Category Archives: rituals

Loving Where You Work?

I’ve talked before about loving where we live…about making a relationship with where we make our home part of our spiritual lives.  But a good portion of where we live is spent doing something that a good number of us don’t like in a place that many of us loathe.  I am very lucky that I like my job, that I like where I work, that I believe in what I do, and that I like the people that I work with and that I work for.  I have’t always been that fortunate though.  I’ve worked places where I didn’t like the people, or I didn’t like what I did, or where I was…but I’ve generally been lucky enough that I could always find something redeeming, even if it was very small.

Nearly all of us have to work.  Whether we work in the home, or out of it, in a factory job, a desk job, outside, or with the public or not.  No matter how much we might like our jobs (and especially if we do not), it is still work, and there are still days where we would rather stay at home and drink hot cocoa in our jammies all day, or play at the beach, or just roll back over and go to sleep, than go to work.  Its called work for a reason… And considering we spend so much of our time doing it, I think many of us need to develop a healthier relationship with our workplace and our workspace. So here’s my advice, not just to you, but also to myself:

Love your job. If you can’t love your job as a whole, find something to love about it (other than going home at the end of the day or getting a pay check).
If you can’t find something to love about your job, find the something in what you do that is redeeming.
And if you can’t do that, at least find the honor in the act of working while you look for something that you can love

Another thing to think about: If every job sucks sometimes, how can you minimize the suckitude?  Even more, since we spend so much time working and at work, how can we make our work spiritually meaningful, and our workspaces nurturing of our spirit?  Particularly if we are in a secular workplace, and/or a work environment that is hostile to non-Christians?  I’ve been working since I was 12 (with a work permit), which is as long as I’ve been Pagan as well (though not as long as I’ve been openly Pagan)…so I have a couple of ideas, and if you have any as well, please feel free to add them in the comments.

  • Don’t bring your work home, physically, mentally, or spiritually. If you have a bad habit of bringing work home mentally or spiritually, develop a personal ritual for your drive/ride/walk/bike home that lets you shed work from your psyche, or a cleansing ritual for when you come home, etc.  If you have to do work outside of work, try to do it outside your home–in a library or coffee shop with wi-fi…if you can’t, try to have an area in your home that you just use for work or consider cleansing the area where you work at home, particularly if the work you brought home is frustrating or invokes other negative emotions.
  • Protect your personal workspace from bad juju, whether that be your office, your cubical, your area, or just yourself.    Consider carrying or placing stones or herbs that absorb or block negativity.  Consider cleansing your personal space.  You can do both of these without attracting attention–herbs and stones look like potpourri and decorations, and rather than smudging (which may be against fire code depending on your workplace), you can make an infusion in a spray bottle to clean with physically as well as psychically.  Lavender and lemon make a wonderful (though somewhat nontraditional) cleaning and cleansing mix (there are enough people that don’t appreciate sage, that I would caution against using in a shared workspace).  And, even if you work in a place where scents are unwise (if coworkers have allergies or you work with patients), you can do the same thing with salt water or with charged or blessed water.
  • Invite good juju to you.  Like the above, consider using herbs and crystals to attract positivity (rather than repell the negative).  Consider shielding yourself or your workspace.  Creating a renewing and nurturing work area when possible with live plants, bits of nature, use of color, etc.  If you have a shared workspace or your person is your workspace, try making a charged infused after-bath moisturizing oil to use, or something else you can wear (like an amulet) under your clothing or uniform for the same purpose.

When you plan out what steps you would like to take, consider a few things.  What does your job need from you?  Do you need to be calm?  Productive? Creative, accurate, empathetic, assertive, what?  Also consider what you need from your job (from the actual work to coworkers, boss, etc).  Do you need support, or do you need to be left alone?  Do you need creativity or seriousness?  These should be the good juju correspondences you are trying to attract.  And, don’t forget to consider what you don’t need from your job, as well as what your job doesn’t need from you.  What are your bad habits?  These should be the bad juju ideas you are trying to get rid of, one way for the other.

