the embers of the fire. Allow yourself this time of reflection and you will count this time as a blessing when the days grow longer, the outdoors beckon for you to step into the sunshine and the calendar fills with classes and rituals and nature comes alive again. Take this time to heal and reflect, enjoy the warmth and blessings of your home and hearth. Breathe and renew. The Wheel turns.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for a home.”
— Edith Sitwell-
Wintry ReverieBy Robin
The Sun streams down
Upon my upturned face
And radiant brilliance of
Warm golden light is
Veiled through closed lids.
The breath of the Divine
Caresses my face
Tossing ringlets of hair
Out to be bourne aloft
On a wintry breeze.
The frosty water gurgles and
Babbles rushing past as
It carries the message of
Spring’s return soon.
Sun sculpted silhouette
Of bark and branches
Stripped bare and weathered
by Autumn’s loving hand.
Standing stately in waiting
Against canvas of pastel blue sky
Painted by brush stroke of
Chilling air and moisture’s dew.
Nature is all around me
The pulse of life beating
Deep within the Mother’s heart.
The promise of Spring held
In each remnant of
Icy crystal that forms
Like tiny diamonds
On bough and dried leaf.
I sit in my quiet reverie
Opening to the web of
All Beings and Life.
Opening to the mysteries
Of the natural world.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there
was in me an invincible summer.”
Drumming with Purpose
by Kenatem (M.M.)
November 14, 2017 closed the first full year of the Mystic Fires Drum Circle’s monthly gatherings.
I have had the privilege and responsibility of being this circle’s facilitator for nearly eighteen months. This circle began with an offer from my now High Priestess to provide our community with another opportunity to gather, share, and learn. I had considered forming a circle for a few years, but it wasn’t until Robin asked me that the idea moved from abstract to likely. Still, I stalled for over a year before I said yes. You see, I am not a master percussionist (yet); I am an enthusiast who has witnessed the awesome power of shared rhythm to bind a group. I wasn’t sure if a decade (at the time) of experience simply playing in circles and rituals as well as enthusiasm for what I had seen was possible could be enough to legitimize leading a circle. Within that year-ish of stalling, though, a particular moment pushed me toward, “Yes.”
Around the winter solstice, I met for dinner with Cherissa, the daughter of the woman who facilitated the first drum circle I ever attended. Cherissa’s mother, Nadine, had passed that February, and while we weren’t exactly close, we enjoyed each other’s company whenever we both happened to be at one of her mother’s circles. Having lived through a similar experience with my mother years before that she’d recently had with hers, I wanted to catch up with her to see how she was doing, and maybe offer some emotional support if she seemed to want or need it.
Toward the end of dinner, Cherissa mentioned that she still had the instruments her mother offered as loaners during her circles. “I don’t know what to do with them,” she said. “They’re just taking up space in my living room. I love them, but I don’t play them. I also have roommates, and the instruments seem to get in their way. Maybe I should sell them…”
“Uhhmm,” I said, putting my hand out, as if to stop her thought. “OK. I’ve, um… I’ve been thinking for a while about starting a drum circle. Also, someone recently offered to set one up with me as facilitator.”
She smiled. “Oh, yeah?”
In that moment, I remembered, after my mother’s passing, how awkward and strange it was to consider what pieces of hers to keep and what to release to other family, friends, or the world for their own use.
I thought for a moment then said, “I’d like to offer something, now, and you tell me how you feel about it: I can’t put a price on them, so how would you feel if, rather than selling them, I took possession of them, knowing that I’ll be setting up and using them for my own drum circle, and if you realize you need them back, just tell me, and they’re yours, because they’ll be yours, anyway?”
“That feels good,” she said with a nod. “I think my mother would like that.”
I felt the hairs on my neck stand up when she said this, and told her. She said she was experiencing the same thing.
Since we were just blocks from her home, she decided to let me take the drums and rattles with me, that night. So, after dinner, I followed her to her house. As we emptied the instrument-occupied corner of her living room into my car, she brought out from the back of it the djembe her mother played in concerts and with which she lead circles.
“I don’t know what to do with this, either,” she said. “It’s really special to me, but again, I don’t play it.”
I stood there, stunned. I wasn’t allowed to touch this instrument when Nadine was alive, and I watched her, through it, lead people through shades of joy, anger, and sorrow. It was as holy an object as I knew.
“You don’t play it, at all?”
“No. It’s too big for me. I have my little djembe that I take places and play. This just sits here.”