The most important thing though, is to build resilience and have a back up plan.  Not matter how much you may (or may not) love your job, there are always days that just suck. Think about developing a regular meditation practice as a method of building mental and spiritual fortitude, and to be more in tune with your physical state, which is connected with your mental and spiritual state.  If you already meditate, developing a shortened “reset” meditation that can easily be done over a bathroom break can be that much easier. Become proficient (if you are not already) at grounding and centering, so that you can reach out and be connected at a moment’s notice.  One of the most common (and for many people, most effective) grounding meditations and visualizations is the Tree of Life grounding.  If you have an area to go outside and spend a few minutes renewing in nature when you are feeling stressed, that can help too.

While most of us have some work-free idyllic fantasy, its probably not happening any time soon, even if it might be a feasible long term goal.  Find ways to make work spiritually and mentally renewing (and don’t forget the common sense healthy stuff like exercise, diet, and proper sleep!!).  In  the meantime, making work as pleasurable and worthwhile as possible is the best that most of us can do…


Serving the Elements: Fire

Blessing of Fire

May the blessings of fire be upon you, A blazing torch to light your path, A flaming sword to protect and defend you, The glowing sunlight to shine on you and warm your heart.

- blessing from a Pagan handfasting ceremony

(via The Blessing Files)

If water is the element of flow, and earth is the element of deep stillness, then fire is the element of action…

Fire burns, it consumes, it incinerates, it destroys.  But it also warms, illuminates, ignites, and cleanses.  Fire is an element of action, the will, passion, sex, anger, desire, energy, work, purification, destruction, strength, protection, change, and rebirth.  Fire is the crucible in which we are tested and transformed.  Fire isn’t just flame, but the the lava bursting forth from the earth, the magma welling beneath it, the furnace of our sun and all the stars in the sky, and the jagged cut and crackle of lightening across the sky.

Scientifically speaking: 

(video courtesy of the The Flame Challenge winner)

What we think of as fire is a combination of light and heat that emanates from a combustion reaction where a substance (fuel) is (usually) combined with oxygen and transformed into a new substance.  Fire exists as a chain reaction that will continue as long fuel, oxygen and heat remains (sometimes this is called the “fire triangle”, or when it includes the chain reaction, the “fire tetrahedron”).  Different fuel types burn at different temperatures and rates, resulting in differences in the amount and color of the smoke, as well as different flame color (from a fire fighting standpoint, it is important to know the different “classes” of fire because it tells you how to put them out).

Fire is an incredibly important force in the universe–the stars themselves are gigantic combustion reactions (though without oxygen) and on earth, life is powered by the sun as the ultimate energy source for cellular processes.

Traditional Correspondences & Magical Associations: Star Signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius Direction: West Gender: male Other Correspondences: Wands (tarot), djinn, salamanders, lions, the sun, snakes, lizards, thorn, holly, oak, basil, cinnamon, garlic, amber, bloodstone, carnelian, citrine, garnet, ruby, tiger’s eye, brass, gold, iron, steel, dragons, phoenix, summer, sex, passion Colors: red and orange

The story of Prometheus: 

This arrow, they say, is one of the weapons of Hercules, with which he is said to have killed the eagle which ate the liver of Prometheus. It seems not unprofitable to speak of Prometheus at greater length. When the men of old with great ceremony used to carry on the sacrificial rites of the immortal gods, they would burn the victims entire in the flame of the sacrifice. And so, when the poor were prevented from making sacrifices on account of the great expense, Prometheus, who with his wonderful wisdom is thought to have made men, by his pleading is said to have obtained permission from Jove [Zeus] for them to cast only a part of the victim into the fire, and to use the rest for their own food. This practice custom later established. Since he had obtained this permission, not as from a covetous man, but easily, as from a god, Prometheus himself sacrifices two bulls. When he had first placed their entrails on the altar, he put the remaining flesh of the two bulls in one heap, covering it with an oxhide. Whatever bones there were he covered with the other skin and put it down between them, offering Jove [Zeus] the choice of either part for himself. Jupiter, although he didn’t act with divine forethought, nor as a god who ought to foresee everything, was deceived by Prometheus–since we have started to believe the tale!–and thinking each part was a bull, chose the bones for his half. And so after this, in solemn rites and sacrifices, when the flesh of victims has been consumed, they burn with fire the remaining parts which are the gods.

But, to come back to the subject, Jupiter [Zeus], when he realized what had been done, in anger took fire from mortals, lest the favour of Prometheus should seem to have more weight than the power of the gods, and that uncooked flesh should not be useful to men. Prometheus, however, who was accustomed to scheming, planned by his own efforts to bring back the fire that had been taken from men. So, when the others were away, he approached the fire of Jove, and with a small bit of this shut in a fennel-stalk he came joyfully, seeming to fly, not to run, tossing the stalk so that the air shut in with its vapours should not put out the flame in so narrow a space. Up to this time, then, men who bring good news usually come with speed. In the rivalry of the games they also make it a practice for the runners to run, shaking torches after the manner of Prometheus.

In return for this deed, Jupiter, to confer a like favour on men, gave a woman to them, fashioned by Vulcanus [Hephaistos], and endowed with all kinds of gifts by the will of the gods. For this reason she was called Pandora. But Prometheus he bound with an iron chain to a mountain in Scythia named Caucasus for thirty thousand years, as Aeschylus, writer of tragedies, says. Then, too, he sent an eagle to him to eat out his liver which was constantly renewed at night. Some have said that this eagle was born from Typhon and Echidna, other from Terra [Gaia, Earth] and Tartarus, but many point out it was made by the hands of Vulcanus and given life by Jove.

The following reason for the release of Prometheus has been handed down. When Jupiter [Zeus], moved by the beauty of Thetis, sought her in marriage, he couldn’t win the consent of the timid maiden, but none the less kept planning to bring it about. At that time the Parcae [Moirai, Fates] were said to have prophesied what the natural order of events should be. They said that the son of Thetis’ husband, whoever he might be, would be more famous than his father. Prometheus heard this as he kept watch, not from inclination but from necessity, and reported it to Jove. He, fearing that what he had done to his father Saturnus in a similar situation, would happened to him, namely, that he would be robbed of his power, gave up by necessity his desire to wed Thetis, and out of gratitude to Prometheus thanked him and freed him from his chains. But he didn’t go so far as to free him from all binding, since he had sworn to that, but for commemoration bade him bind his finger with the two things, namely, with stone and with iron. Following this practice men have rings fashioned of stone and iron, that they may seem to be appeasing Prometheus. Some also have said that he wore a wreath, as if to claim that he as victor had sinned without punishment. And so men began the practice of wearing wreaths at times of great rejoicing and victory. You may observe this in sports and banquets.

But to come back to the beginning of the inquiry and the death of the eagle. Hercules, when sent by Eurystheus for the apples of the Hesperides, out of ignorance of the way came to Prometheus, who was bound on Mount Caucasus, as we have shown above. When victor, he returned to Prometheus to tell him that that Draco we have mentioned was slain, and to thank him for his kindness since he had pointed out the way. Straightway he gave what honour he could to the one that deserved it, for he killed the eagle and since it was slain, men began, when victims were sacrificed, to offer livers on the altars of the gods to satisfy them in place of the liver of Prometheus.

~ from theoi.com‘s entry on Prometheus

Serving Fire:  The biggest thing one can do to serve fire is to know when fire is a good thing versus a bad thing.  After that, its a matter of using fire in a safe and responsible way that honors its role in the world around us and our own capabilities and limitations.  And we can teach and model those skills and behaviors to our peers and our children.  Fire can be fun, but its not a toy, and it should be treated with respect.

We can also honor those deities whose realms are centered around fire–fire isn’t just a flame, it exists in a number of roles in our everyday role.  From Hephaestus and modern industry, to Pele and plate tectonics, to Hestia and my stove, to Amaterasu or Ra and solar panels,  we are incredibly dependent upon the element of fire as it is expressed on our planet, even in a modern context.

Getting to Know Fire:  Don’t get me wrong, poi is cool and all, but I don’t think you need to take it up to get to know fire…though you could if you wanted to!