“P— please don’t sell it,” I said, breathy and slack jawed. “I mean, of course, do what you want to with it, but…”
I took a breath, and blurted, “I would LOVE to lead circles with that drum, if you would let me.”
She thought for a moment.
“It could be the same arrangement,” I offered. “If you ever realize you’d like it back, just let me know.”
She stared at the drum for a few beats. “That feels right,” she said with a smile.
Some of the women I knew through Nadine’s drum circles and I still got together, roughly monthly, to drum. I offered this as part of the deal:
“I’ll likely bring it to the women’s drum circle with Audrey, Lynn, Erin, and Tina. How about I make it clear everywhere else that only the five of us can play it?”
She nodded. “That sounds right. I’m comfortable with that. OK.” She then unzipped the carrying bag and let me touch the drum head. My hand shook as I placed it. I noticed the wear on the head from countless strikes—including places where it had split—and the conditioning the skin received from what was likely the oils from Nadine’s hands. My hair stood, again. More than anything, I felt incredibly lucky, and then incredibly responsible.
Cherissa walked me out to the car with the drum. As I closed Nadine’s djembe in my trunk, Cherissa said, “This feels right. I think my mom would like this.”
I promised her I would take good care of all of her mom’s instruments, and make sure that no one touched the larger djembe except the people we agreed on (and on more than one occasion, the drum, herself, through a clear, “NO,” signal, has repelled undesired contact).
Thank you, Cherissa. Thank you, Nadine.
I still waited a few months before finally obeying the internal prod to take my High Priestess up on her offer. Within days, advert and business card templates were sent to me for approval and ordered (she works that way) and a few dates were established through the end of the year. While it was comforting to know Robin had jumped from the plane with me, once I agreed, it was clear that there was no going back. I’d better find a way to open my parachute or grow some wings.
I’m not sure which this is, but since the circles have started, I’ve had three or four no-show dates. (The chute got tangled? I lost feathers?) The rest—minus the first one, after our coven’s Summer Solstice ritual in 2016, and the one at the Spring Magick event in April of this year—have seen 2 – 5 people, each. I’m still learning about when and how to most effectively promote the circle, each month, but I also remember joining Nadine in a few of her circles when it was just her, her partner, and me. I got to learn so much, then.
Consistently small turn-outs are not my goal for these, but they’re not discouraging. In their way, they’re exactly what I need, right now. I’m recognizing my role in what makes a circle not come together, as well as what seems to make it go well when it does. A dud month motivates promotion, and inevitably leads to a comfortably sized group, the next. I just know that I only want people there who want to be there, so better a happy few than many just looking for something to do who are half-hearted and chaotic.
My biggest treat in these, so far, has been bringing brand new drummers from zero to one. By this, I mean that they leave with an understanding of how to approach their instrument in a drum circle setting, including how to honor their current skill level while allowing space for an unexpected talent to come through. Those were some of the most exciting moments for me just playing in drum circles. In now facilitating them, witnessing those little epiphanies with people calls the raised hairs back from that evening with Cherissa, as well as the times in circles, rituals, and choirs when everything seems to click.
I now use Nadine’s drum to lead the circles. As I said, I am not a master percussionist (yet), but I’ve discovered that I am, right now, capable enough. As long as I continue to learn and practice both the skills of being a worthwhile percussionist and circle facilitator (and the latter one mostly learns by just showing up and being one), I won’t be discouraged. I’ll be learning to properly pack my own chute. I’ll be growing my own wings.
“Be so warm that people mistake you for the sun; so bright that
people mistake you for the stars; and so accommodating that
people mistake you for the universe.”
So beautiful, hidden among a tree, entwined and utilizing its branches, leaves, seeds. So many fear. Few appreciate the work, the energy and dedication to this temporary home.
It’s an amazing feat of commitment. To chew up debris, earth’ s soil, nature’s waste and morph it into a functioning world. Lifetimes of instinct guide the creation of this protective structure. Its carapace of interwoven earth hues, with strands of peach, off white, and spring green layers sit high away from predators. Inside the contradictory shell; dry yet feeling like it holds so much moisture; are the mysteries inhabitants. They work feverishly throughout summer towards the goal of their lifes’ cycle.
Whether accomplished or not, autumn comes, temperatures drop and the queen knows it’s time to move on. She will survive the winter in a tree or building and the cycle will continue.
As humans, we do not always follow our instincts and prepare for changes. We are inclined to abandon anything that required our work, attention, money, energy, or time. Part of the journey is this learning.