  • Candle meditation
  • try some Hot Yoga (thanks V, for the idea!)
  • sit in the sun and sunbathe (wear sun screen!)
  • Hang out with a bonfire
  • Use a stove
  • Learn about volcanoes and the interior conditions of the earth and their role in our geology
  • Barbecue
  • Enjoy a sparkler or other fireworks (safely and in accordance with the law)
  • Make candles
  • Learn about stars (they are, after all, giant fireballs)
  • Hang out with a blacksmith
  • Learn about the role of fire in your ecosystem
  • Make a set of Vesta for lighting ritual candles (check back on Wednesday for our Vesta making!)
  • Learn about the role of the sun as a producer of energy for all life

Serving the Elements: Earth

May the blessings of the earth be upon you,
A sheltering cave to bring you to birth and securely hold you,
The fertile soil to nourish you,
The green grass to lay soft under you.

- blessing from a Pagan handfasting ceremony

(via The Blessing Files)

Sadness of Gaia by Josephine Wall, used with permission

If Water is the element of flow, Earth is the element of deep stillness and slumbering power.  The element of caverns and fertile fields, of sandy shores and granite peaks.  Earth is the embodiment of Nature–every rock and every tree, the living landscape of life and the recycling of itself in death and in the grave.

A human being’s Earth is her body. From Earth comes solidity, stability, and commitment. We call Earth our home, both the home of all life that is Mother Earth, and the house or apartment we live in. By extension, Earth is hearth and family and all those qualities that make us feel “at home.”  To be an earthy person is to be pragmatic, realistic, and tactile. Good Earth qualities in a person make her “the salt of the earth,” but an excess of negative Earth qualities make her a “stick-in-the-mud.” Earth is that deep, solid, immobile place, both in the negative sense of stubborn and in the positive sense of patient. The Witches’ Pyramid describes this quality in the attribute “To Be Silent.”

Deborah Lipp

Scientifically Speaking:
Earth (unlike water)  is a bit of a complicated element…when it comes to “earth” from a scientific perspective.  It can refer to the planet in its entirety (either as a geological phenomenon or a ecological one), or it can refer to the solid stuff we walk on, known collectively as rocks and/or dirt.

Rocks: A rock is any naturally occurring mass of mineral matter.  All rocks fall into one of three broad categories that are based on the formation of the individual rock type.  Rocks are made  (and destroyed) in a cycle known (how’s this for complex naming systems?) as the Rock Cycle (lol).  The first type of rock, igneous rock, is made when molten rock cools and hardens, and includes granite, obsidian, basalt and pumice.  The second sort of rock is sedimentary rock, which is formed by the layering of deposited pieces of igneous, metamorphic and other sedimentary rock, as well as dead animals and plants, which make fossils.  Common types of sedimentary rock include sandstone, shale, limestone, coal and gypsum.  The third type of rock is metamorphic rock, which forms when sedimentary rock or igneous rock is heated or pressurized, and includes marble, slate and quartzite.

Dirt: Soil forms the outermost layer of our earth. It is composed of minerals (45%), organic matter (5%), water (25%), and air (25%). Soil is formed by a combination of geological, chemical, and biological processes–geology determines the rock type and mineral composition while chemical weathering, erosion and organisms such as fungi, lichen and plants (roots) break up rock to help form soil.  Developed soil forms layers called “horizons”, which make a cross-section of soil look a bit like a layer cake.  All soils have at least one horizon, but most have 3 or 4.  While the soil profile of any given location varies, the most common profile is the O-A-B-C-R profile, which is an abbreviation for the progression of horizons (Organic, A horizon–hummus, B horizon–subsoil, C horizon, Bedrock).  The different compositions of soil form various soil types, which are globally sorted into 12 orders.  In the United States alone, there are at least 70,000 soil types (though different countries have difference criteria and terminology for soil types and profiles).

World Map of the 12 Soil Orders

Etymologically Speaking…

In this worldview, the elements that made up existence were categorized quite broadly as the Classical elements of Water, Air, Fire, and Earth. Our term ‘Earth’, consequently, is derived from a much older word which meant simply ‘the ground’, or ‘the opposite of the sea’–much the way the word ‘earth’ can be used today. These early words for earth, in turn, are references to the Norse goddess Jörð, mother to Thor.

source

Traditional Correspondences:
Star Signs: Tarus, Virgo, Capricorn
Direction: North
Gender: female
Other Correspondences: cattle, pigs, goats, salt, money, winter, fruit, pregnancy, midnight, milk, preservation, fertility, stillness, pentacles (Tarot), caves, fields, bears, bulls, rabbits, lions, stones/rocks/crystals, sand/dirt/soil, seeds and grains, cabbage, potatoes and root vegetables, coins, pentacle, gnomes, goblins, root chakra, the grave
Magical Associations: fertility magic, prosperity rituals, money spells, home protections and blessing, crop/garden blessings, grounding rituals and meditations, rituals and spells for jobs or business success, dying/rebirth rituals, death rituals

Colors: Brown, Black, Greens
Deities: Geb(♂) , Gaia(♀), Emesh(♂), Enten(♂), Hou Tu(♂), Cybele(♀), Magna Mater(♀), Veles(♂), Asase Ya(♀), Asintma(♀), Daikoku-ten(♂), Ninhursag(♀), Beira(♀), Dhara(♂), Coatlicue, Erecura(♀), Proserpina(♀), Enki(♂), Persephone(♀), Demeter(♀), Diti(♀), Pachamama(♀), Ida(♀), Jörð(♀), Sif(♀), Ki(♀), Ops(♀), Prithvi(♀), Liluri(♀), Tu Di Gong(♂), Mat Zemlya(♀), Zemyna(♀), Voltumna(♂),  

Getting to Know Earth: After water, earth is probably the element I feel closest to.  Earth is what stabilizes and grounds us when we walk upon it.  It holds our energy when we need release, and recharges us when we are replete.  But not everyone is an earthy type, and even the earthiest of us can get to know Earth a little bit better.

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ”

~ Michael Pollan

  • Play in the garden: if you don’t have a garden, volunteer at one or plant some plants in pots.
  • Try out the art of rangoli–I once read something I have never forgotten the idea of (though I don’t remember the place, and its paraphrased because the exact wording is long forgotten, lol): “our feet are sacred because they are the place where our bodies are always engaging with Earth” and discussed the use of art such as rangoli (which has the added earth connection of its primary medium being sand or flour) or even the use of rugs and floor cloths as a way to more consciously think about how our feet meet the Earth.
  • Go for a hike in the woods, walk along a trail in the park, or just sit under a tree
  • Learn a bit about earth science or geology–from plate tectonics to types of rocks, learn about the mechanics and the physical properties of the Earth and of earth and how they work.  I haven’t finished reading it yet, but Amazon has a free earth science high school textbook for the Kindle; and there are a number of field guides available on rocks and minerals at the library or book store.
  • Make a sand castle, jump in a mud puddle or dig for earthworms
  • Pick up trash at a local park or vacant lot, better yet, re-purpose the trash you collect into art (even plastic starts out as part of the earth)
  • Sleep outside, just you and a sleeping bag or blanket …either as a nap, or all night long.  I don’t recommend directly in the grass though…getting to know the earth is one thing, getting to know chiggers is something else.

Alternative/Adapted Correspondences & Earth in Ritual:

In my post about water, I wrote that I believe that witchcraft is about being able to *grok* the forces and cycles that are native to one’s location and to act as a force of change.  The witchcraft I practice is an extension of geography and ecology and self…and that means that sometimes traditional correspondences get modified…and sometimes they don’t.  My correspondences for Earth mostly match that of the traditional correspondence of Earth with winter and the North, as well as other traditional correspondences.  In terms of deity, I tend to associate Earth as Gaia, but I also recognize deities such as Demeter and Persephone, as well as deities such Pomona and Floralia, as being connected with the earth.    I also consider money to be a fantastic symbol for earth, as earth’s associations have to do with fertility and growth and abundance and prosperity (while this has been an association that I have seen bother some, historically, salt itself was used as currency).  And something else (a bit random) that many people don’t think about–plastics are part of the earth element…they are manufactured from oil (which is really fossil goop) in the ground.