Are you on the right path? Are your friends and associates helpful and healthy? Is your dwelling safe from storms? Is your time spent productively, with focus towards your aspirations, your passion? Even so, have your desires changed, requiring now a different path?
Winter is coming and so another space of time to go within, to ascertain and inventory. What is no longer beneficial? What can you now leave behind, no matter the fear, the effort it involved or how comfortable it once felt? Will you learn from your choices and experiences and trust your instincts to carry you forward where you need to go?
“Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing
touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I
feel I never have enough of…”
Just because it was TOO GOOD not to repeat…
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.
“Do not fear your inner light.
Carry your light to the dark world.”
Winter nights bring hope,
Stillness of my inner self
Solstice light returns,
Snow fall blanketing the Earth
My heart glows warmly
The Winter Solstice
For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice (Yule) is one of welcoming the return of the Light of renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter (Northern Hemisphere) will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.
Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening, I think of this as the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.
In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept. The languaging may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.
This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self) . There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to quicken and prime in alignment with the increasing state of light?
The time of the Solstices allows for a deeper awareness and exploration of what impact we have in this world and how we may use the information we learn about ourselves to move in appropriate and fulfilling ways. It is the time of disequilibrium to bring about the eventual balance that is actualized at the Equinoxes. Neither of these energies are about everything being measured and being exactly the same amount of something on each pan of the scale. Rather, they are the states of balance that are dynamic in nature, moving and flowing one to the other and arriving at an informed state of equilibrium at some point of the process.
This is a time of living in the Light as the long reach and beauty of our shadow reaches towards the growing of what will be the fertile space of Spring’s planting.
Read more about the Great Wheel of the Year and Wiccan Sabbats:
The Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year
The Intersection of Moon Phase, Astrology, Elemental Energy, and Magick
We have arrived at December. The wheel of the year is turning and we are approaching the darkest time of the year. The hours of sunlight shorten each day until the Solstice arrives on December 21 and the Holly King and Oak King have their battle. The sun will lighten our days a little more each day, until the Holly King and Oak King meet again in high summer and the day light will again begin to shorten.
In this endless, epic, annual cycle, we can look to the Moon in her phases to remind us of the daily passage of time. Every day she is either growing fuller in her light, or reducing the amount of light she reflects. At the time of the Winter Solstice’s approach, the Moon will be a waxing crescent moving from Capricorn (cardinal earth sign) and into Aquarius (fixed air sign). At the precise moment of the Solstice (11:28 am on Thursday, December 21), the Moon will be in Aquarius. Since Capricorn is associated with action in the material world in the here and now, and Aquarius is associated with communication and ideas and a focus on the future, we will be in a place of new ideas and a look toward possible future scenarios right when the Moon is beginning its move away from the dark phase and toward fullness. The crescent Moon will rise at 9:32 am on winter Solstice morning, so you may not be able to see it then. It will set at 7:44 pm that evening and it will be visible as a sliver of a crescent in the sky.
The waxing crescent Moon is an excellent time to put into place the plans you made during Capricorn’s sojourn in the Moon’s dark phase, where you focused on the how and what of your intentions. Now, during the idea phase of Aquarius’s energy in the waxing Moon, think of new ways of seeing possible outcomes of your plans. This is a good time to think outside of the box: Aquarius is known for unorthodox ways of seeing the world.
The Winter Solstice is the time when the northern hemisphere of the Earth tilts the farthest away from the sun, and so we experience the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. At the moment of the Solstice, we are at the time of the most hours of darkness in each day; at the very next moment, we are starting the cycle of increased daylight every day. This is magickally reflected in the Moon’s waxing crescent: moving from the longest dark night toward more daylight; moving from Capricorn’s planning to Aquarius’s soaring ideas; moving from potential to possibilities.
Here is one way to maximize your experience of this magickal time.
Candle and lighter
Tarot Card XV The Devil
Tarot Card XVII The Star
2 clear water glasses, one filled with water and the other one empty
The candle will be used to symbolize the coming of the light
Tarot Card XV The Devil represents the feeling of being stuck and stands for Capricorn
Tarot Card XVII The Star represents inspiration and freedom and stands for Aquarius
The filled water glass represents fullness and potentialities
The empty water glass represents openness and possibilities
Ground and center.
Breath deeply with a 4-fold pattern: exhale, then breath in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle 3 times.