We can draw upon the energies of earth and of the Earth to energize ourselves and our rituals.  While earth energy can be used in any ritual, it is more suited to some types of magic and/or ritual than others.  Earth as an element works very well as a  key component of spells and rituals for prosperity and fertility, in life-cycle rituals, and in grounding in ritual and meditation.  In cooking magic, earth can be represented by milk, salt, potatoes and carrots, cabbage, grains, etc.  These foods often make good offerings to the Earth itself or to the elemental energies or spirits of earth or of the land (with the exception of salt, which isn’t usually good for the soil).  Tobacco is also often considered an acceptable offering in North America (since it was used by many Native American tribes) for land spirits.

Serving Earth: There are a number of threats facing soil specifically and land in general.  Among these are soil erosion, deforestation, soil contamination, habitat fragmentation, urban sprawl, invasive plants and animals, desertification, solid waste pollution, wetland loss (drainage), suburban expansion and loss of farmland, and loss of biodiversity.  All of these problems though, boil down to issues of land use.

Land use is one of the most striking manifestations of humans’ presence and physical impact on the planet. More fundamentally, humans have altered the global patterns and prevalence of species and ecosystems. Several recent studies confirm that human-dominated ecosystems now cover more of earth’s land surface than do natural or “wild” ecosystems. According to one estimate, more than 75 percent of the earth’s ice-free land shows evidence of alteration from human residence and activity, with less than a quarter remaining as wildland…

…Changes in land use can affect the distribution and type of land cover (such as forests, cropland and urbanized areas), the ability of ecosystems to provide valuable services that support life, and even elevation and terrain.

(source)

So, what are some things can you do, wherever you are?

  • Replace a portion of your lawn with Certified Wildlife Habitat.  Talk to your local school about creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
  • Plant a native garden and get rid of invasive plants in your landscaping (like Bradford Pears, honey suckle, and some 1500+ other species)
  • Support tree planting efforts locally and globally, to help prevent desertification.
  • Get involved with local ecological restoration efforts! Nearly every community has them, and often they need help.
  • Compost your kitchen and yard waste, rather than sending it into the waste stream.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle.  Try to avoid falling into the “planned obsolescence” trap that companies have set up for you by thinking you just *have to have* X product. Check out the Story of Stuff.
  • Eat locally.  Buy from your local farmers… especially if they grow food sustainably (sustaibably is not always organic)
  • Know about where your stuff comes from and try to buy it as close to home as possible (plus it creates jobs here), and with natural materials whenever possible (for example, cotton not Lycra)
  • Pick up trash when you are out and about, at the park, walking down the street, etc.

Interesting Stuff:
Salt from seawater
Plate Tectonics Animations
Hymn to Gaia
Earth Meditation Ritual
Online Gallery of Minerals
History of Salt
Tree Meditation
Wikipedia Article on Earth as a Classical Element
Supreme Pentagram Ritual of Earth

*part 2 of my Serving the Elements series*


Popcorn Magic

Then he thought if he had some milk, he would have popcorn and milk.

You can fill a glass full to the brim with milk, and fill another glass of the same size brim full of popcorn, and then you can put all the popcorn kernel by kernel into the milk, and the milk will not run over.

from Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (and yes, I’ve tried it, and it works)

Kernels of Trivia: 

  • Popcorn is a subspecies of corn called Zea mays everta, and like all corn, it is part of the grass family
  • An 8 foot in diameter popcorn ball, weighing 3,415 lbs, created in 2006 in Lake Forest, IL is the largest popcorn ball on record
  • A popcorn kernel needs 14% moisture content to pop
  • The oldest popcorn popper was discovered in Peru dating back to 300 AD
  • October is National Popcorn Popping Month!
  • After bread, popcorn is one of the most popular foods that people feed waterfowl. Unfortunately, feeding waterfowl isn’t a good idea
  • Popcorn is the official state snack food of the state of Illinois
  • Archaeological evidence of popcorn dates back to 4700 BC in Peru
  • During the Great Depression, popcorn became exceedingly popular due to its relatively low price and was one of a few businesses that did well.

Money $aver Tip:
Whatever you do, never buy another bag of microwave popcorn! Or Jiffy Pop–though I admit the kids love to watch the foil expand… Buying popcorn kernels and making in the microwave, in a regular brown paper bag or on the stove isn’t any harder (or even that much more clean-up) and in many ways has less of an effect on the waste stream (those microwave bags are’t compostable, but the brown paper bag is).

Microwave Popcorn in a Paper Bag
Popcorn on the Stove
Campfire Popcorn
If you have a fireplace…get one of these!

The Science of Popping Corn:
Popcorn works because each individual kernel (thanks to the hard shell) becomes its own pressure cooker, which then explodes, turning itself inside out.  Inside the shell is a starchy substance and water.  As the kernel heats up, the water turns into steam and the steam cooks the starch into a super hot jelly-like substance that explodes.  After exploding, the water evaporates and the starch dries out, leaving the kernel flipped inside out, in the shape we know as popcorn.

Magical Associations of Corn:
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus (Cunningham), Pluto (Beyerl)
Element: Earth
Season: Lammas and Mabon
Deities: agriculture and solar deities
Correspondences: Protection, Luck, Divination, Blessing, Offering, Fertility, Abundance

Popcorn Magic:
Mrs. B.’s site, Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom has a great post on family inclusive magic, using popcorn*, which is pretty much the basic recipe for any popcorn magic (so go and read it, I’ll still be here when you’re done!).  Seriously, this is kid-friendly kitchen witchery genius.  I discovered this post when Sharkbait was just a baby, and have been biding my time until they were old enough to enjoy it!!

Other than the fabulous food fun and magic that you can create and eat using Mrs. B’s suggestions, there are few more things you can do with popcorn that is perfect for witchlet magic…

Edited to add:  This linked post is 404, but I managed to snag a copy of it from The Examiner, and I’ll post  a copy of that in the comments in case the copy disappears.

Popcorn Offerings–I’m not sure if you are aware of it, but nature spirits like popcorn.  I have it on authority from Chickadee who has had complex relationship with a number of nature spirits, that they almost all like popcorn, particularly the sea gull spirits (I could totally write a blog post about my daughter’s personal pantheon). This is a great way to introduce the kidlets to the idea of a relationship with the land…however, because of the (practical) negative implications of feeding wildlife, it is important to not leave food out too much or too often and to change the area where offerings are left, so that wildlife do not become accustomed to it.

Popcorn Chains–At Yule, when we decorate our tree, we include a popcorn garland.  Part of our tradition when we make it is to use what we add to say a thank you and a blessing for someone we love (not for every single piece, but for our “family strand” of garland that that goes on the top of the tree).  Stringing magic popcorn into edible jewelry is an easy way to add a bit of extra love or joy or healing blessings for the kids, and it even makes a great sibling or parent gift.  A few months ago, when Chickadee did something especially naughty, got it in her head to make a “sorry necklace” for her brother.  After eating carmel popcorn on a string, Sharkbait was in a better mood to forgive her…

Popcorn Fortune Balls–This should be pretty obvious–think fortune cookie in a popcorn ball.  Or, if you are packing a lunch for a trip or a day at school, put in an encouraging note or positive thought.  Put a popcorn fortune ball on the end of a straw, and add some pipe-cleaner petals for a edible bouquet gift from the kids.  All you need are some small strips of paper with a message written on them, and a popcorn ball recipe–stuff the message in the center of the ball as you shape it.


A Pagan Lectio Divina

We currently have a thread on Pagan Forum about the use of devotionals as a personal practice, which is how/why I was inspired to write this thread on my own devotional practice, which is loosely based on the Catholic Lectio Divina.