Place your candle in the center of your work space with the Tarot Card XV The Devil on the left of the candle and the Tarot Card XVII The Star on the right side of the candle.
Place the full glass of water in front of the Devil Card.
Place the empty glass in front of the Star Card.
Take a moment to observe the tableau: the un-lit candle, the Devil Card with the full glass on the left to represent potentials, the Star Card on the right to represent possibilities.
Think for a moment on what you want to manifest. Visualize it in as clear a way as you can: what does this intention look like? Try to imagine being the person you want to be, or the circumstances you want to have happen. How does it feel to you, if you could imagine this intention being a reality?
Once you have your intention clear in your mind, light the candle. This is the moment you move from darkness into light, into the Solstice, into the waxing crescent.
Take up your full glass of water and pour the water into your empty glass. This moves potential into possible. And now your empty glass can now be filled with new intentions. Drink from your newly filled glass. This water has been enriched with your intentions and you can now enact that which you desire.
Once you feel complete, blow out the candle, replace the cards in your deck, and pour out any remaining water onto the earth or a nearby houseplant.
You are now ready to step into the future of you own creating. So mote it be!
First Steps on the Seeker’s Path
This month’s article is a sharing of links, experiences and tools I’ve created over the years that support a personal practice of learning. Two new projects this year have evolved making use of technology and include video and audio formats.
Last month I spoke about devotion and how to infuse all of your interactions, both spiritually and mundanely with devotion to Deity, SELF and this corporeal form and existence we embody. I would add to this the action of devotion to the work of expanding your knowledge of how others practice their spiritual intention and deepening your catalogue of experience and understanding.
Continued learning has always been important to me and I approach this thirst and hunger like someone who realizes the limited amount of time I have in this form and lifetime. I have often remarked that if I were locked in a library with nothing but the books that would feed and sustain me.
A byproduct of this learning has been an oath to service and sharing what (little) I know with others. This has been the driving force behind multiple blogs, rigorous teaching schedules, leadership of a coven and the most important job I have had; that of mothering five children. You see, the esoteric information does not stay only within the confines of spiritual practice. Rather, it infuses who you are in the moment of every day. And, if those moments are shared with those who see you as the model of what your beliefs and knowledge is than these are rare and precious teaching moments that we all have gift to experience.
So, with this thought in mind I share with you some of my creations birthed from you and everyone who has touched my life, overtly and transparently, in fueling my quest “to know”.
A Journey to the Inner Chamber
The Inner Chamber explores studies in Western Hermetics, Magick, Practical Spirituality and Eastern Philosophy. Topics include: Astrology, Hermetic Qabalah, Energetic Anatomy, Ritual, Pathworking and more for the seeker on the Path.
Teachings on the Path with Robin
Select Guided Pathworkings and Meditations
Teachings on the Path-A Space of Learning
…”in this age of technology and with the ability to access podcasts, audio recordings of lectures and to enrich your learning at any hour of the day that you wish. Distance and scheduling should not be a barrier to those who would like to attend a workshop and set their own course of study. With these thoughts in mind, Teachings on the Path is launched!”
A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path
An on-line study exploring the basic philosophies, practices and tools of the Wiccan path.
The Womb of Light – A Sage Woman Blog at Pagan Square
The Magickal Pen – Esoteric Writings and my first blog
A Witch’s Sacred Journey – Magickal philosophies and practice
Temple of the Cosmic Spheres – Astrology and the Study of Cosmic Alchemy
Tarot for Troubling Times – Tarot Studies
Qabalistic Journeys – Study of the Hermetic Qabalah
Magickally Human – Being mundanely magickal
The Sacred Vessel Mysteries – Energetic Anatomy and practice
The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Natural World – Poetry and Photography
“Your heart is where your inner light resides. It is part of every sacred journey to reconnect with your inner light, step into your divinity, spread the light of love before you, return to the essence of love, and inspire others to do the same.” …Molly Friedenfeld
Upcoming Events – 2017
November 14 – December 12
Nuit’s Mantle: Cosmic Alchemy
For more information. Click here…
Celebration of the Winter Solstice
For more information. Click here…
Looking Ahead 2018:
January 16 – February 27
Temple of the Sun Series 2018
Part One 7-wks.
Solar Magick: The Journey of the Solar Barque
For more information. Click here…
Musings From the Mystic Path is published monthly by Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW.
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.
Stock photos, unless otherwise noted
For more information about the contents of the newsletter and/or our coven:
Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW or email:firstname.lastname@example.org