If you aren’t familiar with the term devotional, it describes a short, often daily, religious practice that is used to help an individual grow in their relationship with the Divine, which generally involves some sort of reading and/or prayer.  If you are familiar with the term from a Christian standpoint, you may have seen or read a book or magazine which often takes a Bible verse, illustrates it with someone’s story or lesson, and ends with a prayer, which is called a devotional.  Often Christian devotionals are oriented to a particular subset of Christians–either by denomination, or gender, or age, etc.  (despite these books widely being referred to as a devotional, the use of them is only one type of devotional practice).

From a Pagan perspective, the purpose of devotional practice isn’t much different, though I think we have a lot more diversity when it comes to what we consider Divine.  A polytheistic devotional practice, for example, might focus on particular individual deities or a particular pantheon, while a pantheist or even a naturalist might choose to focus something like the elements, the natural world or the universe-at-large.  Since our views of Divinity are so varied, our individual devotionals are bound to be equally diverse.  If you haven’t established a personal devotional practice, but are interested in the idea, a good Pagan introduction to the idea can be found here, and a good conversation on devotional prayers can be found here.

My devotional work follows the structure of the Lectio Divina (which means Divine Reading in Latin), though its (obviously) not about Jesus and its quite a bit less structured/more free form.  The Catholic Lectio Divina dates back to the 6th century and was developed as a monastic practice by St. Benedict, while the format that exists today was established later (more info on its history).  The Lectio Divina has four parts–Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio (which translates to  reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation)…and really, the devotional structure found in contemporary (and generally non-denominational) devotionals is based in part on this form.  A good walk through of the Lectio Divina from a Catholic perspective can be found here–its an excellent description of the process in general, if you can overlook the Christian bits.*

My version of the Lectio Divina goes something like this:

  • Lectio–Read/watch/listen.  Using some piece of material that speaks from the Divine to you, intake the material from a non-judgemental perspective.  Try not to assign meaning to the material, just soak in the message.  The message might come from a reading, but it could also come form a song or a clip of video or a picture.  The key here is to absorb every scrap of meaning you can wring from it, without judging it or formulating your own response to it (yet).
  • Meditato–Meditation on the message (or messages).  How does it fit as an expression of Divinity, Humanity or the cosmos (or not)?  How is Divinity speaking through this message? What does it mean in terms of a message from or about your gods?  What does it mean in terms of how you go about your day, or how you live your life?
  • Oratio–Conventionally, this would be where one enters into a conversation with the Divine–otherwise known as prayer.  Sometimes for this part I pray…but its more about a personal active expression of the message (it could be getting off your rear and dancing, singing, painting, writing, etc, or it could be the more conventional prayers) that is based on the message you received (which may or may not be true to the text itself).
  • Contemplatio–Resting with the gods in silence (however you see them), open meditation, etc, opening your mind and heart to their wonder (or the wonder of nature/the universe/etc), and re-centering yourself in the present.

The material I use for the Lectio portion is pretty varied.  It includes everything from Bible verses (I’m a fan of Ecclesiastes 3 1-8), to the Homeric hymn to Gaia, to poetry the poem Mending Wall (by Robert Frost) to the excerpt of Mary Oliver I posted recently, to this song by Sara Thomsen, to each of the Unitarian Universalist 7 principles, to the picture at the top of the post, which is a picture of the Rose Window at Chartres Cathedral next to a cross section image of DNA often called the Rose Window.  Anything that speaks to one’s inner self or offers divine inspiration is, at least in my opinion, fair game.

What about you?  Do you have a daily practice (or at least a regularly occurring one)? What do you find inspiring on a soul level?

UPDATE: I just opened up another blog, which I *oh-so-creatively* titled Pagan Devotionals, specifically to post inspiring bits of this and that for anyone that is interested in starting their own devotional practice, whether it be reciting prayers or adorations or undertaking the Lectio Divina.

*Normally I wouldn’t have felt it necessary to point out that beneficial spiritual practices and beliefs can exist in other religions…even Christianity, and that we should keep an open mind to both the origins and intent of specific ideas as well as their modern interpretations.  But then I read (mostly via Facebook and other blogs–so if you missed the debate, count yourself lucky) some recent debate over this particular blog post (which I thought was spot on), purely over what commenters thought the specific terminology meant (and I’m pretty sure most of them only read the title anyhow).


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